Tag Archives: France

How did Mali get here? (Part 5: Institutional explanations)

In this final installment of the series we consider the role of Mali’s political institutions in generating the wave of instability and political violence that has engulfed the country since 2012. Institutionalist analysis ascribes a country’s success–or lack thereof–to the … Continue reading

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How did Mali get here? (Part 4: Geopolitical explanations)

In seeking to understand the long-term sources of instability in Mali, analytical perspectives centered on geopolitics emphasize competition among states, including the Malian government, its Sahelian neighbors, and extra-regional players, in shaping events there. These perspectives pit the Malian state’s … Continue reading

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How did Mali get here? (Part 1: Echoes of decolonization)

Introduction: Recently I’ve been drafting a brief overview of Mali’s modern history and present trajectory. The aim is to excavate the long-term political, economic, and historical underpinnings of Mali’s ongoing instability. This post is the first in a series on … Continue reading

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Kicking the foreigners out

Amid the recent hype over Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric in the US, the anniversary of a landmark crackdown on unwanted foreigners has quietly slipped past. 20 years ago this week, police broke down the doors of the Eglise Saint-Bernard in … Continue reading

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Getting a read on Serval

From January 2013 through July 2014, the French military carried out on Malian territory a vast intervention codenamed Opération Serval. It has been reputed to be the largest unilateral overseas deployment of France’s armed forces since the Algerian war ended … Continue reading

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Uncomfortable truths about Mali

Some may recall a candid speech from a French diplomat in July 2012 about Mali and its neighbors. It was delivered by Laurent Bigot, then France’s top diplomat for West Africa. Bigot’s candor got him fired, but earned him a … Continue reading

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What Mali’s recent past reveals about its present woes, Part 1: The road to nongovernmentality

These days the sovereignty of the Malian state looks more hypothetical than ever. The government’s control over its northern regions ranges from tenuous to nonexistent. Kidal has been firmly under the rule of Tuareg separatists for two years, while only … Continue reading

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Mali vs. the West

Is Mali the victim of a shadowy global conspiracy? Malians are pondering this question more and more, and for many of them the answer is a clear “yes.” Surveying the chaos engulfing their country and region, they see the hidden … Continue reading

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The paths of conflict diverge

As French troops hunted Islamist fighters in northern Mali this past winter, historian Greg Mann said that what was taking place in the region was not one war, but several. For a few months starting in January 2013, the various … Continue reading

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Intoxication by information: fighting over facts in Mali

The remote village of Tessalit, way up in northern Mali close to Algeria, holds the key to the future of the Saharan region. Anyone in Mali will tell you this. The Guardian‘s Afua Hirsch spoke to a few of them … Continue reading

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