Or something like it. Governments in the developed world and their ancillary allied forces, example France in Mali and their paid off mercenaries from the neighboring countries are going after the Islamic forces who as far as our media are concerned, are all Al Qaeda. The Tuaregs of the north African desert, seem to be independent operators, they want independence from the south Mali forces, but the Islamic extremist forces forced out the Tuaregs, or at least made them junior partners.
I first became aware of the Tuaregs when they were in exile in Libya and Muammar Gaddafi gave them electric guitars to while away the time. Some of them became professional musicians and being a DJ at the time I scarfed up their music thinking I had found something unique, which it was.
This is a review of the band I was aware of Tinariwen.
This is some of their music, these guys rock.
The article below is a decent one about the Tuareg/Gaddafi connection. “Like those groups that choose to be known as First Nations in North America, the Tuareg have insisted that they are a people with a distinct history and territory, and therefore a right to their own lands or state. Comprising up to 10% of the populations of the countries where they find themselves, the total Tuareg population in Niger is over one million, and around 900,000 in Mali. Smaller numbers are in Algeria and Burkina Faso, while the Libyan Tuareg population may once have been small but has been increased in recent years by Gaddafi’s policy of opening Libyan borders to Tuareg refugees from other states. This large, diverse set of populations, shares a strong sense of history and, at crucial times in recent decades, of destiny. Fierce Tuareg independent movements, in effect insurrections, were launched in the 1990s in Niger and Mali. These were not the first attempts by Tuareg to achieve autonomy, and to emancipate themselves from an oppressive, subordinate relationship to the nations that took shape in the Sahara. Independence movements of various kinds are spread through the twentieth century; and there is evidence of Tuareg conflict with other groups going back to their earliest appearance in the region, some thirteen hundred years ago. These are people well used to doing battle. And some of this battle has involved Libya. In the 1980s, Libyan Tuareg were involved in an armed liberation movement; in the 1990s Tuareg, supported by Libya, were involved in civil war in Mali. And of special relevance here: Gaddafi’s regime espoused the cause of Tuareg at least in so far as working to ensure that Tuareg in Mali and Niger were able to reach some kind of negotiated agreement and a temporary peace.” From Hugh Brody article in Open Democracy.
And this about the roots of the Malian revolt. The blowback effect for Libya but for the Tuaregs this goes back to a longer struggle. As the quote above would imply.
A good background for the struggles in Mali between Tuareg, French colonialists, Malian National forces and Islamic fundamentalists. “The uranium mines in neighboring Niger and the uranium deposits in Mali are of particular interest to France, which generates 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy. Niger’s uranium mines are highly polluting and deeply resented by the population, including among the semi-nomadic, Tuareg people who reside in the mining regions. The French company Areva is presently constructing in Imouraren, Niger, what will become the second-largest uranium mine in the world.” From Socialist Worker article, some background on French interest in the region.
There is a lot more, I basically see the Tuaregs as being in a situation like the Kurds, spread over several modern nation states created when the colonial powers divided Africa and the Middle East between them in the 19th and early 20th centuries. the resulting nationalities placed many traditional peoples in a situation where they became minorities and divided up between several nation states. The Tuaregs simply want to rectify the situation and are being frustrated in their legitimate concern for their traditional society. Even if they are the slavers and gold traders of history, well they are great guitarists and in current terms, that was ancient history. Interesting though if that is the historical basis for the antagonism between the Tuaregs of the North and the black Malians of the South. There is the classic historical interdependence of nomadic and sedentary cultures that cuts across Asia and Northern Africa. Something that went on for centuries. In the last three centuries sedentary societies destroyed the last power bases of nomads, especially in Central Asia. But that is another area of interest of mine that I will write about later.