Forcibly "founded" by Tuareg rebels, this breakaway from Mali will face some significant challenges.
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The Tuareg rebels on April 6 declared their independence from Mali and announced the formation of the state of Azawad. That action was condemned or ignored by the international community.
In a thoughtful article, William Moseley, a professor of geography and African studies at Macalester College, puts Azawad in the context of the larger issue of Africa's colonial borders. He recalls the arbitrary nature of Africa's borders, most of which were inherited from the colonial period, especially from the 1884-85 Berlin conference. He also recalls the relationship between the Tuareg people and the Mali government, which he characterizes as "uneasy." But, he notes, Azawad was created by force, and that it remains unclear whether it has the widespread support of the inhabitants living within its territory. Then there is the question of what the boundaries of the new state might be. And this political drama is being played out against the backdrop of anticipated famine.