Crisis in Mali: Back to the Beginning ... or almost! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Moussa ould Hamed, Directeur de publication du journal BILADI   
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 19:27

Nearly eight months after the outbreak of the crisis in northern part of Mali, the situation has changed very little. There were some progresses, recently, at the regional, continental and international level. However, the crisis cannot be stopped in a country where jihadist extremist groups occupy more than two thirds of the territory; and multiply the provocations while continuing to defy the world.





In the south, the situation has also worsened. Despite the proclaimed cohesion between the three pillars which claim to run the country, Mali remains very fragile. The multiplication of different centers of power at the top, and the internal as well as external political calculations increase the risk of a new institutional crisis.

The entire region of the Sahel Sahara, splashed by the crisis in Mali, is struggling to find appropriate answers in order to contain this highly risky situation.

After several months of deadlock hesitations, delays and doubts, milestones for a crisis management in Mali were found in recent weeks. Among them:

• the High-level meeting on the Sahel, held September 26, 2012 on the sidelines of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN);

• the unanimous adoption of the Resolution 2071 on Mali by the Security Council of the United Nations, October 12;

• the meeting of the Support Group monitoring the situation in Mali, held in Bamako, October 19, in order to discuss the draft Strategic Concept for the resolution of the crisis in Mali. Subsequently, it was adopted by the Council for Peace and Security of the African Union (AU) that met on 24 October in Addis Ababa.

This series of meetings helped analyze the different aspects of the crisis in Mali, but without actually defining the exact details of the mission of the many players in this crisis, or remove options other than a military intervention.

The recent statements of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Romano Prodi, came to temper the enthusiasm of the regional and international warriors who thought, in a naive or hasty way, that military action could be mounted quickly.


He explained that a military operation in northern Mali could not take place before September 2013. That was perceived as a cold shower by the protagonists of an early intervention in Mali, notably within ECOWAS.

There are real difficulties to establish an African or international military force in order to regain the northern part of Mali. Likewise, this option represents a considerable risk of instability that could affect peace and security throughout the Sahel-Sahara region. However, no solution excluding the use of weapons is credible. Although they appear to think on the basis of "immaterial" parameters using beliefs of paradise and invisible forces, jihadists understand only one language: the balance of forces on the ground.

Countries like Algeria and, to a lesser extent, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, have repeatedly warned against what they see as the danger of a “foreign interference” in the conflict. Therefore, they prefer to focus on a political settlement of the issue including the restoration of a dialogue between Malians.

Clearly, this means direct discussions between the Malian authorities, on the one hand, and the movements of Ansar Dine and MNLA, on the other hand. One option Burkinabe President, Blaise Compaore, the mediator appointed by ECOWAS, is trying to achieve through meetings with the stakeholders.

What alternative?

As stated repeatedly by Malian Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra, the Malian government is ready to dialogue with Malians represented in the two rebel movements; those who are considered as worth meeting by the mediator. However, this solution has not yet been completed. Firstly because the MNLA is being reduced to its simplest expression: it does not weigh much anymore on the Azawadi board. And it just lost - again - new positions against the Mujao!

Secondly, because the movement of Ansar Dine, whatever its relationship with partners in the region, is too engaged with the Salafist movements in order to be removed easily. And even though they would consume such a divorce, it will remain pretty much the same on the ground.

Indeed, cities are occupied by AQIM and its satellites in northern Mali and an agreement with the Malian movements certainly do not commit them. This is the weak point of this approach, as well as any approach involving a military solution. How to deal with such a dilemma when negotiating will not solve the problem and making war does not seem the most appropriate response?

The deterioration of the political and military situation in Mali and the Sahel has, once again, tested the limits of regional and continental mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. The effects of this crisis go far beyond the borders of Mali, and its management requires a concerted action between regional, continental, and international levels.

For many years, the lack of convergence of views and initiatives has compromised the establishment of an effective regional strategy against security threats in the Sahel. This, unfortunately, is still the case. 


Based in Nouakchott, the Centre’s area of intervention is the band of land stretching from Mauritania down to Guinea along the Atlantic coast and, across the savannah, to Chad and Sudan. The main issues it addresses are: defense and security of the Sahel Sahara; armed violence and terrorism; competition for oil, gas and uranium; irregular migrations within and outside the region; trafficking in human, cigarettes, drugs, etc; environmental and renewable energies. The main priority is to help the region and its international partners – public and private, as well as those from Civil Society organizations, Universities, Forums, and others Groups, to collaborate further in order to ensure security and prosperity of the Sahel.  

Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 December 2012 17:59 )

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