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As Mali’s junta pokes at Algeria, what’s at stake for North Africa and Sahel?

Three years after severing its ties with Morocco, Algeria faces challenges in its relations with Mali and other Sahel countries.
Supporters hold a poster depicting Malis interim leader and head of Junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta (L) and Guinea Interim leader and head of Junta, Mamady Doumbouya (R), in Bamako, Mali, on September 22, 2022 during Mali's Independence Day military parade. (Photo by OUSMANE MAKAVELI / AFP) (Photo by OUSMANE MAKAVELI/AFP via Getty Images)

Algeria is concerned over growing hostility with Mali that could threaten the security along their 850-mile border, as well as Algiers’ influence over the Sahel.

The junta ruling Mali announced Jan. 26 that it was canceling an agreement for reconciliation brokered by Algeria in 2015 aimed at ending the armed conflict that broke out in Mali in 2012 between the government and the alliance of the Tuareg and the Arab rebel movements. 

Tuareg tribes, the majority of whom live in the north of Mali as well as in neighboring countries, had sought in 2012 to establish an independent state in that region. After they started to rebel, Islamic extremist groups joined the war against the Malian government. Their joining was the main reason France accepted at the time the request by Mali to send in troops. 

Several other agreements were negotiated between the parties over the years, but it was the Algiers Accord that became the principal reference point, even though it was never fully respected. The transition government, set up by the military after its 2020 coup d’etat, accepted the Algiers Accord as a basis for continued negotiations up until last month. 

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