Since the Islamist takeover of northern Mali in mid-2012 and the subsequent French-led effort to restore Malian authority to the entire country in early 2013, civil liberties and political rights have yet to return to pre-2012 levels in both the north and south of the country. The BBC reported on June 20, 2015 that the Tuareg rebels belonging to the Azawad Movements Coalition have agreed to a peace deal after their demands (including greater political power, a regional security force and more investment in the region’s development) were met by the government. The question is whether the peace deal will work, considering earlier peace deals have all failed. Mali gained international attention in August 2015 when Islamist gunmen sieged a hotel in the central town of Sevare and killed 13 people, highlighting the rise of radical Islam in the country.
Last month, we reported on the kidnapping of Swiss missionary Beatrice Stockly, who was abducted in Mali. In a recent eight-minute video showing Stockly dressed in a black hijab, a masked speaker with a British accent claims responsibility for the kidnapping on behalf of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).