Nomads, Islamists, and Soldiers: The Struggles for Northern Mali
Studies in Conflict and Terrorism
Mali has been faced with a series of uprisings by its Tuareg over a number of years. Although each of these rebellions was ended by a cease-fire, the Malian government never succeeded in instituting longer term peace agreements. The 2012 Tuareg rebellion has presented even more significant security threats. The environment in northern Mali now is marked by multiple armed groups, with multiple competing agendas. This complex situation, with Tuareg rebels, Islamists with varying goals, and local militias, with a pattern of varying levels of cooperation and conflict, will at best be very difficult to resolve in the long term. Combined with an almost complete security vacuum in northern Mali on the part of the government, this situation could be intractable even with external intervention. At the same time, the focus on counterterrorism in northern Mali may not be conducive to a long-term resolution of what in reality is a much more complicated security environment.