Country Report Mali
- ID: 2138674
- August 2015
- Region: Mali
- 25 Pages
- The Economist Intelligence Unit
In mid-August several fighters died in clashes between the Groupe autodéfense touareg Imghad et alliés (Gatia), a pro-government militia, and the Co-ordination des mouvements de l'Azawad (CMA), an alliance of groups that were fighting for the independence or autonomy of the north-east, with each side accusing the other of attacking first.
The outcome of the clashes has been a clear military gain for Gatia, which won control of Anéfis, a town that occupies a key position on the desert road between Gao and Kidal. Gatia fighters-which less than four months ago pushed forces loyal to the CMA out of Ménaka in the far east of Mali-are thought to have come within a few dozen kilometres of Kidal before the UN's peacekeeping force in Mali, MINUSMA, announced that it would enforce a security belt around the town to protect it from incursions by armed groups. Kidal is a main political hub of the CMA; the entire peace process could thus have been imperilled had it fallen to Gatia.
However, despite Gatia being prevented from reaching Kidal, the group's military gains have reasserted the pressure on the CMA and destabilised the peace deal in northern Mali-which was already faltering amid factional squabbles over the monitoring of the implementation of the accord finally signed by rebels in June. Niger's prime minister, Brigi Rafini, has postponed mediation talks that he was due to host in Niamey, Niger's capital. However, Hamadoun Konaté, Mali's minister for northern reconstruction, sees the latest clashes as a bout of traditional inter-communal conflicts and insists the overall peace deal is still intact. This analysis has some credibility. The fighting is about more than politics; Anéfis is on a key smuggling route across the Sahara, and the struggle for control of lucrative illicit trade is one of the major drivers behind the rivalries between northern armed groups. SHOW LESS READ MORE >