Well, there’s been a lot of press, publicity, about alleging that the fall of Gaddafi led to this particular rebellion. The evidence suggests that this movement has been organizing for some time. There is—certainly many of the people who Gaddafi trained in his army were from the population that’s called the Tuareg. And many of them have returned after the collapse of Libya. They returned back to Mali. But half of them probably joined the Tuareg movement, but the other half have actually gone down to Bamako, the capital of Mali, and have joined the Mali forces, saying that they are Malians. So it’s not entirely clear that those who came from Libya actually became part of the national liberation movement.
As for the Tuareg, these are people who have occupied the vast areas of Africa. They stretch from the—from Morocco to Mauritania to Burkina Faso. What one has to realize, that these are—these are cattle herders. These are people who have been traditional nomads, who move around, and who got incorporated into Mali only because the French colonial government just divided up this land according to how they wanted to exploit the resources of Mali. And remember that Mali has very substantial sources of gold, as well as oil and gas. And so, the Tuareg people are related to a large community of people who stretch right across the north of Africa and in many parts of West Africa. And they have been seeking to have their own state, which is not unreasonable, and they have had many attempts to try to form a movement to liberate their territory. This was denied to them by the international community. It was denied to them by the French government. And indeed, the United States has a military presence in that area called AFRICOM. And there is no doubt at all that they are active to prevent the liberation movement, the movement of the Azawad, as the Tuareg like to call themselves, to prevent them from achieving any form of independence.
…I think it’s part of a general phenomenon that is happening across the continent, which is driven by the fact that over the last 30 years our people have lost all the gains of independence. We used to have free healthcare. We used to have free education, access to water, our own telecommunications infrastructure, own communications infrastructure. All those things that we gained through independence have been lost, and these being lost because of the implementation of the—what I refer to as neoliberal policies, which have been imposed on many African countries by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. And over the last 30 years, you’ve seen people—massive unemployment, dispossession of their land, dispossession of their jobs, a decline in living standards. But worst of all, what has happened during these last 30 years has been a political dispossession, so that people feel that their governments are more accountable to the banks and to the international multinational corporations than they are to their citizens. And I think, you know, people are outraged that their governments respond more to these corporations than they do to citizens.
In Mali, for example, in exactly the area, in the northeast part of Mali, where the Azawad revolution is taking place, you have an area of something like 7,500 square miles which has been handed over to a Canadian oil company, who are also involved in gold in other parts of Mali. And so, you know—and they are making no investment into Mali itself. They just reap the oil. They have free—they have almost no taxation at all. And they are allowed to export all their profits. And so, Mali, the people of Mali, don’t benefit it. And indeed the Tuareg, whose land they are occupying, don’t benefit, either.