As the Tuaregs brace for a new war to liberate the Azawad territory in what came to be called northern Mali, Algeria is watching closely, fearing a spill over into its own large and impoverished Tuareg community.
The Tuaregs sit on significant oil and gas reserves in Algeria’s south and their territories remain the least developed in the country.
The Tuaregs, an Amazigh speaking nomadic people, have been arbitrarily attached by French colonialism to Algeria, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Libya.
The Tuareg have led multiple rebellions against Niamey and Bamako in the 1990s. The most recent remarkable revolt was in 2012 when the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) led an armed uprising to establish a state in the Azawad in northern Mali.
Now, with the military coups in Mali and Niger, the Tuaregs fear previous deals to ensure a sort of cohabitation with the centralized states are sapped and the prospects for a peaceful solution to the Tuareg issue are dim.
The formation of a pan-Tuareg alliance is underway after the main armed opposition to the putschist in Niger, led by Rhissa Ag Boula, urged fighters loyal to him to back his Malian counterparts fighting under the umbrella of the CSP against the Wagner-backed Bamako putschists.
The Tuaregs and their Arab allies have been advancing, taking towns and strategic border crossing in the Azawad or northern Mali since they declared the Algiers agreement null and void accusing Bamako of failing to uphold the deal.
As the Azawad make their advance towards nationhood, a nation in north Africa that has for long claimed to defend self-determination is observing utter silence for fear that any position would reverberate in its own Tuareg-populated south.
Ideologues of the Tuareg nation accuse both France for their ordeal as well as countries such as Algeria that adamantly defend the colonial legacy in the region.
Founder of Imouhagh, a Tuareg NGO for justice and transparency, Akli Shekka told Moroccan news website Hespress that the situation in the Sahel is a tinderbox waiting to explode. The Tuareg political leadership is aware that its struggle is not only against Mali but also against Algerian generals who oppose Tuareg’s legitimate nationhood ambitions, Akli Shekka said.
“Every time the Tuaregs bring Bamako on its feet, Algeria intervenes to restore the Malian occupation back to the Tuareg territory,” he said.
Shekka warned that increasing repression of the Tuaregs in what came to be called southern Algeria would lead to an armed uprising.
Source: The North Africa Post