Mali: Security situation set to get worse following UN withdrawal
Last month, the Malian Foreign Ministry asked for the ending of the United Nations’ MINUSMA (‘Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali’) operation, following years of rising tensions between the government and the peacekeeping operation. On 30 June, the UN Security Council voted for the 13,000-strong peacekeeping force to gradually leave the country by December 2023.
The Islamist insurgency in Mali took root following an uprising in 2012, which led to the deployment of the UN MINUSMA in 2013. As a result of jihadist violence, the Malian state’s basic public administration and essential services are entirely absent in the north and certain central regions of the country. The UN peacekeepers’ mandate focussed on protecting civilians from militant violence and supporting basic services and humanitarian support while underpinning a 2015 peace agreement. Frustrations over the worsening insecurity led to two coups in 2020 and 2021. Due to deteriorating relations with the military junta, French and western allies were urged to retreat their military operations last year in favour of intensified military cooperation with the Russian Wagner group. Because of the recent decision to withdraw UN forces, the underequipped Malian army is left with only 1,000 Wagner fighters to support the fight against jihadist militants who control large parts of the country. Moreover, there is a lot of uncertainty around the arrangements for the Wagner deployment ever since the clash between President Putin and Prigozhin, the mercenary leader. Wagner is expected to prioritise the holding of a few key bases through local raids and patrols – a hard-line approach that could further alienate Tuareg and Fulani communities – instead of pushing for a structural conflict solution. As a result, the security situation in Mali is expected to further deteriorate in the near term. Credendo therefore has a negative outlook on Mali, which is already classified in the highest MLT political risk classification 7/7 and category 6/7 for ST political risk.
Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh – firstname.lastname@example.org