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Mali, Azawad, Taoudenni, and oil
The Taoudenni Basin covers large parts of the West African craton in Mauritania and Mali. It is of considerable interest due to its possible reserves of oil. The remote location and hostile environment of the Sahara desert would make extraction expensive, but ….
On 6 April 2012 the Tuaregs declared "irrevocably" the independence of Azawad from Mali. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) made the statement on its website, adding that it would respect other states' borders.
As far as I can make out the area proclaimed independent covers roughly speaking the northern part of Mali that I have marked on the map of Mali.
Compared with a map of the areas where significant numbers of Tuareg live I find it “interesting” to notice that the Mali part of the Taoudenni Basin seems to be part of the new “state” of Azawad. My guess is that troubles in this area, also suffering from drought and distressed by several thousands of refugees isn’t over yet.
The place of Taoudenni itself, by the way, is a remote salt mining center in the desert region of northern Mali, 664 km north of Timbuktu. The salt is dug by hand from the bed of an ancient salt lake, cut into slabs and transported either by truck or by camel to Timbuktu. The camel caravans from Taoudenni are some of the last that still operate in the Sahara.