This is a brief "heads up" post about the fight of the Tuareg for an independent state (Azawad) in the Sahel. You may have already read news articles about the takeover of the historic cities of Timbuktu (Tomboctou) and Gao in northern Mali by Tuareg militias. Just yesterday various news agencies were reporting about the wanton destruction of centuries-old historical mosques, mausoleums and sacred tombs, along with the theft of irreplaceable Medieval Islamic books, scripts, and historical documents by an alarmingly increasing number of radical Islamist militants and thieves who have swept into Timbuktu and Gao in the wake of the security vacum created by the March 22nd coup. I would hope that some of my fellow blog authors, friends and readers around the blogosphere will stay on top of this catastrophe taking place in what was once one of West Africa's stable democracies.
The above video clip is the German language version of a documentary program ARTE Reportage "Mali: Der Kampf der Tuareg" which aired last week on the French/German cultural TV network ARTE TV. This excellent documentary examines the situation in Timbuktu and across northern Mali just weeks before the rape and pillage of the cities of Timbuktu and Gao. It features interviews with leaders of the Tuareg militias and the MLNA. What is also interesting are the various scenes showing how the Salafist network Ansar Dine and AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) is grabbing control of the vast desert region in northern Mali (about the size of Spain) and setting up thier base and training camps. There is not a sign of Mali government soldiers, ECOWAS military observers, African Union troops, US Army and Marines, or CIA operatives within 500 miles of the place (albeit the CIA is definately in the neighborhood, no doubt about it).
I am posting this information today because the ARTE TV video program will only be available online for a limited time. The cable/satellite TV program is scheduled to air again on Saturday, July 6th at 10:30 A.M. CET. Unfortunately for my readers living outside of Europe the ARTE TV programs are available only in France and Germany__ but the program videos and text info on their website may be accessable from abroad. Nonetheless, it is a don't miss opportunity to learn about another side of this long-running conflict between the nomadic Tuareg and black African tribes (i.e. the Songhai people) who have settled in northern Mali for centuries vs. the government and people living in the south of the country at Bamako.
It's a very different Mali that we see today on our TV and computer screens in comparison to the wonderful and proud country celebrating 50 years of independence depicted in this great interactive video program on the ARTE TV website just two years ago.
More to come after I find the time to compose, edit, and publish what I have on the subject (as usual, I have plenty of info about this subject), including how this story ties in with recent testimony by the commander of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in Washington D.C. last month.
Nice to be back with my fans and readers at Jewels in the Jungle if only briefly after such a long, long break.