Since the liberation of Timbuktu, the police and gendarmerie have returned to the city. The Malian army, as well as troops from regional states and France, also have a significant presence. Soon troops of the new UN peacekeeping mission will also be in place.
Still, jihadists have managed to stage several attacks and suicide bombings in what the regional army commander describes as the "asymmetric phase of the war."
An essential ingredient of shoring up security is greater and better state engagement with marginalized communities and rebellions, such as the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which currently holds much of the northern region of Kidal and, notably, the town of the same name.
Another key step is revamping an army that is poorly trained, under-resourced and, in wake of a military coup in March 2012, deeply divided. A European Union Training Mission is currently working with groups of 700 at a time to create well-organized and combat-ready battalions.
Also essential is addressing the military's human rights record, and ensuring that civilians from communities associated with rebel movements and terrorist groups are not subjected to abuses because of their suspected collaboration.
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