Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta issued a decree on Thursday, January 30, announcing a new military operation under the name “Operation Maliko” in the northern and central regions of the country. According to Keïta’s statement, the mission will focus on “counter terrorist and criminal threats” and assert the authority of the state into the restive regions. Operation Maliko will be divided between two regional theaters of operations, where commanders will have wide-ranging powers including the ability to impose restrictions on movement, modes of transport, and access to specified areas. The East Theater will be headquartered in Gao (Gao region) and cover Gao, Ménaka, and Kidal regions while the Central Theater will be commanded out of Sévaré (Mopti region) and cover the Ségou, Mopti, Tombouctou, and Taoudénit regions. President Keïta’s decree also said that the new operation will take into account “cross-border, regional and international cooperation,” likely including the French-led Operation Barkhane and G5 Sahel coalition.
Later on Sunday, February 2, French Defense Minister Florence Parly announced that 600 additional soldiers will be deployed into the Sahel to join Operation Barkhane. This will increase the number of French troops in the region to 5100. According to the Armed Forces Ministry, the additional troops will gradually be deployed over the coming weeks from Monday, February 3.
An increase in military operations and a heightened security presence is expected in the regions covered by Operation Maliko over the near term.
Due to the presence of various armed groups, Mali's northern and central regions remain unstable despite a French-led intervention launched in 2013 that drove many extremists from their strongholds.
The security environment in Mali remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
Due to the underlying terrorist and kidnapping threats prevalent in the country, all those present in Mali are advised to remain discreet regarding personal details, particularly information concerning nationality, employment, family, etc. Individuals are also advised to avoid public events and places frequented by Westerners, to remain vigilant at all times (especially in local markets, now used by terrorists as recruitment grounds), and to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities.