The history of the Touareg people: a trans-border nation, traditionally nomadic, with no country and unrepresented by the governments that govern them.
In the past few weeks, Touareg groups in Northern Mali – newly invigorated, perhaps, by their participation as paid mercenaries in the Libyan conflict – have engaged in armed conflict with the Malian government. The Touareg seek an autonomous region in their homelands in the Sahara.
As a complicating factor, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) has a strong presence in Touareg areas of Mali. The seriousness of the relationship between AQIM and the Touareg is not clear, but the Al Qaeda in Northern Mali are a growing problem – with kidnappings of westerners and conflicts with neighboring groups. Rumors are rife, reporting is minimal, but civilians are fleeing to neighboring countries and refugee camps are growing.
Here’s a summary of news and first hand reporting from Mali.