I was a bit surprised by the latest press releases issued by the State Department stating “We do not recognize the statement by the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) announcing independence as valid, and we reiterate our support for the territorial integrity of Mali.” As an American who is proud of the American Revolution, I would like to ask you what makes the people of Azawad different from us?
The majority Berber Tuareg who inhabit the unforgiving land of Azawad is just a small portion if the larger Tuareg or more properly called Tamasheq people who inhabited the central Sahara region for thousands of years. The Tamasheq themselves are part and parcel of the Amazigh people who are the indigenous people of North Africa (extending from the Siwa Oasis in Egypt to the Canary Islands in Atlantic and from the Niger River to the Mediterranean) until various invaders and colonialism have scattered them into the harshest corners of this great land. The integrity of Mali rests on borders drawn by the French for its own interests splitting the Tamasheq people among at least five countries: Algeria, Mali, Niger, Libya, Burkina Faso. They suffered a great deal at the hands of the French and their territory has been carved and fed to puppet governments that continue to serve those same colonial masters.
The people of Azawad, much like the people of Air in Niger have fought against the policies of the states that colonialism imposed on them. The newly created states have marginalized these populations, exploited their land and treated the local people with contempt, racism and murder. To many people in Azawad the Malian army is an army of occupation for the simple reason that it is the only thing that they see from the Malian government.
The Tamasheq have been forced into a bad marriage by the French to a spouse (Mali) that has done nothing but exploit their land and murder them. I am sure you know of all their rebellions and the many times they pleaded for justice and respect (1963, 1976, 1990, 2006, 2010).
Madam Secretary, the Tamasheq are pleading for divorce. Divorce from discrimination, occupation, and murder. Don’t the Tamasheq deserve their own tea party? They want to be free. What is so bad about freedom Madam Secretary? It wasn’t bad for Kosovo, the Sudan or the USA. Let us support the freedom of Azawad. Peace will be back to the area when these people are left in peace. I am also sure that our government is well aware of how Al-Qaida operates in the Sahel region. Experts who are familiar with the Tamasheq people know quite well that Al-Qaida and Tamasheq don’t mix. Al-Qaida was brought in this area by those who are using it for their own political and economical gains. If and when the Azawad gains its freedom, Al-Qaida in the Azawad will be a thing of the past.
Madam Secretary, I urge you to hold a neutral position and support the inalienable right of the people of Azawad. Please send a strong signal to both parties to stop fighting and discuss their new relationship, one that is built on mutual respect and collaboration as separate entities because marriage has not worked. I am convinced that the US can work with the Tamasheq and whatever interests the US has in the region can be safe as long as the US holds a fair position in this conflict.
– Hsen Larbi, PHD, PE
– Philadelphia, USA
– April 11, 2012