Request for Info on Tuareg Rebellion

I'm back in DC for my last semester, when I have to write my thesis. I'm thinking about writing on the Tuareg rebellion(s) in Mali and Niger. For background on the conflict, this Reuters article is a good source.

It seems a pretty good potential case study, as similar rebellions have taken different courses in the two countries, plus there is the role of environmental change and desertification as a driver of conflict, and U.S. involvement through the Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Partnership. The problem is that most of the material on the rebellions is in French, which I don't speak or read. There doesn't seem to be much stuff on the military situation in English other than occasional news articles. I'll have plenty of material on the Tuareg themselves thanks to my mom and her contacts (she is an expert in African art). I think I'll have plenty of information on U.S. involvement as well - I just need information on the rebellion itself - military aspects, who's involved, countermeasures, any journal articles on it, etc.

I found a few useful links:

Conflict and Conflict Resolution in the Sahel: The Tuareg Insurgency in Mali, by Lieutenant Colonel Kalifa Keita.

The site, with chronologies of the Tuareg rebellion of the 1990s in Mali and Niger, as well as other cultural information on the Tuareg.

An American University ICE (Inventory of Conflict and Environment) case study titled The Tuareg in Mali and Niger: The Role of Desertification in Violent Conflict.

Some IRIN (UN agency) articles on the resumption of violence in Niger and allegations of atrocities.

There's some information on the ICG's website, on Niger and Mali.

Tiemoko Diallo seems to be covering the conflict for Reuters

There was a slight news bump on the Tuareg back in September when they fired at an American plane, but Western news articles have little information other than the basic facts about the insurgency.

The Tuareg rock band Tinariwen has a chronology of the conflict on their site.

There is also the website for the Mouvement des Nigeriens pour la Justice, unfortunately only in French, as well as the Alliance Touaregue Niger-Mali, which I assume is another rebel group.

If anyone finds more stuff, please email it to me or leave it as a comment!

I'll be updating this post as I come across more stuff.

A Resurgent Tuareg Insurgency? Neil Thompson

Making Sense of the New Tuareg Rebellion, David Zounmenou

Tuareg rebellion in Niger - lots of photos

A drugs-smuggling connection? Articles on possible connections between Tuaregs and cocaine smuggling at the Taipei Times.

It appears that contacting the NMJ or similar groups will be difficult - two French journalists were arrested for trying to do so and may be executed. Perhaps in Mali it might be easier.

The Niger Movement for Justice posted a yearly assessment of their activities on their blog, from their leader He celebrates the defection of some Nigerien soldiers to the NMJ, and an alliance between the NMJ and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara, a group that kidnapped a couple Italian tourists in 2006. He also promises better discipline to stop civilian casualties, and declares against uranium mining. has a couple pieces on the Tuareg rebellion, focusing on the uranium question.

Jeremy Keenan is an expert on the Tuareg and has also written on US counterterrorism policies in the Sahara region.

Fake Terror and Instability in North Africa by Sam Urquhart - challenges the notion that there is a terrorism threat in North Africa, or at least that there was before U.S. involvement.

A blog called the Head Heeb has some posts on the Tuareg rebellion. The latest one is from May 18th.

Another piece related to the uranium mining: Niger rebels pressure uranium miners, by James Finch

Another piece from April 10 2006 on uranium mining in Niger doesn't mention the conflict, and is unintentionally funny.
"We were concerned with any political situations, but both North and Kreczmer assured us the country is stable. “When I first went to Niger in November 2004, and that was during the last election, it honestly looked like a lot of fun... My experience with Niger is that it’s a peaceful, democratic country with no civil unrest. Let’s put it this way. They have less civil unrest than France."
Blogger Bouba has a few posts on the Tuareg, including a petition for Tuareg independence, an interview (unfortunately for me in French) and a video of the music group Tinariwen.

From Reuters, INTERVIEW-W.Africa is crime, terrorism "black hole"-UN expert
[Antonio Mazzitelli] cited indications that armed rebellions by Tuareg desert fighters in northern Niger and Mali, ostensibly launched on political grounds, were actually a front for large-scale trafficking of drugs and arms.
Tuareg Insurgency Spreads to Niger's Capital, by Nana Adu Ampofo, at Global Insight Daily Analysis (via Factiva):
With the death of journalist Abdou "Jeannot" Mahamane, the Tuareg insurgency raging in northern Niger since February 2007 appears to have spread to the capital, Niamey, for the first time. Mahamane was killed by a landmine Tuesday (8 January) evening. Quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP), government spokesperson Mohamed Ben Omar has attributed the attack to the Movement for Justice in Niger (MNJ), which has led the violent campaign in Agadez province, ostensibly for Tuareg rights. The MNJ has denied responsibility for the Niamey mines and counters on its Web site that the attribution is a government effort to turn public opinion against it. A second, unexploded mine has been found in the area by the authorities.Significance: The international non-governmental organisation (NGO) Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently criticised the MNJ for conducting an indiscriminate land mine campaign in northern Niger.
An estimated 80 people have been killed or injured since February 2007 by land mines in the troubled region, a third of them civilians, HRW reports. The government was also criticised for targeting the civilian population. However, despite the length of the conflict and the apparent ineffectiveness of the exclusively military government response, there has been little change in strategy on either side. Until recently Nigerien president Mamadou Tandja would only refer to the MNJ as bandits. Tandja still refuses to recognise any legitimate basis for negotiation with the MNJ and has referred to MNJ activities as terrorism. That being the case, Global Insight expects to see the conflict continue through 2008.
See other stories here. Journalists have been targeted by the Nigerien government - I wouldn't be surprised if MNJ is correct and the government killed a journalist and blamed it on MNJ.

Human Rights Watch has documented atrocities on both sides in Niger. Amnesty International is alarmed at Nigerien Army's killing of civilians. The Nigerien Association for the Defence of Human Rights has condemned government killings (via Factiva). The Nigerien Army disagrees, but admits that it has killed civilians (Factiva).

Omar Ansari and Slimane Chenine are apparent experts on the Tuareg situation (Factiva).

Endangered Peoples of Africa and the Middle East - has a chapter by Susan Rasmussen on the Tuareg.

Art of Being Tuareg - interesting book.

Tuareg nomads set to intensify rebellion in Niger, Christian Science Monitor, Tristan McConnell

How Tuaregs, Hausas are avoiding another Darfur, CSM, Tristan McConnell - about how Tuareg are fighting desertification

Africa's Unfolding Desert War, ISA Consulting, Dulue Mbachu

Famine not Fanaticism the Real Enemy in West Africa

Thanks goes to New Yorker in DC for helping me figure out how to put most of this post behind a cut!

Stratfor has two pieces related to the conflict - Mali: Rising Tensions and Interests in the Sahel, and Niger: Rebels, Resources and the Niger Delta Parallel.

BBC - Secrets in the Sand, Part 1 and Part 2 - audio program.

West Africa leaders plan Sahara security conference - in part to deal with the Tuareg rebellions in Niger and Mali. AFP article also.

BBC - Tuareg rebels abduct town's mayor
Tuareg rebels in Niger have attacked a town killing or abducting several people in the biggest raid in recent months.
The West African regional body Ecowas is increasingly concerned and is to hold a summit soon to tackle the issue.
They will also consider a smaller rebellion in neighbouring Mali.

Summary of Baz Lecocq's thesis on the Tuareg. I emailed Mr. Lecocq for a copy but unfortunately he is out of copies. Baz Lecocq has also written many other papers on the Tuareg, including "The War on Terror in a Haze of Dust: Potholes and Pitfalls on the Saharan Front", by Baz Lecocq and Paul Schrijver, in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 25, 1, Jan. 2007. From that same issue, David Gutelius' paper "Islam in Northern Mali and the War on
Terror" is also very good.

Other scholarly articles include ICG's "Islamist Terrorism in the Sahel, Fact or Fiction?"

I am trying to get a handle on the relationship between the Tuareg and the GSPC.
Articles which reference antagonistic relationships:
Algeria Watch, Mali Tuaregs say Algerian militant killed in clash
Reuters, Algerian Militans Ambush Malian Tuaregs, Kill 9

Articles that reference cooperative relationships:
An article on Winds of Change - seems like speculation though.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar is the GSPC leader that supposedly has Tuareg links - he has married Tuareg women for political reasons, but I'm not sure whether that gains him support or just being left alone.

I posted an RFI at the PMC discussion group.

Ethnic Conflict and Regions of Wealth in North Africa - Dar Al Hayat opinion piece, Nov 23 2007. has lots of good coverage, pulling articles from various sources that I'd otherwise miss (thanks to a poster at PMCs discussion group).

The Tuareg Culture and News blog is a goldmine of information.

The local websites Temoust and have good coverage, and has an English forum.


NYkrinDC said...


Sorry, I don't have internet access at home yet, so I just got your message today...

I used this site for most of the hacks I implemented on my blog...this is a follow-up on the peak-a-boo posts.

Hope this helps. Make sure you save an unedited copy of your blog template before beginning in case you run into any problems and need to start over.

Also, feel free to email me, or comment if you need any help.

Adrian said...

Success! Thanks for your help.

M├╝nzenberg said...

adrian, have you ever used yahoo pipes? it's a web mash up service where you can combine rss feeds into one feed, you can put options to it for automatic feed translation through babelfish. Now the translation might be a bit dodgy but at least it is something for up-to-date news.

Also, have you tried using tiddlywiki? it is a personal wiki program that runs off a webpage, all you need to do is download the webpage and you are set to start creating a database (it also comes with journalling options).

Adrian said...

I haven't heard of either tool, but I will check them out - thanks!

Anonymous said...

I was supposed to cross the Tenere with my Tuareg friends, but was forced tocancel due to rebellion. Much of the news we here has been released from the president. Reports I recieved, say there is mass genocide of Tuareg - men -women -children-animals. Also suspicion that government forces may have and use chemical weapons. A bad situation, with little accurate news.