Illicit Trafficking and Instability in Mali

Members of Islamist group Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), which is in control of much of northern Mali and has imposed Sharia law © Brahima Ouedraogo/IRIN

The introduction of the cocaine trade in northern Mali in the early 2000s scrambled the region’s loose, informal power dynamics. Militias became more numerous and many state institutions were soon corrupted. This illicit economy eventually contributed to the collapse of the state in 2012 and even continued during a brief occupation by Islamist militias and a subsequent French military deployment. A comprehensive effort to build capacity as well as accountability in the Malian security services is vital to reducing the persistent instability bred by trafficking.

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Security Topics: Counter Narcotics