News / Africa

Deal Between Mali Tuaregs, Islamists Breaks Apart

Rebels from the militant Islamist sect Ansar Dine in MaliRebels from the militant Islamist sect Ansar Dine in Mali
x
Rebels from the militant Islamist sect Ansar Dine in Mali
Rebels from the militant Islamist sect Ansar Dine in Mali
Nancy Palus
Only days after Tuareg rebels and Islamist fighters announced an alliance for a new Islamic state in northern Mali, the Tuareg rebels have backed away from the deal.  An analyst says this latest move points to a dilemma the Tuaregs have faced since the start of this latest rebellion - how to handle their relationship with Islamists that fought alongside them.

Malian rebel group the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA, has said it is pulling out of a short-lived alliance with Islamist militant group Ansar Dine.

The groups signed an accord May 26 to create the Islamic republic of Azawad.  But the alliance immediately showed signs of strain.

In the chaotic days following Mali’s coup d’état in March, the groups seized control of northern Mali, but to very different professed ends.  Ansar Dine wanted to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law throughout the country.  The MNLA wanted an independent secular state of Azawad.

The MNLA was quick to distance itself from the ideology of Ansar Dine, which is widely seen as allied with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.  The Tuareg rebels wanted to bolster their legitimacy by portraying themselves as a partner with Western countries in the fight against terrorism.

Yvan Guichaoua, a lecturer at University of East Anglia in Britain, says during the military phase of the rebellion, the political relationship between the two groups remained completely unclear.

"It’s a chaotic process on the part of the armed groups in the north," said Guichaoua. "AQIM is behind one of the two groups, which makes things even more complicated.  But what’s happening right now is sort of a natural result of the absence of a clear political line at the very start of the rebellion.”

Guichaoua, who recently spent time researching Tuareg separatist groups in Mali and Niger, says the timing of a deal between the MNLA and Ansar Dine stemmed in part from the lack of an international reaction to the MNLA’s anti-terrorism stance.  It also stems from existing divisions within the MNLA.

He points out that the MNLA’s political wing has backed away from the recent accord.  This is typical of any non-state armed group, he says - a divergence between its political and military wings.

Guichaoua says MNLA’s political wing understands that a deal with Ansar Dine is basically seen by outsiders as a deal with AQIM, and that this is not in the rebels' best interests.  Not only is AQIM terrorist, he says; it is also a foreign force, and this runs counter to the MNLA's cause of a Tuareg homeland.

Amid the wrangling between armed groups in the north, Malians and the international community reject an independent Azawad altogether and insist Mali must regain control of the north.  Right now, however, there is no clear plan for doing so.

Guichaoua says the alliance announced between the MNLA and Ansar Dine would have been a green light for those calling for a robust military intervention to drive both armed groups out of northern Mali.  Even if there is no immediate plan for armed intervention, talk of alliances between the two groups could make that more likely.

“Clearly if the deal between the two groups is confirmed and consolidated, that leads to further isolation of Azawad," he said. "That will force the international community also to maybe accelerate the process leading to a military intervention.  It will be hard for the international community to try to start negotiating with groups which are in a clear joint venture with AQIM.”

Regional leaders and Malians say they continue to hope for a diplomatic solution in the north, but a harder line by the armed groups there could make that an increasingly remote option.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Aksil from: USA
June 01, 2012 3:52 PM
The Touaregs who belong to the Amazigh world (aka Berbers) have no links with the vampire-like arabo-islamist ideology that suddently appeared in the Sahel Region. The MNLA will prevail whether the islamo-bathists, the digrace of humanity, like it or not.
As an amazigh, I do NOT wish to deal with a neo-Somalia in my homeland, Tamazgha. Our land is the most precious legacy we have to keep safe and pass it on to future generations. We are too convinced to NOT let it ruined by those back-minded creatures.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More