Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has done extensive
doctoral studies in Middle Eastern Affairs. He has created and
conducted counter-Arab propaganda programs for college youth, has
lectured on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has publicly
debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles and op-eds have been
published in dozens of newspapers, magazines, academic journals and
websites all around the world.
Read more by the Author
May 2, 2012
In the Middle East and its environs, for most of the
world, if you're a native but non-Arab people who
actually pre-date the Arab imperialist conquest and
colonization of your land by millennia, you deserve
not only no political rights but no basic human ones
as well? And while your cause is routinely ignored
by the "progressive," self-proclaimed enlightened
powers that be, that of your Arab oppressors is
unabashedly proclaimed loud and clear in academia,
the mainstream media, halls of government, and so
The newest, non-perfect nation struggling to be born
is in North Africa…even newer than the still fragile
Republic of South Sudan in the same general
vicinity. In the latter, black Africans were
slaughtered, enslaved, and so forth by the millions
by the Arab and Arabized north and at long last
gained a tenuous freedom in July 2011. The blood
keeps spilling, however…not to mention Sudan's other
genocidal problems with Darfur and the Nuba.
On April 6th of this year, a coalition dominated by
the Touareg (the people--not the Volkswagon SUV
named for their strength and adaptability), a
so-called "Berber" people of North Africa--took
control of Timbuktu and other major towns and
declared independence for Azawad in the northern
part of Mali, a huge area double the size of
California. Oh yes, like South Sudan's Abyei border
area, it too has oil….
Like many other scores of millions of native,
pre-Arab conquest Imazighen/ Berber peoples
("Berber" is actually a pejorative term imposed upon
them by invaders), the Touareg were left at the
mercy of others, largely due to the machinations of
French colonial rulers after World War II. Recall
that Africa, as a whole, had borders for its future
states arbitrarily created by Europeans in the late
19th century (with no native African input) for the
sake of their own interests.
As some forty million other Kabyle and Amazigh
people were deemed non-deserving of independence in
the new age of nationalism erupting in the region,
the fate of the native Touareg was likewise tied to
With Arabs in control of much of the region's oil
deposits, a decision had been made to not ruffle
their feathers as much as possible. So, as scores of
millions of Kurds (and the oil of their own region)
were sacrificed earlier on behalf of Arab
aspirations; likewise done to black Africans in the
Sudan and elsewhere; most of the Mandate of
Palestine turned over to Arab nationalism as of
1922; and so forth, it should also come as no
surprise that the various Amazigh peoples would
suffer a similar fate. This favorite, important
quote speaks volumes on this subject…
In Algeria, Berbers were forbidden to use their own
language, Tamazight...riots erupted, reported in
France but ignored elsewhere in the West...America,
of course, had been sufficiently subject to ARAMCO
(the Arabian American Oil Company) propaganda, a
payoff to the Saudis by Big Oil, to allow the latter
to produce and market Arab oil. So, ARAMCO's message
to America was that there is just an Arab world in
this region in which there are no Copts, Armenians,
Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmen...and, of course, no
Berbers and no Jews--they all came to Israel, you
see, from Europe for everyone in this region is just
Arab (New English Review, January 17, 2008)."
Thus, at the same time that American State
Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, was
chastising Israelis for allowing Judeans--Jews-- to
once again live on millennial Jewish soil in Judea
and Samaria (aka, the "West Bank"--this time in the
towns of Recehlim, Bruchin and Sansana--on
non-apportioned state, not private Arab,
lands--where all residents of the original Mandate
were/are allowed to live), not a word was uttered
about the rights of scores of millions of a truly
stateless people in the region. There will be no
support from the State Department for the first,
long overdue, Amazigh state. The Foggy Folks opposed
President Truman on the rebirth of Israel for
largely the same reasons.
Indeed, there has been nothing but hostility towards
the Touareg since their move to independence.
Besides threats coming from the black Africans in
the south of Mali from whom they broke away, the
French and the European Union are upset as well.
Having long been neglected and mistreated, when the
Touareg dared to ask for the same independence that
black Africans and Arabs in the region were at long
last achieving, over a half century ago the French
denied them this right and forced them to be tied to
the south instead. This is the same treatment some
forty million other Amazigh people received courtesy
of the French throughout the rest of North Africa…in
Algeria, Morocco, and so forth.
Recent reports coming out of the area are
On the one hand, it appears that the National
Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA),
bolstered by arms arriving from Qaddafi's Libya
(which employed some Touareg fighters), still has
control of the situation in the north.
On the other hand, there seems to be an attempt to
undermine any potential support for the MLNA by
others claiming that Islamists tied to Al-Qaida are
really now running the show.
Regardless, there is no doubt that an independent
"Berber" state of Azawad sends jitters up many other
folks' spines--both outside and inside the
region--for a number of reasons.
For players like the French, it upsets and
destabilizes their neocolonialist schemes for still
pulling the strings in their former colonies.
For Arabs in neighboring North African states, it
establishes a real nightmarish precedent…
With France's cooperation, the Arabs of the Maghreb
were able to proclaim the entire area as solely part
of their own alleged greater "purely Arab
patrimony." To this end, scores of millions of
native, pre-Arab/non-Arab people (both in North
Africa and beyond) had their very cultures and
languages periodically outlawed to speed up the
forced integration, pacification, and Arabization
If you have not seen her work yet, Anna
Mahjar-Barducci is an interesting and careful
Moroccan-Italian journalist. An Amazigh friend,
whose comments grace the jacket cover of my own book
(http://q4j-middle-east.com), alerted me to her
recent account of this situation in the
Israeli-newspaper, Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/print-e.....t-1.426801
Here's some extensive excerpts from her analysis…
Now that Azawad has become a reality, it is clear
that North Africa can no longer (simply) be "Al-Arabi,"
as it now includes a state that is geographically
and culturally part of the Maghreb but declares
itself Berber. That is a situation that is
unacceptable to Arab countries.
Azawad's independence provokes additional fears.
Neighboring countries are actually alarmed that the
new state could inspire a "Berber spring" across
North Africa, with other Imazighen asking for equal
rights and/or independence…
Arab governments are hence joining forces with Mali
to fight the MNLA and to "wipe" Berber Awazad "off
the map." One of the main means for doing this is by
spread of disinformation.
When the independence of Azawad was declared, some
international media outlets reported that the MNLA
was an Islamist group that had relations with Al-Qaida
in the Islamic Maghreb. This baseless rumor was soon
debunked. The MNLA is actually a secular movement
with no religious agenda.
Next, the disinformation machine spread a rumor that
the MNLA had lost control of all of Azawad, and Al-Qaida,
jihadists and Salafists had taken over the region…
About the same time, the French magazine Jeune
Afrique published an interview with the leader of
Ansar Dine, Iyad Ag Ghaly, who denied that his
movement was in Gao. He also specified that he is
not interested in independence for Azawad, as he
recognizes only Mali and Sharia law. The same
disinformation was at work elsewhere, as well…
There is…a serious risk of destabilization if Azawad
isn't officially recognized, and soon. All the
neighboring countries have an interest in seeing
Azawad descend into chaos, so that the international
community will support reunification with Mali.
Azawad and the MNLA will hence be left to fight
jihadist groups on their own, when what they need is
the help of neighboring countries.
In the meantime, Mali, which is now ruled by a
transitional president after a coup in Banako, the
capital, has threatened "total war" against the MNLA.
Mali, which systematically repressed the Tuareg and
other Azawadi minorities, is now indiscriminately
arresting and killing "red-skinned" Berbers within
its reduced borders. France, the old colonial power,
is forcefully opposing Azawadi independence and
calling for a "compromise": autonomy for the region.
Autonomy, though, is not the solution, as it would
not guarantee an equal division of the area's
resources, which include oil and access to budgets
that would allow it to fight droughts. France and
the international community would do better to
support the struggle for self-determination of the
Azawadi people as they have done for other nations.
Only independence will ensure stability.
Whenever the dust finally settles, however, one
thing will remain certain…
The so-called "Arab Spring" must work to usher in a
new age for other peoples too. I addressed this
quite some time ago in Berber Autumn (http://kabylia.wordpress.com/2.....er-autumn/).
And that Arab Spring is not looking too well these
For justice to truly come to this volatile region of
the world, the injustices of the past will have to
finally be addressed.
And justice in the realm of man--as I often point
out--must be viewed in relative, not absolute,
The same French and European Union, so quick to
condemn the non-Arab Berber Touaregs' quest for a
slice of the justice pie, are also the same folks
demanding the birth of a 22nd Arab state whose idea
of "peace" with Israel is getting the latter to
commit suicide. Some forty million subjugated,
stateless Amazigh people are thus still deemed
unworthy of the same rights Europe and others have
no trouble granting to their tormentors.
While Arabs, basking in their own imperialist
Caliphal past, may still have delusions that via
centuries of forced Arabization, there really is no
one else in "their" region with legitimate claims
but themselves, in an age in which other people are
still struggling for basic human--let alone
political--rights, such an abusive, oppressive,
self-centered mindset must not be allowed to
Despite its imperfections (what nascent country--or
long-standing one for that matter--does not have
them?), the quest for long-overdue justice by this
new Touareg nation of Azawad must be supported.
Addressing any real concerns regarding such things
as Islamist influence should be part of this
support--not used as an excuse to squash the hopes
for freedom and independence of this first Amazigh/Berber
The militant Islamist nature of Hamas, Hizbullah,
and others does not prevent the world from demanding
the creation of yet another Arab nation. That factor
should certainly play no role in determining the
fate of scores of millions of predominantly Muslim,
but anti-Islamist Amazigh people as well.
Gerald A. Honigman is a Florida educator who has
done extensive doctoral studies in Middle Eastern
Affairs. He has created and conducted counter-Arab
propaganda programs for college youth, has lectured
on numerous campuses and other platforms, and has
publicly debated many Arab spokesmen. His articles
and op-eds have been published in dozens of
newspapers, magazines, academic journals and
websites all around the world. Visit his
Gerald A. Honigman, a longtime contributing writer
for ekurd.net. Honigman has published a major book,
Quest For Justice In The Middle East--The
Arab-Israeli Conflict In Greater Perspective."
By Gerald A. Honigman for eKurd.net, May 2, 2012. You may reach the
author via email at: honigman6 (at) msn.com.
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