The MNLA, Social Media, and the Malian Civil War
Conclusion: Change Without Resolution
The digital public sphere, if such it is, may increase the number and range of participants but, in terms of outcomes, it could still be argued that bombs, guns, and Apache attack helicopters tip insurrections and win revolutions.
—Barrie Axford, 20111
ON APRIL 6, the streets of Kidal were lined with cheering crowds, and buildings were draped with the black, red, yellow, and green of the Azawadian flag. A group of school-age children marched down a street wearing matching t-shirts emblazoned with more Azawadian flags. But this was not 2012, when the MNLA was at the height of its military power. This was 2019.2 The MNLA has failed to achieve an independent Azawad, and the group has declined markedly in influence. Yet eight years after the MNLA’s rebellion began, for some in northern Mali, the dream is not dead. On Facebook, the dream is not dead either. Many of the accounts in the dataset have continued to post in support of the MNLA and an independent Azawad into 2020. Neither the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation nor anything that has come after has provided a true resolution to the MNLA’s rebellion or especially to the issues underlying it.
Yet if the situation in northern Mali today is very much unresolved, it is certainly not the same situation that existed in 2011. Despite failing to realize its political objectives, the MNLA and its movement have impacted events both offline ←149 | 150→and online. Offline, more...
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