The thirteen thousand peacekeeping forces in Mali have been targeted by continuous and recently intense attacks by jihadist groups affiliated with the “ISIS” and al-Qaeda organizations, “Mali was one of the most affected missions: Egyptians, Jordanians, Chadians, and others, who lost their lives for the sake of the Malian people and the cause of peace, and we are forever grateful for their continued support,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the Permanent Headquarters in New York, these attacks led to the martyrdom of four and wounding of seven others from the ranks of the Egyptian and Jordanian armed forces affiliated with the UN peacekeeping forces since the beginning of this month.
Mali’s political and security crisis erupted in 2012, when it began with an armed conflict between the northern and southern parts, since several insurgent groups have waged an anti-government campaign that aimed to assume the independence or greater autonomy for northern Mali provinces, the most prominent campaign was the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, an area known as the original home of the Tuareg (Amazigh), the impact of the conflict is the control of authority by a set of soldiers, after the takeover of the presidential palace in the capital, Bamako, the coup resulted in the government’s failure to respond to the demands of the army, which ask them to arm its comrades who suffered by repetitive defeats in the north of the country, in their war against the Tuareg and the activities of armed Islamist jihadist groups.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) was initially supported by the Ansar AlDin Organization, after that, the organization and several small Islamist groups rigorously imposed Islamic law, therefore The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and the Islamists struggled to reconcile the contradictory visions in pursuit for the new state, but they didn’t reach to understandings, after that the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad fought against Ansar AlDin and other Islamic groups, including the Movement of Tawheed and Jihad in West Africa, the splinter group from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
France military intervened in Mali upon the request of the Malian government to support the government to confront Islamic militants, based on UN Security Council Resolution No. 2085, which allows the establishment of an international force to support Mali in its war to restore the north, as well as other justifications such as preventing the establishment of a “Salafi terrorist” entity in the region, which poses a threat to the region and the entire world, thus France sent its forces to northern Mali in 2013, and deployed 5,100 French soldiers with planes and vehicles in an area stretching across Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, and launched “Operation Barkhane” in 2014 aimed to defeat the Islamist insurgent militias in northern Mali, which began to rush towards the center of the country, to regain the stability in the region.
Despite the French and international presence in Mali, However, ISIS and al-Qaeda controlled large areas of central Mali and along the borders with Niger and Burkina Faso, with their direct threat to the capital, after eight years of launching Operation Barkhane in Mali, France planned to the closure of the operation in the upcoming months. French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement to withdraw French forces completely by 2023 came after strained relations between Mali and France, in February of this year, ironically French forces withdrew from Mali with the exacerbation of tension between France and the military council that has led the country since the coup of May 2021, while there were obscure reports about Mali’s outsourcing of the services of the Russian “Wagner” group.
In this context, a book was published by the Politics and Society Institute in 2021 entitled “After the Caliphate State” after holding a conference in which a group of Arab, Western and Jordanian researchers, experts and specialists participated. These research papers dealt with the analysis and interpretation of repercussions on the African coast, including Mali state, In Africa, a promising arena was formed for the Islamic State, especially in the time of Corona, as the organization intensified its attacks in the regions of West Africa, the Sahara and the Sahel region, and the organization’s branch in Central Africa launched violent attacks between Niger, Nigeria, Libya, Libya and Mali, East Africa State.
Hassan Abu Haniyeh, a researcher and expert in Islamic groups, points out: “We must pay attention to the formations of ISIS propaganda and ideology, as they are inseparable from the facts, and therefore the loss of the spatial control of the organization led to the transformations mentioned in the researcher Charlie Winter’s session, who used the term primarily in the context that the pre-state propaganda That is, there are socio-economic conditions in these areas in which crises and conflicts occur whether they are political, ideological or ethnic, through which the organization can exploit these conditions by the introducing itself as the savior and the forging of alliances on the purpose of the rise and proliferation, thus recently in Central Africa, the Democratic Alliance Party transformed to ISIS in the Congo, and the pledge of allegiance for ISIS of part of the Moro liberation movement in the Philippines.
Dr. Abbas Saleh, a researcher, columnist, and expert in the affairs of the African continent explained: “In this way, from al-Qaeda to “ISIS”, the factions belonging to these two factions have coexisted for years, which is what some called (exceptional jihad), however, it has recently transformed into a contest for control and influence. Africa has now become a new global destination for the war on terrorism, after the rise of jihadist models on the continent as part of what has become known as (global jihad networks), through the control of land and population, which are very important features for understanding the future of these movements.
Dr. Marwan Shehadeh presented a field study on the relationship of terrorist organizations to what occurs in Mali: “ There is a new group whose components are al-Qaeda, However, the Al-Qaeda organization in the Islamic Maghreb, the Tawheed and Jihad Group in West Africa, as well as the Ma’asina Liberation Front, the Al-Murabitoun and other Ansar al-Din group, formed a Muslims and Islam Advocacy front, This group, led by Iyad Ghali, who was appointed in command to confront the expansion of this group, is the leader of the Ma’asina Liberation Front. This new entity may have formed and expanded in West Africa and the Sahel, but the leaders led by Abu Walid al-Sahrawi and others who carry a jihadist ideology, and some of them are linked to global and local leaders, have realized that they are completely disillusioned, it also occurred in Iraq and Syria in the weakness of the Al-Qaeda organization and its dissolution after the formation of the Guardians of Religion Organization, that is why they established this grouping or merging”.
These groups have a strong presence in Mali, with the presence of enclaves. I think that the organization of the Islamic State has an impressive presence in Niger, Lake Chad, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso, and a greater presence in Mali, This situation created competition due to the wide area, as well as the popular acceptance of these organizations in the popular incubator in Africa which consist of the different races, like the Amazigh, and the van, and AlTawheed Wa AlHijrah group, on other words, there is an ethnic fabric component inside the coast, on particular Mali, they have good relations with the tribes deployed there, especially the disputes period since the beginning of the West Africa state establishment, between the recognized leadership of Boko-Haram by ISIS and leadership of Abubakar Shekaw who is described as insane by the Jihadist, Thus, the Islamic State Organization decided during the time of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to isolate Abu Bakr Shekau due to his strictness and focus on issues of bloodshed, and here questions emerged called Nigerian questions.
Among the recommendations the researchers focus on: “After the negotiation model between the (Taliban) movement and the United States, the idea of dialogue with the jihadists has become a strong argument in more than a country on the great coast, especially in Mali and Burkin Faso, Thus, this requires studying the scenarios and panels of the dialogue with the jihadists as a method to accommodate the jihadist status, and reduction of its risks to countries suffering from serious structural problems, since these counties can’t take the risks of any Jihadi rise, like ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as examining the repercussions resulted by this approach”