The MNLA, Social Media, and the Malian Civil War
Chapter 2: War and Peace in Northern Mali/Azawad: The MNLA, October 2011–December 2015
ON AUGUST 23, 2011, THE SOUNDS of car horns and celebratory gunfire reverberated through the streets of Tripoli, Libya, as crowds celebrated the expulsion of pro-Qaddafi forces from the city.1 With the fall of Tripoli, the return of Tuareg soldiers of Malian origin from Libya accelerated. Crucially, the returnees brought with them heavy weapons, including anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft guns, and artillery pieces. Most of the returnees requested and received integration into the Malian military, but a significant proportion refused to serve the Malian state.2 Prior to his death in a desert car crash in August 2011, unreconciled Malian Tuareg rebel Ibrahim Ag Bahanga had begun reaching out to the returnees with the hope of integrating them into plans for a future rebellion. These contacts served to connect those heavily armed returnees uninterested in joining the Malian military with existing political movements in northern Mali, most notably the MNA. A series of gatherings quickly gathered momentum as the returnees, the MNA, and others began to coalesce around the idea of renewing armed struggle against the Malian state. On October 15, 2011, at a meeting at Zakkak in Kidal Region near the Algerian border, the MNLA was officially born.3
This chapter is not an attempt to exhaustively cover every event that impacted northern Mali/Azawad and the peoples living in this territory between the beginning of 2012 and the end of 2015. Instead, it aims to cover events of importance to the MNLA, with particular attention to how the MNLA and...
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