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Mali: Straight out of Conflict into Exploration

Mali can barely be called “post-conflict”—despite the rhetoric following the conclusion of 11 August runoff elections—yet oil exploration deals are already being cut in the north. Indeed, they were being made even before the election, a bit on the sly. So what can we expect?

Exploration is targeting the extremely volatile North—the scene of the recent bloody conflict—and what we can expect will depend on how well the government does in turning separatists into hydrocarbon stakeholders. It could be brilliant. It could be the foundation for a revived conflict.

This is the situation in Mali right now:

Despite elections, there has been no tangible change in the security or economic situation. The only significant outcome of the elections is that it unleashes $4 billion in foreign aid, which will remain in the capital city.

The North remains largely controlled by separatists and sporadic fighting is still a problem. Jihadist forces continue to find easy recruits in Mali regardless of ideological lines, simply because they can pay fighters more.

Fractious groupings loosely linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are regrouping and uniting based on where the biggest funding flows from smuggling are. They pose an increasing threat to Niger, Chad, Mauritania, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia.

Economic growth remains at a 10-year low—and this would be even lower were it not for continued gold…

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