No sustainable peace in Mali – persistent danger caused by armed Islamists – Tuareg conflict unresolved

France declares "Operation Serval" in Mali accomplished

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has published a critical statement concerning "Operation Serval" in the course of which the French troops in Mali had planned to put an end to the rise of the radical Islamists and to stabilize the State of Mali. "One and a half years after the beginning of the French intervention, northern Mali is experiencing another wave of violence. It is only a matter of time until the radical Islamists will regain control over large tracts of land and cities in northern Mali," said the STP's Africa-consultant, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Sunday. "Mali's government did not manage to take the opportunity to stabilize the north of the country during the French military intervention and to start credible negotiations with the Tuareg." In 2012, the radical Islamists had used the Tuareg-rebellion for their own advance towards the capital of Bamako and to impose the Sharia-laws on parts of the country. Today, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Minister of Defense, declared "Operation Serval" (which started on January 11, 2013) accomplished. The operation is to be replaced by the anti-terrorist campaign "Barkhane" which concerns the entire Sahel region.

In recent weeks, there had been several clashes between the Malian army and the Tuareg liberation movements, despite the ceasefire agreement in northern Mali. It was just last Friday that fighting broke out in the region between Kidal and Gao. Thus, there were attacks against positions of the Tuareg movement MNLA (Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) near the towns Anéfis and Tabankort, situated about 100 km to the south of Kidal. Both the army and the Arabic rebel movement MAA (Arab Movement of Azawad) denied responsibility for the breach of the ceasefire agreement.

Also, radical Islamist fighters were able to regroup in the rural areas of Northern Mali and to gain control over some smaller towns. The UN peacekeepers and the army in Mali have already expressed their deep concern about the new strengthening of the Islamist forces. "It's only a matter of time until the Islamist fighters will again try to gain control over the major cities," warned Delius. "Today, we are facing a similar situation in northern Mali as in 2012. There is still a truce between the army and the Tuareg liberation movements, but there is not trust between the conflicting parties. Mali's government failed to make use of the twelve months after the end of the major fighting in the north to further reconciliation between the
warring Tuareg, the Peuls, Arabs and other African population groups and to work towards sustainable peace."

Next Wednesday, after one year of blockades and setbacks, there are to be talks between Tuareg representatives and the Malian government in Algiers, the Algerian capital. "However, considering the recent fighting and suspicions, the mediation efforts will start under a bad sign and can therefore hardly turn out to be successful," said Delius. "Northern Mali cannot be stabilized without a without a sustainable solution to the Tuareg conflict."


Ulrich Delius, head of STP's Africa department, is available for further questions: Tel. 0551 49906 27 or afrika@gfbv.de.