On Tuesday in Paris a representative of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) made a statement that the Tuaregs oppose the deployment in Mali of the African military contingent. But given all that, he pointed out, the Tuaregs would support the actions of the French Air Force from the ground and their assistance would be more effective than any potential actions of the African forces.
Abu Bakr al-Ansari, the leader of the National Congress of Azawad, which is related to the MNLA, in his interview to the Voice of Russia denied the Tuaregs intention to help the French. He made it clear that the Tuaregs could act together with the French if the French had demonstrated their willingness to cooperate, but that chance had been already lost:
- François Hollande made a rushed decision and interfered in our internal affairs without having discussed it with our allies or us. It caused us to change our policy and our plan of actions.
- So, you are against the France military interference?
- We are absolutely opposed to any military interference without prior discussion with us, whether it is France or the African states. Our people would not tolerate other countries resolving our problems by military force. We only need arms to fight for Azawad against the Islamic extremists. We don't need foreign troops here. François Hollande is deploying French troops because he is pursuing his own hidden goals. It reminds me of the decision made by George Bush Sr., who invaded Afghanistan under some formal pretext, but following his own calculations. The French president will pay for that mistake of his, since in the end he will loose his authority in Northern Africa as well as in the Middle East.
- What do you believe can be done now in order to save the situation in Mali and prevent further bloodshed?
- From the very beginning we conducted negotiations with France and the USA via our own channels, and we clearly explained that there should be no military interference. Everything needs to be resolved the way it was done in Kosovo. The Albanian national movement in Kosovo managed to make an agreement with the USA to separate Kosovo from Serbia by political means. The same should happen in Mali, that is what we advocate.
The liberation movement of the Tuaregs has for many years fought for the separation of the Northern region of Azawad from Mali. In 2012, the more radical Islamist groups defeated the secular rebel movements. By that time, a number of fighters from that international Islamist groups that had fought in Libya against Gaddafi supporters had moved to Mali. They gave additional power to the local Islamic groups that, prior to that, had played a secondary role, which from that point on became the actual rulers of Northern Mali.