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Geopolitics

Meet Nina Wallet Intalou, Female 'Strongman' Of The Tuareg Rebellion In Mali

Exiled in neighboring Mauritania, this 49-year-old exiled firebrand and leader of the Tuareg insurgency calls on the West to accept their demands for independence from Mali, and to get involved in fighting off Islamists in her homeland.

Tuareg independence fighters in Mali, holding up the Azawad flag (Magharebia)
Tuareg independence fighters in Mali, holding up the Azawad flag (Magharebia)
Isabelle Mandraud

NOUAKCHOTT - All different kinds of visitors can be found waiting to speak to Nina Wallet Intalou at her home in the coastal capital city of Mauritania. One particular day last week, there was a young colonel of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA) recovering from a battle injury, a French scholar, political supporters, journalists, and diplomats yearning for information.

When it was my turn to talk to her, after I'd crossed the courtyard where an Azawad flag was flying (the flag is a yellow triangle and three stripes, green, red and black), she led me to a quiet room and offered me a seat on a sofa – and a quick dose of straight talk. "We want independence, or a federation with a referendum in five or ten years – not autonomy," she said. "That would mean going back, and we are tired."

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Mariateresa Fichele

Fifteen years ago, Francesco kept busy by scamming people. He was a regular visitor to the beaches of Terracina, south of Rome, where he was caught several times selling counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses. Then came the drugs, which fed a serious substance-induced psychosis and eventually he tested positive for HIV.

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