Bericht von Philip Kleinfeld über die sozialen Spannungen in Zentralmali, Region Mpoti.

Dozens of villages looted and torched in the past few months as a conflict between armed members of Mali’s Dogon and Fulani communities ripples through the heart of the country, claiming hundreds of lives and displacing thousands of people.

Dabei weiten sich die von Jihadisten geschürten Konflikte vom Norden zunehmend nach Zentralmali aus:

Analysts say the conflict has been triggered by the increasing presence of jihadists linked to al-Qaeda in central Mali. They have recruited heavily among Fulani herders, fuelling distrust with other ethnic groups, including the Dogon, some of whom have organised into abusive new self-defence militias.

“Both sides are killing each other,” said Fatou Thiam, head of the Mopti office of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA.

The conflict underscores Mali’s struggle to restore order three years after a peace deal was signed between the government and armed groups in the north, including separatist Tuareg rebels, who seized large parts of the country following a 2012 military coup in the capital, Bamako.

Islamist militants, who joined forces with the separatists before a French-led intervention pushed them back, have gradually expanded their sphere of influence from the desert north into Mali’s previously peaceful centre.

This year 5.2 million Malians are in need of humanitarian assistance, compared to 3.8 million in 2017. The number of internally displaced people has also doubled since January to 75,000, according to the UN’s emergency aid coordination office, OCHA, the majority in the central Mali.

Die Jihadisten nutzen dabei die schon lange bestehenden sozialen Spannungen:

Before the emergence of jihadism, the social fabric in central Mali was already fragile. For decades weak governance and competition over land and water caused lingering conflicts between the Fulani pastoralists, who move their herds across the region, and largely sedentary Dogon, Bambara, and Songhai farming communities.

Those tensions were exacerbated by the rise of jihadist groups in the centre, including the Macina Liberation Front led by an influential radical preacher known as Amadou Koufa, and Ansaroul Islam, a Burkinabe Islamist group that uses southern Mopti as its rear base. New Fulani self-defence groups have also emerged in recent months.

Analysts say the jihadists have deliberately stoked ethnic tension to drive recruitment and legitimise their presence. Local government officials and respected members of the community are systematically targeted in anticipation the Fulani community – most of whom deny supporting the jihadists – will face collective punishment.

IRIN | 04.09.2018

„In central Mali, rising extremism stirs inter-communal conflict“