One Small Step For Mali
BMI View: While the 'unity' government formed in Bamako has clear flaws, we believe it will help to ease the institutional paralysis that has stalled attempts to deal with Mali's on-going security crisis. The new government should allow aid flows to resume, and will be backed by regional states. Even so, we believe that a lasting solution to the Malian crisis remains far off.
Once considered a stable democracy, Mali is now under the authority of its second caretaker government since a March 22 coup overthrew its elected president. On August 20 transitional President Dioncounda Traoré announced the formation of a 'unity' government of 31 ministers, including 13 new appointments, which replaced a shaky transitional government formed in April. Despite the new government's obvious flaws, it is a much broader and more representative administration than the one it replaced. BMI believes this will help to end Mali's institutional paralysis, but we remain doubtful that a comprehensive solution to Mali's humanitarian and security crisis is likely in the short term.
|A House Divided|
|Mali - Security Crisis|
Mali's veneer of stability was destroyed on March 22 when a junior officers' coup deposed the elected government, replacing it with a military junta. The junta claimed that the civilian government had failed to protect the country from separatist northern rebels, but the power vacuum caused by their putsch allowed a loose alliance of separatists and Islamist extremists to conquer the north of the country on April 1. A weak transitional government was formed on April 25, but squabbling between civilian and military leaders continued while al-Qaeda-linked Islamic extremists tightened their grip on the north. A combination of violence and a worsening food shortage has caused 436,000 Northern Malians to flee their homes, threatening to destabilise neighbouring states.
Have The Cavalry Arrived?
Regional states who shunned Mali's military rulers will welcome the creation of a unity government, which they have described as the first step in reuniting the country. BMI expects that Western aid frozen after the coup will be restarted, and believes that interested foreign powers (notably France) will support the new regime.
A lasting solution to Mali's division, however, remains far off. BMI doubts that a negotiated solution will cause the rebels to relinquish their control over their territory, and a military re-conquest of the area is clearly beyond the capacity of Mali's demoralised and undersupplied armed forces.
We have previously argued that a foreign intervention to reunite the country is unlikely in the short term, partly due to the lack of a stable Malian government to support the operation (See July 16 'Calls For Intervention Ring Hollow' on our online service). Even now that such a government is in place, we believe that any intervention would only aim to stabilise the government-held south rather than retaking the Islamist-controlled north. Such an operation would consolidate government control, allow aid to flow into the country, and - perhaps - prepare the ground for a future invasion of the north.
Such a mission is, however, opposed by Mali's armed forces, which fear that foreign troops would reduce their influence and allow the civilian government to act more independently. While the new government is civilian-led, the army controls four key ministries (in bold below). BMI believes that a stabilisation force may be deployed in the coming months, but only if military elites can be persuaded that they will not be removed from power by an emboldened civilian government.
|Source: Government of Mali (Military Officers in Bold)|
|Prime Minister||Cheick Modibo Diarra||Justice||Malick Coulibaly|
|Economy, Finance, & Budget||Tienan Coulibaly||Work, Employment, & Professional Training||Dr Diallo Dédia Mahamane Kattra|
|Defence & Veterans' affairs||Yamoussa Camara||Commerce & Industry||Abdel Karim Konaté|
|Foreign Affairs & Int. Cooperation||Tiemam Coulibaly||Hunting & Fishing||Makan Tounkara|
|Territorial Administration & Decentralization||Moussa Sinko Coulibaly||Humanitarian Action, Solidarity, the Elderly||Dr Mamadou Sidibé|
|Public Service, Administration, & Relations with Institutions||Mamadou Namory Traoré||Communication||Bruno Maïga|
|Malians Abroad & African Integration||Madame Traoré Rokiatou Guikiné||Post & New Technologies||Bréhima Tolo|
|Internal Security & Civil Protection||Tiefing Konaté||Energy & Water Resources||Alfa Bocar Nafo|
|Agriculture||Dr Yaranga Coulibaly||Culture||Boubacar Hamadoun Kebé|
|Higher Education & Scientific Research||Pr Harouna Kanté||Environment||David Sagara|
|Education, Literacy, National Languages & Civic Instruction||Adama Ouane||Family, Women, & Children||Mme Alwata Ichata Sahi|
|Health||Soumana Makadji||Tourism & Handicraft||Ousmane Ag Rhissa|
|Housing & Urbanism||Mme Diallo Fadima Touré||Religious Affairs||Dr Yacouba Traoré|
|Infrastructure & Planning||Mamadou Coulibaly||Budget||Marimpa Samoura|
|Transport & Road Infrastructure||Abdoulaye Koumaré||Decentralization||Demba Traoré|
|Mines||Dr Amadou Baba Sy|
Lacking resources and hamstrung by its military elements, we believe that the new unity government will improve ties with regional states and allow aid to return, but will not be able to reunite Mali or deal effectively with the country's on-going food crisis.
Risks To Outlook
A foreign intervention with sufficient power to actually retake the north is beyond the capacity of regional states, and would require Western support. Such a mission is only likely if Mali's Islamists (who recently 'declared war' on the West) begin to pose a threat to foreign targets.