Politics

Mali News: Tuareg rebellion gathering momentum

mali-tuareg-rebels-mnla-07-02-2012.jpg

Security forces stand in front of relatives and supporters of soldiers fighting rebels Tuareg in the north, during a protest against the 'weak' response to attacks by the rebels, in Bamako on February 2, 2012. Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure has urged citizens not to attack civilian Tuareg, after retaliatory attacks on the community following the resumption of the Tuareg rebellion.

Credit:

Stringer

NAIROBI, Kenya — Since September there have been warnings that the demise of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi will flood the the Sahel — the name given to the dusty fringes of the Sahara — with seasoned fighters and weapons.

Now that has come to pass with the birth of a new Tuareg rebel group, calling itself the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA, in its French acronym).

More from GlobalPost: Ex-Gaddafi Tuareg fighters start a new battle

The rebels launched their first assaults last month, after which Mali's army claimed to have won the fight.  That now looks both premature and optimistic.

More from GlobalPost: Mali claims victory in desert fight

The MNLA is reportedly getting ready to launch an assault on the desert town of Kidal in northern Mali, and the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres — never the first to abandon their posts — has pulled out of northern Mali.

This is not just a Malian problem, as most of the Sahelian countries have faced Tuareg rebellions in the past. If this one gains momentum, the situation looks bleak.

More from GlobalPost: Tuaregs: 5 Things You Need to Know

To see what the MNLA looks like, check out this impressive slideshow by the intrepid award-winning photographer Veronique de Viguerie playing on The New York Times website.