Alexander Thurston interviews the independent journalist Odile Jolys.
In 2012, seperatist Taureg militias with Islamist backing occupied northern Mali. In late spring, the Islamists took control over the uprising and marginalized the seperatist forces. After the government was overthrown by a military coup, Islamist fights advanced into central Mali and appeared poised to overtake the capital, Bamako. France intervened with the support of the African Union and the United Nations. Although French and African forces quickly managed to secure control over the cities of northern Mali, they did not succeed in defeating Jihadism in the north or bringing peace to this deeply divided region.
Five years later, the foreign troops, the French Operation Barkhane and the UN mission MINUSMA are still in the country. Yet in the context of repeated and ongoing terror attacks against the civilian population in both Mali as well as neighbouring states, insecurity has continued to grow.
Alexander Thurston, a lecturer at Georgetown University's African Studies Program, describes the situation in Mali and illuminates the state of the peace process. He recently published the book Boko Haram. The History of an African Jihadist Movement (Princeton University Press, 2017).