Center of Mali, a « neglected » crisis

The crisis in central Mali (Ségou, Koulikoro and Mopti) is « neglected » by almost all: the state, local populations and the international community. This is the conclusion drawn by Adam Thiam who has just completed a study « Center of Mali: Challenges and Dangers of a neglected Crisis », thanks to the support of the Center for Humanitarian Studies.


This region of Mali, the heart of the country and a real suture between the North and the South, has been under the spotlight since 2015 because of « targeted assassinations, inter-communal conflicts, attacks on national and international armed forces”, explains Abdel Kader Sidibe of the Center for Humanitarian Studies, during the presentation on Thursday 23 March in Bamako.


This study mainly responds to a need to understand and analyze the crisis at the Center, which has become a hotbed of instability: theft of cattle, social conflicts. For the journalist Adam Thiam, there is in the center latent conflicts as the jihadist problem, which was born in the north of the country, is awakening. « The agenda of the jihadists is to create the maximum of disorder in the already shocked societies », he adds.


The study explains that in the Center there were two Jihadist experiences in the past, notably with the dynasty of Sheikh Amadou Barry of Macina defeated later by the Jihad of El Hadj Sheikh Omar Tall. Contrary to an increasingly widespread thesis that there are no jihadists in the Center, Adam Thiam persists and signs: « There is a Caliphate project in the center ».


Who are the artisans? A name emerges most often: Hamadoun Sangaré alias Kouffa, described in the study as a Hafiz (scholar), eloquent with a revolutionary speech in a region where there are very strong reorganization attempts, becoming jihadist leader. Kouffa, the village of which he is a native, was the seat of an Islamic court under the Islamic rule of Sheikh Amadou.


For Adam Thiam, the name Macina Liberation Front (FLM) was only highlighted in 2012. It was spread through the press. While Kouffa himself claims his actions in the name of « Katiba Macina », which is a recognition of the superiority of Iyad Ag Ghaly and his connection with Ansardine.


The other danger in the Center is the way the State solves the problem: creating frustrations. Indeed, Operation Seno to clean up the region of jihadist nests created frustrations within the Fulani community: about fifty Fulani people were arrested, imprisoned in Bamako and then released by the prosecutor for lack of proof. The author warns against racial profiling (Fulani / jihadist amalgam), impunity, which are likely to be the starting point of a new rebellion: to join jihadist groups. There is therefore a             « Fulani question » that deserves to be followed.


What to do for the Center? It is the Leninist question to which Adam Thiam responds by recommending to the State, more concentrated on the North, to economically rehabilitate the Mopti region considered by the World Bank as the poorest in Mali, to review the curriculum of the Koranic schools that must be tools of modernity. At the Center, 185 schools are closed, while Koranic schools explode.

Boubacar Sangaré