Since a 2012 coup, Mali has received significant security assistance from United States, France, the European Union and other foreign donors to address violent extremism and insurgency and help stabilize the country. In the wake of the August military coup, it is clear that strategy has backfired—and that, in fact, the failure of international security sector assistance to prioritize governance likely contributed to the conditions that led to the coup.
Last year was one of the most dramatic years of nonviolent action in recent memory, with millions taking to the streets to push for greater economic equality, democratic representation, and social justice. Some of the most dramatic uprisings took place in Africa, where longstanding repressive political regimes were forced from power in Sudan and Algeria, and protests over fuel prices in Zimbabwe led to a government crackdown. The recent almost entirely bloodless coup Mali, in which soldiers abducted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and forced him to resign capped a similar uprising, but is complicated by the role of the military in the president’s ouster and the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 18, rising tensions to boiled over into a mutiny, leading to the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. This dramatic chain of events followed three months of protests, calling for Keita’s resignation. As the country grapples with an intractable insurgency and eight years of instability, anger over the government’s failure to resolve conflict, respect democratic norms, and provide basic services pushed citizens and the military to their boiling point. What comes next in Mali over the coming months could have significant implications for the country’s democracy and on the stability of the Sahel.
USIP’s Women Preventing Violent Extremism (WPVE) program aims to shape national policies and community approaches to countering violent extremism in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. USIP does this by empowering women-led organizations and building local capacity that fosters collaboration between community-level activists and national-level policymakers.
In countries of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, USIP has pioneered a method to bring state officials, community leaders and citizens together to work out the roots of their problems and cooperatively rebuild security.