I have a new report out with Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. The report, “Mali’s Tragic But Persistent Status Quo,” looks at why some politicians – especially in Bamako and Kidal – have maintained power and influence for years, even amid Mali’s multi-faceted crisis. The report is based on field research trips I took to Bamako in January and March of this year.
Here’s an excerpt:
The report makes two, interrelated arguments. First, armed conflict in Mali benefits certain politicians and does not typically threaten manyother politicians’ survival or interests. The central state would almost certainly prefer to end the conflict, but its limited means prevent it from doing so. Thus the central authorities seek ways to manage and shape the endemic violence that they cannot eliminate. The management of violence in both northern and central Mali revolves around controlling regional capitals (or making deals with the de facto administrative authorities there) and accepting that state authority progressively diminishes as one leaves the regional capitals and moves into the surrounding areas.
The report’s second main argument is that the formal, externally- backed mechanisms intended to stabilize Mali and resolve its conflicts are implicated in perpetuating violence. The peace process envisioned by the 2015 Algiers Accord has been rocky and problematic. Alongside implementation problems, the design of the Accord unwittingly encourages ambitious politicians and violent entrepreneurs to create new militias as a means of seeking representation in the structures established through the Accord. Nevertheless, foreign powers appear comfortable with both the Bamako-based political class and the Tuareg hereditary elite in Kidal, occasionally contemplating sanctions against members of the latter but showing no appetite to displace either group. Moreover, as two experts put it, “In some ways, Bamako’s elites are more connected to the realities of cities outside Mali than to what is happening in the centre or north of the country.”
I welcome any feedback you have on the report.