Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 01/2013

Threats to Security in the Sahel: The Mali Crisis

Mohamed Mahmoud Mohamed Salah

December 2012

International Peace Institute


This issue brief by an expert in Mauritania provides a perspective on current threats to peace and security in the Sahel and specifically Mali. It includes historical background and scenarios for the future of the region. The optimistic scenarios, which the author admits are not the most likely, would entail two components: 1. The restoration of authority and legitimacy to the central government in Bamako. 2. An agreement by the international community to provide the Malian government with all of the support it needs. Pessimistic scenarios include: 1. The "Afghanization" of Mali, in which an Islamic state dominated by al-Qaeda develops in northern Mali. 2. The "Somalization" of Mali, in which a complete collapse of state authority leads to perpetual war and chaos, making the agents of organized crime the only true beneficiaries. The brief was produced by IPI's Africa Program in partnership with the Mauritania-based think tank, the Centre for Strategies for Security in the Sahel Sahara Region (Centre 4S). It was published in French in June 2012 and translated into English by Annie Jacobs.