Everywhere is War : European Warlords Strike Again – This Time in Mali

By Gerald A. Perreira
Libya 360°

Until the philosophy
that holds one race superior
and another inferior
is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned
Everywhere is war*

Anyone listening to the imperialists and corporate media reports/analyses of what is taking place in Mali, will be left feeling confused. But we know that confusion and commotion are an integral part of the imperialists’ game plan.

Both the Bible and the Quran warn us that the devil is the author of lies and confusion.

The Hon Elijah Muhammad taught us to recognize the nature of the devil and how the devil operates in the contemporary context. He taught us to see the devil not as some mythical figure, but as a reality, a living force moving amongst us, who knows its time is up and will do anything to maintain its rule upon the earth. This worldview is way outside the bounds of Western discourse, but integral to an understanding of what is really taking place in Mali and across the region.

The situation in Mali is not that confusing – actually it’s as simple as this:

Go back many years. Imagine you are the Brother Leader, Muammar Qaddafi. Your goal is one of a unified, strong Africa, able to throw off the yoke of imperialism and neo-colonialism. You know that Africa’s liberation cannot be realized without unity, and also that the first step on this long journey is to rid Africa of its remaining inept, neo-colonial regimes.

Leading the African Union meant that Qaddafi had to deal at a state to state level with the very neo-colonial regimes that he also knew had to be removed. To further complicate the matter, Qaddafi had long-standing and strong relationships with a number of liberation movements, revolutionary organizations and parties throughout Africa, that were opposing the neo-colonial regimes in some of these countries.

All sides of the political and ideological divide knew this about Qaddafi – that he had assisted liberation struggles throughout Africa, and for that matter throughout the world, with the sole intention of achieving African liberation and the victory of the oppressed worldwide. That his intentions were genuine was clear, since in many instances, under his leadership, Libya provided assistance to groups which definitely did more harm than good to Libya’s geo-political interests, simply complicating things for this often beleaguered nation.

I recently heard a National Geographic travel writer, trying to pass himself off as an expert on North Africa, and in particular, Libya and Mali, saying that Qaddafi played one tribe off against the other. What nonsense!

When I hear European journalists and some African factotums talking about Qaddafi playing one tribe off against the other, then I realize that we have to tell this story. Muammar Qaddafi was listened to by all sides, which is why he was so often asked to mediate in negotiations to resolve conflicts. Only someone who had not been at these meetings, and did not understand the ancient and complex nature of the African environment, could dismiss what Qaddafi was doing as ‘playing one off against the other’.

On Our Own Terms – African Solutions to African Problems

Those involved in the struggle for African unity know that mediating in the affairs of tribes cannot be achieved within the confines of the Westminster model of governance. Qaddafi was struggling to make peace in Africa in order to lay the groundwork for real development and liberation. As already mentioned, he understood that the only way for Africa to be free was for Africa and Africans, on the continent and in the Diaspora, to unite into a power bloc, and he also knew that it was imperative to apply African solutions to African problems.

The Libyan Jamahiriya, emerging as it did out of an African-Arab cultural environment, does not separate the individual from the community, but rather sees both as interdependent and part of an integral whole. In such a worldview, values which solidify and integrate the community are emphasized, while at the same time recognizing the rights, responsibility and role of the individual. This is in contrast to the liberal democratic tradition of the European community of nations or so-called ‘developed world’, where the individual is considered ‘absolute’ and where rugged individualism is encouraged.

In this framework of inter-connectedness, the prosperity of one means the prosperity of the other. Instead of pitting the interests of the individual and the community against one another, as is found in both capitalist and communist states, African communalism, or what Qaddafi refers to as ‘natural socialism’, recognizes the interests of all.

African philosopher, Polycarp Ikuenobe points out that:

While Africans recognize that individuals have natural rights, which derive from their natural individuality, interests and desires, these rights and individuality would be abstract and meaningless except when they are contextualized, made substantive, given material contents, and made meaningful in the context of a community.’

The detached, atomized individual is a European concept and is alien to the African traditions of Ubuntu, Ujamaa and Ishtirakiyah, principles which form the foundation of systems of governance based on African communalism or what was referred to in the Libyan Jamahiriya as ‘natural socialism’.

Where the multiparty system, emerging as it did out of the European cultural and historical context tends to fragment and divide, the Jamahiriyan system seeks to build social cohesion, unity and partnership.

In the Green Book, Qaddafi outlines clearly the social architecture that derives from what he understands to be a ‘natural order’:

The tribe is an extended family that has grown as a result of procreation. The tribe is in effect, a large extended family, and it then follows that the nation is the tribe that has also grown as a result of procreation. The nation is a large extended tribe; and the world is the nation that has diversified into a multitude of nations. The world therefore is an enlarged nation.

The relationship that binds a family together is the same relationship which binds the tribe together, the nation and the world. Nevertheless, the larger the multitude of people, the weaker this bond becomes… This is a sociological fact, denied only by the ignorant.

This is why it is very important for the human community to preserve the cohesion of the family, the tribe, the nation and the world, in order to profit from the advantages, benefits, values and ideals yielded by the solidarity, cohesion, unity, familiarity and love of the family, tribe, nation and humanity…the tribe provides its members with the natural benefits and social advantages that the family provides for its members, for the tribe is a secondary family. It is worth mentioning here that an individual may sometimes behave in a dishonorable manner that a family will not condone: yet because the family is relatively small in size, this individual will not be aware of its supervision. In contrast, individuals, as members of the tribe, cannot be free of its watchful eyes.’

Qaddafi understood the primacy of ‘culture’ and that the cultural context is the foundation out of which all ideologies and social systems emerge. He agreed with the view of Afrocentric psychologist, Wade Nobles, that culture is ‘a general design for living and patterns for interpreting reality’. That is why he chose to work so closely with traditional leaders/chiefs throughout Africa and the Tuaregs of the Sahel. Both groups had managed to keep their African traditions/culture alive, despite having been marginalized under colonialism and by successive neo-colonial regimes. This conception of culture is also why, from the outset of the Al Fateh revolution in 1969, Qaddafi necessarily rejected the Western multi-party parliamentary system and Western ideologies.

In 2010, at a meeting in Tripoli, Qaddafi addressed 175 traditional leaders from across the African continent. He told them that ‘African traditions were being replaced with Western culture and that multi party politics was destroying Africa’. The chiefs agreed, accusing Africa’s political leaders of ‘neglecting traditional values and marginalizing Africa’s indigenous institutions.’

Yahaya Ezemoo Ndu, leader of Nigeria’s African Renaissance Party and Chairperson of the newly formed Pan-African international, ARM, in a recent interview, quoted Professor Catherine Achaolonu-Olumba, when he warned Africans that if they failed to recognize the importance of their own culture and cultural institutions, they would never achieve liberation:

To all Africans, Blacks and all deprived peoples all over the world, we say culture is everything! Those who took your cultures from you took everything from you. Your culture is your life, your past, your present, your science, your religion, your closest link to the One True God. You are your culture and your culture is all you have – it is your link to all knowledge available in the Universal Mind of the Creator. Your culture is you…’

Ndu went on to say:

Most of the problems confronting Africans are traceable to inappropriate governance systems. The Western World, led by the United States, has been forcing electocracy down the throat of Africans, claiming that it is ‘democracy’, while in fact, the United States does not experience, and has never experienced true democracy’.

There are over 100 tribes in Libya alone innumerable tribal groups throughout Africa. The concept of the ‘tribe’ is misunderstood in European political discourse, and tribal forms of organization are automatically dismissed as being backward and having no merit. However, as Qaddafi rightfully acknowledges, family and tribe are the basis of all African societies and tribal forms of organization will never be relinquished. The current nation-state borders in Africa are colonial constructs, and often secondary to indigenous concepts of tribe and tribal nations. That is why tribes do not always recognize nation-state boundaries drawn up and left by the colonizers, and furthermore why some tribes, even if they exist across a number of ‘nation-state’ borders, can be considered as constituting a nation in and of themselves.

This is one of the reasons why the imposition of the alien system of multi-partyism into Africa, where tribal loyalties are so honored, has led to disaster. Political parties can never demand the loyalty and support that one’s tribe can. Eventually, the multi-party system exacerbates any tribal conflict that exists and even creates tribal conflict where it did not previously exist. It actually works against the existing indigenous forms of social organization, creating chaos and failed states.

Abd-l Alkalimat points out the contradiction of importing the very systems which have been used to destroy us:

The basis for our social, political and economic systems can better be found among the communal traditions of our people rather than among those who have used their systems to oppress if not annihilate us.’

The success of a given system is entirely dependent on whether the particular system in place is in tune with and meets the needs of the people it is meant to serve.

As Africans, our struggle must be focused on achieving our inalienable right to self-determination – to develop our own political and economic systems and put in place our own political structures, free of interference from the outside world. Only we can turn the tables – only we can achieve our own liberation from systems that continue to keep us in a state of dependency and disarray.

Talk is cheap…

Bringing about the kind of unity, prosperity, and dignity that could lead to an independent and democratic United States of Africa is a long and tumultuous journey, which not everyone would have the courage to embark on. Theory is one thing, and a vital component, however, concrete action has to start somewhere. Qaddafi and the revolutionary Libyan Jamahiriya put Libya’s wealth where their mouth was and began to work with others to support the coming together of Africa, by upgrading telecommunications systems, enhancing infrastructural development, engaging in joint commercial projects, building educational institutions, providing healthcare, advancing loans to African governments, and the setting up of African based lending institutions with plans for an African currency, which would have put an end to our continued dependency on the Euro/American Empire and their financial institutions.

Much analysis is produced by those who are not actively engaged in the struggle to change the world, but engaged only in interpreting it. They provide us with endless academic critiques of those who are active, finding fault with everything. The late African revolutionary, Kwame Ture, always said, ‘never to waste our energies in lengthy conversation or debate with anyone who was not actively involved in the struggle for liberation in one way or other, since they would never be able to fully understand the issues at stake and would necessarily be dealing only with abstraction.’

Anyone who is engaged in struggle knows that the world is a brutal and complex arena. African unity is a journey that is fraught with overwhelming challenges that cannot always be resolved the way we would wish. This is not to act as an apologist for mistakes made, but simply to acknowledge that if criticism is to be constructive then it must be part of a discourse that is anchored in the reality of what it means to fight imperialism and injustice on all its fronts in 2013.

The intellectual warrior, Franz Fanon understood this, based on his own involvement in the Algerian struggle for liberation, when he boldly claimed,

‘Everybody will have to be compromised in the fight for the common good. No one has clean hands; there are no innocents and no onlookers. We all have dirty hands; we are all soiling them in the swamps of our country and in the terrifying emptiness of our brains. Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor’. ( The Pitfalls Of Nationalist Consciousness )

As we say in the Caribbean – ‘yuh think it easy?’

The Mali story…

When the progressive leader, Amadou Toure, was elected president of Mali in 2002, Muammar Qaddafi welcomed him onto the scene. Toure believed that African conflicts/problems should be resolved within the framework of the African Union and he supported the vision of a United States of Africa. In such an environment, Qaddafi was able to broker a peace agreement between the Tuaregs and the Toure administration. Qaddafi had offered the Tuaregs what no one else had – to live in Libya with all of the benefits that that brought – free healthcare, education, housing etc. This was a gift to the Tuareg people and also in line with Qaddafi’s understanding of this part of the world outside of the boundaries of the artificial borders created by colonialism. In fact, the Libyan Jamahiriya had authorized Africans from all over the continent to cross its borders freely.

Once Qaddafi was murdered and Libya was handed over to the current barbaric alliance of Arab supremacists, monarchists and Al-Qaeda affiliated Wahabi-Salafi heretics, the Tuaregs, many of whom had been integrated into the Jamahiriyan military since the early 70s, had no choice but to return home.

What happened next?

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), largely made up of Tuareg returnees, laid claim to a land mass in Northern Mali which they call Azawad. They claimed Azawad as their ancestral homeland and it came under their jurisdiction with little opposition from the Malian army.

In 2009, there was a major Tuareg uprising against the Malian government and Muammar Qaddafi was asked by both sides to play a mediating role. During these negotiations, President Toure made a number of concessions, promising to address the legitimate long term grievances of the Tuareg. These promises were not honored, and with Qaddafi no longer there to guide and mediate, and the Tuaregs now being forced to return to Mali, they had no choice but to claim their homeland.

tuareg -mnla

Tuaregs integrated into the Jamahiriyan Army

Muammar Qaddafi inspects troops wearing traditional Tuareg dress

President Toure quickly realized that a military solution was not possible and agreed to enter into negotiations with representatives of the MNLA. Days later, seemingly from out of nowhere, we saw a full blown coup in Mali. The US trained coup leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo, opposed the idea of Tuareg autonomy. At the time of the coup he claimed that President Toure was benefiting financially from the drug trade, suggesting that this was why he was ready to make concessions to the MNLA. This was untrue. For one thing the MNLA are not the ones who are involved in the expansive and lucrative drug trade in the Sahel – in fact they oppose it. It is well documented that the drug traffickers are Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and their front organizations across the region. That is why Qaddafi said that the so-called rebels in Benghazi were not only Al-Qaeda affiliated but were on drugs. It is interesting to note that Captain Sanogo was photographed recently with US ambassador, John Price, and the two were said to be laughing and talking like long lost friends. President Toure ended up in Senegal.

Next Move

Also, from out of nowhere – Salafi militias enter Mali – Ansar Al Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad. Groups never before seen or heard of in Mali – made up primarily of non Malians and backed by guess who? Correct, the Gulf State Pretenders to Islam and NATO. They had one shared objective – to crush the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), since they shared Qaddafi’s vision for a united Africa and would have set up a Jamahiriya type state – Azawad style. The MNLA also adhere to an Islamic theology of liberation, rather than the Wahabi aberration parading as Islam, that the Gulf States and their imperialist backers depend on for their continued repression and plunder. The setting up of such a liberated zone would have provided a refuge for those loyal to Qaddafi and his ideas.

And so, they got rid of Toure and all hope of a peaceful solution to the issue of an autonomous Azawad and they unleashed their dogs of war, the Islamists, into Mali to beat back the progressive National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). The MNLA, however, were too clever to be seduced into an all out war with these foreign and reactionary Islamist forces, financed by one of the biggest sponsors of terrorism, the Qatari ruling elite, so they melted into the population, as only a liberation force with the backing of the people can do.

The MNLA had made it abundantly clear from the outset that they had no interest in seizing any territory outside of Azawad, including the capital Bamako, or causing havoc in Mali. This further ruffled the imperialists, since there is nothing they dislike more than the prospect of peaceful, progressive African based solutions to African conflicts.

With no MNLA to fight, the Islamists then proceeded to wreck havoc in Mali as they do everywhere they are deployed, and went on a killing spree and the French invaded to reign in their own proxy army, definitely not to save Malians from the brutality of the Islamists. The French realized that they had better reign in the dogs of war they themselves had unleashed, lest, unsuspectingly, while using the Islamists to prevent the huge deposits of uranium, which France depends on for their continued energy supply, from falling into MNLA hands, the Islamists themselves stole Mali from under France’s nose.

European Warlords in Re-scramble for African Resources

Unfortunately for Africa, we have everything that the US and Europe want and need. The story is not as complex in Mali, or for that matter throughout Africa, as they would have us believe – actually it is quite simple – the lifestyle enjoyed by Europeans on this earth – life as only they know it – is over without unfettered access to African resources.

With Qaddafi out of the way, one of the biggest remaining threats to their free reign in Africa is African resistance movements which are loyal to his vision. Groups such as the MNLA and JEM are high priority targets for imperialist military operations and their killer drones, a weapon straight out of their own Sci-Fi, which enables them to kill by remote control. The US, imposing itself as the judge, jury and executioner, has killed thousands of human persons this way, while at the same time posturing as the world’s leading democrats. Their world is undeniably bizarre and Orwellian.

Unmanned Predator Drone firing missile

It is estimated that there are over 60 Drone bases in the US alone and more than 60 across the globe. The most recently installed Drone base is in Niger, Northwest Africa. The plan is for such bases to be installed throughout the continent. US president, Barack Hussein Obama, has shown himself to be little more than a warlord and black only in color. Mentally incarcerated, he is the perfect candidate for the role of first black US president – and what a public relations coup: to have a black man at the helm when re-colonizing Africa.

While the Euro-American ruling elite plunder the world’s resources, cynically paying lip service to the ‘American Dream’, the tragedy is that Barak Obama seems to believe in it. He has taken it upon himself to target for execution, at whim, anyone, anywhere in the world, whom the Empire deems necessary to exterminate, in order to maintain White Supremacy. Make no mistake: the White House is still the White House.

Licensed to Kill

It is reported that John Brennan, whose official title is Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and Assistant to the President, draws up the weekly list of those targeted for assassination by drones. These lists are then signed off by the President at a meeting of ‘counterterrorism security officials’ (War Council) held every Tuesday, now dubbed ‘kill list Tuesdays’ in White House circles.

Last year one of those targeted for assassination was Dr Khalid Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the largest groups within the Sudanese Revolutionary Front. He and some senior members of JEM had also been forced to leave Libya and were working to establish a liberated zone in Kordofan.

Only days ago, Tahir El-Faki, a spokesperson for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), accused the Bashir regime in Khartoum of transporting Salafi jihadists from Mali to North Darfur. He added that some of them had already been in Darfur before being moved to Mali last year. It was reported that the ‘Jihadists’, who are from different countries in the region, including Niger, Chad and Algeria, had been transported using Qatari airplanes. Africa is up for grabs.

And finally, there is the hugely threatening factor of China’s rise as an economic superpower on the global stage. However, China, which is also completely dependent on African resources for its continued economic growth, has an entirely different approach. Not interested in military expansion, they pursue economic and commercial expansion instead. In contrast to the Euro/American Empire, China is willing to negotiate a fair deal within a win-win framework, and is therefore becoming a preferred trading partner for many African states, especially those who want to free themselves from their dependence on economic relations with the unjust and hypocritical Empire. To disrupt the increasingly closer ties between China and Africa is a priority for the imperialists, and so an already crumbling Empire, threatened with its own extinction, is now in full military swing.

Malcolm X knew the enemy well:

‘…when you and I begin to look at him and see the language he speaks, the language of a brute, the language of someone who has no sense of morality, who absolutely ignores law – when you and I learn how to speak his language, then we can communicate. But we will never communicate talking one language while he’s talking another language. He’s talking the language of violence.’

Fact is they will never stop warring for Africa’s resources until we Africans put an end to the fight ourselves. That is why imperialism can only be buried once and for all in Africa…

And until that day,
The African continent
Will not know peace,
We Africans will fight – we find it necessary –
And we know we shall win
As we are confident
In the victory
Of good over evil


Alkalimat, Abd-l, *Ideology of Black Social Science,* in Black Scholar, Vol. 1, No 2, December 1969, USA

Fanon, Frantz, *The Wretched of the Earth, *Grove Weidenfeld, NY, USA, 1968

Ikuenobe Polycarp, Philosophical Perspectives on Communalism and Morality in African Traditions, Lexington Books, OX, UK, 2006

Ndu, Yahaya Ezemoo, Africa’s Role in the Global World, African Executive Magazine, Online Edition,February, 2011

Nobles, Wade, Africanity and the Black Family,Black Family Institute Publications CA, USA, 1985

Qaddafi, Muammar, The Green Book, Ithaca Press, UK, 2005 (first published 1975)

Shabazz, Malik (Malcolm X), By Any Means Necessary, Pathfinder, NY, USA, 1970

Title, opening and closing remarks from a speech delivered to the United Nations General Assembly by Haile Selassie in 1963, and later put to music by Robert Nesta Marley.

Gerald A. Perreira is a founding member of the Guyanese organizations Joint Initiative for Human Advancement and Dignity and Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG). He lived in Libya for many years, served in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Al Fateh revolution and was an executive member of the World Mathaba based in Tripoli. He is the International Secretary for the newly formed, Afrocentric Pan-African International – ARM (African Revolutionary Movement).

*“Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned,
everywhere is war
and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation,
until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes.
And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race,
there is war.
And until that day,
the dream of lasting peace,
world citizenship,
rule of international morality,
will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,
but never attained…
now everywhere is war.”

– Haile Selassie I



  1. global intelligence says:

    This is another excellent article from Gerald Perreira.

    I’m not sure about the MNLA though.

    It’s understandable that they need their own homeland or at the very least a final dissolution of colonialist imposed borders.

    Quoting from this article:

    Crisis in Mali exposes all opportunists which feed off African resources

    “Tuaregs are Africans too, and the revolutionary national democratic program must also forward the legitimate grievances for freedom and economic development of the Tuareg people.

    Since the advent of Mali’s nominal independence, the Tuareg have been demanding better integration and economic development for their region.

    The Tuareg population, like the rest of the African population, has been divided by arbitrary colonial borders, which is why they are fragmented across the Sahara/Sahel Desert; they now live in Mali, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Burkina Faso, Niger and Tunisia.

    The Tuareg are descendants of white populations who arrived in Africa after the fall of ancient Egypt and before the arrival of Arabs. They may look more homogenous in Algeria and Libya, but they are more mixed with indigenous African populations in places like Mali.

    Their demands for autonomy have been met with repression. The current armed rebellion has touched the nervous system of the Malian neocolonial regime, now forced to face the reality that this conflict cannot be solved by repression alone because the Tuareg are, this time, demanding independence from Mali.”

    But then I go and read what the leaders of the MNLA had to say about Muammar Gaddafi, Libya and their alliance with the Feb. 17th movement and I’m totally stumped.

    Take this article for example:


    So who are the MNLA? Are their 2 groups or 1? How can you reconcile reports of their participation in the destruction of Libya coming from their own France and UK based leaders with contradictory articles that paint them as a genuine revolutionary movement that only wants an independent state of Azawad?

    The MNLA have a plethora of articles available to read about their stand regarding Libya and Gaddafi. They state he oppressed them, exploited them, denied them free expression of their culture, denied them the right to speak and teach their children their language, they refer to him as a tyrant, etc, etc, …

    These aren’t statements coming from imperialists but the Tuareg themselves which is why they’re so troubling.

  2. Anita says:

    Here the MNLA call for the deployment of UN troops to Mali

    “In a statement dated February 17, 2013, the MNLA approves and seeking a rapid deployment of a United Nations force in the Azawad. The MNLA, this force is necessary to put an end to the abuses which is responsible for the Malian army seeking to invest the territory of the Azawad with the support of the France. The MNLA, deploying the Malian forces in the Azawad, bearer of all risks, to stop pending the resolution of the conflict. We publish below the declaration of the MNLA.”


    Here fears of genocide being committed by Malian troops against Tuareg:



    Here the MNLA state:

    “In an article on Libya published on this same site [1], I wanted to affirm that the intervention by our allies against Gaddafi does not lead to the establishment of another authoritarianism that would deprive Libya of its authentic identity. The result you know: an Islamic State that, in the aftermath of the fall of the tyrant, decreed the Sharia. But, the Berbers of Libya decided to move in the direction of their history in engaging in cultural promotion and internationalisation of the Berber dimension, in addition to the ‘berberisation’ of public spaces [2] by the opening of schools in language Berber, the redevelopment of urban signage… and this is only a beginning.”


    Aminata Traore said the MNLA were exploited by France as an excuse to wage war against Mali. She also said that the region they wanted as the Independent State of Azawad had been home to numerous tribes who had inhabited the region longer than the Tuareg.

    Here they are in Geneva this week discussing the Algerian State’s discrimination against Tamazight : http://www.microsofttranslator.com/bv.aspx?from=&to=en&a=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tamazgha.fr%2FTamazgha-accable-L-Etat-algerien-a.html

    It seems they are moving in step with NATO, manufacturing consent country by country.

    Aminata Traore on the recent events in Mali.

    Every African nation is in danger from globalization. Northern Mali belongs to many tribes. How can a minority suddenly take over, overthrowing others who have lived there for thousands of years?

    In the wake of NATO’s military intervention and Muammar Gaddafi’s fall in Libya, well armed Tuareg groups have returned home to Mali and in alliance with Islamic fundamentalist group Ansar Dine, have taken over its northern region. Newsclick discusses with Aminata Traore, an author and a well-known Malian political figure to talk about the recent events in Mali.

    1. Libya 360° says:

      global intelligence and Anita,

      Gerald Perreira would like to respond to your observations and questions because they provide an excellent opportunity for us to learn more about the situation in Mali, the Tuareg, the MNLA and the historical background to the Tuareg relationship with Muammar Gaddafi. So thank you both for posting your comments. What follows is from the author. ~ Alexandra


      Thanks for your comments.

      I would like to take the opportunity to respond in the hope that we can use this forum to clear up some of the misinformation and confusion on the internet emanating from numerous quarters, including academic circles abroad, who pride themselves as ‘experts’ on the Sahel, Tuaregs, North Africa and the entire continent.

      To quote a revolutionary colleague who served in Jerry Rawlings administration in Ghana, ‘I was born, grew up and lived all my life in Africa, was educated in Africa, married a woman from South Africa, and at 73 years of age I am still learning about Africa. Africa is an extremely complex environment and I am always astonished by those abroad, who often have never stepped foot on the continent, and yet pass themselves off as experts’.

      My knowledge of the situations I write about comes primarily from my activism on the ground. As an executive member of the World Mathaba in Tripoli Libya since 1982, I had the opportunity to interact with liberation movements and political organizations throughout Africa, including the Tuaregs across the Sahel region. Myself and a number of Pan-Africanist colleagues, including the brilliant African historian, the late Dr Cleo Hanciles of Sierra Leone, facilitated educational programs for many of these groups at the Green World Institute which was the educational arm of the Mathaba. Of course we came to understand a great deal about their struggles from this personal contact with their members and their leadership. Cleo Hanciles called Mathaba The University of Revolution, since Qaddafi provided us with the opportunity to interact with revolutionary and progressive forces from all corners of the globe and share our knowledge and experiences firsthand. At the Mathaba we had a special section referred to as the Sahel Division.

      There are a number of points that you raise that I would like to offer a comment on:

      1) You said that the ‘Turaegs are descendants of white populations who arrived in Africa after the fall of ancient Egypt and before the arrival of Arabs. They may look more homogeneous in Algeria and Libya, but they are more mixed with indigenous African populations in places like Mali.’

      This is not correct – Tuaregs are an ancient black African people, indigenous to the region, who over centuries, intermarried with ‘Arabs’ and ‘Berbers’ that migrated into North Africa.

      2) You say: ‘But then I go and read what the leaders of the MNLA had to say about Muammar Gaddafi, Libya and their alliance with the Feb. 17th Movement and I’m totally stumped.’
      The link you provided as your source of information with regard to MNLA statements was actually a Berber website, which has nothing to do with the MNLA. The MNLA is often confused with the Berber nationalist movement. There are some similarities between the Tuareg and Berber languages and this often causes confusion. However the Tuaregs and Berbers are two distinct groups.

      Let’s hear from Tuareg fighters themselves about the relationship they had with Muammar Qaddafi.

      In the second video – you can find the English translation of the speech below the video.

      [Editor’s Note: You will also find Dr. Shakir’s message translated in full at this link >> Dr. Shakir: A Call To The Tribes Of Libya]

      3) Just a quick comment on the Berber issue which has also led to a great deal of misinformation and confusion. The truth is that many Berber’s served in the higher echelons of the Libyan administration. Those Berber’s who claim that Qaddafi suppressed them and their people have a goal in mind – using this untruth to legitimate their calls to carve out a homeland, known as Tamazgha, a part of which would be within Libya’s borders. This was unacceptable not only to the Jamahiriyan administration but also to many other tribes in Libya. Berber culture and traditions were a part of the cultural mix that made up Libya and I can only speak of my own experience during the many years I lived in Libya, and say that I never saw any evidence of suppression of Berber culture and language. On the contrary, officially, Berber culture was celebrated, however, as with any multi-cultural environment there are of course those in the population, namely Arab hegemonists, who continually promulgate Arab supremacy, which caused indignation among Berbers and other ethnic groups, including black Libyans. We saw this prejudice savagely expressed by those in Benghazi who orchestrated the rebellion against Qaddafi and the Jamahiriya, and we see it institutionalized by those in power in Libya today.

      Qaddafi was clearly not in this category. Not only did he celebrate Libya’s diversity and unite the many different cultures and tribes, but he encouraged unity with the whole of Africa. The problem for Libya, as with so many African nation states, as you recognize in your comments, is that the nation-state, being a colonial imposition, often cut through tribes and groups of people, either separating them or lumping them all together as one. If every group was to start claiming its own territory it would be never ending.

      You might rightfully ask at this point: How does the quest for Berber autonomy differ from the Tuaregs claiming Azawad.

      Let me respond this way: Despite the unsatisfactory nature of the imposed colonial borders – it is what we now have to work with. As a Pan-Africanist I do not support the further fragmentation of the homeland into mini states along tribal and ethnic lines. However, where certain groups have been denied access to resources and basic facilities for decades, and continue to be marginalized by successive central governments, they will eventually fight for secession. This is why Qaddafi tried to mediate so many conflicts, in the search for a just solution for all parties and to avoid the further breakup of nation states. He also stated on many occasions that the breakup of a nation state should only be considered after all attempts to unite and live as one have failed. As I said in my article, Qaddafi had brokered talks between the Tuaregs and various Malian administrations, including former president Amadou Toure’s government, but unfortunately none of the promises made at these talks had been kept. This is quite a different situation to the ‘Berber’, who despite some prejudice from individuals and certain tribes in Libya, enjoyed full access to all the benefits and resources of the Jamahiriya including housing, healthcare education, free electricity, subsidized food, etc.

      Thank you for posting the excellent interview with our sister, Aminata Traore, in which she states that ‘The MNLA were exploited by France as an excuse to wage war against Mali.’ She also said ‘the region they wanted as the independent state of Azawad has been home to numerous tribes who had inhabited the region longer than the Tuareg’.

      I agree with everything she said except to add to and clarify the two comments above. First of all, the excuse given by France to invade was that they had to save Mali from coming under Islamist control. Again a great deal of confusion has arisen around the relationship between the MNLA and Ansar Dine and other Islamist groups.

      The Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad are Salafi groups with connections to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Salafi militias who are now in control in Libya. On the other hand, the Tuaregs, who recently formed the MNLA, the majority of whom are returnees from Libya, fought with the Loyalist forces against these same Salafi militias and NATO.

      When the imperialists unleashed the Ansar Dine and other Islamist militias into Mali to push back the MNLA, the leaders of the MNLA were only too aware of the tactic being used. This is why they agreed to a truce with Ansar Dine, because it was preferable to make a peace agreement than to be pushed into an all out war with these well armed and Qatari funded terrorists, which is exactly what the imperialists wanted – it was as we say the better of two evils. The French invaded, as I state in my article, because the Salafi militias that they had sent in, who the Tuaregs cleverly refused to further engage militarily, were now turning on the Malian population, conducting their usual killing sprees and destroying ancient monuments. France became nervous that the Salafists had set their sights on a takeover of Mali and its uranium reserves.

      To address Aminita’s second point: the Tuaregs made it very clear from the outset that they were not claiming Azawad for themselves but for all the inhabitants of Azawad, including Peul, Songhai, Fula and others.

      Finally you ask ‘who are the MNLA – are they two groups or one?’ As far as I am aware there is one MNLA. We need to be cautious with websites. Some websites, that appear as though they are the official website of an organization, are, in reality, set up by the enemy to sow confusion. We have experienced this in the past.

      Hope this is useful – like I said in my article ‘Yuh think it easy?

      1. global intelligence says:

        Thanks so much for the answer and for clearing up the Berber-Tuareg confusion.

        I’m loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and certainly meant no offense. I was alarmed by statements I was reading from websites claiming to be MNLA.

        “We need to be cautious with websites. Some websites, that appear as though they are the official website of an organization, are, in reality, set up by the enemy to sow confusion.”

        I did some checking and tamoudre.org is not Tuareg, like Magharebia is a US State Department propaganda outlet, not African.

        A WhoIs search shows the organization is owned by Jacqueline Dupuis from
        Monistrol-sur-Loire, Auvergne, France. http://whois.net/whois/tamoudre.org

        Andy Morgan’s articles, so often quoted in discussions about the MNLA, like Mali’s Tuareg Rebellion would also fall into the category of imperialist propaganda.

        “To address Aminita’s second point: the Tuaregs made it very clear from the outset that they were not claiming Azawad for themselves but for all the inhabitants of Azawad, including Peul, Songhai, Fula and others. ”

        Given the circumstances facing this region that would have been an ideal solution. I don’t doubt that France and NATO would like to genocide all the tribes in the uranium-rich territory.

        The Tuareg may be behind a request for UN peace keeping troops to stop the genocide being executed by NATO and Mali’s army under the Africom’s coup leader and Captain Sanango. I don’t know that the UN would be any good. They’ve camped by villages in the DRC while genocide was taking place and did nothing to intervene.

        What can activists do to help the Tuareg?

      2. Warrior Rising says:

        The last time I got into a discussion about the Tuareg situation I couldn’t believe the material at the links provided by another reader involved in the debate. It didn’t sit right with me then and I’m glad I listened to my gut. It was frustrating at the time because he kept throwing link after link at us and we had nothing substantial in the way of alternative media to counter it.

        What was worse was this man was sincere and on the side of the Tuareg and an independent State of Azawad. He set most of the people discussing the situation off by posting links that spoke hatefully of Muammar Gaddafi. We all agreed on their right to have that territory but we disagreed about the pro-feb17th propaganda the French website churned out and didn’t know how many Tuareg the MNLA represented or what they would do with the other Indigenous tribes with equal land claim rights.

        I hope this helps the Tuareg and their cause should be one any pro-Jamahiriya, anti-imperialist activist can rightly feel passionate about.

        Thanks Gerald.

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