A 3-way conflict between Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS) threatens to crumble fragile Mali
Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Islamic State Greater Sahara (ISGS).
In January 2022, JNIM turned against the Azawad militias, particularly National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) operating under Petit Thefar and shortly thereafter, JNIM fighters began attacking MNLA in the area of Tin Tachori in the Gao region of Mali. According to ISGS supporters on social media at that time, JNIM’s strategy is to gain control over MNLA, to then join forces against ISGS.
However, in mid-May, eyewitness accounts reported that ISGS fighters crossed the Niger border into the Gao region of Mali, for a purported ISGS leadership meeting in Sorori, also in the Gao area. This Sorori meeting was likely about the strategy behind combatting MNLA and JNIM at the hotly contested, water rich, border region of Niger and Mali. In the Sahel, water is worth much more than its weight in gold, controlling water sources means control over the area.
By early June 2022, MNLA and some of the group's allies met, likely to discuss and amass a significant build-up of forces to combat both JNIM and ISGS. TRAC sources on the ground reported that JNIM Commanders were expecting a large shipment of arms from Libya on 03 June and that 50 fighters from Sudan to Libya, as well as from Nigeria, have come to Mali for the battle with MNLA and presumably, by extension, JNIM. A day later, JNIM released photos of hundreds of fighters on motorcycles and gun trucks (pictured above), taken in the Menaka region of Mali, which borders Burkina Faso and seems to be a staging ground.
This three-way conflict could easily and quickly turn into a bloodbath on all sides with countless civilians caught in the middle. If this conflict transpires between these three groups it is certain to crumble the fragile state of Mali.