Cover Story Overview

The Challenges of Retaking Northern Mali
By Martin van Vliet

Once considered Africa’s flagship of democracy, Mali has turned into a shipwreck of anarchy seemingly overnight. Restoring state authority and legitimacy to northern Mali will require a radical break with the governance and security strategies adopted by Malian political elites during previous decades. This article will show why northern Mali is prone to rebellion. It will then explain how the state has supported militias to quell these frequent uprisings, argue that the state might reemploy that same strategy to unseat Islamist militants in the north, and identify what results an international military intervention might bring.

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