William ASSANVO & Phillip van GAALEN-PRENTICE
The Government of Mali has been struggling to exercise even nominal control over many areas of its country’s north, a vast region of desert and semi-desert. This region has long remained notable for smuggling, banditry and Tuareg rebellions, despite the efforts of successive governments to address issues of security and development.
In January 2012 the region saw the eruption of a new Tuareg rebellion led by the ostensibly secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). This rebellion, the fourth by the Tuareg since independence in 1960, was fuelled not only by pre-existing local grievances but also by recent events in Libya.