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Lessons from the Malian Crisis for the International Security Architecture

French VAB Vehicle Being Unloaded from RAF C17 in Mali

French VAB vehicle being unloaded from RAF C17 in Mali. Photo: Defence Images/flickr.

The response to the crisis in Mali has revealed the shortcomings of the multilateral security architecture in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN). The response to the security situation in Mali has gone through four phases, with the first two each facing challenges that made it necessary to move on to the next step. The third phase was an interim measure to address the acceleration of events on the ground, paving the way to a fourth step currently under discussion at the UN.

The initial response, which spans the period from the March 2012 coup d’état to June 2012, was a regional one. Articulated by ECOWAS, it was centred on the decision to deploy a multidimensional mission – the ECOWAS Mission in Mali (MICEMA). However, this decision never went beyond the planning stages, having faced several obstacles, including the junta’s hostility to any armed presence in Bamako; the absence of consensus on the way forward with Algeria and, to a lesser extent, Mauritania, accentuated by the fact that these two countries do not belong to ECOWAS; and logistical and financial constraints that made it impossible to deploy in the absence of international support. » More

Mercenaries from Mali to Foment Unrest in Côte d’Ivoire?

UNOCI Conducts Disarmament Operation in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – February 2012. Photo: United Nations/flickr

According to a controversial report commissioned by the United Nations, former Ivorian President Laurent Gbabo’s exiled allies are recruiting Islamists from Northern Mali to destabilize the current government of President Alassane Ouattara.

News of the report broke on Saturday, October 6, 2012 on Radio France International (RFI). In an article entitled “Côte d’Ivoire: UN report rich in revelations” [fr] RFI describes the alleged links between the pro-Gbabo Ivorian Patriotic Front (FPI) and Ansar Dine Islamists in Mali. Their report also claims that a meeting took place on the border between Mauritania and Senegal to discuss the mobilization of mercenaries. » More

Intervention in Mali: Does R2P Apply?

Mali refugees in Niger

Mali refugees in an inofficial refugee camp in Niger. Photo: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection/flickr

Six months ago, a coup d’état toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure (“ATT”), the democratically elected leader of Mali, and soon thereafter ATT went into exile; armed groups in the north, inspired by a strict and austere interpretation of Islam and the desire to impose Sharia law on the entire country, have engaged in jihadism, terrorism and arms trafficking; and many of Mali’s cultural treasures and riches have been destroyed by the same armed groups who consider much of modern civilization – i.e., the West – to be decadent and depraved and thus in need of purification.

Lamentably, most of these developments – marauding and irredentist Islamists linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the destruction of cultural relics and objet d’art, threats to World Heritage sites – have been overlooked or ignored. To be sure, some outlets – notably The New York Times and the BBC – have done their part to sound the alarm, and Alain Juppé, the former foreign minister of France, was told in March that if these groups gained control of the north, Mali would be turned into another Afghanistan. » More

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