Pundit's Ideologies: Neorealism, fascist (similar to the Marxist social theory), and postmodern feminism. A new chapter in the Arab Spring is about to emerge from the heartland of the Sahara Desert in a region known as Azawad, formerly known as the northern half of Mali. While Tuareg separatist movements have been around in this region since 1916, no movement had been successful until now. There are several factors that have contributed to this recent success. In the past 22 years, there have been three separate attempts by Tuareg separatists, the most recent being from 2007-2009 and the successful one in 2012. The previous two unsuccessful rebellions had worn down the involved nation states, but not enough for only local native forces to win. After Qaddafi was deposed and murdered, a number of highly armed and well trained Tuareg mercenaries under Qaddafi left Libya and returned to their homeland with spoils they took from Qaddafi’s armories. This fresh, experienced, and well equipped force was a catalyst for the movement which swept through Northern Mali, a region about the size of France. The Tuareg separatists stopped their advance not far from a city in Mali called Mopti. The Azawadian movement itself is complex: first, the most visible and accessible faction of this group to the Western political scene is Tuareg political activists in exile (who are based out of Nouakchott and Paris) is democratic and secular in nature, and their traditional Islamic sect: Sufism, which is comparatively progressive and liberal by Islamic world standards. This group is the representative front of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA). The ground forces of the NMLA while want a secular and democratic state, after so many decades of struggle for a Tuareg nation, if the only remaining obstacle is adding “Islamic” into the title of their country, they won’t hesitate, after all, they are all Muslims. The second group involved is the local Islamists known as Ansar ud-Dine and is lead by a former Tuareg rebel Iyad Ag Ghali. Ansar ud-Dine is an interesting Islamist group, while they associate with hard-line Islamists like al-Qaeda, Ag Ghali has had his own men under him on a tight leash. It is unsure if this is because 1) as an Islamist he recognizes dhimmi (protected non-Muslim citizens who are protected by paying a tax called jizya) and thus cannot have his men go around roughing up non-Muslims or their holy sites; or 2) he recognizes that in the international community that going after non-Muslims is frowned upon and will attract more negative unwanted attention, something Ansar ud-Dine has plenty of due to their al-Qaeda links. While option 1 is not impossible, given the realities of governance in a multicultural Africa, even if he doesn’t like infidels in his Islamic State, he will have to tolerate their presence do to unchangeable political realities. Still, Ag Ghali's behavior demonstrates at the very least he isn't a fool, or at most he is a Saharan Bismarck. The third group is the foreign Islamists such as al-Qaeda who are training, funding, and equipping Ansar ud-Dine and by extension the other Azawadian forces, which is atypical of al-Qaeda. While this is atypical behavior of al-Qaeda, it is not unexpected behavior. With the creation of Azawad, a chance for an expansionist/imperialist Islamic state can form, but first it must be strong and for that to happen, al-Qaeda cannot discriminate in arming or training people who are willing to fight for the Azawad state for other ideological reasons, they are opponents that must be dealt with later. This has become a real game of thrones scenario. Ag Ghali’s authority is gained from his local support, his character/past, and political legitimacy with controlling Timbuktu has given him leverage with negotiating with a multinational terrorist organization. While Ag Ghali is eager to use the resources and training al-Qaeda gives his militia, he still remembers they are an expansionist Islamist organization who openly uses terrorism and that they ultimately cannot be trusted. And because Ag Ghali has the assistance of al-Qaeda, Ansar ud-Dine became an intrastate faction that is attractive enough for the ground forces of the NMLA to create a coalition with. And with the ground forces of the NMLA supporting Ansar ud-Dine due to their military power, some of the foreign agents of the NMLA are reluctantly pulled into support for this current Azawad and do what they can to get support for the current state. Pleading that if the international community recognized Azawad, the NMLA and other local forces (like Ansar ud-Dine) wouldn’t need al-Qaeda’s assistance to defend their new nation against Mali and ECOWAS forces. Given the specter of al-Qaeda, the foreign agents' efforts have not been successful since no other states recognize Azawad. This unrecognized state and the threat of an impending war has forced these unwilling forces together against the world. Given that the NMLA, Ansar ud-Dine, and al-Qaeda have firm control of the land of Azawad, the threat of 3000 soldiers sent by ECOWAS with the backing (and aid) of the United Nations is a serious challenge, but one that is easily dealt with. Before the threat of ECOWAS’s soldiers, the NMLA was outnumber two-to-one by the Mali soldiers and managed to rout the Malian soldiers, causing serious causalities. When the ECOWAS forces and Malian army join up, they will not be able to dislodge nomadic guerilla fighters, well equipped Islamists, and veteran jihadists and terrorists from a region the size of France. The foolishness of this exercise of impetuous military bravado by ECOWAS and Mali is doomed to failure which is demonstrated by normative evidence given to us by Ibn Khaldun (regarding how scorched earth policy is the only way to beat nomadic guerilla fighters); it is demonstrated by empirical evidence, such as how the Bedouin revolt was able to cripple the Turkish army, and how al-Qaeda and other terrorist tactics have torn away at United States military forces for over a decade (imagine those tactics on military forces that were routed a numerically inferior force of camel herders and mercenaries). It is only a matter of time before ECOWAS and Mali are routed by the forces of Azawad. While the victory of Azawad is guaranteed in this specific conflict, there is no certainty how this conflict will play out: will it be long and violent, or short and quick? I believe it would be safer to assume it will be long and violent. Azawad will suffer a good number of losses, a substantially proportional blow to their forces, but they will inflict serious damage on ECOWAS and Mali. Which some within Azawad will argue is a sign of religious favor for an expansionist Islamist State (which is what al-Qaeda wants). This movement will grow because there are more lands that are considered Tuareg besides what the NMLA already has, and besides who doesn’t love a good war? While there are numerous ways the Islamists/pan-Tuaregs could seek to expand. Niger is the logical choice given it has been traditionally unstable (and ambitious elements will rise up should Islamists start excursions into Niger territory) and has a large population of Tuaregs. The same can be said of Mauritania, factions that are pro-Arabic and Islamic cultures (who are opposed to the local Moorish culture) might want to instigate trouble by allying with (Islamic) Azawadian forces. And given the popularity of Islamist factions in Algeria, it is conceivable that the Azawadian forces could go into Algeria. The only problem with that plan is that Algeria is significantly tougher than Niger or Mauritania. In order for areas of Algeria to be seized, military victories in Niger and/or Mauritania are necessary first in order to generate enough religious propaganda to acquire enough prestige to gather men and weapons to take on a force like the Algerian army. It is uncertain how this conflict will continue, but this much is for certain Azawad is here to stay. And as always, there will be war.