Most of this week’s stories coming out of Mali have been about the in-progress coup d’etat by the military, but the nominal reason for that coup, the government’s inability to tackle the secessionist war in the far north, hasn’t gone away.
Now, the Tuareg rebels are laying siege to the key northern town of Kidal, shelling the town and demanding that the garrison either surrender without a fight or agree to join the rebel movement.
The Tuareg secessionist movement is a long-standing issue in northern Mali, but got a major boost at the end of the Libyan Civil War, when large numbers of Tuareg mercenaries returned from Libya, and brought advanced weapons with them.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad had been scoring major victories over the Malian military since January, and the troops blamed civilian leadership for the failures. The coup was launched after the Defense Minister attempted to calm troops at a major military base near the capital.