In January, the Global Initiative released a paper on Illicit Trafficking and Instability in Mali that gathered together some recent insights into the extent of trafficking in northern Mali.

Based on interviews conducted in Gao and Timbuktu in early 2013, and with a range of actors in Bamako later in the year, the paper confirmed the extent of complicity between traffickers and other groups operating in the Sahel and between some of these groups and officials in the north and in Bamako.  These relationships were not always harmonious in the past, and have sometimes led to tensions.

In this commentary, Global Initiative Board Member, Camino Kavanagh who is based in Bamako, together with Prof. Stephen Ellis, renowned Africanist at the University of Leiden, raise some additional points to consider, including the extent of the narco-terrorist relationship, and the degree to which we as the international community could have seen the crisis coming.

Read also the response of the authors to their comments here.