African nation of Mali inching towards civil war
Tuareg rebels trying to found new state called Azawad
In the African nation of Mali, Tuareg rebel soldiers have been
attempting to forge their own state in the northern part of the country,
called Azawad. The soldiers announced their intentions earlier last
month, and have been trying to galvanize their efforts since the
beginning of this year. Control of the northern Mali region remains
questionable, and the nation appears to be inching closer and closer to
When Mali gained independence in 1960, Tuareg communities in the north suddenly found themselves under the rule of the southern tribes, whom some of the Tuareg clans considered inferior.
"The French patronized them; it made certain Tuareg clans feel superior," Professor Jeremy Keenan says.
According to Kennan, when Mali gained independence, Tuareg communities in the north suddenly found themselves under the rule of the southern tribes, whom some of the Tuareg clans considered inferior.
"Their world was turned upside down, and they didn't like it," Keenan explains. "They felt as though they had done pretty badly out of the colonial shift."
Unhappy with the new setup, a handful of Tuareg led a small rebellion in 1963, which was begun when Alladi Ag Alla, a Tuareg rebel, attacked two policemen as they traveled on camel across a remote desert.
The Malian army responded, crushing the rebellion within a year. Drought hit the region from 1969 to 1974 and from 1982 to 1984, forcing thousands of Tuareg to flee to neighboring countries in search of labor and food.
Hundreds of Tuareg returned under the leadership of Iyad Ag Ghali in 1990, now the leader of the Islamist faction Ansar Dine, which is currently calling for Shariah law to be implemented in Mali.
Violence raged after an initial attack on a small police camp. Rebels entered into talks with the Malian government in 1992.
The resultant National Pact, signed in 1992, fractured the movement. While some Tuareg leaders were keen to negotiate with the government, others took a hard-line approach. Tuaregs that did not approve of their comrades' desire to compromise fled to neighboring countries.
Despite peace agreements, rebels said that the Malian government did not fulfill its promises, and anger simmered away. A new rebellion broke out in 2006 after insurgents attacked Malian army installations, only to stop again after ceasefire talks brokered by Algeria.
Called the Algiers Accords, the agreement promised the Tuareg rebels greater autonomy, economic development and the protection of Tuareg culture. But the agreement broke down again.
Tuareg rebel leader Ibrahim Ag Bahanga continued to attack the Malian army. In 2009, he was finally pushed out of Mali and found refuge in Libya.
There he teamed up with several former revolutionary commanders who had left Mali after the 1990 rebellion. When anti-Moammar Khadhafi protests began in Libya's capital, Tripoli, Ag Bahanga made plans to travel back to Mali with a handful of leaders to restart their rebellion.
The group returned to Mali in October 2011 and was followed by hundreds of Tuareg mercenaries, the beginning of the latest conflict.
While some MNLA commanders do have grounds for complaint against the Malian government and genuine dreams for the creation of a Tuareg state, observers are skeptical about how much public support the MNLA has in the region. They are also not convinced that the concept of Tuareg nationalism is embraced by all.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Tuareg rebels, Mali, civil war, Libya, rebellion
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