Coming from North Africa’s seemingly endless expanses of desert, the Touaregs paint an impressive picture. Clad in flowing robes, mounted on camels, and armed with long rifles, these semi-nomadic herders and traders broker peace in the Sahara. Today, however, they’re trading peacekeeping for war.
The Touaregs, defending their homes and families, have declared war on Mali’s ruling military. The military, in turn, has contracted the Russian Wagner Group to bolster their ranks. This alliance formed after French troops left Mali last year, following a military coup.
But this isn’t the first time the Touareg have clashed with external forces. They once conquered Northern Mali, only to have French and Malian forces push them back. And now, with the French gone and Wagner’s troops filling the vacuum, the Touaregs face a new challenge.
Yet laughter rings in the underestimation of the Touaregs. A mistake, by all accounts. No one has ever been delighted to engage them in war, because they’re fierce and steadfast. Their victories lie in their history, proof of their prowess in defending their ancestral land.
Existing against a backdrop of jets and tanks, the Touaregs’ Jeeps and machine guns may seem like a weak arsenal. Yet Mali’s military resources are modest, with around seven combat aircraft, 25 tanks, 25 MLRS systems and about 10,000 soldiers. These numbers seem almost insignificant when viewed through the lens of the vast desert and the unwavering Touareg resolve.
Had Mali negotiated with the Touaregs years ago, they could have avoided this situation. The legitimacy of the Touaregs’ claims to their homeland is evident, yet ignored. Now, the situation risks turning messier, with multiple groups drawn into the conflict.
The Touaregs’ story is complex and fraught with external interference, but their cause resonates around the globe. In this seemingly unequal battlefield, one thing is undeniable – the desert power of the Touaregs remains unyielding. And so, the world watches, as the Touaregs march alongside the sweeping sands, in a fight for their homeland.