Transnational Threats to Peace and Security in the Sahel. Consequences for state-building and security in Mali


  • Magdalena Tham Lindell
  • Kim Mattsson

Publish date: 2014-06-30

Report number: FOI-R--3881--SE

Pages: 52

Written in: English


  • Africa
  • African security
  • Sahel
  • West Africa
  • Mali
  • separatism
  • Islamism
  • terrorism
  • organised crime
  • AQIM


This report reviews the three main transnational security threats present in the Sahel: violent separatism, armed Islamism and transnational organised crime. The analysis shows that these three phenomena form a complex nexus that led to the collapse of state control in northern Mali in 2012 and that now complicates the re-establishment of state authority and contributes to insecurity in the wider region. The complex connections between the threats lead to the conclusion that a broad approach is necessary, as it is impossible to counteract the threats separately. As the threats are transnational in nature, the solution to the situation in Mali must be equally transnational, involving not just the neighbouring states but also states in the extended region, as well as the international community. The underlying problems that led to the rise of separatism, armed Islamism and organised crime in northern Mali can be traced back to social exposure and lack of human security. The solution is therefore dependent on the creation of a new social contract between the Malian state and its citizens that builds on inclusion. In the short-term perspective, immediate improvements in service delivery, the establishment of security and an end to the culture of impunity are important components in creating trust in state institutions.