11 Dec 2019

Salafi jihadi armed groups and conflict (de-)escalation

The case of Ansar Dine in Mali

As violent conflict erupted in Mali in 2012, the Salafi jihadi Armed Group (SJAG) Ansar Dine quickly emerged as one of its main protagonists, and its leader Iyad Ag Ghaly retained a prominent role within the umbrella entity Jamāʿat nuṣrat al-islām wal-muslimīn (Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, JNIM) formed in March 2017.


Tim Jan Roetman, Marie Migeon, Véronique Dudouet


This case study report analyses three strategic shifts undergone by Ansar Dine (and then JNIM), and underscores a non-linear evolution towards conflict escalation, both in terms of the geographic spread and level of violence. The study explores the organisational and ideological patterns contributing to this behavioural shift, as well as the role of external factors such as inter-party power dynamics and international intervention in constraining, incentivising or provoking Ansar Dine’s strategic shifts. The study concludes by exploring possible future scenarios for conflict de-escalation.

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