Northern Stalemate Opens Space for Islam in Mali’s Politics

Northern Stalemate Opens Space for Islam in Mali’s Politics

When Mali announced the formation of its latest transitional civilian government on Aug. 20, the new cabinet pointedly excluded representatives of the Islamist coalition that controls much of the territory in the country’s north. The new government, which retains interim President Dioncounda Traore and interim Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, has made fighting the Islamist rebels -- including the Tuareg-led Ansar al Din movement, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Qaida offshoot the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) -- a top priority. However, the government and external actors face barriers to success on the battlefield, creating a military stalemate but also leading to some diplomatic ingenuity on the part of Mali’s civil society.

Can the government defeat the Islamists? The Malian press (French) reported over the weekend that the army is preparing a northward push. Yet those who doubt Mali’s capacity to retake the north by force argue that its troops lack sufficient numbers, training and equipment.

Regional powers are keen to resolve the crisis. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has conducted negotiations with northern rebels. And Mali’s neighbors Mauritania and Algeria, though not members of ECOWAS, are also potential parties to mediation efforts in northern Mali.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.