Violence is tearing Mali and the Sahel apart. But who are the armed groups behind the bloodshed? Where are international actors stationed in the region? And what motivates them all? This project maps jihadist and non-jihadist groups and pinpoints the presence of external actors in the region as of May 2019.

Haut Conseil pour l’Unité de l’Azawad (HCUA)

The HCUA is commanded by the Ifoghas Tuareg leader Alghabass Ag Intallah, who was a senior member of Ansar al-Din before briefly founding the Mouvement Islamique de l’Azawad and then the HCUA in May 2013. It operates in different areas across Kidal, Timbuktu, Gao, and Ménaka, and has a strong presence in parts of Gao (particularly the important town of Talataye) and in Ménaka. The HCUA maintains an ideological orientation around Islamic rigorism and has recently cracked down in Kidal on the sale of alcohol and other intoxicants. It has provided significant military strength from its base in Kidal, which was also the power base of Ansar al-Din and its leader Iyad Ag Ghali. The HCUA is a signatory party to the Algiers Accords, but French officials and others have alleged that the HCUA maintains close ties to Ansar al-Din. In addition to Ag Intallah’s former position in Ansar al-Din, the HCUA’s former military commander, famed Tuareg rebel and commander Cheik Ag Aoussa, was also a longtime ally of Ag Ghali and a senior military commander in Ansar al-Din. He was also regularly in contact with Ag Ghali until his death in a car bombing in October 2016.