April 11, 2012

Tuareg revolt in Mali

The New York Times has an article entitled "All Hail Azawad" about the new breakaway Tuareg state in the Sahara:
The northern half of Mali has just declared independence, and would henceforth like that you call it Azawad, pretty please. “We solemnly proclaim the independence of Azawad as of today,” Mossa ag Attaher, a rebel spokesman, told the France 24 TV channel on Friday, April 6.

This includes Timbuktu, in case you were wondering.

Apparently, this civil war is an aftershock of the NATO destruction of Qatthafee's regime in Libya.

What I can't find any mention of in the article is what race the nomadic Tuareg rebels might be and what race their former overlords from southern Mali are.

The long Wikipedia article on Tuaregs doesn't mention race at all, either, oddly enough. So far, the Tuaregs have done a good job of scouring their Wikipedia article of all mention of race. And if it isn't mentioned in Wikipedia, does it really exist?

Also, the Wikipedia article on "Azawad" has this under "Demographics:"
The area was traditionally inhabited by Tuareg people, Moors, Songhay and Fulas (Fula: Fulɓe; French: Peul). In the 1950 census, nomads (Songhay, Moors, Tuareg people) accounted for up to 95% of the inhabitants.[56][citation needed] 
Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu also have a number of Bambara, who settled there mainly after the 1960s.[citation needed]

That reads to Americans like the intentionally eye-glazing encyclopedia description of Uqbar in Borges' "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius:"
We read the article with some care. The passage recalled by Bioy was perhaps the only surprising one. The rest of it seemed very plausible, quite in keeping with the general tone of the work and (as is natural) a bit boring. Reading it over again, we discovered beneath its rigorous prose a fundamental vagueness. Of the fourteen names which figured in the geographical part, we only recognized three - Khorasan, Armenia, Erzerum - interpolated in the text in an ambiguous way. Of the historical names, only one: the impostor magician Smerdis, invoked more as a metaphor. The note seemed to fix the boundaries of Uqbar, but its nebulous reference points were rivers and craters and mountain ranges of that same region. We read, for example, that the lowlands of Tsai Khaldun and the Axa Delta marked the southern frontier and that on the islands of the delta wild horses procreate.

Moreover, the Tuareg's website features a lot of carefully cropped photos of rebels where you can't easily notice what race they are. 

Racial anthropology has largely disappeared from the textbooks, so who knows this stuff anymore? Fifty years ago, everybody who is anybody would have pulled their copy of Carlton Coon off the shelf and looked up the Tuaregs and figured out what is going on, but it's easier to pull the wool over Americans' eyes these days.

So, let's try looking up pictures. According to the NYT piece, the new dictator of what's left of Mali after a recent coup is Captain Amadou Sanogo (right). 

In contrast, the PR spokesman for the Tuaregs, Mossa ag Attaher, looks like this (left). 

So, what I think is going on is that the dominant element in the Tuaregs is mostly Berber Caucasian (with some black admixture, plus socially subordinate black elements, such as ex(?)-slaves and a traditional caste system where some jobs, such as blacksmith, are always held by blacks) and these more or less white people are rebelling against black rule. 

But the part of Mali that Tuaregs dominate demographically is worthless desert (except for mineral rights, of course), so they seem to be claiming territory well down into the overwhelmingly black part of Mali, where there is some water. 

But, this relatively bemused response of World Opinion so far, as exemplified by the light-hearted NYT article, is due to few Americans being quite clued in yet.

Eventually, I suspect, Western wisdom will catch on. (Here's an Africanist website complaining about the "Racial Politics of Tuareg Nationalism.") And, thus, this likely won't stand. For example, Europeans people spent 15 years struggling to bring about black rule in Zimbabwe. Although I suspect sanction and interventions will be framed in terms of fighting Islamist terrorism rather than propping up black rule. 

On the other hand, Azawad is the absolute middle of nowhere, so the Tuaregs might get away with it for awhile.

48 comments:

Georgia Resident said...

So much for Mali being an example of a stable and secure black country.

Florida resident said...

I do own a copy of "The Living Races of Man" by Carleton Coon, copyright 1965.
I bought it on Amazon (sure, used) after reading a positive comment about it, in a post either by Derbyshire, or by Mr. Sailer.

Good book, with numerous interesting photographs.

Your F.r.

Anonymous said...

This really is in the middle of nowhere. Was reading about Timbuctoo recently, for some reason (unrelated to this) and apparently it was a big medieval crossroads once but due to such factors as desertification and the economically devastating collapse of that whole Arab slave-trading biz, is now somewhat lightly populated & dependent on tourism, and is a UNESCO site naturally.

The literary sense of an opulent or just exotic destination (like an upscale Kathmandu) seems to have emerged before the Edwardian era. Perhaps 600 years from now they'll speak of "Vegas" in such tones.

Anonymous said...

'Africanist website'? What's this then?

Turns out to be headlined by mixed race and white South Africans.

Razib said...

http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v18/n8/full/ejhg201021a.html

Y chrom. north african-eurasian. mtDNA lots of sub-saharan. probably more north african-eurasian in total genome. they're not that different from the mozabites in HGDP culturally.

J. Peterman said...

Baby boom retirees who can't handle the altitude of Flagstaff ought to consider Timbuktu which (for the moment) has about the same pop. density; maybe first do something about upgrading the airport, deal with the management of the Niger flooding annually as well as piracy concerns. It's a very historic locale, I see growth potential.

Lizard Boy said...

Reading this article, it finally hit me why Multicultural societies always fail: Because they are so goddamn boring. Everyone is forced to sit around discussing race and ethnicity all day long. In a creative White society, the main issues circle around new ideas and new inventions. Are we socialists or capitalists? What kind of society will technology bring us? What can we do with new engineering knowledge? That's the conversation in a homogeneous society with a decent IQ and level of creativity (most Western European people).

But from now on in America, it will be Diversity and Sensitivity training. It will be this tribe vs that tribe. It will all revolve around how to carve up power. No more productivity or creativity.

It will be this goddamn "Who Whom?" question for the rest of your life, then you die.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it will be interesting to see if the Caucasoid/West Eurasian Tuareg manage to suppress/hide the racial politics of their independence movement from the Western media over the long term. God knows, there is no greater sin in the liberal mind than Caucasoids seeking to separate themselves from Blacks. Of course, the press seem to have given Netanyahu a free pass vis-a-vis stopping African immigration and keeping Israel White...

Alcazar

Lise said...

I'd say the powers that be have noticed: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/west-african-generals-meet-to-hash-out-military-plan-for-intervening-after-mali-coup/2012/04/05/gIQATE6BxS_story.html

Only from the sub sar point of view are the Tuareg "white."

Anonymous said...

...but Tuaregs in Libya were tortured and killed because the Arabs thought them black Africans...

iselilja said...

The Wikipedia article does say that the Tuaregs are a Berber people.

Here is what Wikipedia says about the genetics of the Berber population:

"the genetic profile of Berber populations is a complex mosaic of European, Sub-Saharan African and West Asian influences. Though North Africa has experienced gene-flow from the surrounding regions, it has also experienced long periods of genetic isolation, allowing a distinctive genetic markers to evolve in Berber populations."

So, if the race of the Tuaregs is not highlightened in articles and reports, it may simply be due to the fact that they don´t quite fit the socially constructed "White", "Black" and "Asian" categories, that some Americans seem so enamoured of.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_North_Africa

Anonymous said...

There has always been something otherworldly almost 'science fiction' about the Tuareg.
Basically they are a warrior race of horsemen who roam the wide Sahara looting and plundering and eschewing those who actually settle down and do work, they live and die by the sword as warriors once and for all.
I suppose it's because Star Wars was filmed in the north African desert, and the weird and wonderful custome of Tuareg warriors - they were or are swathed from head to foot heat insulating cloth, often blue, with a turban that covers the whole head and face, leaving only a slit for the eyes, plus they have white steeds and scimitars - what else could you want?

TGGP said...

As I pointed out earlier, the irony is that the Tuareg are fleeing Libya in part because of ethnic cleansing directed towards them by a citizenry using its new-found freedom to create a more light-skinned nation. The Tuareg would be wise to bring that up in the battle over world opinion.

Camlost said...

In that terrible Mcconaughey/Cruz movie "Sahara" the Touregs were black African.

David said...

The NYT probably knows. Thus the sneer "would henceforth like that you call it Azawad, pretty please." Liberal Jews never take that tone with regard to any other part of Africa, do they?

Yes, it is near certain that the NYT will soon denounce the Tuareg rebellion as Terraism against helpless blacks. The left-wing here will start hopping up and down about water and "racism." Once the Tuareg "terrace" are put down by strong and courageous war president Barack Obama, the Muslim brotherhood will sweep into the vacuum. As a side benefit, all the neocon mags over here can then frighten more of their clueless readers into making donations to the IDF. "Muslim Brotherhood Now Lodged in the Cradle of Civilization!" (close enough), NewsMax will shriek; "Bomb Iran Now!"

Debka "insiders" will "report": "Muslim Brotherhood Developing Wonder Weapon." Whiskey will weigh in with a series of irrational statements.

An another n billion dollars will fly out the window (into - whose pockets?). And so it goes.

Anonymous said...

I'd say the Tuareg are like many nomadic warrior tribes - defined by their customs rather than by racial composition, which depended on the racial attributes of the territories into which they raided (and took brides by force). The Turkic nations of Central Asia were more or less the same way - the ones close to China looked like Chinese, whereas the ones close to Europe looked European.

Anonymous said...

The Tuaregs are a warrior culture ala the Pashtuns, sans the boy rape and with the men going veiled instead of the women. That last bit combined with the raiding with sword, lance, and firearm has captured the imagination of many writers across different mediums. Old time serials such as Beau Geste featured the Tuareg, as does the cartoon Avatar, in the form of "sandbending" desert warrior nomads.

So we've got A) a warrior culture in B) a killer geography that breeds tough people going against C) the beloved and vaunted ideas of western style liberal democracy as well as D) overthrowing a minority du jour.

If Mali was on the other side of Africa, nearer to the Sinai, the neocons would be frothing at the mouth so much it'd look like a rabies outbreak in DC.

Georgia Resident said...

"Baby boom retirees who can't handle the altitude of Flagstaff ought to consider Timbuktu which (for the moment) has about the same pop. density"
This is a joke, right?

Anonymous said...

Given that the West just bombed the shit out of a pan-Africanist regime in Libya and helped put into power a bunch of rebels who promptly carried out pogroms against sub-Saharan Africans, your thesis doesn't stand up to any kind of scrutiny.

SFG said...

"Reading this article, it finally hit me why Multicultural societies always fail: Because they are so goddamn boring. Everyone is forced to sit around discussing race and ethnicity all day long. In a creative White society, the main issues circle around new ideas and new inventions. Are we socialists or capitalists? What kind of society will technology bring us? What can we do with new engineering knowledge? That's the conversation in a homogeneous society with a decent IQ and level of creativity (most Western European people)."

Cute, but disloyalty's probably more important in the long run. That's what did the Romans in--the barbarian commanders kept trying to seize power and, unlike the various Roman military commanders who did just the same thing, couldn't keep civilization going. Kind of funny to think of Goths and Franks as 5th-century NAMs, but that's basically the situation.

But, hey, maybe in 1500 years they'll create a civilization worth honoring. Naaah, we'll just get enslaved by the Chinese.

Anonymous said...

n that terrible Mcconaughey/Cruz movie "Sahara" the Touregs were black African.
that movie is a guilty pleasure of mine. I tried reading the novel - I could hardly believe an adult wrote it - some of the worst published fiction I have ever read.

Anonymous said...

I feel that it's crucially important to my future children and my future children's children that some other American's current children are sent 8000 miles away with guns to force the slightly black people to let the black people keep their flag on thousands of square miles of the most worthless land on earth.

This outrage cannot stand.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

The Berbers or the Amazighs as they call themselves are probably related to tbe Basques of Spain.
Both speak a non Indo European and non Semitic language possibly related to the Sumerian,Caucasian and Dravidian languages.

In that terrible Mcconaughey/Cruz movie "Sahara" the Touregs were black African."

But of course!Blacks will claim any semi civilized lot from Africa as black.They even claimed that Moors were black(they were Berber).

I can imagine they were turned black in order to placate black audiences."

Same goes for Egypt,yes it was ridiculous to portray Egyptians as white(unless they are Ptolemys) but black?

Neocon writer Richard Poe dedicated an entire book to prove that Egyptians were black as the modern world understands them.

However to most Egyptians ,the notion of ancient Egyptians as black(and therefore by extension m odern Eygpians) is a nono.

So much so that the movie Sadat where the titular role of the assasinated Egyptian President was essayed by black actor Louis Gosset was banned in Egypt.

Egyptian archaeologists Zahi Hawass venom for those who claim that ancient Egyptians were black matches that his utter loathing for Jews(not just Israel-Jews from the Biblical era to present).

I saw a national geographic documentary where they found mummies on the canary Islands similar to the Egyptian type and the natives of the Canary Islands(related to Berbers and Basques) were a genetic match for those mummies.

Ancient Egyptians were probably a mix between the Libyan Berbers and the aquiline nosed and straight haired Ethiopic/Somali type.

Rachelle said...

If memory serves, St. Augustine was a Berber...white.

Larry, San Francisco said...

One legend I heard was that the Tuaregs were descended from the Vandals who had conquered North Africa in the 400's. I don't think it is true but it is kind of romantic.

Anonymous said...

Taureg is the new "White Hispanic".

Anonymous said...

I check the pan africa article. I posted a response:
"What do you define as a “race”, as separate from a “tribe” or “ethnic group”? If Berber peoples wish for their own homeland, is this “nationialist”, “ethnocentrist”, “tribalist”, “racist”, or just “self determination”? Any of the above? all of the above? Some of the above?"

The point is that he's being coy about what "race" and "racist" is, along with his painting these people as "white".

Londoner said...

I think the contemptuous tone of the NYT article tells us most of what we need to know about who is who and who is whom in this particular case. I don't recall their coverage of previous secessions but I bet they weren't throwing around snarky expressions like "pretty please" when the noble blacks of South Sudan were escaping the claws of the Islamic devils of the north, or when the noble Albanians of Kosovo were freeing themselves from the Serbian jackboot. Speaking of which, "the west" was in raptures at the prospect of majority-Albanian Kosovo seceding from Serbia, but threatened (and continues to threaten) bloody hellfire if majority-Serb North Kosovo tried to secede from Kosovo.

The Tuaregs seem to be in no meaningful sense "white" or European" but they definitely ain't blacks and I suspect they will have little trouble taking whatever they want from the government and population of rump Mali. This could get interesting.

riches said...

It’s humbling to realize how dumb (at least naïve) one can be. To wit:

I’ve watched hundreds of cctv clips of crimes on my local news. And always with the same reaction: “Darn! If only the cameras were positioned differently, they’d have caught the face of the perp involved.”

Recent events have aided my "western wisdom” in catching on.

Hail said...

Maternal and paternal heritage of the Tuareg nomads from the African Sahel [Found via Racehist].

Biological evidence, based on classical genetic markers, however, indicates kinship with the Beja of Eastern Sudan. Our study of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences and Y chromosome SNPs of three different southern Tuareg groups from Mali, Burkina Faso and the Republic of Niger reveals a West Eurasian-North African composition of their gene pool.

Photos of Beja People for comparison.

Matthew said...

Just from viewing the pictures of Tuaregs from a Google Image search, they would appear to be, as Razib states, mostly Caucasian but with quite substantial SS African admixture - assumig the pics provide a representative sample.

Maya said...

I never heard of these people before. But judging from google images and yahoo images, there is a wide range of phenotypes, so they must be heavily mixed. Were these people ever in a habit of kidnapping brides from different corners of the dessert? That would explain a lot. Anyway, in the majority of the pictures, they look like darker Arabs or mulattoes with the Caucasian side winning slightly.

IHTG said...

Congratulations, Steve, you've launched a new meme out into the blogosphere. "Jews hate Tuaregs!"

For the record, Tuaregs aren't synonymous with Berbers, and most of the Berbers live nearer to the North African coast and are purely or almost purely Caucasian.

Anonymous said...

The right or wrong of this struggle can be determined once we know which side is 'noxious'.

Anonymous said...

And they make Volkswagen SUVs.

Anonymous said...

Dang, first they lost Tupac Shakur, and now this. The Tuaregs are going down.

Regarding other poster, Hail, that sounds about right. Tuareg don't resemble Berbers or those people of mixed Berber and Subsaharan African descent. You cross people who look like John C. Reilly (he looks like a Rif Berber) with Africans and you don't get tall, skinny, and gracile. Tuareg look like Beja and other East African groups.

And who gives a crap if they were black or white, unless one's sense of self worth is based on a genetic link with people involved in the Saharan salt trade.

Re Subsaharan African claims to mixed peoples and ignoring local forms of colorism, the Fulani are a much better example. When people claim Fulani are typical West Africans, and not particularly anything special, they always cite pictures or other visuals involving sedentary or servile clans and subethnic groups like the Toucouleur who are far more mixed than the so-called Cattle Fulani.

eh said...

I only hope this topic stays hot until the presidential debate on foreign policy in the Fall. Can't wait for some probing questions about it.

Anonymous said...

Interesting racial tit-bit from Wikipedia. Evidently the Moroccans invaded Timbuktu using mercenaries and slaves of European origin (possibly because they knew how to use guns). Those soldiers stayed and their decedents are called the Arma people and make up around a third or a half of the population of Timbuktu. So the southern part of Azawad is apparently the most Caucasian.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arma_people

Svigor said...

They look like mulattoes. America loves mulattoes. They're "Black." Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

That's my guess, anyway. It'll be portrayed as a non-racial conflict.

Whiskey said...

Will Volkswagen provide aid? Just asking!

The NYT might sneer, but there is little that is going to be done to change things. The African Union, and ECOWAS, are both suspending aid to ... Mali. They don't like the coup. The Malians are simply unable to respond, significantly.

The Europeans might eventually send some arms, maybe, if they have any spare change after ANOTHER bailout of Greece, one of Portugal, and Spain, maybe Italy. Obama might send a few snake-eating Spec Ops guys, but Special Forces can't do much without backing of regular forces. The Taliban were routed not just by tough guys on horseback but those guys lasering in JDAMs from B-52s and B-1s, so that the Northern Alliance could over-run the Taliban strong-holds. Wherever they stood and fought, they died under conventional military ordinance.

That can't happen now, no political will to use B-52 and B-2s which in any case have been largely mothballed. Nor is there anything like the Northern Alliance. Nor is Obama content to do anything but "lead from behind." Nor is there a mine owned by a crony threatened as in the LRA.

Drunk Idiot said...

Anonymous (4/11/12 6:45 AM) said...

"There has always been something otherworldly almost 'science fiction' about the Tuareg. Basically they are a warrior race of horsemen who roam the wide Sahara looting and plundering and eschewing those who actually settle down and do work, they live and die by the sword as warriors once and for all. I suppose it's because Star Wars was filmed in the north African desert, and the weird and wonderful custome of Tuareg warriors - they were or are swathed from head to foot heat insulating cloth, often blue, with a turban that covers the whole head and face, leaving only a slit for the eyes, plus they have white steeds and scimitars - what else could you want?"

Yeah, it's interesting that iSteve published back-to-back posts about the Taureg and about George Lucas striking back at Marin County. The Sand People in Star Wars are pretty obviously based on the Tauregs. Lucas seems like the kind of nerdy guy who may well have spent many an evening in his youth paging through National Geographic in search of pictures of bare chested tribal women. Thankfully, Girls Gone Wild and internet pr0n came along, so subsequent generations of nerdy young males no longer had any use for oogling saggy-breasted tribal women in National Geographic.

Give Lucas credit though, based on the story told in American Graffiti, he probably was listening to Wolfman Jack on one of the "'X' stations" while he was working through his National Geographics. At least that's pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

Ain't it grand, Whiskey!

We might be witnessing the death of humanitarian interventionism. Although, just to be sure, everyone should go out to the graveyard at night dig it up, cut off its head, drive a stake through it, stick garlic in its mouth, and burn it; whatever Balkan villagers do in these circumstances. Humanitarian intervention, like a villain in a Van Damme movie, just will not die.

If the Mali junta survives, along with the Assad regime, and Libya continues to prove a stellar new addition to the international community, we might finally see the Centrist Clintonians and the Compassionate Conservatives thwarted, maybe even see John McCain, or his girlfriend Miss Graham, cry tears of bellicose frustration on CSPAN.

Now if Evangelicalism could just be discredited, but no, that is asking too much. I'm just grateful for what we've been given.

rob said...

The comment fighting at that "Africa is a Country" blog illustrates Steve's contention that Zimmerman has a libel/slander case because the media kept calling him white. Pretty clearly the pro-Mali people are calling the Tuareg white so the international community will prevent Tuareg independence. The Tuareg over there (or at least their supporters) DO NOT want to be classified as white. I'm betting both sides.

It's unusual for blacks to have control of a country with significant white minorities. Are Berbers smart? Mali gives us an interesting test does being 2nd class citizens lower IQ, etc. The Tuareg obviously don't have "white privilege" and at least some chunk of the black population does benefit from institutional authority and therefore "privelege."

David said...

>I feel that it's crucially important to my future children and my future children's children that some other American's current children are sent 8000 miles away with guns to force the slightly black people to let the black people keep their flag on thousands of square miles of the most worthless land on earth. This outrage cannot stand.<

Short Jonah?

Reuters stylebook said...

Would Penelope Cruz be one of those white Hispanics?

Anonymous said...

If you haven't been watching this (and hopefully we won't get involved)...

* The US (AFRICOM) was/is actively aiding and training Mali. A few years ago one of our C-130s even got shot up during a hot combat resupply air-drop. * As few as 1000 Tuaregs, who fought for decades in Libya's army (Chad, Lebanon even) apparently departed Libya recently very heavily armed. They are not the standard 3rd world "technical" rabble, much more pro. They apparently got together with the long-time low-success rebel/ransom-kidnappers and Al Qaeda. * They overran an area the size of France in about 72 hours, occupying the northern 3 cities. * They did this after the initial Tuareg attacks were not defeated by the Mali army, which then revolted against the Mali government, with a successful coup leaving Mali (and the US) discombobulated). * There appear to be dozens of Tuareg groups, some fighting each other; taken as a whole perhaps a good number of fighters; some remnants of other rebel groups and previous revolutions (not much peace in the Sahel in modern times). * Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is for real, but are apparently more a small group into politics and kidnapping/terror. * Crucially, the Tuaregs and Al Qaeda seemed to work out a deal. * The Tuaregs have basically been fighting for a homeland more or less continuously (can claim the last 100 years). * Algeria will never tolerate a Tuareg nation (that claims part of its south). * Unfortunately for the Tuaregs, a ruling coalition that includes Al Qaeda for some reason is not going to be popular with the UN set... (The Telegraph) "Mr Ghali set up his own smaller militia, Ansar al Din ... in Timbuktu he arrived with three of the senior emirs of AQIM - Abou Zeid, Mokhtar Ben Mokhtar, and Abou Hamame..." * AQIM is Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. * Wikileaks cables reveals that the Tuaregs and Al Qaeda are (unsurprisingly) a great drug corridor (even wrt one-way drug-smuggling aircraft from South America), turning some areas into Columbian-style narco-regions, so.... kind of a little like Afghanistan, with AQIM helping out a little and bringing some worldly contacts to the Tuaregs, who are playing the Taliban role...

Or something like all this.

Whatever, probably no need to worry about peace in our time, universal brotherhood, all that other Nice White Lady stuff.

Anonymous said...

Any relation to the Volkswagen Touareg?

Anonymous said...

"Any relation to the Volkswagen Touareg?"

For the love of Francis Bacon! It takes under 10 seconds to copy "Volkswagen Touareg" into a google search and find the wikipidea article, which in the second sentence at the top of the page said, yes, the car is named after the Tuareg people...