Mali: CSP rebels impose blockade in the north

The rebels of the CSP (Permanent Strategic Framework) set up a blockade. The main cities in the north of the country are concerned. A little more than a month after being dislodged from their stronghold of Kidal by the Malian army and its Wagner auxiliaries, this is their first act by the rebel groups who had vowed not to lay down their arms. But this strategy could prove risky.

A street in the northern Malian city of Gao on July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Souleymane Ag Anara

By: David Baché


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The internal document, intended for the CSP's fighting forces and not intended to be made public, dates from 8 December. Signed by the president of the CSP, Alghabass Ag Intalla, it "establishes a total blockade on the roads leading from the Algerian border to the cities of Menaka, Kidal, Gao, Timbuktu and Taoudeni" and "concerns all products and all means of transport."

The decision is effective immediately, but not yet fully effective, a CPMP official said. Roads linking these cities to southern Mali are not affected, which should limit the consequences of the blockade. According to several senior members of the CSP, the embargo primarily targets the Malian army. It also aims to "suffocate the enemy's economy."

This decision, which is not unanimously supported by the rebels, is nevertheless likely to penalise the populations of the north in the first place. "Many have left because of the army and Wagner," replies a CSP leader. "Bamako or ECOWAS are also taking unpopular measures, it's a war strategy," said another.

Until now, the establishment of blockades has been the prerogative of jihadist groups, particularly the al-Qaeda-linked JNIM. Doesn't this decision reinforce the discourse of the Malian transitional authorities, who designate as "terrorists" jihadist groups as well as those who signed the 2015 peace agreement? "It's a way used around the world to put pressure on the enemy," said a senior member of the CSP.

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  • Mali