According to itypeusa, Mali belongs to the Sahelian belt, a region of exchanges and crossings in which state entities have always struggled to establish themselves, characterized by a complex mosaic of populations, with now semi-nomadic, now permanent traits. In addition to the Tuareg, who inhabit the semi-desert areas, and are of Arab origin, various groups belonging to the Mandinka and Voltaic families live in Mali, including populations that preserve ancestral traditions and elaborate cosmogonies, such as the Dogons and the Bozo. The duality between Arab and ‘black’ African populations has often resulted in conflicts, even violent ones, motivated by the poor representation of nomadic and semi-nomadic populations in political institutions and in the national economy. A situation of conflict that emerged definitively in 2012 following both the military coup, and the regional chaos attributable above all to the Libyan civil war and the deposition of Muammar Gaddafi, for years the ‘protector’ of the ‘blue men’ of the desert. Taking advantage of the chaos that arose in the Sahelian area, the Tuareg militiamen – many of whom were in the service of Gaddafi – launched a new revolt against the central government of Bamako in 2012 and proclaimed the independence of Azawad in April of the same year. the north-eastern region of the country with an Arab-Tuareg majority. In the same period, coinciding with the presidential elections, the protests of the army degenerated into a coup against the outgoing president, Amadou Toumani Touré, accused of not having dealt with the insurgents with the necessary firmness. The Mali crisis has caught international actors unprepared, since the country had always been considered a model state in terms of stability, despite having been shaken by Tuareg revolts on several occasions: the most recent in 2008-09, when the instances of the Malian and Nigerian Tuareg united in a common rebellion. Jihadist formations were subsequently joined to the demands of independence movements, such as the Azawad Liberation Movement (Mnla) and Ansar al-Din, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQim) and the Movement for the uniqueness of jihad in West Africa (MUJaO). An-sar al-Din and Mnla managed to establish an Islamic state in Azawad, imposing Sharia law on Timbuktu, and undermining the historic tolerance between communities that had always characterized the city. Following the MNLA takeover, there has been violence and persecution against non-Arab citizens. Although the military junta, under pressure from the international community, returned powers to a transitional government led by Django Cissoko, after the resignation of Cheik Mali Diarra, Bamako was unable to reassert its authority in the north of the country. Between June and July 2012 Ansar al-Din, AQim and MUJaO fought the former ally Mnla by conquering Timbuktu, Kidal, Gao and, subsequently, Konna. The advance of jihadist groups towards the capital prompted French President François Hollande to launch a military intervention, called Operation Serval – replaced in August 2014 by the new French mission Barkhane – in support of the Malian army, to stop the offensive of the rebel movements. The French action, launched in January 2013, was endorsed by the Un. The joint army troops managed to push the jihadist fighters back to the far north of the country and in February, Hollande visited Bamako welcomed as a liberator. In April 2013, with resolution 2100, the Security Council of the United Nations authorized the deployment of a force of 12,600 peacekeepers to stabilize the country and support the political transition: the Mission Multidimensionnelle Intégrée des Nations Unies pour la Stabilization au Mali (MinUSma) became operational in July 2013. MinUSma has incorporated AFiSma, the international mission to support Mali promoted by ECOWaS, the Economic Community of West African States, weakened by lack of means and poor logistical preparation. The MinUSma never reached the initially expected number of staff. In May 2013, the international donors’ conference allocated four billion dollars to support stability and reconstruction in the country. In June, also thanks to the mediation of the then president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, the government signed a peace agreement in Ouagadougou with the Tuareg rebels, whose formations (Mnla and Mia – Mouvement Islamique de l’Azawad) had gathered in the HCUa (Haute Conseil pour l’Unité de l’Azawad) to have more weight in the negotiations. The agreement was the prelude to the organization of presidential elections in Mali. Although the choice to go to the polls was contested for its excessive speed, the elections were held regularly and saw a good turnout. Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, a long-time pro-French politician, was elected president. Even after the elections, isolated clashes took place and jihadist groups struck with targeted attacks. Although the danger of destabilization has been avoided, clashes between the French army and jihadist groups continued in the north of the country, particularly in Tessalit, and there were also incidents between the Malian army and MNLA. In November 2013, however, the Tuareg movement, albeit dissatisfied with the slow and incomplete implementation of the peace agreements and the related redistribution of resources, he returned the television premises and the governorate of Kidal, where he had established his headquarters, to the government. Legislative elections were held in the same month, which saw a significant drop in participation. Soumalia Cissé’s party, the Union pour la République et la Démocratie (URD), achieved a good result, so much so that it can be considered today the main opposition party. The party of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (also nicknamed Ibk), the Rassemblement Pour le Mali (Rpm), has also nominated Tuareg representatives among its ranks in an inclusive perspective. General Sanogo, leader of the attempted coup in 2012, has been tried and is awaiting sentencing. With Sanogo’s arrest, President Ibk has definitively distanced himself from the putschists and reinvigorated his relations with the armed forces. Despite Ibk’s repeated attempts to reassure Malian citizens and international public opinion as to the restoration of stability and control of the joint forces over the whole country, the situation in Azawad is far from being resolved, even politically. Indeed, on November 29, 2013, the MNLA put an end to the Ouagadougou ceasefire agreement, complaining of summary executions and torture perpetrated by the Malian army against the civilian population and sympathizers of the movement. This sudden precipitate of events has strengthened the legitimacy of the French army’s stay in the country, including as a mediating force between the Malian regular army and the MNLA. The withdrawal of the Paris contingents had been envisaged as a viable solution, only to be shelved following the kidnapping and killing of two French journalists, also in November. Replacing silence for the clamor of the beginning of the Sangaris operation, in the second half of January 2014 the French army launched several anti-terrorism operations near Timbuktu. These operations are aimed at averting the reconstruction of terrorist cells in the area, as the feared return of jihadist groups to the area is taking place. In January 2014, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, put forward the hypothesis of a more substantial military engagement of Germany in Mali. At the end of January 2014 Issaka Sidibé,
Two years after the start of a civil war that seemed to be moving towards a positive solution after the French intervention in the country, tensions have rekindled in northern Mali, causing some repercussions on the national political level. On the one hand, the escalation of clashes between the army and rebels in Azawad (particularly in the areas of Gao and Kidal), on the other hand the stalemate in the peace talks in Algiers, forced a government reshuffle in April 2014 that however, it does not appear to lead the country towards a stabilization plan.
The government of Bamako today faces the challenges of stabilization and reconstruction, starting with the return and reintegration of refugees. One of the priorities of the National Assembly is the decentralization process, as well as greater attention to employment policies and the fight against poverty. The issues of food security, the enhancement of agricultural production and the fight against desertification remain central to the political life of the country.
The economy has not suffered a collapse despite the crisis in the north, a clear sign of the marginalization of the semi-desert and less inhabited regions. In addition to the security issues of the north of the country, the Ebola issue also risks representing a new handicap for the recovery and economic stabilization of the country, despite the fact that Mali has not been affected by the epidemic until now. GDP is constantly growing (5.9%) compared to previous years and the forecasts for 2015-16 indicate that the trend will undergo a positive impulse. Public investment, largely financed by international donations, also contributed to economic growth. The aid will also be able to revitalize the infrastructure sector and in general represent an opportunity for the creation of new jobs. Nevertheless, the tourism sector is struggling to recover, which has always represented a very important sector for the Malian economy (4-5% of GDP), still influenced by insecurity in the north of the country.
The mining industry (Mali is the fifteenth gold producing country and the mines of bauxite, manganese, zinc, lithium and copper, uranium and diamonds are also important) was instead partially penalized by the insecurity of the northern regions, but it recovered relatively quickly thanks above all to the export of precious metals, in particular to China.
Despite the number of non-governmental organizations already operating in the area since before the crisis and the government’s application of a five-year plan to combat poverty, Mali ranks 176 out of 187 in terms of human development.