<< view all Publications

Analysing the Crisis in the Sahel

GCSP Policy Paper 2013/3

Release Date:

March 2013

Download publication

Key Points

  • The demise of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi unleashed weapons and warriors into the Sahel, where they mixed with terrorists and rebels who seized Mali’s North by routing its military. This helped spark a coup d’État in March 2012, but it also eventually provoked intervention by a French and African coalition in January 2013 that has reclaimed Northern cities and is now hunting down rebels in remote refuges.
  • Mali faces not one but several challenges which, together, form its current, complex crisis. The four principal facets of the Mali Crisis are global, ethnic, governmental and environmental in nature, and these facets are internally fractured and synergistically interrelated.
  • Responses to the Mali Crisis occur at three principal levels, namely the international, the regional and the national, with the last being the deepest and most fundamental. These three levels are internally diverse as well as interconnected, with links visible through both cooperation and disagreement between levels.
  • Given the crisis’ complexity and the response’s variety, the most valuable tools for enhancing responses to the Mali Crisis would be a common vision of the problem and a shared strategy for tackling it.
  • Unity of vision and strategy would help solidify recent military advances, bolster the spread and steadying of Bamako’s sovereignty and legitimacy and stave off potential flashpoints generated by friction between levels of response. Three such flashpoints concern terrorism designations, hostages and Tuareg nationalism.
Photo by: Marco Belluci - Flickr