Mali: New Fulani armed group in the making
Three recently published videos announced the formation of a new Fulani armed group active in the areas of Ansongo, Fafa and Haïre. The group is described as non-jihadist and non-separatist, thus recognizing the Malian state and does not claim any territory. It has a secular outlook and Fulani in its composition. The nascent self-defense group has not presented any name yet, although they put a red, green and white flag on display, an emblem clearly distinguishing them from jihadists. A few dozen of the group’s fighters are shown in the videos released.
There are several reasons believed to be behind the creation of this group. Firstly, the dissolution of the National Alliance for the Protection of Fulani Identity and the Restoration of Justice (ANSIPRJ), with remains of this alliance scattered in central and northern Mali. Secondly, the limited influence of certain groups in the political process, with a former Ganda Izo commander, Abderrahmane Cissé presented as the leading figure of this new formation. Another leading member is an ex-GATIA named Obel Brehima. Thirdly, the abuses the Fulani community suffers from both Malian security forces and armed groups. Lastly, pressure from jihadists in the area.
Hence, the group aims to gather smaller groups active on the ground in areas where it has presence with the objective to protect the Fulani community from harrassment. They also called on the Fulani community to support them materially and financially, and further stated that they were prepared to ”fight to the end”.