11 March 2021
  • Natural Resources
  • Mali
  • Jihadists
  • Mediation

Jihadist groups and natural resources contestation in Mali

A new policy brief by Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) looks to understand how Islamic extremist groups have used natural resource contestation between tribal groups like the Fulani and Dogon to broker peace and solidify their position across Mali. Contestation for agricultural land, herding pastures and fishing access has grown in Mali over the last two decades and with a wider existential crisis gripping the entire country, jihadist groups have been able to successfully play off isolated and vulnerable communities against each other through the use and threat of violence.

The absence of the state in these regions has led to jihadist groups acting as a proxy state, controlling and regulating access to natural resources. Whilst control by extremists should not be seen as an ideal situation, there are key learnings to be taken out of this. The paper recommends the following:

  • Immediate de-escalation of conflicts is needed through disarmament of militias and rebuilding of trust between local communities and Mali’s armed forces, with a strong focus on protecting civilians. 
  • Mali needs a national, comprehensive strategy for how to include jihadists and local militias in dialogue, reconciliation and dispute resolution.
  • International donors need to identify already-existing local peace agreements and support local-level dialogue between all parties to conflicts.
  • Long-term solutions regulating equal access to natural resources for different population groups are key. 

Read the full brief HERE

Photo credits: United Nations Photo/Flickr