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Mali organizes to stop terrorist cells

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by DefenceWeb.co.za

Reducing violent extremism in Mali seems technically and tactically uncertain, owing to the complexity of regional politics. This is marked by an increasing number of players and stakeholders whose interests compete more often than they align.

Since 2012, the number of armed groups in Mali has increased, and the spread of intercommunal violence is jeopardizing the Algiers’ Comprehensive Peace and Reconciliation Agreement (CPRA). Terrorist cells have proliferated throughout the country as the threat’s epicenter has moved from northern Mali to the center and the south, with sporadic attacks in the Mopti, Koulikoro and Sikasso regions.

These attacks have targeted security posts and local administration facilities. The capital, Bamako, has not been spared. Terrorists move throughout the Sahel region, and Mali’s national boundaries are still porous despite an international presence since 2013, notably through the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Also deployed are personnel from the French military, who are engaged in Operation Barkhane, and the European Union, the African Union and the United States.

In such a volatile environment, knowing the enemy is necessary but not sufficient. Today, knowing how to collaborate with allies and coordinate agendas is crucial. The best way for the Malian government to coordinate all regional and international initiatives for the Sahel is to develop a holistic national strategy to combat terrorism and violent extremism.

The Malian government’s top security challenge is to make and consolidate peace with the former separatist Azawad movements of the north through the CPRA. This is necessary to preserve the territorial integrity of the country, protect core constitutional values and restore the state’s full authority. The government’s second-most-important challenge is terrorism and violent extremism.

To understand the scope of terrorism and violent extremism in Mali, it is important to explore its nature and dimensions.

Terrorism in Mali is based on a violent interpretation of the Quran and the call for jihad against the “unfaithful” and their allies. Indeed, terrorists’ goals in the Sahel and Mali are to combat Western values and African “puppet governments” to, ultimately, create an Islamic state, or a caliphate, that would be ruled by Sharia.

Terrorism in Mali is transnational and local. The three largest transnational terrorist groups in Mali are al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West-Africa (MUJAO), and al-Mourabitoun, created by Mokhtar Belmokhtar. In 2016, the latter was more active than the first two as it claimed responsibility for attacks in Mopti, Menaka and Gao against MINUSMA, Malian Armed Forces and the French Operation Barkhane. The group also attacked the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako in November 2015 and the Hotel Nord-Sud in March 2016, the site of the headquarters of the European Union Training Mission in Mali.

Read more: http://www.defenceweb.co.za/