What Was The Tuareg Rebellion?

The Tuareg Rebellion was the beginning of the Northern mali conflict. Editorial credit: ymphotos / Shutterstock.com.
The Tuareg Rebellion was the beginning of the Northern mali conflict. Editorial credit: ymphotos / Shutterstock.com.

The Tuareg Rebellion took place between 1990 and 1995, and it was an uprising by several Tuareg groups in Mali and Niger. The Tuareg wanted to become independent or to be able to form their state. The uprising occurred after a period of regional famine and during a period of political oppression in both countries. The 1990 insurgency is only one among several other uprisings that took place in both countries. The Tuareg people have been in occasional dispute with the other tribes in the region. A number of the Tuaregs wanted to form their nation at the end of the colonial period, coupled with the dissatisfaction of the new government; this led to a rebellion in 1963 in Northern Mali.

The Taureg

The Tuareg people are a minority community found in a majority of the Saharan region. Due to being a minority, the Tuareg have at most times been side-lined by their home governments. Droughts experienced in 1972 to 1974 and 1984 to 1985, killed the livestock of the nomadic communities and also changed their migration routes leading to conflict between some communities. Government aid was not forthcoming, and the Niger and Mali governments took sides against the Tuaregs, which prompted most of them to flee and seek refuge in neighboring Libya and Algeria. While still refugees in foreign countries, some militants blamed their home governments for failure to support the needy people and they came together to form rebel group. The two countries, Niger and Mali, were economically unable to handle the famine and poverty that plagued them; this led to dissatisfaction with the government among most of the local communities.


In Niger, drought and political instability reached its peak in 1985, in the same year, Touareg groups in Libya formed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Niger. The group carried out two attacks in the Tchin-Tabaradene region, and the first attack forced Algeria and Libya to close their borders on that side. The second attack was carried out in 1990 at a police station which resulted in the killing of a number of the rebels. In May 1990, the Niger military arrested, tortured and killed several Touareg civilians and the Touaregs rebelled by forming armed rebel groups, the Front for the Liberation of Tamoust and the Front for the Liberation of Air and Azaouak. Intermittent fighting continued in the Air Mountains in 1990 and 1994, and the rebel groups agreed to sign a peace agreement. In 1995, the government reached an agreement with most of the rebel groups who signed a peace agreement with the last group signing in 1998.


The war in Mali broke out in 1990 when rebel groups ambushed government buildings. Retribution by the Mali army resulted in a major rebellion which calmed down in 1992. In 1994, a group of Tuareg rebels attacked government installations again, and this was the preceptor to a civil war. In 1995 there were peace talks between the government and the rebels and in 1996 peace was restored. As from 1996, there have been small uprisings with the Tuaregs advocating for a greater inclusion in the government.


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