On January 11, 2013, French forces began a military offensive in northern Mali to unseat a coalition of Salafi-jihadi militant groups who had taken control of the major population centers in early 2012. While the offensive has been successful, the militants have not been defeated. The Malian army is still weak and disorganized, and the African forces deployed to secure the north face a number of challenges. Islamist militants retain a significant ability to be a major nuisance for stability operations, reconstruction and peace-building. Inter-communal tensions and mistrust still prevail in the north, which are compounded by the excesses and abuses of the Malian army.[1] Tensions in the Tuareg stronghold of Kidal are especially high, as the secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) refuses to disarm or submit to Bamako’s authority.

The situation in the capital of Bamako is slightly better. The French intervention has empowered the interim civilian authorities, but the coup leaders still maintain influence.[2] Public opinion in the south is also increasingly hardening against compromise with the Tuareg MNLA rebels,[3] and the temptation of opportunistic political actors to stoke nationalism and stir the flames of ethnic animosity is strong. The electoral calendar set by the interim authorities is ambitious, but unless the many logistical hurdles are overcome, the July presidential contest might exacerbate tensions and create more unrest. There is a risk that a large number of displaced people and refugees will not be able to participate in the vote, and such disenfranchisement could endanger the prospect for peace and stability.

This article assesses the security and political challenges that complicate the process of stabilizing Mali. It examines the complex local and regional dynamics that can make or break international efforts to win the peace. It finds that the military gains achieved by the French and Chadians in northern Mali cannot be consolidated without fostering a political process that promotes reconciliation and extensive consultation with all stakeholders. Putting Mali “back together” also requires that the international community and the main regional actors harmonize their views, align their efforts in fighting transnational terrorist groups, and stem the trafficking of arms, drugs, and other illicit products.

Uncertainty Amid Troop Drawdown
The January 2013 French intervention stopped Mali’s quick descent into chaos. After a dramatic year of armed insurrection, civil strife and militants’ conquest of huge swathes of territory, al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar Eddine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) are in retreat. The French army, backed by Chadian troops, rolled back the jihadist offensive and chased them out of the main cities in the north. The campaign to dislodge AQIM from its sanctuary in the Ifoghas mountains by the Algerian border is underway, as is the more difficult task of securing Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and towns on the Niger River. The French are anxious to bring major combat operations to an end so that they can pass the baton to a UN peacekeeping mission of 11,200 troops and 1,440 police.[4] The UN mission is expected to be given a robust mandate under chapter VII to contain armed groups, secure the major urban centers, protect civilians and oversee the political process. It will be supported by a parallel permanent force of 1,000 French troops that will focus primarily on counterterrorism.

The French troop drawdown plan, however, is complicated by a decrepit and undisciplined Malian army, the unreadiness of the African force to do the heavy lifting of keeping the peace,[5] uncertain prospects of intercommunal reconciliation, and the MNLA’s control of Kidal. The Malian army has not set foot in Kidal since its liberation from the grip of Ansar Eddine on January 28, 2013.[6] Tuareg rebels from the MNLA oppose any Malian military presence in this historic bastion of the Tuareg in northeastern Mali.[7]

In the capital Bamako, the tone is equally virulent and defiant. The population seeks a reconquest of Kidal.[8] As a recent International Crisis Group report warned, the risk of a military confrontation in Kidal between a vengeful Malian army and Tuareg rebels cannot be discounted.[9] This is exacerbated by the divisions, competitions and mistrust between and among the different communities in the region. Even within the Tuareg tribes, divisions and antagonisms run deep.[10] The aristocratic Ifoghas and their allies are, for example, pitted against the Imrad vassals and their Arab and Tuareg associates.

Before his strategy backfired, Amadou Toumani Touré, the president of Mali from 2002 to 2012, exploited these divisions, opportunistically dispensing favors and playing groups and tribes against one another.[11] His strategy of preventing the thinly populated and expansive peripheral northern zones of Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu (which comprise two-thirds of the country but only 10% of the population) from slipping into armed insurgency was based on outsourcing state functions to Tuareg clans of lower status, opportunist local elites, and manageable Arab armed factions and militias.[12] As a result, “Tuareg tribes of aristocratic descent saw their hitherto dominant position in Kidal region increasingly eroded,” wrote Wolfram Lacher, a senior researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.[13] This unsettling of the status quo and creation of new vested interests, buttressed by criminal associations and tactical alliances, is what contributed in the first place to the conflict in Mali and currently still complicates the search for a peaceful resolution to the crisis as different and rival groups jostle to carve out a prominent role in any power-sharing agreement with Bamako.

The decision of Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, to start withdrawing his 2,000 soldiers from northern Mali, especially Kidal, complicates matters further. Chadian troops fought alongside French forces in the far north mountains in Mali as well as helped stabilize the northeastern Saharan outposts of the region of Kidal. The changing nature of the war, the mounting death toll of Chadian soldiers—at least 30 so far—and the rising financial costs of military operations have all contributed to the rush to exit Mali.[14] “The Chadian army does not have the skills to fight a shadowy, guerrilla-style war that is taking place in northern Mali,” President Déby stated.[15] Chadian troops might still contribute to the future UN peacekeeping force, but their withdrawal might leave the Kidal region in a precarious situation.

The African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) is still a weak force to take over the fight against violent extremist groups and handle security in the liberated areas.[16] Although the deployment of AFISMA to Mali was swift and widely applauded by the international community, the African battalions—with the exception of the Chadian soldiers—arrived in the theater of conflict ill-equipped and ill-prepared for combat.[17] They lack funding,[18] the transportation capability to project power[19] and reconnaissance and combat aircraft to survey targets in a huge area of operations.[20] AFISMA also suffers from lack of interoperability of its contingents. Problems in communication, cooperation, and integration will be major impediments to a successful military operation, especially when there is not yet a clear and legitimate command structure.

The Malian army is also incapable of securing the territories and military gains won by French and Chadian forces. It is demoralized, disorganized, and plagued by factionalism.[21] It also possesses mostly antiquated military equipment and vehicles. The military junta that toppled the government in March 2012 in an effort to ostensibly save the integrity of the state threw the army into further disarray. To use the words of French General Francois Lecointre, the force is “unstructured” and “incapable of planning for the future.”[22] The challenge of reversing institutional deterioration, fostering civilian oversight and creating a cohesive, disciplined and well-equipped force is daunting.

The European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM) is planning to rectify these problems by training four battalions of 650 soldiers during a period of 15 months. The focus will be on basic firearms skills such as target practice. The trainers will also “provide theoretical classes that will include modules on complying with humanitarian law.”[23] The first battalion is slated to be ready by September 2013. Most experts, however, agree that for the mission to succeed, its duration must be prolonged and the flaws that dogged previous training missions must be rectified. The United States spent millions of dollars training Malian soldiers only to see hundreds of them, including top commanders, flee or defect to the rebels’ side.[24]

Transnational Threats
Even if EU and U.S. efforts succeed in bolstering the capacity of the Malian army, it will not alone be able to tackle problems that are by their very nature transnational, some of which are propped up and supported by powerful political, military and economic networks. It is common knowledge that top officials in Mali’s government and military actively colluded with organized crime.[25] The drug trafficking business still flourishes in Mauritania and Niger. In both countries, the groups that control drug trafficking are influential and are known locally—which demonstrates their impunity.[26] Mali is also a transit area for the illicit trafficking of cannabis and other drugs. Well-established networks of Moroccans, Sahrawis, Mauritanians, Algerians, Libyans, Nigeriens and Malians are involved.[27]

Mali has traditionally played a central part in the trans-Saharan illicit trade, including trafficking of goods, cigarettes and arms. The arrival in mid-2005 of Latin American cocaine in the Sahel dramatically changed the face of criminality in the region and transformed social, political and economic power balances in Mali.[28] There are multiple desert routes to move drugs and illicit goods in the Sahel. The most known routes depart from coastal towns in Guinea and Mauritania, passing through northern Mali and into Algeria and Libya, then Egypt and the Middle East, before reaching their final destinations in Europe.[29] In each of these countries, there are networks of drivers and handlers that enjoy the protection of civilian and military authorities.[30]

International stakeholders continued to dispense economic and military aid to these countries despite the states’ unwillingness or inability to crack down on drug activity. In Mali, the dispensing of foreign aid coincided with a dramatic increase in organized criminal activity.[31] It is crucial, therefore, for the international community to assess state willingness and capacity.

The control of criminal activity requires more than just capable national institutions. The willingness of state actors to thwart the criminal marketplace and the financial flows of trafficking proceeds is critically important. Without such resolve, externally led efforts to empower the executive branch and prop up its coercive apparatus—namely, the military, police, and judiciary—can be counterproductive. A state that lacks capable institutional capacities but has leaders determined to fight terrorism and organized crime is the most suitable candidate for capacity building.[32]

Therefore, the French push to establish military control across the north and mop-up the remnants of jihadist groups and armed gangsters from their sanctuaries in the Ifoghas and Tigharghar mountains will not eliminate the threats to Mali. Even if AQIM and its allies are defeated in Mali, the main security threats will persist as long as governments lack the will to thwart terrorist and criminal activity.

Opportunities for regional terrorist recruitment and arms supplies are manifold. The refugee camps in neighboring countries are especially of concern. The UN secretary general recently warned about the vulnerability of the Sahrawis in the Polisario-controlled refugee camps in northwest Algeria to radicalization and terrorist infiltration.[33] It is the first time that a senior UN official acknowledged what many experts have been describing for years as a “ticking time bomb.” The same fears apply to the refugee camps in Mauritania and Niger where displaced Malians live in “appalling” conditions.[34] Organized criminals and extremist groups will continue to exploit the fragility of states, frozen conflicts such as the Western Sahara, and the lack of regional security cooperation.

The international community can help mitigate external pressures by promoting regional cooperation in sharing intelligence, monitoring financial flows from drug trafficking, and conducting joint military operations. Thus far, international efforts have been hindered by several factors. First, Western governments and international donors have focused on propping up the capacity of individual fragile states. Insecurity, however, is a product not just of internal factors, but of external ones as well.[35] Second, international policy has typically overlooked the relationships and connections between conflicts in the region. Third, competition and differing perceptions of threats among neighbors hinder regional cooperation.[36]

For example, the regional security institutional mechanisms that Algeria created to shape the regional fight against terrorism did not succeed in bolstering military and security cooperation. The Algeria-based General Staff Joint Operations Committee and Fusion and Liaison Unit need to become true forums for sharing intelligence, monitoring financial flows from drug trafficking, and conducting joint military operations. Unfortunately, fragile security in countries such as Libya and Tunisia, the opacity of the Algerian regime, and the persistent suspicion and mistrust between Morocco and Algeria over the Western Sahara dispute will make current efforts to bring peace and stability to the region extremely difficult.

Internal Radicalization
Another complicating factor in Mali is how radical elements interact with underlying local sources of instability. In Mali, imported radical religious ideas justifying the recourse to armed struggle have penetrated society, contributing to the radicalization of religious discourse and fueling a contemporary wave of extremism.[37] The problem of homegrown radicalization is compounded by its interconnectedness with transnational factors like illicit trafficking and regional terrorist networks. Yet it is critical to recognize the motivational factors that lead to radicalization as well as the reasons that allowed extremist groups to successfully embed themselves in northern Mali and recruit quite easily.[38] The leadership of the main terrorist groups remains Algerian and Mauritanian, but their appeal to Malians and West Africans needs a careful examination.

What prompted an important number of young Malian Peuls and Songhai in Gao to join MUJAO?[39] Some evidently did it for financial or local reasons (fragmentation of social structures, lack of access to education, and widespread feelings of unfairness).[40] Others joined for ideological reasons.[41] The same applies to those who actively sought out the Tuareg radical group Ansar Eddine. Some of the Tuareg who joined the movement “are of the conviction that only their Salafist ideology can unify the various Tuareg clans, the different ethnic groups in the region, and even the whole of Mali.”[42] Ansar Eddine leader Iyad ag Ghaly proposed “an alternative to both the Malian nation-state, riddled with corruption and nepotism, and the political ideal of Tuareg independence, which so far has been unable to overcome the divisive clan structures within Tuareg society.”[43] The first step, therefore, is to understand who seeks to join these violent extremist movements and why.

The crisis in Mali and the damage that armed Islamist groups have inflicted on the population are opportunities for Malian political and community leaders to marginalize violent extremists and discredit their narratives and ideologies.[44] The use of repressive measures to combat extremists would be unsuccessful long-term unless the sources of disillusionment and frustration are addressed. The greater the chasm between youth expectations and the capability or willingness of the state to meet them, the greater the risk that angry youths might look to non-state actors for essential goods.

The Road Ahead
The roots of instability and conflict in Mali are complex and run deep. Internal sources of insecurity include institutional weakness and corruption, endemic poverty, and sociopolitical tensions. Unaddressed identity-based grievances splintered the society, while legacies of past abuses and religious radicalization stirred up tensions further. Yet it is unfair to blame Bamako for pursuing a deliberate discriminatory policy against northern Mali, especially against the Tuareg.[45] Several economic projects (mainly in terms of infrastructure) were directed to the north. While their impacts on the population were limited due in part to gross mismanagement of funds and poor accountability, the problem of corrosive corruption was not only limited to the center. Powerful local elites, including Tuareg who were not appointed by Bamako, were accomplices and at times primary agents of mishandling or embezzling funds allocated to the regions.[46]

Decentralization and community participation were designed as a means of conflict management and good governance, but they ended up breeding high levels of corruption and rent-seeking. It is not an exaggeration to state that a number of elected Tuareg elites and army men contributed to the criminalization, delegitimization and fall of the state.[47] The challenge today is how to reduce political corruption and rectify the imperfections in infrastructure delivery and the provision of public goods.[48]

Current military progress in the north cannot be consolidated if it simply restores an intolerable status quo ante. The immediate priority should be to foster political reconciliation and send unmistakable signals that peaceful cohabitation between all the communities of the north is once again possible. This process of reassurance and reconciliation is key to the return of the hundreds of thousands of displaced northern Malians and setting the conditions that are conducive to holding credible elections. In this respect, the creation by the transitional government of Mali of a Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission in March 2013 is important.

More efforts could also focus on mobilizing state media and civil society to promote reconciliation and moderation.[49] Bamako should engage representatives from all communities in the south and north, including Islamists who renounce violence and MNLA separatists. Preconditions that the MNLA disarm before dialogue are dangerous and not encouraging. It is true that the MNLA is a minority group that does not have the support of the main Tuareg tribes, and hence cannot claim to be their legitimate representative. Yet the inclusion of the MNLA is crucial for the stabilization of Kidal.

In short, the road ahead will be long and fraught with peril. Elections are important, but they will not offer any quick fixes to Mali’s problems. Unifying the country will require widespread dialogue and international assistance.

Dr. Anouar Boukhars is a nonresident scholar in Carnegie’s Middle East program. He is an assistant professor of international relations at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD, and the coeditor of Perilous Desert: Insecurity in the Sahara (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2013).

[1] Several human rights organizations (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the International Federation for Human Rights) and news agencies have already documented cases of abuse, torture and executions committed by Malian soldiers. See “Mali: Prosecute Soldiers for Abuses,” Human Rights Watch, February 21, 2013; “Mali: First Assessment of the Human Rights Situation after Three Week Conflict,” Amnesty International, February 1, 2013; “Abuses Committed by Malian Military: Urgent Need for an Independent Investigation Commission,” International Federation for Human Rights, January 23, 2013.

[2] In March 2012, the Malian military overthrew the democratically-elected government of Amadou Toumani Touré.

[3]  “Mali: sécuriser, dialoguer et réformer en profondeur,” International Crisis Group, April 11, 2013.

[4] Flavia Krause-Jackson, “UN Security Council Approves 11,200 Troops to Stabilize Mali,” Bloomberg, April 25, 2013.

[5] Rémi Carayol, “Guerre au Mali: la Misma, faible force,” Jeune Afrique, April 16, 2013.

[6] The armed revolt against Malian forces began on January 17, 2012, exactly six months after the Tuareg returned home from Libya. It was led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), an organization established in October 2011 and comprised of a mosaic of armed groups bound by loose loyalties and conditional alliances. The MNLA, which declared the independence of Azawad on April 6, 2012, was forced to cede ground to armed Islamist forces—led by the radical Islamist group Ansar Eddine—who were cash rich and better armed. The French intervention in northern Mali in early 2013 allowed the MNLA to reclaim control of Kidal. See Rémi Carayol, “Mali: à Kidal, tout reste à faire,” Jeune Afrique, April 16, 2013.

[7] Tuareg civilians and light skinned Arabs are also scared of a vengeful army exacting revenge on those suspected of participating in the rebellion that chased Malian troops out of the north. Islamists accused of belonging to armed movements are especially enticing targets for soldiers who are poorly trained and supervised. When they were in control of the north, radical Islamists terrorized the population with the imposition of draconian punishments (public executions, amputations and whippings). The MNLA also committed its share of killings, pillage and rape against black women. In the attack in Aguelhoc on January 24, 2012, the MNLA and Islamist rebels are accused of executing dozens of Malian soldiers. The temptation for soldiers who are bitter, often violent, to strike back is real. On the incident in Aguelhoc, see “Nord-Mali: Raincourt parle d’une ‘centaine’ d’éxécutions  sommaire à Aguelhok,” Jeune Afrique, February 13, 2012; “Mali Says Soldiers, Civilians Executed During Tuareg Clashes,” Agence France-Press, February 13, 2012.

[8] Personal interviews, Malian civil society actors and several security officials working on Mali, Dakar, Senegal, May 6-10, 2013.

[9] “Mali: sécuriser, dialoguer et réformer en profondeur”; Carayol, “A Kidal: Tour Reste A faire.”

[10] See Pierre Boilley, “Géopolitique africaine et rébellions touarègues. Approches locales, approches globales (1960-2011),” L’Année du Maghreb VII (2011): pp. 151-162; Baz Lecocq, Disputed Desert: Decolonisation, Competing Nationalisms and Tuareg Rebellions in Northern Mali (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2010).

[11] This strategy of governance was ultimately unsustainable. It exacerbated ethnic and tribal tensions and left the structural problems of underdevelopment and poverty that produced the rebellions of 1963, the 1990s, and 2006-2009 unattended. Worse, it was built upon shaky and unreliable alliances.

[12] See Anouar Boukhars, “The Paranoid Neighbor: Algeria and the Conflict in Mali,” in Fred Wehrey and Anouar Boukhars eds., Perilous Desert: Insecurity in the Sahel (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2013), pp. 87-117.

[13] Wolfram Lacher and Denis M. Tull, “Mali: Beyond Counterterrorism,” German Institute for International and Security Affairs, February 2013.

[14] According to Roland Marchal, a senior fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research, President Déby “could also be using the threat of withdrawal as a bargaining tool to get more money from France and other Western countries.” See Xan Rice, “‘Guerrilla’ Conflict Makes Chad Quit Mali,” Financial Times, April 15, 2013.

[15] Ibid.

[16] At a U.S. congressional hearing in April 2013, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations, Michael Sheehan, described African forces in Mali as “completely incapable” and not “up to the task” of fighting radical Islamist militants. He said, “Right now, the ECOWAS force isn’t capable at all. What you saw there, it is a completely incapable force. That has to change.” See “ECOWAS Force in Mali is ‘Incapable’: US Official,” Agence France-Presse, April 9, 2013.

[17] The first contingents from Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Togo, Benin and Ghana arrived immediately after the French intervened to stop the jihadist offensive. On the weakness, see Carayol, “Guerre au Mali: la Misma, faible force.”

[18] Out of the $450 million requested by ECOWAS, only $16 million was disbursed. See Alexandra Geneste and Nathalie Guibert, “Mali: la France peut-elle partir?” Le Monde, March 29, 2013.

[19] For example, it took 500 Senegalese troops several weeks to redeploy to Mali.

[20] So far, AFISMA has only two aerial surveillance aircraft, four alpha light jets based in Niamey, Niger, and half a dozen attack helicopters. See Carayol, “Guerre au Mali: la Misma, faible force.”

[21] “Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation in Mali,” United Nations Security Council, March 26, 2013.

[22] Aline Glaudot, “Training of Mali’s Armed Forces Begins,” Europolitics, April 5, 2013.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Lydia Polgreen, “Mali Army, Riding U.S. Hopes, Is Proving No Match for Militants,” New York Times, January 24, 2013.

[25] Wolfram Lacher, Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2012); Judith Scheele, “Circulations marchandes au Sahara: Entre Licite et Illicite,” Hérodote 142 (2011): 143-162.

[26] “Mali: sécuriser, dialoguer et réformer en profondeur.”

[27] Ibid.

[28] Drug money disrupted the traditional sociopolitical patterns and balance of power between and among communities. Such social upheaval contributed to the eruption of the 2012 rebellion, which saw the Imrad lining up behind the MNLA and the Ifoghas joining Ansar Eddine.

[29] “Mali: sécuriser, dialoguer et réformer en profondeur”; Lacher, Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Lacher, Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region.

[32] In the West, Mauritania is generally considered the least problematic state in the Sahel. Its president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, has portrayed himself as tough on national security. Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou is also appreciated for his firm stand against terrorism. His country is seriously threatened by several transnational terrorist actors originating in Libya and Nigeria. In this context, it makes sense that international donors have supported Issoufou’s programs for security and development. It could be argued, however, that this support should be conditional on democratic accountability and the implementation of verifiable and concrete anticorruption measures. See Luis Simon, Alexander Mattelaer, and Amelia Hadfield, “A Coherent EU Strategy for the Sahel,” European Parliament, May 2011.

[33] Afua Hirsch, “Mali Conflict Could Spill Over into Western Sahara, Warns Ban Ki-moon,” Guardian, April 9, 2013.

[34] “Mali Refugees Endure ‘Appalling’ Mauritania Camp,” BBC, April 12, 2013.

[35] Events from outside can be destabilizing. For example, events in Algeria destabilized Mali. These “exogenous dynamics” necessitate a regional response to the crisis in Mali.

[36] Wehrey and Boukhars.

[37] Baz Lecocq, Gregory Mann, Bruce Whitehouse et al., “One Hippopotamus and Eight Blind Analysts: A Multivocal Analysis of the 2012 Political Crisis in the Divided Republic of Mali,” Review of African Political Economy 137 (2013).

[38] AQIM, for example, managed to use its financial prowess to tap into the deep cultural divide in northern Mali. Occasionally, AQIM has used its Arab roots to ingratiate itself into Arab communities. Timbuktu, for example, was a stronghold of AQIM and is where the group first built its network of social and political alliances, including alliances with the Arab militias that the deposed Malian president Touré “tolerated and even maintained.” At other times, AQIM used the distrust and competition between Songhai and Peuls on the one hand and Arabs and Tuareg on the other to its advantage. The most critical factor in AQIM’s success, however, has been “more economic than cultural.” See “Counter Extremism and Development in Mali,” U.S. Agency for International Development, October 2009.

[39] Little is known about MUJAO. It arrived on the scene after the abduction of three European tourists from the heavily fortified Polisario-controlled camps in Algeria in October 2011. Besides a preference for Algerian targets and a sociological makeup unique from that of AQIM (its core membership is from the Lamhar tribe, supplemented by Sahrawis, Songhai and Peuls), MUJAO has acted like its extremist counterparts, fusing criminal and radical religious activity. MUJAO, and Ansar Eddine as well, prospered greatly from the lucrative trans-Saharan trafficking trade, kidnappings of Westerners for ransom, and the bonanza of the Libyan arms bazaar.

[40] In its 2008 report on countering extremism and development in Mali, USAID identified the drivers of violent extremism as “multilayered and Local in Logic.” Specifically, it noted “the North’s political isolation and economic marginality, and the divisions both within and across the ethnic fabric of the region” as key drivers of violence. See “Counter Extremism and Development in Mali.”

[41] According to the European Union’s counterterrorism coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, two-thirds of those who join terrorist and criminal organizations in the Sahel do it for financial gain or as an outlet to dramatically express their frustration. The other one-third are hardcore ideologues who are ready to die for their cause. EU intelligence estimates put the number of violent extremists between 500 and 1,000 in the Sahel. See Gilles de Kerchove, “Au Sahel, la tâche est immense,” Le Télégramme, January 26, 2013.

[42] Lecocq, Mann, Whitehouse et al.

[43] Ibid.

[44] “Mali: sécuriser, dialoguer et réformer en profondeur.”

[45] Ibid.

[46] Lacher, Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region; “Mali: sécuriser, dialoguer et réformer en profondeur.”

[47] Ibid.

[48] To address high-level group grievances in the north, Bamako could design strategies to promote social inclusion, political integration, and economic empowerment. As the World Bank’s 2011 World Development Report stated, “Signaling change to groups with grievances is often a key early priority.” This can help mobilize support for transitional justice and reconciliation. International donors can support this process by investing in community development programs that promote basic social services (roads, clinics, courts, etc.) and help improve the performance of livestock production and boost cattle exports.

[49] Ibid.

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