In northeastern Mali, the army has managed to recapture the town of Kidal, which since 2014 was held by Tuareg tribal militias. The rebellious Tuareg are not the major problem in the north. The Mali army and a small number of Russian (Wagner Group) military contractors have persisted and prevailed over Islamic terror groups trying to cross the Niger border and advance into Mali. Chief among these are ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) groups, an al Qaeda alliance called JNIM (Jamâ’ah Nusrah al Islâm wal Muslimîn, or Group for the support of Islam and Moslems) and more violent groups like ISGS (Islamic States in Greater Sahara), which is one of the two ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) groups in the region. When they showed up in 2018, ISGS operated mainly in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, especially the area where the three borders met. Until recently those Islamic terrorists were a problem but
they are a real threat to the normally well defended capitals of all three countries. Islamic terrorist violence in northern Mali has been killing a hundred or more people a month.
While the UN peacekeepers are leaving, local military forces, some with foreign assistance like the Russian Wagner group, have persisted and prevailed.