disputed region in support of the Malian claim.
On 26 May, the MNLA and its former co-belligerentAnsar Dine announced a pact in which they would merge to form anIslamiststate.
However, some later reports indicated theMNLA had decided to withdraw from the pact, distancing itself from Ansar Dine.
Ansar Dine later declared thatthey rejected the idea of Azawad independence.
The MNLA and Ansar Dine continued to clash,
culminating in theBattle of Gaoon 27 June, in which the Islamist groupsMovement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africaand Ansar Dine
took control of the city, driving out the MNLA. The following day, Ansar Dine announced that it was in control of allthe cities of northern Mali.
According to Scottish explorer and scientistRobert Brown, Azawad is an Arabiccorruptionof theBerberword
"Azawagh", a dry river basin that covers western Niger, northeastern Mali, and southern Algeria.
The name translatesto "land of transhumance".
On 6 April 2012, in a statement posted to its website, the MNLA declared theindependence of Azawad from Mali. In this Azawad Declaration of Independence the name
Independent State of Azawad
État indépendant de l’Azawad
d al- Mustaqillah
). On 26 May, the MNLA and its former co-belligerent Ansar Dine announced a pact in which they wouldmerge to form an Islamist state – according to the media the new long name of Azawad was used in this pact. But thisnew name is not clear – sources list few variants of it: the
Islamic Republic of Azawad
République islamiquede l’Azawad
Islamic State of Azawad
État islamique de l’Azawad
Republic of Azawad
Azawad authorities didn’t officially confirm any change of name yet. Moreover, some later reports indicated the MNLAhad decided to withdraw from the pact with Ansar Dine. In a new statement, dated on 9 June, MNLA uses the name
State of Azawad
État de l’Azawad
The MNLA has unveiled the list of 28 members of the TransitionalCouncil of the State of Azawad (Conseil de Transition de l'Etat de l'Azawad, CTEA) serving as a provisionalgovernment with PresidentBilal Ag Acherif to manage the new State of Azawad.
HistoryHistory of Azawad
Gao Empire Songhai Empire Pashalik of Timbuktu French Sudan Tuareg rebellion (1962–
1964) Tuareg rebellion (1990–1995) Tuareg rebellion (2007–2009) Tuareg rebellion (2012)
Independent State of Azawad
Gao, Mali and Songhai empires
TheGao Empireowes its name to the town of Gao. In the ninth century AD, it was
considered to be the most powerful West African kingdom.In the early 14th century, the southern part of the region came under the control of theMali Empire, including thepeaceful annexation of Timbuktu byKing Musa Iin 1324, as he returned from his famous pilgrimage toMecca.
Withthe power of theMali Empirewaning in the first half of the 15th century, the area around Timbuktu became relativelyautonomous, although Maghsharan Tuareg
had a dominant position.
Thirty years later however, the risingSonghay Empireexpanded in Gao, absorbing Timbuktu in 1468 or 1469 and much of the surrounding area. The citywas led, consecutively, bySunni Ali Ber(1468–1492),Sunni Baru(1492–1493) andAskia Mohammad I(1493–1528).
Although Sunni Ali Ber was in severe conflict with Timbuktu after its conquest, Askia Mohammad I created agoldenagefor both the Songhay Empire and Timbuktu through an efficient central and regional administration and allowedsufficient leeway for the city's commercial centers to flourish.
With Gao the capital of the empire, Timbuktuenjoyed a relatively autonomous position. Merchants fromGhadames,Awjilah, and numerous other cities of North
Africa gathered there to buy gold and slavesin exchange for the Saharan salt of Taghazaand for North African clothand horses.
Leadership of the Empire stayed in the Askia dynasty until 1591, when internal fights weakened thedynasty's grip.
Following theBattle of Tondibiin a village just north of Gao, the city was captured on 30 May1591 by an expedition of 4,000Andalusian Moriscos, 500mercenariesand 2,500 auxiliaries, including slaves, dubbed
theArma. They were sent by theSaadiruler of Morocco,Ahmad I al-Mansur, and were led by Morisco GeneralJudar
Pashain search of gold mines. Pasha was born into a family of Spanish Muslims in Morocco, banished by the SpanishCrown following the failedAlpujarras uprising of 1568–71.
The sacking of Gao marked the effective end of theSonghai as a regional power
and its economic and intellectual decline,
as increasing trans-atlantic trade routes –transporting African slaves, including leaders and scholars of Timbuktu – marginalised Gao and Timbuktu's role astrade and scholarly centers.
The consequence of the Moroccan expedition was the formation of thePashalik of Timbuktu. While initially controlling the Morocco – Timbuktu trade routes, Morocco soon cut its ties with the Armaand the grip of the numerous subsequent
on Timbuktu began losing its strength. By 1630, the colony wasindependent and had been indigenised through intermarriage and local alliances. Songhay never regained control andsmallertaifakingdoms were created.
Tuaregtemporarily took over control in 1737 and the remainder of the 18thcentury saw various Tuareg tribes,BambaraandKountabriefly occupy or besiege the city.
During this period, theinfluence of the
, who by then had mixed with the Songhay through intermarriage, never completelydisappeared.
TheMassina Empiretook control of Timbuktu in 1826, holding it until 1865, when they were drivenaway byEl Hadj Umar Tall'sToucouleur Empire. Sources conflict on who was in control when the French arrived:
Elias N. Saad in 1983 suggests theSoninke Wangara,
a 1924 article in the Journal of the Royal African Societymentions the Tuareg,
whileAfricanist John Hunwickdoes not determine one ruler, but notes several states competing
for power 'in a shadowy way' until 1893.
Under French rule
After European powers formalized thescramble for Africain theBerlin Conference, land between
the 14thmeridianand Miltou, South-WestChad, became French territory, bounded in the south by a line running from
Say, Nigerto Baroua. Although the Azawad region was now French in name, theprinciple of effectivityrequired
France to actually hold power in those areas assigned, e.g. by signing agreements with local chiefs, setting up a