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Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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February 22, 2024

     Extremism is growing world wide.   Islamic State extremists have almost doubled the territory they control in Mali in less than a year, and their al-Qaida-linked rivals are capitalizing on the deadlock and perceived weakness of armed groups that signed a 2015 peace agreement, United Nations experts said in a new report.

     The stalled implementation of the peace deal and sustained attacks on communities have offered the IS group and al-Qaida affiliates a chance “to re-enact the 2012 scenario,” they said. That’s when a military coup took place in March and rebels in the north formed an Islamic state two months later. The extremist rebels were forced from power in the north with the help of a French-led military operation, but they moved from the arid north to more populated central Mali in 2015 and remain active.

      The panel of experts said in the report that the impasse in implementing the agreement - especially the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants into society - is empowering al-Qaida-linked Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin known as JNIM to vie for leadership in northern Mali.

     Sustained violence and attacks mostly by IS fighters in the Greater Sahara have also made the signatories to the peace deal “appear to be weak and unreliable security providers” for communities targeted by the extremists, the experts said.  JNIM is taking advantage of this weakening “and is now positioning itself as the sole actor capable of protecting populations against Islamic State in the Greater Sahara,” they said.  The panel added that Mali’s military rulers are watching the confrontation between the IS group and al-Qaida affiliates from a distance.  

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