North Africa: Tuareg, Mali and a Post-Gadaffi Sahel - Rising Risks to Oil Exploration and Mining Operations

analysis

Muammar Gaddafi's son and one-time heir apparent Saif al-Islam has been detained in the southern desert, Libya's interim justice minister and other ... ( Resource: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Arrested in Libya

On 15 October 2011, around 400 Tuaregs who fought for Colonel Gaddafi in Libya returned to Mali's northeastern region of Kidal. These tribesmen included mercenaries recruited during the 2011 insurgency in Libya and others who joined the Libyan Army after the 1990-1995 Tuareg rebellion in Mali.

Concerned about the security implications, the government set up returnee camps at Takallote, 35 km from the city of Kidal, pledged resources to facilitate their socio-economic reintegration and entered into disarmament negotiations with the leaders of the disparate groups involved. However, the failure of some of these negotiations, resulting in the deployment of elite Army counterinsurgency units in the north, particularly around Gao and Menaka, and tribal rivalries within the Tuareg community, are increasing the risk of a new Tuareg rebellion.

The risk of a renewed insurgency has also been heightened by the likelihood that some of the weapons looted from Libya are in Tuareg hands, and by revenue from lucrative smuggling routes in northern Mali, controlled by competing Tuareg groups. In the event of a renewed insurgency, Army and government assets would be the primary targets; however, foreign assets, including oil exploration and mining operations, would also be at risk.

The Algerian company Sonatrach, operating in the Taoudeni basin in the north, is most at risk, particularly given Algeria's increasing heavy-handed approach to its own Tuareg rebels and smugglers, as well as Tuareg opposition to Algerian investment plans in northern Mali's resource sectors. The risk of kidnap and extortion to foreign operators throughout the north would also rise significantly.

The Tuareg have long-standing hostile relations with the government, due to grievances over the lack of investment and their aspirations for greater autonomy. Despite the launch of a development programme for the north in August 2011, distrust is high, particularly as the plan also provided for additional Army deployments.

Furthermore, rivalries among the three main Tuareg tribes have intensified, with the Ifogha and Chamanamasse competing with the Imghad. This rivalry has been triggered by the government's preferential treatment of the Imghad, who it relied on to suppress the 2006-2009 rebellion led by an Ifogha commander. Returnee fighters from the Ifoghas and Chamanamasse tribes have established their own camps outside government supervision, and often heavily-armed, in the mountainous Adrar des Ifoghas area between Kidal and the Algerian border. They, particularly a group led by Ifogha commander, Mohamed Najim, are unlikely to agree to disarm, unless the government agrees to integrate them fully in the Army.

Report by Exclusive Analysis, a specialist intelligence company that forecasts commercially relevant political and violent risks worldwide.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2011 African Arguments. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

InFocus

Trial for Gaddafi's Captured Son 'Must Be in Libya'

The National Transitional Council wants Seif al-Islam, the captured son of Muammar Gaddafi, to go on trial in Libya rather than at the International Criminal Court, the interim ... Read more »