The Competence, Willingness, and Empowerment of Counterinsurgency Forces in Northern Mali in 2012–2013

  • Zdeněk Ludvík
Keywords: (northern) Mali, ECOWAS/CÉDÉAO, France, Islamist violent non-state actors, competence, willingness, empowerment, successful execution of the counterinsurgency military operation


In 2012, Islamist violent non-state actors in northern Mali succeeded in fighting against the Malian army, and they got the entire north Malian territory under their control. This paper seeks to answer the question of why the Islamists were dislodged and the territory was brought back under the control of the Malian state only after a time gap of one year. Using the theoretical conception of an enemy-centric approach, the criteria of competence, willingness, empowerment, and the successful execution of the counterinsurgency military operation are conceptualized. The paper uses this research framework to analyze the actions of the three counterinsurgency actors – Mali, ECOWAS/CÉDÉAO, and France – and explains the above-mentioned gap. The research shows that IVNSAs were eliminated and the ability of the (Malian) state to control the territory was restored only when the counterinsurgency actor (France) was able to accomplish the given criteria of competence, willingness, and empowerment simultaneously.

Author Biography

Zdeněk Ludvík
Born in 1968, he is an internal PhD candidate at the Department of International Relations at the Institute of Political Studies at Charles University in Prague. He has graduated summa cum laude and received a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in International Relations and European Studies at the Metropolitan University in Prague. He specializes in the issues of violent non-state actors, territorial governance and geopolitics, French foreign policy, and Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.
Research Articles