The Tuareg live across the Sahel, from Mali to Niger to southern Algeria. The first post-colonial rebellion begain in the 1960's following Mali's independence it was a fight between a group of Tuareg and the newly independent state of Mali. The Malian Army suppressed the revolt. Resentment among the Tuareg fueled the second uprising in May 1990.
The Tuareg in both Mali and Niger claimed autonomy for their traditional homeland: Tenere with its capital Agadez and the Azawad and Kidal regions of Mali. Deadly clashes between Tuareg fighters and the military of both countries followed, with deaths numbering well into the thousands.
Negotiations initiated by France and Algeria led to peace agreements on 11 January 1992 in Mali and 1995 in Niger. Both agreements called for decentralization of national power and guaranteed the integration of Tuareg resistance fighters into the countries' respective national armies.
As of 2004, sporadic fighting continued in Niger between government forces and Tuareg groups struggling for independence. In 2007 the violence began once again.
Many of those involved in the current rebellion are thought to have fought for Colonel Gadaffi, a long-term supporter of their claims for greater independence, in the Libyan conflict. When Gadaffi was killed in October, significant numbers returned home.
The Tuaregs' long-standing grievances are that their desert heartlands – places like Kidal and Gao in northern Mali, and Agadez in northern Niger – have been neglected by central government and need urgent development. There were a number of violent rebellions by Tuaregs in both Mali and Niger in the 90s and 00s.
As a result of the fighting some 700,000 people in Mali and Niger have been displaced and a massive humanitarian crisis is lurking in the shadows. When there are claims of Al-Qaeda in the desert blowing up stuff one cannot help and be sceptical because history has shown us that such announcements are usually followed by Aerial bombardment , international intervention and untimately lots of stolen resources.
The struggle for self-determination is never one to be dismissed but in these times where every struggle seems to be moulded to suit some foreign race for gain one can only hope that the reasons and the struggle do not become mere pawns in an international soap opera for domination of already scarce resources.