• Illicit Trafficking and Instability in Mali

    By Peter Tinti, Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, January 2014 MUJAO in MaliThe 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.

    Download the paper [pdf]

  • A Handbook on Mali's 2012-2013 Crisis

    By Alexander Thurston and Andrew Lebovich, Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa | September 2013 — This Handbook provides the reader with a detailed guide of the short-term and long-term causes of the 2012-2013 Malian crisis. After it transitioned to civilian rule in 1991, Mali was hailed as one of the best examples of successful democratic transitions in West Africa. However, neither the grievances of northern Malian communities nor the endemic problems that plagued the weak central government, such as corruption and contraband smuggling, were ever addressed by the national authorities in Bamako. The destabilizing growth of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb starting in the 2000s and the regional instability that followed the Arab Spring helped trigger a long-gestating crisis. Likewise, resolving these drivers of instability will require addressing long-running disagreements over legitimate political processes and decision-making as well as intense suspicion and polarization across the north.

    Download the paper

  • Managing Climate Change and Conflict in Mali

    By Robbie Watts. Institute of Development Studies, 2012. Long-standing conflicts in Mali, such as the Tuareg rebellion, are complex and highly political and are not readily explained with an environmental security narrative. Since the 1970s, Mali has promoted private land ownership rather than common property rights, resulting in the marginalization of northern pastoralists as agriculturalists cultivate previous migratory routes. Updating conventions on land-use practices would help resolve disputes between the two. Mali’s National Adaptation Action Program has acknowledged the high adaptive capacity and ecological/economic efficiency of mobile livestock systems in the Sahel, but has not reinforced it to prevent famines that are a feature of the northern region’s volatile weather patterns. Current national plans for agricultural expansion must be more resilient, flexible, and diverse given the country’s varied climates and land-use practices. Download the Article: [PDF]
  • What Went Wrong in Mali?

    By Bruce Whitehouse, London Review of Books | August 2012 Touareg Independence Fighters Mali’s reputation as a relatively stable and accomplished democracy was upended by a military coup in March 2012. The coup elicited tempered resistance and its leaders have remained influential, raising questions about the strength Mali’s democratic system. In actuality, the previous regime had in recent years suppressed debate in the National Assembly and had harassed some journalists. Meanwhile, a culture of corruption flourished in the judiciary and millions in foreign assistance in the aid sector disappeared into personal accounts. Key facets of Mali’s democracy had been weakening for some time. A vibrant press and popular expectations for legitimate and representative governance persist, but institutional setbacks create challenges in reviving Mali’s democracy.

    Download the Article [PDF]

  • Trying to Understand MUJWA

    By Andrew Lebovich, Al Wasat | August 2012 Similarly to what was believed about al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in 2010, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) is thought to be using jihadist activities as a façade for its profitable cocaine and kidnapping business in the Sahel. However, it has several motivations and is not necessarily leaving jihadism for crime. Perhaps its criminal activities allow it to be jihadist, or vice-versa. During the secessionist takeover of the major city of Gao, MUJWA’s policies changed from banning soccer and television to trying to overcome local resistance and recruit supporters. Since consolidating power in Gao MUJWA has begun carrying out an extremist form of Sharia law against popular will possibly to instill belief, settle local scores, or make locals fear MUJWA enough to tolerate their criminal activities.

    View the Article

Read more on Mali