20 November 2019

Confrontations between the Salafist-Jihadist groups and the security forces in East of Mali

Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

In order to secure the border between Mali and Niger, the armed forces of these two states have launched a common military operation called “Tongo Tongo”. During the actions of this operation, a Malian patrol was attacked on Monday, November 18th, in Tabankort, Gao region.

Image source: Mediafax

According to the official press release of the Malian army, during the confrontations between the security forces and the members of the Salafist-Jihadist groups, 24 military men were killed and other 29 got hurt. Also, the press release states that 17 of the members of the Salafist-Jihadist group were killed and other 100 suspects were captured by the Nigerian armed forces.

As we were stating in a previous article published on D.S.M., the current situation in Mali is favoring the increase of Salafist-Jihadist activity for the following 6-12 months. In the same article we were underlining that “the most aggressive enlargement of the Salafist-Jihadist groups takes place in West Africa, as the violence gets spread easily, and these states’ authorities’ fragility is getting deeper. The center of Salafist-Jihadist groups’ actions is Mali. Initially active only in North of the country, the Salafist-Jihadist groups have enlarged their actions also to the center of the country, where the ethnical violence has increased. Burkina Faso is also going down slowly, as the Salafist-Jihadist groups are getting installed in North and East of the country”.

The authorities did not identify the attackers, nor the group they belong to.

The North side of Mali “fell” in the hand of the Salafist-Jihadist groups, inspired by Al-Qaeda (AQ) or the Islamic State from Iraq and Levant (ISIS) in 2012. Despite the French military intervention, the border regions between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso turned into the theatre of repeated confrontations between the security forces and the members of the groups inspired or affiliated to AQ or ISIL.

The actions deployed on Monday, November 18th, took place shortly after another attack executed over the Malian armed forces, at the beginning of November, which ended with the death of 54 soldiers. The attack on November 1st, from the Menaka region, was claimed by ISIL through the Amaq “press agency”.

A regional terrorism combat force (G5 Sahel- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), supported by France, the African Union and a peace maintenance mission under UN’s aegis are trying to keep under control the terrorist threat in the region. At this UN mission are also participating 120 Romanian military men, with seven military helicopters.

But G5 Sahel, whereat are participating more than 5.000 military men, is under-financed. Almost two year later, after 414 million euro were collected within a conference hosted by EU, only 18 million euro got to the region, stated the commissary of the African Union for peace and stability, Smail Chergui.

At the beginning of this month, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has called, again, on the “predictable and supported funding for G5 Sahel” by the UN Security Council, a process that US and others have blocked so far. The American president, Donald Trump, thinks that the bilateral help is the best approach.

This last major incident from Mali strengthens the idea promoted in a D.S.M. article, that the “Salafist-Jihadist groups are working on four big centers on the African territory: Libya, Mali and the states around it, the Horn of Africa and the Chad Lake bowl. These centers of activity are connected, allowing the recruitment, funding and improvement of the Salafist-Jihadist groups’ members, affiliated to ISIL or Al-Qaida… or both, because people’s discontentment are multiple and their will of revenge is so big. This discontentment coming from the Sunni Muslim population is also increased due to the crises and the lack of personal security they are experiencing and are being materialized through: civil war, community violence, violence and abuse from the state authorities”.

Translated by Andreea Soare