25. Mali/Tauregs (1960-present)

 

Crisis Phase (September 22, 1960-June 27, 1990):  Tuareg nationalists began a movement for independence following Mali’s independence from France on September 22, 1960.  Tuareg militants led by Zeyd ag Attaher launched a rebellion (“Alfellaga”) against the government of Mali on May 14, 1963. Tuareg militants clashed with government troops in the Wadi Ouzzein region on September 17-19, 1963, resulting in the wounding of ten government soldiers.  Tuareg militants clashed with government troops near Mount Tigharghar on October 11, 1963.  Tuareg militant leader, Zeyd ag Attaher, and Ilyas ag Ayyouba were arrested by Algerian government authorities and turned over to Malian government police in Kidal on November 1, 1963.  Tuareg militants attacked and captured 50 weapons from a military arsenal in the village of Tessalit on January 18, 1964.  Tuareg militants ambushed government troops commanded by Lt. Konimba near Tin-Tedjnouten Pass on January 29, 1964, resulting in the death of at least two government soldiers and two militants.  After February 1964, the Algerian government permitted Malian government troops to pursue Tuareg militants cross the border into Algeria.  Government troops clashed with Tuareg militants near Mount Tikiane in Algeria on February 15, 1964, resulting in the deaths of five militants.  Tuareg militant leader,  Elledi ag Alia, was captured by Malian government troops in Intachara, Algeria on March 9, 1964.  The government declared the end of the Tuareg rebellion on August 15, 1964.  Some 5,000 individuals fled as refugees to Algeria during the rebellion.

Conflict Phase (June 28, 1990-March 26, 1996):  Tuareg militants, members of the Popular Movement of the Azawad (MPA) led by Iyad Ag Ghali, attacked the towns of Ménaka, Tidarmène, and Ikadewan in northern Mali on June 28-29, 1990, resulting in the deaths of four individuals in Tidarmène.  Fourteen individuals, including four government soldiers, were killed in Ménaka   Tuareg militants attacked a military post in Ti-n-Essako on July 2, 1990, resulting in the deaths of three government soldiers and one militant.  Government troops clashed with Tuareg militants near I-n-Taykaren on July 17, 1990, resulting in the deaths of 40 government soldiers.  The Malian government declared a state-of-emergency on July 20, 1990.  For the second time in two weeks, government troops clashed with Tuareg militants near I-n-Taykaren in late July and early August 1990, resulting in the deaths of some 100 government soldiers.  Government troops executed more than 125 civilians in northern Mali in July and August 1990, including eleven civilians executed in the city of Gao on August 15, 1990.  Government troops clashed with Tuareg militants near Mount Tigharghar on September 3-4, 1990, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 government soldiers and 15 militants.  Algeria mediated the signing of a ceasefire agreement by representatives of the government and the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Azawad (Front Populaire de Libération de l’A zawad-FPLA) in Tamanrasset, Algeria on January 6, 1991.  Some 441 government soldiers and 28 Tuareg militants were killed in the fighting since June 1990.  Tuareg militants, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Azawad (Front Populaire de Libération de l’A zawad-FPLA), attacked the village of Bourem in February 1991.  Government troops massacred some 50 Tuaregs in Léré on May 20, 1991. Tuareg militants attacked the town of Tonka in July 1991, resulting in the deaths of several individuals.  Tuareg militants attacked the Timbuktu (Tombouctou) on December 12, 1991, resulting in the deaths of nine militants and three civilians.  Algeria mediated three rounds of negotiations between the representatives of the government and the Unified Fronts and Movements of Azawad (Mouvements et Fronts Unifids de l’Azaouad – MFUA) between January 22 and March 25, 1992, resulting in the signing of the National Pact in Bamako, Mali on April 11, 1992. The Popular Front for the Liberation of the Azawad (Front Populaire de Libération de l’Azawad-FPLA) initially refused to recognize the National Pact.  Government troops killed twelve Tuaregs in Gossi on May 14, 1992, and killed 48 Tuareg nomads near Foita on May 17, 1992.  Tuareg militants killed four bus passengers in the city of Gao on June 27, 1992.  Algeria mediated the signing of an agreement between government representatives and Unified Fronts and Movements of Azawad (Mouvements et Fronts Unifids de l’Azaouad – MFUA) representatives on February 11, 1993.  The agreement provided for the integration of Tuareg militants into the national military of Mali.  Tuareg militants killed some 300 individuals in northern Mali from June to August 1993. Government troops killed four Tuaregs in Menaka on April 21, 1994. Algeria mediated negotiations between government representatives and MFUA representatives in Algiers on May 10-15, 1994.  Members of the pro-government militia, known as Kanda Koy, led by Captain Abdoulaye Mahamahada Maïga killed nine Tuaregs in the village of Tacharene on May 26, 1994.  Tuareg militants, members of the Arab Islamic Front of Azawad (Front Islamique Arabe de l’Azawad-FIAA), attacked the military base in Niafunké on June 9, 1994, resulting in the deaths of nine government soldiers.  Government troops killed more than 26 individuals, mostly Tuaregs, in the Anderamboukane area on June 12, 1994.  On June 13, 1994, members of the Ganda Koy militia and government troops attacked and killed some 25 individuals in a camp between Niafunké and Léré.  Some 75 individuals, mostly Tuaregs, were massacred in Timbuktu (Tombouctou) on June 13-14, 1994.  On June 19, 1994, members of the Ganda Koy militia killed some 160 individuals in a refugee camp near the village of Ber.  FIAA militants attacked and killed 20 individuals in the villages of Bintangoungou, Biragoungou, Tenenkou, and Soumpi on July 1-2, 1994.  On July 17, 1994, government troops killed 17 Tuaregs in the village of Nampala.  FIAA militants attacked and killed 40 individuals in the village of Bamba on July 25, 1994.  FIAA militants attacked a military post in Ansongo on October 20, 1994, resulting in the deaths of six individuals.  FIAA militants attacked the city of Gao on October 22, 1994, resulting in the deaths of 14 individuals.  Government troops killed some 50 individuals in the nearby village of Inelfiss on October 23, 1994.  Some 220 individuals were killed in and near Gao on October 22-23, 1994.  FIAA militants killed two individuals in Timbuktu (Tombouctou) on January 25, 1995.  On the same day, government troops captured the headquarters of FIAA in the town of Tin-Adema.  The Arab Islamic Front of Azawad (Front Islamique Arabe de l’Azawad-FIAA) agreed to a cessation of military hostilities in June 1995.  The end of the Tuareg rebellion was marked by the ceremonial destruction of some 3,000 weapons in Timbuktu (Tombouctou) on March 26, 1996.  Some 2,500 civilians were killed during the conflict.  Some 150,000 Tuaregs fled as refugees to neighboring countries during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (March 27, 1996-May 22, 2006):  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) established a mission to provide repatriation assistance to Tuareg refugees in 1995. The UNHCR provided repatriation assistance to some 135,000 Tuareg refugees from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal between 1995 and June 1999. 

Conflict Phase (May 23, 2006-February 17, 2009):  Tuareg militants, members of the Democratic Alliance for Change (Alliance Démocratique pour le Changement-ADC), led by Ibrahim ag Bahanga attacked government military barracks in Kidal and Ménaka on May 23, 2006, resulting in the deaths of two government soldiers.  Algeria mediated the signing of a peace agreement by representatives of the government and ADC in Algiers on July 4, 2006.  A faction of the ADC led by Ibrahim ag Bahanga rejected the ceasefire agreement.  Algeria mediated the signing of a disarmament agreement between representatives of the government and ADC on February 20, 2007.  Tuareg militants led by Ibrahim ag Bahanga killed one military police officer at a police station north of the town of Kidal on May 11, 2007.  Government troops and Tuareg militants clashed near the town of Tinzaouatene on September 16, 2007, resulting in the deaths of one government soldier and seven militants.  Tuareg militants ambushed a military convoy near the town on Abeibara on March 22, 2008, resulting in the capture of at least 20 government soldiers.  Libya mediated the signing of a ceasefire agreement between the government and Tuareg militants led by Ibrahim ag Bahanga on April 4, 2008.  Tuareg militants attacked a military post in Abeibara on May 21, 2008, resulting in the deaths of ten government soldiers and 17 militants.  Algeria mediated negotiations between representatives of the government and the Democratic Alliance for Change (Alliance Démocratique pour le Changement-ADC) in Algiers on July 18-21, 2008, and the parties signed a ceasefire agreement on July 21, 2008.  Tuareg militants, members of the North Mali Tuareg Alliance for Change (Alliance Touaregue Nord Mali Pour Le Changement-ATNMC), attacked a military base in the town of Nampala on December 20, 2008, resulting in the deaths of nine government soldiers and 11 militants.  Tuareg militants killed one civilian in the city of Gao on January 2, 2009.  Government troops attacked the main Tuareg base in Tinsalak on January 21-22, 2009, resulting in the deaths of 31 individuals.  Government troops captured the last remaining ATNMC base in Mali on February 6, 2009.  Tuareg militant leader, Ibrahim ag Bahanga, fled to Algeria.  Some 700 Tuareg militants surrendered to the Malian government on February 17, 2009.

Post-Conflict Phase (February 18, 2009-January 15, 2012):   Ibrahim ag Bahanga, leader of the North Mali Tuareg Alliance for Change (Alliance Touaregue Nord Mali Pour Le Changement-ATNMC), died in a car crash in northeastern Mali on August 26, 2011.  The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (Mouvement National pour la Libération de l’Azawad-MNLA) was established by Ag Mohamed Najem on October 16, 2011.

Conflict Phase (January 16, 2012-June 18, 2013):  National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (Mouvement National pour la Libération de l’Azawad-MNLA), attacked the towns of Ménaka, Aguelhok, and Tessalit on January 16-17, 2012, resulting in the deaths of two government soldiers and one militant in Ménaka.  Government troops regained control of all three towns on January 18-19, 2012, resulting in the deaths of some 45 militants and two government soldiers.  MNLA militants ambushed and killed more than 50 government soldiers near the village of In-Esmal on January 21, 2012.  In an attempt to pressure the Malian government to negotiate with the MNLA, the Algerian government imposed military sanctions (suspension of military assistance and withdrawal of military advisers) against the Malian government on January 22, 2012.  Government troops clashed with MNLA militants in the town of Aguelhok on January 24-25, 2012, resulting in the deaths of some 150 government soldiers and 35 militants.  MNLA militants captured the towns of Andéramboukane and Léré on January 26, 2012, and captured the town of Ménaka on February 1, 2012.  Algeria mediated negotiations between representatives of the Malian government and the Democratic Alliance for Change (Alliance Démocratique pour le Changement-ADC) in Algiers on February 2-4, 2012.  MNLA militants captured the town of Tinzaouaten (Tinzawaten) on February 8, 2012, resulting in the deaths of one government soldier and one militant.  Meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) heads of state condemned the MNLA rebellion on February 17, 2012.  MNLA militants attacked the town of Hombori on February 18, 2012.  MNLA militants captured the town of Tessalit on March 10-11, 2012.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the MNLA, and appealed for an immediate ceasefire on March 19, 2012.  MNLA militants captured the town of Anefis on March 23, 2012.  MNLA militants and Ansar Dine (“defenders of the faith”) militants captured the towns of Kidal, Ansongo, and Bourem on March 30, 2012.  MNLA militants and Ansar Dine militants took control of the city of Gao on March 31, 2012.  MNLA militants and Ansar Dine militants captured Timbuktu (Tombouctou) on April 1, 2012.  The UN Security Council condemned the MNLA and demanded a cessation of military hostilities in northern Mali on April 4, 2012.  On April 5, 2012, the MNLA agreed to end military hostilities against the government.  The Economic Communist of West African States (ECOWAS) appointed President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso as the ECOWAS mediator for the situation in Mali on March 28, 2012.  Attending a summit meeting in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, ECOWAS heads of state also condemned the MNLA rebellion against the government of Mali on March 28, 2012.  On April 6, 2012, the MNLA declared the independence of northern Mali (Azawad).  The government of France, the African Union (AU), and the European Union (EU) rejected the MNLA’s declaration of independence as invalid.  MNLA militants clashed with Ansar Dine militants in the town of Kidal on June 8, 2012, resulting in the deaths of two individuals.  Islamist militants affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) took control of the city of Gao from MNLA militants on June 26-27, 2012, resulting in the deaths of at least 20 individuals.  MNLA mlitants unsuccessfully attempted to recapture the city of Gap on November 16, 2012, resulting in the deaths of at least 12 MNLA militants and one Islamist militant.  Islamist militants captured the town of Ménaka from MNLA militants on November 19, 2012, resulting in the deaths of dozens of MNLA and Islamist militants.  The MNLA abandoned its declaration of independence and started negotiations with the government of Mali in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on December 4, 2012.  The Malian interim government declared a state of emergency on January 11, 2013.  MNLA militants, along with members of the Islamic Movement of Azawad (Mouvement islamique de l’Azawad-MIA), captured the towns of Kidal, Tessalit, and In Khalil from Islamist militants on January 28, 2013.  Three MNLA militants were killed in suicide bomings in the town of In Khalil on February 22, 2013.  Seven MNLA militants were killed in a suicide car bombing in Kidal on February 26, 2013.  Government troops clashed with MNLA militants near the town of Kidal, and captured the village of Anefis on June 5, 2013, resulting in the deaths of two MNLA militants.  Representatives of the government and MNLA signed an ECOWAS-mediated ceasefire agreement in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on June 18, 2013.  Several hundred individuals were killed, and some 447,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict.  Included among the displaced persons were some 74,000 Malian refugees in Mauritania and 50,000 Malian refugees in Niger, most of whom were Tuaregs.

Post-Conflict Phase (June 19, 2013-present):  Government troops entered the MNLA-controlled town on Kidal on July 5, 2013.  The Malian government lifted the state of emergency on July 6, 2013.  MNLA militants remained in UN-supervised barracks.  Four individuals were killed in ethnic violence in the town of Kidal on July 18-19, 2013.  Government troops clashed with MNLA rebels near the town of Lere on September 11, 2013.  The MNLA suspended its involvement in the peace process with the government on September 26, 2013.  Government troops clashed with MNLA rebels in the town of Kidal on September 29-30, 2013.  The MNLA resumed its involvement in the peace process with the government on October 5, 2013.  The MNLA merged with the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Arab Movement of the Azawad (MAA) on November 4, 2013.  Government troops clashed with MNLA rebels near Menaka on November 8, 2013, resulting in the deaths of three rebels.  Government troops clashed with MNLA rebels in the town of Kidal on November 28, 2013.  Some 30 Tuaregs were killed in ethnic violence in the Djebok district in the Gao region on February 7, 2014.  Islamic militants attacked the town of Tamkoutat  in northern Mali on February 9, 2014, resulting in the deaths of some 31 Tuaregs.  MNLA rebels clashed with Islamic militants north of Timbuktu on May 2, 2014, resulting in the deaths of militants.  Government troops clashed with MNLA rebels in the town of Kidal beginning on May 17, 2014.  On May 18, 2014, the president of the ECOWAS Commission condemned the “deplorable acts of violence” in Kidal.  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the French government called for an immediate cessation of military hostilities on May 22, 2014.  On May 23, 2014, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, representing the African Union (AU), and UN Special Representative Albert Koenders, mediated a ceasefire agreement between the MNLA and Malian government.   Eight civilians, 28 government soldiers, and several rebels were killed during the clashes.  Defense Minister, Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, resigned on May 27, 2014.  Two humanitarian aid workers employed by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) were killed by an improvised explosive device near Timbuktu on May 30, 2014.  On June 6, 2014, Lt. Mohamed Ouattara, a member of the red beret military unit, and some ten other military personnel were arrested on suspicions of plotting against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.  MNLA rebels clashed with members of the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) in northern Mali on July 11-13, 2014, resulting in the deaths of at least 30 individuals.  The Malian government and Tuareg rebels exchanged prisoners (45 government soldiers and 41 Tuareg rebels) on July 15, 2014.  The Algerian government mediated negotiations between representatives of the Malian government and Tuareg rebels groups in Algiers beginning on July 16, 2014.  Government and representatives of Tuareg rebels signed a “roadmap” agreement in Algiers on July 24, 2014.  Representatives of the MNLA and MAA agreed to end hostilities between their groups on August 28, 2014.  Negotiations between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels resumed in Algiers on September 1, 2014.  A third round of negotiations between representatives of the government and Tuareg rebels began in Algiers on November 20, 2014.  Negotiations between representatives of the government and Tuareg rebels in Algiers ended without an agreement in November 27, 2014.

[Sources: Africa Contemporary Record (ACR), 1990-1992; Banks and Muller, 1998, 584-588; Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 248-249; British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), May 24, 2006, June 30, 2006, August 28, 2007, September 18, 2007, September 19, 2007, November 5, 2007, January 30, 2008, March 22, 2008, April 4, 2008, May 22, 2008, September 11, 2008, December 20, 2008, January 2, 2009, January 21, 2009, February 11, 2009, February 17, 2009, January 18, 2012, January 19, 2012, February 24, 2012, March 30, 2012, March 31, 2012, April 1, 2012, April 4, 2012, April 5, 2012, April 6, 2012, June 8, 2012, June 27, 2012, November 19, 2012, December 4, 2012, June 5, 2013, June 18, 2013, July 6, 2013, July 19, 2013, September 11, 2013, September 30, 2013, November 29, 2013, May 18, 2014, May 19, 2014, May 21, 2014, May 23, 2014, July 15, 2014; Cable News Network (CNN), January 11, 2013; Deutsche Welle (DW), December 1, 2014; Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) press release, March 19, 2012, May 18, 2014; Jessup, 1998, 451-453; Keesing’s Record of World Events, January 1991, July 1991, March 1992, April 1992, May 1994, June 1994; Pan African News Agency (PANA), March 28, 2012; Reuters, July 4, 2006, February 20, 2007, May 11, 2007, May 9, 2013, May 12, 2013, June 5, 2013, June 6, 2013, June 8, 2013, June 11, 2013, June 18, 2013, July 5, 2013, July 6, 2013, July 20, 2013, September 29, 2013, September 30, 2013, October 5, 2013, November 4, 2013, November 8, 2013, November 29, 2013, February 7, 2014, February 9, 2014, March 25, 2014, May 2, 2014, May 17, 2014, May 18, 2014, May 20, 2014, May 21, 2014, May 22, 2014, May 23, 2014, May 27, 2014, May 29, 2014, May 30, 2014, July 13, 2014, July 24, 2014, August 28, 2014, September 1, 2014, November 20, 2014; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), press release, June 18, 1996, February 5, 1998; Voice of America (VOA), June 30, 2006, June 9, 2012; Washington Post (WP), September 13, 2007.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Atallah, Rudolph. 2013. “The Tuareg Revolt and the Mali Coup,” Air & Space Power Journal – Africa & Francophonie, vol. 4 (1), pp. 66-79.

Lecoq, Baz and Paul Schrijver. 2007. “The War on Terror in a Haze of Dust: Potholes and Pitfalls on the Saharan Front,” Journal of Contemporary African Studies, vol. 25 (1), pp. 141-166.

Lecoq, Baz. 2010. Disputed Desert: Decolonisation, Competing Nationalisms and Tuareg Rebellions in Northern Mali,
Leiden, Netherlands and Boston, MA: Brill.

Thurston, Alex. 2013. “Toward and ‘Islamic Republic of Mali'”, The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, vol. 37 (2), pp. 45-66.