The political economy of conflicts in northern Mali


Recent developments in Mali (the chaotic split of the north, the institutional crisis in the south), Libya (the fall of the Gaddafi regime and the proliferation of tribal-Jihadist militia) and Nigeria (the emergence of the Jihadist Salafism of Boko Haram) have introduced new risks that threaten the stability of the whole Sahel-Saharan region. While some of the actors have engaged in what is commonly described as terrorism (hostage taking, attacks, etc.), the situation in Mali, particularly in the north, makes it difficult to determine the status of the different organisations present (liberation movements, ethnic-tribal guerrillas, Mafia-type criminal organisations, etc.).

This report provides a background to the emergence of the main armed groups present in northern Mali before the French intervention and to describe their modes of financing. The analysis is twofold, with the first part focusing on AQIM, describing the structure of the organisation and its mode of financing, how it overlaps with the local economy and its sources of income. The second part deals with the so-called ‘local’ movements, Ansar al-Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA). 

Author: Dr Mohamed Fall Ould Bah

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