The Role of Ideology in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution During the Tuareg Rebellions

Abstract: From the earliest recorded battles to the most recent armed conflicts within the Middle East and North Africa, ideology has played a major role in both the negotiation process and how the states or parties involved and the supranational bodies deal with conflict resolution. This paper traces the history of conflict resolution and negotiation during the four Tuareg rebellions in Mali, the negotiation process and actions within each conflict and unlike most research on the Tuareg rebellions, focuses primarily on the role that ideology played and is playing within each of the Tuareg rebellions.            

It recommends the continued understanding of how underlying ideologies play a significant role in negotiation and conflict resolution within the Tuareg Rebellions and more specifically the North African Sahel region while keeping in mind the effect of these ideologies on the negotiation process between the affected states as well as the supranational bodies who attempt to mediate the conflict.  While there are other variables that play a part in these armed conflicts as well as other ideologies, the focus for this research will be on the role that primary ideologies play in the conflict resolution and negotiation process.  It outlines suggestions on how a negotiation or armed conflict should be approached to ascertain the ideologies present and to further understand conflicts between the ideologies based on past historical evidence.  Finally, it suggests the continuing focus of educating people who operate in these regions with ideologically-based negotiation and conflict resolution training provided through various organizations including the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) as well as the U.S. Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Cultural Learning (CAOCL) and even the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The most significant findings in this research were: First and foremost, there has been very little research done on the role of ideology in negotiation and conflict resolution with a focus on the Tuareg rebellions; Second, there is a current misconception regarding the role that ECOWAS and other Supranational organizations should play within negotiations and armed conflicts in the region; and finally, due to the Arab Spring causing tensions to rise in the Middle East and North Africa resulting in armed conflicts, there is going to be a very real impact on the rest of the countries within the African region involving a clash of ideologies resulting in the shift of rule from a more secular ideology to the more restrictive ideologies like those of the Muslim Brotherhood or vice versa.  With this paradigm shift, there will be an increased need for understanding the role of ideology within the negotiation process as well as when resolving armed conflicts in the region.  If we are to successfully navigate these conflicts and support the sides financially or logistically that are most likely to provide security and stability in the region, we may be able to partner with and successfully create a strategic advantage with them against threats in their region.

Chapter 1 – Introduction, Hypotheses, Methodology and Contribution

Introduction

The old Tuareg proverb, “Houses are the graves of the living,” exemplifies the rich pastoral tradition and culture of the nomadic Tuareg people.  There are competing claims regarding the original ideology of Tuaregs but what is known is that starting in 2000 BC, the power and ideology represented in the North African region known as the Maghreb was primarily from the presence of a tribal group of people known as Berbers.[1]  Due to the Tuareg people most likely ascending from Berbers based on their language being Berber and Tamasheq, the best way to understand the ideologies present during the Tuareg rebellions is to look at the evolution of Berber ideology over the years and the impact of Islam on the Berber and Tuareg population at the advent of Islam.       Although, Islam was implemented between the 7th and 16th century in order to bring together different ethnicities under the religion of Islam, it is in question whether the religion of Islam outweighs the role of pre-Islamic ideology in the Tuareg culture.  If you were to compare the Berber ideology pre-Islam with the Arab ideology pre-Islam, you would see there are some similarities between the two, primarily that the nomadic culture prevented the immediate adherence to Islamic practices while sedentarization or urbanization had the opposite effect.  There are several questions that must be answered through the research in this article: Why is it important to understand the ideologies that have played a role in negotiation and conflict resolution within the Tuareg rebellions?  Does the pre-Islamic Berber/Tuareg culture still play a part in the Tuareg community today?  Although, Tuareg’s are Muslim, what is it about their culture that doesn’t allow them to adhere completely to Islam including the acceptance of Shari’a law?  Due to the lack of information regarding pre-Islamic ideology in the Tuareg culture, can their pre-Islamic ideology be tied to the pre-Islamic ideology of the Berber people of the Maghreb?  Did the Berber and Tuareg ideology change after the advent of Islam?  What kind of effect has Islam had on the Berber or Tuareg culture or vice versa?  How does the Berber or Tuareg ideology affect security and stability in the North African region?     

Hypotheses

The thesis’ primary question is: What role did ideology play in conflict resolution and negotiations during the Tuareg rebellions?  By answering this question, my goal was to develop relevant policy recommendations for military and non-governmental agencies that operate within the North African region and specifically to understand how to deal with the former Malian portion of the country known as Azawad.  To explore the question, I tested four hypotheses:

  1. Ideology is an underlying variable present in conflict resolution and negotiation but isn’t the main variable.
  2. Ideology is the main variable present in conflict resolution and negotiation but there are other variables that affect the process.
  3. Non-target country or group’s adherence to the target country or group’s ideology leads to a more successful conclusion.
  4. Non-target country or group’s adherence to the target country or group’s ideology doesn’t lead to a more successful conclusion.

The first hypothesis examines whether ideology was one of the variables important to understand when dealing with conflict resolution and negotiation during the Tuareg rebellions.  The second hypothesis seeks to understand if ideology is the main overriding influence within conflict resolution and negotiation during the Tuareg rebellions.  The third hypothesis examines whether adherence by parties involved in the conflict to the ideology made or could have made conflict resolution and negotiation more successful.  The fourth hypothesis examined whether the adherence or opposition to ideology by parties involved made or could have made a difference in the results.

Scope, methodology and research strengths/weaknesses

This section covers the papers scope and methodology.  It also addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology.

            Scope:  This research on the role of ideology in conflict resolution and negotiation focused exclusively on the conflicts and negotiations within the four Tuareg rebellions in the North African region.  The first part of my research consisted of researching the history of ideology within the Tuareg and Berber population.  Next, I researched the role of ideology in each of the conflicts and negotiations during the Tuareg rebellions to assess the role that ideology played within the process.  When assessing the role of ideology in conflict resolution and negotiation, I researched academic journals and books, military journals and books as well as found leads to other sources from past essays on the armed conflict and the negotiation process surrounding that armed conflict, specifically focusing on the Tuareg rebellions.  Geographically, I examined how ideology played a role in each armed conflict and negotiation within the Maghrab region of Northern Africa.  However, this research concentrated primarily on the major conflicts within the Tuareg rebellions specifically for the sake of brevity and due to limited information available regarding the ideological impact during the Tuareg rebellions. 

            Methodology:  I conducted my research in five phases.  The first phase explored the conflict resolution and negotiation process.  The second phase examined the history of the ideology within the Berber and Tuareg populations.  The third phase researched the Tuareg rebellions with a focus on ideology that was present within each of the conflicts and negotiations during the Tuareg rebellions.  The fourth phase examined the perceived effect of ideology on each conflict or negotiation within the Tuareg rebellions.  The fifth phase examined the results or perceived results from the adherence or non-adherence to ideology by the non-target party with the expected result being more cooperation.

  1. First Phase – This phase consisted of a literature review of Conflict Resolution and Negotiation.  During this phase, research consisted of books and journals.  I examined anthropological, psychological and sociological journals, essays and books regarding Conflict Resolution and Negotiation, including any references to Conflict Resolution, Negotiation, or armed conflict.  Key sources for research included books and journals by Lotta Harbom, Stina Hogbladh, Peter Wallensteen, Barbara F. Walter, Margareta Sollenberg, Magnus Oberg, Frida Moller and Lotta Themner.
  2. Second Phase – This phase consisted of a literature review of the historical ideology in Berbers and Tuaregs.  During this phase, research consisted of books and journals. I examined essays, journals and books that included any references to Ideology, Berber or Tuareg.  Key sources for research included essays by Marie Luce Gelard, Talal Asad, Susan Rasmussen and Edmond Bernus.
  3. Third Phase – This phase consisted of another literature review but this time looking for the role of ideology within each of the conflicts of the Tuareg rebellions.  I examined mostly online journals and books, essays and books from a national security, cultural or psychological perspective regarding the Tuareg Rebellions looking at the history of all four rebellions and the ideology present in each. Key resources for research were very limited due to there not being much done in that area of research but consisted of books and journals by Peter Schraeder, Robert Pringle, LtCol Kalifa Keita and Anna Mahjar Barducci.  Most helpful works were written by Mali military officers who were involved in the conflicts but I attempted to balance those accounts with others who weren’t involved in the conflict, i.e. academia to avoid bias.
  4. Fourth Phase – This phase consisted of a literature review also but this time searching for results of conflict resolution or negotiation within the Tuareg rebellions.  Key resources for research consisted primarily of academic journals and books that discussed the in-depth negotiations within the Tuareg rebellions in an effort to ascertain whether there was a successful outcome.  Unfortunately, there isn’t much research available on the intricacies of the negotiation process as most information was very vague and focusing on other aspects of the Tuareg rebellions. The most helpful works were by Peter Schraeder, Robert Pringle, LtCol Kalifa Keita and Anna Mahjar Barducci.
  5. Fifth Phase – This phase consisted of a literature review also but this time searching for the ideologies present within the conflict resolution or negotiation process and the adherence by parties involved including whether the adherence or non-adherence resulted in a successful negotiation within the Tuareg rebellions.  Key resources for research consisted primarily of academic journals and reports that discussed the history of the Tuareg rebellions and the results for the parties involved.  Fortunately, this was a pretty easy thing to do after completing all four phases and didn’t require much more research as the answers were revealed through the previous phases of the research.  The most helpful works were by Peter Schraeder, Robert Pringle, LtCol Kalifa Keita and Anna Mahjar Barducci.

            Strengths and weaknesses:  This methodology used a variety of sources both military and non-governmental, online and in book form.  The strengths of the research were that due to the Tuareg most likely being of the Berber ethnicity, there was much more research done on the ideology of Berbers than there were Tuaregs, although I did find just enough information on Tuareg ideology to conduct adequate research.  Also, due to the connection of Berbers to Tuareg through language and proximity, it was possible to draw a connection between the Berber ideology and the Tuareg ideology to fill in gaps in knowledge regarding the history of Tuareg ideology, if necessary.  In addition, while one of the weaknesses was the lack of research done on the negotiation process within the four Tuareg rebellions with most research being done on the recent Tuareg rebellion in Mali in 2012 resulting in the secessionist country “Azawad,” there was just enough information available to provide a complete picture of the four Tuareg rebellions as well as the ideological component present in the negotiations surrounding those rebellions.  An unresolved weakness was the lack of time and funding available to travel to Northern Mali with a Tamasheq interpreter to speak with Tuareg rebels in the area regarding the four Tuareg rebellions.  A call was made to a gentleman in the national security community who lived with the Tuareg people and has worked in the region but the researcher was unable to secure an interview.  The first weakness was alleviated through showing a connection of the language and culture of the Tuareg to the Berbers.

Contribution and unanswered questions

This paper is the first complete examination of the role of ideology within conflict resolution and negotiation during the Tuareg rebellions.  Due to there being a lack of documentation regarding the Tuareg ideology culture pre-Islam, I traced the Tuareg to the Berbers who settled in the Maghreb in 2000 BC.  It was possible, however, to show that the nomadic lifestyle of the Berber and Tuareg as well as their lack of connection to the marabouts (Islamic scholars) during the Umayyad Dynasty allowed them to not fully adhere to the Islamic ideology at the advent of Islam unlike other cultures in North Africa, i.e. Somalia.  With most people in the Maghreb being of Berber ancestry, when dealing with people in the region and in this research, Tuaregs, people should keep the Berber ideology in mind to ensure that there aren’t mistakes made that will increase a security threat in the region through a misunderstanding of the situation or through an affront to their culture.  The most important question that remains unanswered or researched is whether the lack of urbanization/sedentarization prevented the complete adherence of Tuareg people to Islam or if it was due to the Islamic scholars skipping the mountains and deserts during their travels.  If indeed it is because of lack of urbanization and not due to lack of contact with the Islamic scholars, the urbanization and sedentarization of Tuareg and Berbers may result in a culture that has more strongly adhered to Islam than their nomadic counterparts. 

Outline

Chapter 2 briefly explains conflict resolution and negotiation as well as the history of ideology within the Berber and Tuareg population and the impact of Islam on their pre-Islamic ideologies.  In chapter 3, research is done on the history of armed conflict and negotiation during the four Tuareg rebellions in North Africa.  In chapter 4, the role of ideology in each conflict is analyzed, the adherence or non-adherence to ideology by the other party in each conflict is examined as well as the results or perceived results from the ideological conflicts including any schisms.  If the Berber ideology wasn’t compared to the Tuareg ideology in chapter 2, arguments made in Chapters 3 – 4 wouldn’t be understandable and pertinent to the discussion as there is limited research done on the Tuareg rebellions with the largest amount of research done on the recent Tuareg rebellion in Mali resulting in the secessionist state of Azawad.

Chapter 2 – Conflict Resolution, Negotiation and Ideologies

Definition of Conflict Resolution and Negotiation

The term conflict resolution and negotiation isn’t used much in mainstream media or even in foreign relations parlance, the usual term you will hear is peace.  I argue that conflict resolution and negotiation is the process that leads to peace.  According to the Johan Galtung, public officials who use the terms, “peace talks”  are already projecting the assumed outcome from the discussion which is fine when you are dealing with social issues but what about the cases where one side or other doesn’t want peace or are not willing to push toward the goal of peace in the conflict?[2]   In that instance, I feel that conflict resolution and negotiation might be the two best all-encompassing phrases to use to explain the process of communication between the parties involved.  I have to admit though, unless both parties are eyeing the same goal, whether it be peace, a ceasefire, drawing borders, nuclear nonproliferation, a division of resources, etc, they must both be on the same page or at least walk away from the deal feeling they got something out of it.  If one or both parties feel they got a raw deal then it is almost inevitable that both parties may end up back at the bargaining table discussing that same issue as the conflict was not resolved to each party’s satisfaction.

Peter Wallensteen defines conflict resolution as “a situation ‘where the conflicting parties enter into an agreement that solves their central incompatibilities, accept each other’s continued existence as parties and cease all violent action against each other.”[3]  Negotiation is essentially the process that takes place within conflict resolution and guides the agreement resulting in the targeted goal whether it is peace, better understanding, etc.

There are many variables that must be understood and taken into account when dealing with the conflict resolution and negotiation process, these variables may be based on past perceived slights or affronts by each party, i.e. Israeli occupation in Gaza, delegitimization of Hamas, etc but the variables most commonly affecting the framework of conflict resolution aren’t tangible, they are ideological differences, i.e. Jewish vs. Muslim, Arab vs. Persian, etc. Whether the ideologies are religious, political or ethnic, these ideologies are important and cannot and should not be ignored or the risk of an unsuccessful negotiation process is most likely going to be the end result.

Definition of Ideology

According to John B. Thompson in his book, “Studies in the theory of ideology”, “ideology is essentially linked to the process of sustaining asymmetrical relations of power – that is, to the process of maintaining dominance.”[4]  Analyzing ideology means studying conflicting viewpoints, while reflecting on language, culture and politics within the area studied.

Ideologies within the Tuareg rebellions

There are several ideological differences that took place within the Tuareg rebellion.  The Tuareg hold the following three ideological groups most important to their survival: cultural ideology, religious ideology and political ideology.  Tuareg are nomadic and have lived primarily in the Mali and Niger areas of the Maghreb (North Africa).  Tuareg originally were from all accounts animists (indigenous African religion) before the advent of Islam.  As animists, they believed that there are souls in animate as well as inanimate objects.  After the advent of Islam, the Tuareg became Muslim but much later in their history than other cultures in the area most likely due to the Islamic scholars not visiting the desert or mountain areas of Mali during the Islamic period.  It is most likely that Islam spread to the Tuareg culture from the areas where the Islamic scholars did visit in their travels, the steppe and lowlands.  Although, the Tuareg are Muslims, they are not strict Muslims and loosely adhere to Islamic teachings while still holding on to their earlier animistic religion.[5]  There have been claims by some that due to the Tuareg having crosses, a predominately Christian symbol on their weapons that Tuareg may have been Christian pre-Islam but there isn’t enough information to confirm that fact and it isn’t likely to be a very educated assumption as Tuareg are of the Berber ethnicity and most Berbers were animistic or adhered to an indigenous religion.  Tuareg people prefer a secular society which is much closer to their former animistic religion than Islam and most recently this has become apparent in the Tuareg fight against Ansar al-Din in the newly seceded country of Azawad (former Northern Mali area).  Recently, there was an attempt to create a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between secular Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and the Islamist al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) affiliate Ansar al-Din but negotiations broke down when Ansar al-Din refused to allow an MOU without two requirements: 1) The country of Azawad will be an Islamic country and 2) Azawad will be under Shari’a (Islamic) law.  As a result, Ansar al-Din pushed the Tuaregs out of the primary cities in Azawad and now the United Nations is calling for a return of Azawad to Mali as concerns mount that AQIM will have a strategic advantage on Algeria if it falls into the control of Islamist militants Ansar al-Din and their ilk.[6]

Chapter 3 – Tuareg Rebellion: Background and Theory

Introduction and significant conclusions

Tuareg Rebellions

Tuareg people prefer a secular society which is much closer to their former animistic religion than Islam and most recently this has become apparent in the Tuareg fight against Ansar al-Din in the newly seceded country of Azawad (former Northern Mali area).  Recently, there was an attempt to create a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between secular Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA) and the Islamist al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) affiliate Ansar al-Din but negotiations broke down when Ansar al-Din refused to allow an MOU without two requirements: 1) The country of Azawad will be an Islamic country and 2) Azawad will be under Shari’a (Islamic) law.  As a result, Ansar al-Din pushed the Tuaregs out of the primary cities in Azawad and now the United Nations is calling for a return of Azawad to Mali as concerns mount that AQIM will have a strategic advantage on Algeria as well as a much bigger risk to uranium mining in Niger if Azawad falls into the control of Islamist militants Ansar al-Din and their ilk AQIM, etc.  While technically there have been five separate Tuareg rebellions, for our purposes, we are going to concentrate on the last four: the first Tuareg rebellion took place from 1962-1964; the second Tuareg rebellion from 1990-1996; the third Tuareg rebellion from 2006 to 2009 and the fourth Tuareg rebellion in 2012.

The First Tuareg Rebellion

To truly understand the Tuareg Rebellions, we have to start by looking at the first Tuareg rebellion.  In 1963, after the colonization by France was over, the Mali government started to put restrictions on the autonomy previously enjoyed by the Kidal Tuareg population also known as the Kel Adagh under the French.  At that time, many Tuareg in the region aspired for their own country made up of Northern Mali, Northern Nigeria and Southern Algeria, this new country was to be called, “Azawad.”[7]  At the time there were no political or social actions that were pushing the Tuaregs to making Azawad a reality but that would all change over the next 50 years.  The Kidal Tuareg were mostly located in the highland area of Mali known as Adrar des floras along the Algerian border.[8]  The Kidal Tuareg uprising consisting primarily of “small hit and run raids on camel with small arms and the attacks escalated until 1963 when just as the attacks reached a climax, the Malian government, fearful of calls for a secession within Northern Mali, armed with more sophisticated soviet weapons and soviet tactics put the rebellion down by massacring the Kidal Tuareg people, poisoning their wells and destroying their flock.[9]  As a result of Mali’s harsh methods of putting down the first Tuareg rebellion, most of the Kidal Tuareg fled north into Algeria and they wouldn’t be the last to do the same throughout the Tuareg rebellions soon to come.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s, more Tuareg fled Mali into Algeria and other countries as Mali was dealing with major droughts and the Tuareg flocks couldn’t exist without water, the country was learning how to govern itself independently under a repressive military administration based on the examples made by the soviet union and the grievances held by people in Northern Mali and the government over the atrocities and human rights abuses committed by each side.[10]  As a result of the country of Mali’s non-responsiveness to the results from the first Tuareg rebellion there was a growing discontent between the Tuareg people and the new more repressive Mali government.  This discontent would foment and ignite resulting in the second Tuareg rebellion twenty two years later in the summer of 1990. 

The Second Tuareg Rebellion

On June 27, 1990, the second Tuareg rebellion began and arguably this rebellion may have put in motion the subsequent Tuareg rebellions resulting in the Malian government’s fears coming to life as the northern portion of Mali ends up seceding from the southern portion of Mali and being renamed Azawad in 2012.  This rebellion began most likely due to resentment held by the Tuareg population in Northern Mali over unaddressed grievances, lack of follow through on promised social programs and a lack of involvement or interest in the conflict between the Mali government and the Tuareg population in Mali.  From the perspective of the Tuareg population, the Mali government purposefully withheld food relief from them in an effort to destroy or drive out the Tuaregs from Northern Mali and this may have played a large part in the second Tuareg rebellion.  The most prominent difference that changed the face of conflict in the second Tuareg rebellion was the splintering of the Tuareg community in the 1960’s.  The young Tuareg men weren’t content with their life in the Tuareg community so they were either enticed by the newfound Oil trade in Libya and became laborers in the oil industry or they were absorbed into Muammar Qadaffi’s military forces while others took part in the Libyan-sponsored “Islamic Legion.”  The Islamic Legion was made up of Islamic militants who eventually gained experience fighting in Lebanon, Palestine and Afghanistan.  Prior to the second Tuareg rebellion, the Tuareg’s in the oil industry found themselves unemployed as well as the Tuareg militants.  Disenfranchised by the lack of opportunities for laborers and the defunding of the Islamic Legion as well as the lack of combat tours available for the Tuareg combat veterans, there was a rise in violence and raids in Northern Mali, coupled with the harbored resentment against the Mali government for the first rebellion, the Tuaregs began a second insurgency against the Mali government but this time they had light vehicle with mounted weapons and small arms as well as combat experience from their participation in Lebanon, Palestine and Afghanistan.[11]  This rebellion was more successful than the first rebellion due to them being able to destroy government facilities and evade the government to hide in neighboring countries.  As a result, the government of Mali tried to again implement the counterinsurgency attacks reminiscent of the soviet era but it only escalated the conflict.  Facing the prospect of Malian government financial ruin and a possible coup de tat, Malian President Moussa Traore and Tuareg tribal leaders signed the Accords of Tamanrasset in Tamanrasset, Algeria on January 6, 1991.  Later, in March of 1991, a coup de tat removed President Traore from power and in April 11, 1992, a national pact was signed in Bamako, Mali.  Throughout the rest of the 1990’s until 1998, the Malian Army struggled with integrating restless young Tuareg war veterans into the Malian Army.  Distrust coupled with internal attacks on Malian non-Tuareg Army personnel complicated the integration process but the eventual participation of Malian Army personnel in Peacekeeping seemed to solidify the acceptance of Tuareg personnel within the Malian Army.[12]

The Third Tuareg Rebellion

On May 23, 2006, Tuareg Military members calling themselves the Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC) walked out off of their military posts with military weapons and military vehicles.  This alliance of military members was an evolution in the Tuareg movement, there was now a coalition of Tuareg people who were calling for the Mali government’s adherence to the National Pact, specifically the agreement for more autonomy in Northern Mali and a more equitable distribution of resources.  This was also when we first hear about Iyad Ag Ghaly, the former leader of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MPLA).[13]  Iyad Ag Ghaly and Ibrahim Ag Bahanga’s names will become more popular later during the fourth Tuareg rebellion.  The third Tuareg rebellion was also an evolution in the way that the Malian government handled the rebellion.  In this case, they used the tactic of containment and appeasement resulting in a negotiation and ceasefire a few days later.  The lessons learned from the 2nd rebellion taught the Mali government that cold-war soviet-style tactics against the Tuaregs increased insurgency, it appears that the tactic of containment and appeasement was the best strategy for the Malian government although, but it didn’t hurt the Malian government’s policy that the Tuaregs also mirrored the Malian government’s containment and appeasement policy and didn’t get assistance from the newly present Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) or other Nomadic people in Northern Mali.  Within a few days of the third rebellion starting, it was over when Algeria negotiated the end of the conflict which included the requirements of the ADC not to collaborate with other Tuaregs outside Mali in the conflict and not to push for autonomy or independence.[14]  Algeria was much more involved in the third Tuareg rebellion primarily due to the presence of a newer Islamist radical group formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).  The GSPC was a splinter group of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) that fought during the Algerian civil war of the 1990’s.  In 2007, the GSPC changed their allegiance to Al Qaeda and were renamed Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).[15]  Due to the change in tactics by the Malian government, the ADC didn’t seek the assistance of AQIM but that would change later in 2012 during the fourth Tuareg rebellion resulting in a devastating situation where the Tuareg were able to take the Northern portion of Mali from the Mali government and secede into the independent country of Azawad.  In addition, the ADC had a schism within the organization by Tuaregs whom disagreed with the negotiated agreement in Algiers, those people formed the Niger-Mali Tuareg Alliance (ATNM).  As a result Ibrahim Ag Bahanga was exiled to Libya and he would return in 2011 only to be killed in a car accident the summer of 2011.  His legacy continued as the fires he started in the third Tuareg rebellion would continue to burn and be reignited in 2011 by Mohammed Ag Najm, the commander of Muammar Qaddafi’s elite desert military units and the Tuaregs who formerly served in Qaddafi’s military when they formed the Mouvement National pour la Liberation de l’Azawad (MNLA).[16]   

The Fourth Tuareg Rebellion and the Secession of Northern Mali

While the movement of secular Tuareg’s we now know as the MNLA were preparing to fight the Malian government in their fourth revolt and attempt to secure an independent country of Azawad in Northern Mali, there was another group of rebels being put together led by Iyad Ag Ghaly.  Iyad Ag Ghaly was present at the formation meeting of MNLA but was not allowed to participate due to his connection to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).  Feeling slighted by the secularist Tuareg movement MNLA, Ghaly created a Salafist Islamic group Ansar al-Din which translated means “Defenders of the Faith.”

On October 21st, 2011, amidst the Arab Spring which spread through the Arab world like wildfire, Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi was ousted from power and later killed by Libyan rebels after a NATO drone strike took out his convoy.  At this point, the Arab Spring had fully engulfed the various Arab states in the region but Tuareg soldiers who fought in al-Qaddafi’s Libyan Army returned to Mali with heavy and light weapons ready for a fourth attempt at liberating northern Mali from the Malian government resulting in an independent state of Azawad.  On March 21, 2012, a coup d’etat was conducted against the Malian government resulting in the Tuareg takeover of all the towns in Northern Mali leading the MNLA to finally declare Northern Mali as the independent state of Azawad.[17]

While the MNLA and Ansar al-Din both had similar goals in mind, an independent state of Azawad, their ideologies couldn’t be further apart.  Ansar al-Din wants an independent and Islamic state of Azawad while the MNLA want an independent and secular state of Azawad.  Based on the ethnic makeup of Azawad being Tuareg, Songhai, Moors/Arabs, Peul (Fulani) and minority groups Bozo, Dogon and Bambara, it is understandable why the MNLA are pushing for a secular state of Azawad not governed by Islamic law.  While the majority of people in Azawad are Muslims, there are also a minority of Christians and Animists (Indigenous African Religion) which provides further explanation why having a secular state of Azawad is the most beneficial path to an independent, secure and stable state.[18]  Recently, both the MNLA and Ansar al-Din decided to embark on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in an effort to promote peace and stability in the region.  Unfortunately for the MNLA, at the last minute, Ansar al-Din changed the MOU to include Azawad being an Islamic state and Shari’a (Islamic law) being the rule of law.  On May 28, 2012, the MNLA couldn’t agree to an Islamic state as it would betray their secular values so, the MOU was considered null and void based on Article 9 of the MOU which stated, “any disagreement with one of the fundamental principles of the [Islamic] religion nullifies this agreement.”[19]

Ansar al-Din’s reason for wanting an Islamic state of Azawad may be more nefarious than it appears, there are known connections of Ansar al-Din to AQIM, the Monotheism Movement for Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and the Nijerian group Boko Haram.[20]  According to IDC Herzliya’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, their Jihadi Websites Monitoring Group was able to obtain a video called “Conquest of Azawad” put out in July 2012 showing Ansar al-Din “fighting its enemies in Northern part of Mali now called Azawad.[21]  Since April 2012, Ansar al-Din has combined forces with other Salafist affiliated Islamist groups and pushed the MNLA out of three major cities with Islamic significance, Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal.  After seizing these cities, Ansar al-Din destroyed three sacred tombs that were part of a UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site in Timbuktu and other parts of Azawad due to the Islamists claims that the sites are part of Sufism, a part of the Islamic religion that Salafists don’t believe is truly Islamic.[22]

There is light at the end of the tunnel though, it appears that there is distrust within Ansar al-Din and as Tuareg rebels formerly with Ansar al-Din flee to fight with the MNLA, an independent, secular state of Azawad may be possible but at this time, it appears that there is a growing Islamist presence in Azawad with unlimited funds that is being fought by the secular MNLA whose funds are finite and dwindling.  Without financial assistance from the U.S. and France, the MNLA will likely be unsuccessful and either the Malian government will take back Azawad with international assistance of ECOWAS or Azawad will become the new launching pad for Salafist operations throughout the Northern Africa region.

Chapter 4 – Role of Ideology in Conflict Resolution and Negotiation

Introduction and Significant Conclusions

After reviewing the history of the four Tuareg rebellions, it is obvious from the outset that although Malian government officials claim the conflicts had nothing to do with religion, it had a lot to do with ideology.  Let’s review the four major ideologies that played a part in this conflict: Islamist ideology, Secular ideology, Authoritarian ideology and Democratic ideology.  While there were other ideologies, these appear the most obvious part of the conflict and played a major part in one or more of the Tuareg rebellions.

Historical Impacts

The first Tuareg rebellion took place between a post-colonial Malian authoritarian government and the Tuaregs who expected autonomy from the Malian government similar to the rights given to them while under French control.  During this conflict, the Islamist and Secularist ideology didn’t have a role as the most important ideological differences were apparent from the authoritarian role the newly independent Malian government took, possibly from their understanding of soviet-era conflict resolution techniques.  The problem arose because of the wrong ideology, in this case authoritarian ideology, being used against a populace that was used to autonomy or similarly democratic rule by the French.  After the first rebellion, the Malian government didn’t alleviate the Tuareg’s concerns in Northern Mali and there was a grievance that was held by the Tuareg due to the harsh authoritarian methods used by the Mali government to deal with the Tuareg’s during the first rebellion. 

During the second Tuareg rebellion, the ideologies that played the biggest role were again authoritarian ideology and democratic ideology.  The Tuareg felt that the Malian government wasn’t addressing the problems of the Tuareg and that the droughts in the last 20 years as well as the lack of food aid to the people in Northern Mali was a form of genocide against the Tuareg people in retaliation for the first Tuareg rebellion.  According to Mali government sources, the reason that food aid wasn’t provided to people in Northern Mali was due to the government not being very efficient during the times of the droughts.  In addition to the discontent among the Tuareg people, between the first and second Tuareg rebellions, there were many young Tuaregs who were not happy with pastoral life and either worked in the oil industry, became a soldier in the Libyan Military or joined Muammar al-Qaddafi’s “Islamic Legion.”  These young Tuareg’s would come back prior to the second Tuareg rebellion, restless and unemployed but combat trained and ready for the second Tuareg rebellion.  At first, the Malian government tried using the same soviet-era authoritarian ideologies used successfully in the first Tuareg rebellion but it only increased the intensity of attacks.  When the Mali government decided to use Algeria as an intermediary, peace was created within Mali.  Although, the Islamic ideology was present during the second Tuareg rebellion, most Tuaregs are more Muslim in identity than practice so Islamic ideology didn’t play a major role but that would all start to change in the third Tuareg Rebellion and play a major role in the fourth Tuareg rebellion.

The third Tuareg rebellion took place when after Malian efforts at integrating Tuareg soldiers into the Malian Army and the feeling of inadequate distribution of resources, didn’t keep the Tuareg people content and several Tuareg soldiers who were integrated into the Mali government as part of the National Pact walked off of a military base with military weapons and vehicles.  The Malian government used the strategy of appeasement and containment as well as negotiating with the Tuaregs ending the third Tuareg rebellion through the mediation of the Algerian government a few days after it started.  The ideologies present in this conflict were no longer the authoritarian and democratic/autonomous ideology but now the biggest schism would come between the third and fourth Tuareg rebellions from the ideological differences of two Tuareg leaders, Iyad Ag Ghaly, an Islamic Salafist and Mohammed Ag Najm, a Secularist.  The schism created between the newly formed secular Tuareg movement known as the MNLA led by Najm and the Islamic Salafist movement Ansar al-Din led by Ghaly would play a major role in the fourth Tuareg rebellion in 2012.

During the fourth Tuareg rebellion, there were two major coup d’état’s: Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and Mali’s leader.  The coup of Qaddafi led to battle-hardened Tuareg’s coming back to Mali once again to join in the later coup of the government of Mali.  After the coup of the Malian government, there was a secession of Northern Mali and a declaration of independence from Mali resulting in Azawad.  The vacuum that was created from the coup initially was filled by the secularist MNLA but after a failed memorandum of understanding with Ansar al-Din, Islamist groups MUAJ and AQIM joined Ansar al-Din in the fight against the MNLA and seized three major Islamic cities within Azawad.  The Islamists destroyed historical Islamic Sufi Saint landmarks that were designated a UNESCO world heritage site in the city of Timbuktu and angered the secularist Tuaregs within the country of Azawad.  The ideologies currently playing a major role since the fourth Tuareg rebellion are secularism and Radical Islamism known as Salafism.  

Future Impacts

Due to the variety of ethnicities and religions within Azawad, a secular government makes the most sense for the country not to end in sectarian violence.  In order for the MNLA to achieve a secular country, they need international assistance to fight the Salafists who are streaming into the area to assist in fighting the secularization of Azawad.  If the Salafists are to gain control of the country of Azawad, there will be a major power shift in the North African region due to the ability of Salafist groups to use Azawad as a base of operations for training and to prepare for future attacks throughout the North African region.  The future ideological considerations will most likely be the difference between Secularism and Islamism.  Fortunately, recent reports are showing some Tuareg Ansar al-Din members have been leaving the group for fear that Ghaly will return Azawad back to the Malian government after winning the fight against the MNLA in exchange for financial consideration to further his cause and other Salafists in the region.[23]

Chapter 5 – Policy Recommendations

Policy Recommendations

As the U.S. and other countries have oil and uranium interests in the North African region as well as a concern about the rampant Salafist movements within the area, it is very important to understand the intricacies of ideology when dealing with conflict resolution and negotiation.  As the world hegemon, the U.S. or other western countries will inevitably get called into conflicts through their own nations or in bilateral or trilateral cooperation with supranational organizations like the United Nations (UN), League of Arab States, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), European Union (EU), African Union (AU), or in this case, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), it is important to fully understand the ideological components involved in each incident that occurs in order to avoid misunderstanding the incident or not taking into account each party’s concerns.  Negotiations are most successful when both sides win.  Anything less than a win-win in the negotiation process will result in future conflict and more requirements for conflict resolution and negotiation in the future.  To prevent this from occurring, it is paramount that war fighters and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) understand not just the culture and issues but the ideological issues that all parties involved feel are pertinent to the issue at hand.  Keeping ideological differences at the forefront of the negotiators mind will allow the negotiator to keep in mind the push and pull between traditional culture, religion and politics while dealing with the current incident.  In order to ensure that proper action is taken when one of the parties to or acting as a mediator to the conflict resolution and negotiation process, war fighters and peacekeepers alike need to ensure they understand the people and their way of life including culture, religion and politics.

Ensuring there is a subject matter expert (SME) involved in the negotiation that speaks the language and knows the history, tradition, culture and religion of both groups involved in the conflict is most important to be able to parse the issues while being sensitive to the ideological issues between the parties.

Upon being assigned to the negotiation process, the first rule for the negotiator should be to ensure he has a complete understanding of both sides concerns, history between the two parties, ideological issues and any conflicting viewpoints in order to take both into account when making a decision.  It isn’t enough to solve just the current issue with a decision that makes both happy, the negotiator should anticipate any future issues from the negotiated outcome including how that will affect other interests in the region.  Negotiating during the conflict resolution process with an analysis of future issues resulting from the negotiation will ensure that the issue is completely resolved and if not completely resolved, that the future perceived issues are addressed as well. 

While being an SME in a specific area of the world is important, future education should ensure that those SME’s understand the conflicts between the different ideologies in each region.  This line of thinking will provide topics that the government can assign to various areas of academia to brainstorm, research and analyze.  Second, after these future issues are discovered, certain sections of academia and cleared academia depending on the sensitivity of the issue and the national security community should research national security policy to implement in case these issues become a reality in the future.  Third, selected policies created should be selectively disseminated to the countries involved and used to create relationships with the important parties in each country by showing that the U.S. is trying to assist them in securing and stabilizing their region.  Finally, this process should provide a variety of different national security policy recommendation letters to utilize in case of emergency in those regions.  The implementation of this process assists the U.S. government in a two-fold process: it keeps a constant flow of information flowing through the national security community as well as fresh ideas from academia and it assists the U.S. in locating talent who can later be recruited toward the end of their academic careers or if already educators in academia, 10-99 cleared consultants.  The resulting policies should be kept in a regional database, similar to the Center for Army Lessons Learned but this database would concentrate primarily on the possible future conflicts in each area in a format where if the incident were to occur, it could quickly be implemented as part of national security policy, if necessary.

Conclusion

“To him who puts a cord around his neck, God will supply someone to pull it.”  

  Tuareg Proverb

The four Tuareg rebellions are full of lessons learned that have previously been researched but there hasn’t been much research done on the role of ideology within the conflict resolution and negotiation process.  While there may be other ideological differences that weren’t listed in my research, the primary ideologies were listed that were most important to understand the role that those ideologies played in the four Tuareg rebellions since the 1960’s.

The four ideologies that were most important in one or more of the four rebellions were: Authoritarian ideology, Democratic/Autonomous ideology, Secularist ideology and Islamist/Salafist ideology.  The negotiation process throughout the rebellions started out with the authoritarian ideological role being played by the Malian government with devastating and lingering results being atrocities and human rights violations committed by the Mali government and the Tuaregs.  Over time, the mediation by Algeria assisted in achieving peace as the mediation process was traditional and respected the Tuareg ideology of autonomy.  Towards the end of the third rebellion and the beginning of the fourth rebellion, a schism between two Tuareg groups created a sectarian conflict after the secularist MNLA removed Mali President Toure’ from power in a coup d’etat.  Salafist ideology prevented collaboration between the MNLA and Ansar al-Din resulting in a Salafist takeover of Azawad and sectarian violence including the destruction of historic Islamic sites by the Salafists.

There is a lot to be gained by understanding the role that ideology plays in a conflict, it is not enough to look at the situation through a pragmatic lens.  A strategist or specialist dealing with conflict resolution and negotiation in the Sahel region must understand the underlying ideologies, the conflicts between the ideologies and the history that has led to the current conflict.  Through a better understanding of situations, the people and the issues as well as ideologies, in the future there will be a collaboration of academia and the national security community that will assist other countries in keeping the peace throughout the region.

 

Bibliography

Barducci, Anna Mahjar. The MLNA’s Fight for a Secular State of Azawad. Inquiry and Analysis Series. IDC Herzliya: International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, June 19, 2012. http://www.ict.org.il/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=_EgBZOWs8VA%3D&tabid=66.

CNN Wire Staff. “Mali Separatists Ready to Act over Destruction of Tombs.” CNN, July 1, 2012. http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/01/world/africa/mali-shrine-attack/index.html.

Galtung, J. “Violence, Peace, and Peace Research.” Journal of Peace Research 6, no. 3 (January 1, 1969): 167–191. http://jpr.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/002234336900600301.

House of Representatives, 112th Congress, 2nd Session. The Tuareg Revolt and the Mali Coup. Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Washington, D.C.: House of Representatives, 112th Congress, 2nd Session, June 29, 2012. http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/112/74863.pdf.

Keita, LtCol Kalifa. “Conflict and Conflict Resolution in the Sahel: The Tuareg Insurgency in Mali.” Strategic Studies Institute, Army War College (May 1, 1998). http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub200.pdf.

Pringle, Robert. “Democratization in Mali: Putting History to Work.” United States Insitute of Peace 58 (October 2006). http://dspace.cigilibrary.org/jspui/bitstream/123456789/14861/1/Democrat....

Rabasa, Angel, Rand Corporation, National Defense Research Institute (U.S.), and United States. Dept. of Defense. Office of the Secretary of Defense. From insurgency to stability. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2011.

Rodd, Francis Rennell. People of the Veil: Being an Account of the Habits, Organisation and History of the Wandering Tuareg Tribes Which Inhabit the Mountains of Air or Asben in the Central Sahara. St Martin’s Street, London: MacMillan and Co., Ltd, 1926.

Schraeder, Peter. “Traditional Conflict Medicine? Lessons for Putting Mali and Other African Countries on the Road to Peace.” Nordic Journal of African Studies 20, no. 2 (July 2012): 177–202. http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol20num2/schraeder.pdf.

Summary of Information from Jihadi Forums. Periodical Review. ICT’s Jihadi Websites Monitoring Group. Tel Aviv, Israel: IDC Herzliya: International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, July 2012. http://www.ict.org.il/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=TGsnRQbjDPM%3d&tabid=344.

Thompson, John B. Studies in the theory of ideology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.

Wallensteen, Peter. Understanding conflict resolution : war, peace and the global system. London: SAGE, 2011.

Willis, Michael J. Politics and power in the Maghreb : Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from independence to the Arab spring. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012.


[1] Michael J Willis, Politics and power in the Maghreb : Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from independence to the Arab spring (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 11.

[2] J. Galtung, “Violence, Peace, and Peace Research,” Journal of Peace Research 6, no. 3 (January 1, 1969): 167, http://jpr.sagepub.com/cgi/doi/10.1177/002234336900600301.

[3] Peter Wallensteen, Understanding conflict resolution : war, peace and the global system (London: SAGE, 2011), 8.

[4] John B Thompson, Studies in the theory of ideology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 4.

[5] Francis Rennell Rodd, People of the Veil: Being an Account of the Habits, Organisation and History of the Wandering Tuareg Tribes Which Inhabit the Mountains of Air or Asben in the Central Sahara (St Martin’s Street, London: MacMillan and Co., Ltd, 1926), 273, 295–296.

[6] Anna Mahjar Barducci, The MLNA’s Fight for a Secular State of Azawad, Inquiry and Analysis Series (IDC Herzliya: International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, June 19, 2012), 3, http://www.ict.org.il/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=_EgBZOWs8VA%3D&tabid=66.

[7] LtCol Kalifa Keita, “Conflict and Conflict Resolution in the Sahel: The Tuareg Insurgency in Mali,” Strategic Studies Institute, Army War College (May 1, 1998): 9, http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/pub200.pdf.

[8] Robert Pringle, “Democratization in Mali: Putting History to Work,” United States Insitute of Peace 58 (October 2006): 31, http://dspace.cigilibrary.org/jspui/bitstream/123456789/14861/1/Democrat....

[9] Ibid., 32.

[10] Keita, “Conflict and Conflict Resolution in the Sahel: The Tuareg Insurgency in Mali,” 11.

[11] Ibid., 15.

[12] Ibid., 18.

[13] Angel Rabasa et al., From insurgency to stability (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2011), 121.

[14] Ibid., 127.

[15] Ibid., 128.

[16] House of Representatives, 112th Congress, 2nd Session, The Tuareg Revolt and the Mali Coup, Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (Washington, D.C.: House of Representatives, 112th Congress, 2nd Session, June 29, 2012), 42, http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/112/74863.pdf.

[17] Peter Schraeder, “Traditional Conflict Medicine? Lessons for Putting Mali and Other African Countries on the Road to Peace,” Nordic Journal of African Studies 20, no. 2 (July 2012): 1, http://www.njas.helsinki.fi/pdf-files/vol20num2/schraeder.pdf.

[18] Barducci, The MLNA’s Fight for a Secular State of Azawad, 2.

[19] Ibid., 3.

[20] Ibid., 5.

[21] Summary of Information from Jihadi Forums, Periodical Review, ICT’s Jihadi Websites Monitoring Group (Tel Aviv, Israel: IDC Herzliya: International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, July 2012), 13, http://www.ict.org.il/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=TGsnRQbjDPM%3d&tabid=344.

[22] CNN Wire Staff, “Mali Separatists Ready to Act over Destruction of Tombs,” CNN, July 1, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/01/world/africa/mali-shrine-attack/index.html.

[23] Barducci, The MLNA’s Fight for a Secular State of Azawad, 5.

 

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Comments

Andrew Lebovich recently commended the following book for the context in Mali: 'Smugglers and Saints of the Sahara, (by) the British social anthropologist Judith Scheele discusses the conception that many Algerian traders and their families held — and still hold — about northern Mali as a kind of wilderness that corrupted men and ruined families...'

The book's full title is 'Smugglers and Saints of the Sahara: Regional Connectivity in the Twentieth Century' was published in April 2012, it has one five* review on: http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1107022126

This is a very crucial article on the different levels of "Serval" as an operation, the political-military scenarios, the historical dimension and the more than nuanced differences between several actors sometimes portrayed as the same by less informed media.
RSA-based African Armed Forces Journal published an analysis with the same degree of sophitication - although through a different sensitivity - in its latest issue. We should also take into account one pioneering piece of work for French TV chain ARTE by journalists Olivier Joulie and Laurent Hamida, done not long after the takeover of the main Northern towns of Mali by the MNLA and its then «compagnons de route». In that lenghty documentary, Colonel Mehdi of the MNLA and other elements from the Movement identify the houses, the quarters and the vehicles taken by AQMI and the ones from other factions, showing a bit of the tense situation inside the different shades of anti-Bamako feeling.
It is also interesting to see how MNLA negotiation and pressure managed to divide Ansar Dine (Ansaruddin, the Helpers of Islam) into two groups, one secular and another jihadist, the first one becoming the new ally MIA, under Alghabass al Intallah. It also should be noticed that MNLA moved vigorously, after Serval was launched, against AQMI and jihadist Ansar Dine factions in Gao (dissolving the AQMI/Ansar Dine controlled Shura), the attack and takeover of Kidal, and the detention of AQMI, Ansar Dine and Mujao commanders, before they managed to escape to Algeria.
Of course the Tuaregs make only half a million people in 14 million Malians, and are spread - like the Kurds (which could be a good comparative study) - between five natio. But should have a voice, not confused with the global Jihadists of AQMI, Signatories with blood, Al Ansar squadron (of Al Tariki), Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa, Mujao (although one could dispute the motivations of this one), Ansaruddin (Al Fadl faction), Ansar and Ja'amat in Nigeria, etc.

Of course MNLA will now have to prove itself through more than words and tactical reactive moves. Picking on the Tuareg sayings, one (from a fan of "Tuareg Blues" group Tinariwen) states: "salt doesn't say it is salty".

Once again it is important - and the article does ample justice to that - to distinguish in a detailed, expert, updated and reasonable way, between national liberation and territorial claims by inhabitants (whatever their justness is, which is for a further negotiation phase) and "ideological" global or global-regional Jihadis. The first ones - to pick the categories of the late Carl Schmitt, that continue to be extremely useful - have limited objectives (and correspond to the "real enemy" archetype), while the second ones will only stop with complete domination, conversion or extinction of the adversary (and are the Schmittian "ideal enemy" types). You can negotiate with the first ones, but not with the others. Among other reasons, because negotiation is not part of their program, neither as means/instrument or as end/goal.
Regards to the author

Nuno Rogeiro
Lisbon
Portugal