The author gives a perfectly good summary of the Mali situation, then loons out on conspiracy theories starring Algeria's security service (DRS). The original title is "Algerian state terrorism and atrocities in northern Mali." Where Occam's Razor suggests taking the most likely explanation for a set of facts, Occam's Mallet suggests the easiest fit with what you believe to be the explanation and then whacking the facts until they come out the way you want.
[OPENDEMOCRACY.NET] The Tuareg are Berbers, not Arabs, and are the indigenous population of much of the Central Sahara and Sahel. Their population is estimated at 2-3 millions. Their largest numbers, some 800,000, live in Mali, followed by Niger, with smaller concentrations in Algeria, Burkina Faso and Libya. In addition, a diaspora extends to Europe, North America, other parts of North and West Africa, the Sahel and beyond.
They used to be known as "The Blue Men of the Sahara," I'm not sure to whom. The apellation is from their preference for the color blue. And, no, I dunno why they like blue so much.
Since Independence in 1960, the Tuareg of Mali and Niger have rebelled against their central governments on several occasions. In 1962-4, a rebellion by Mali's Tuareg was crushed ruthlessly. Major rebellions in both countries in the 1990s were forcibly repressed, with government forces specifically targeting civilians. Since then, Niger experienced a small rebellion in 2004 and a much greater one from 2007 to 2009. In Mali, a brief rebellion in May 2006 was followed by a two-year uprising from 2007 until 2009 when it dissipated into an inconclusive and transient peace. While the Niger and Mali governments have both been guilty of provoking Tuareg into taking up arms, all Tuareg rebellions have been driven by a sense of political marginalisation.
Despite our habit of scouring the foreign press every day for news about both AQ and the sundry dictatorships of the world, here's an entire intricate set of events that went right by us; it wasn't picked up by the wire services so we missed it. I don't recall even seeing it mentioned in Magharebia. Berbers barely exist in North African news. And North Africa barely exists in the news in general.
However, the rebellion that began in Mali in January 2012 was different. The Tuareg had more and better equipped fighters than in previous rebellions. This was because many had returned from Libya after Gaddafi's overthrow, bringing with them extensive supplies of modern and even heavy armaments. For the first time in the long history of Tuareg rebellions, there was a real likelihood that the Tuareg might drive Malian government forces out of northern Mali, or Azawad, as it is known to Tuareg.
In October 2011, the Malian Tuareg who had returned from Libya joined up with fighters belonging to Ibrahim ag Bahanga's rebel Mouvement Touareg du Nord Mali (MTNM) to form the Mouvement National de Libération de l'Azawad (MNLA). Even though Bahanga had died under mysterious circumstances in August, his men were still intent on continuing their fight against the central government. They were also joined by several hundred Tuareg who had deserted from the Malian army.
The first shots in the new rebellion were fired on January 17 when the MNLA attacked the town of Ménaka. The following week, the MNLA attacked both Tessalit and Aguelhok. Tessalit was besieged for several weeks before falling to the MNLA in March. At Aguelhok, some 82 Malian troops, who had run out of ammunition, were massacred in cold blood on January 24. This 'war crime' has been referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Such a humiliating demise of Mali's poorly equipped forces led to an army mutiny on March 22 and a junta of low-ranking officers taking power in Bamako. Within a week, the three provincial capitals of Azawad - Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu - all fell to the rebels without resistance, leaving the whole of Azawad in rebel hands. On April 5 the MNLA declared Azawad an independent state.
The declaration of Azawad's independence received no international support, nor was it ever likely to do so. One reason for this was because of the alliance between the MNLA and the Islamist group called Ansar al-Din, a jihadist movement led by a local Tuareg notable, Iyad ag Ghaly. Ansar al-Din was in alliance with another jihadist group, Jamat Tawhid Wal Jihad Fi Garbi Afriqqiya (Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa - MUJAO), with both being supported by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
At the start of the rebellion in January, the MNLA claimed to number several thousand, while Ansar al-Din numbered scarcely a hundred. However, by April, and for reasons that have remained a mystery to the media, it was the Islamists rather than the MNLA who were calling the shots in Azawad. Indeed, on June 25, fighting between the Islamists and MNLA led to the latter being displaced from Gao, leaving Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu being ruled respectively by Ansar al-Din, MUJAO and AQIM.
With the MNLA marginalized, the Islamists quickly began imposing shari'a law in Azawad. In Gao, a young man died after having his hand amputated for alleged theft; in Aguelhok, a couple were stoned to death for alleged adultery; in Timbuktu, ancient Sufi tombs, UNESCO world heritage sites, were destroyed. Throughout the region, music, smoking, alcohol, TV, football, traditional forms of dress and lifestyle were all banned as Islamists dished out beatings, amputations and executions with a vengeance. By August, nearly half a million people had fled or been displaced.
Posted by: Fred 2013-01-18