The collapse of the Qadaffi regime in Libya is what energized the Tuareg. They lost their main protector in Libya, and, grabbing as many weapons as they could carry––which was evidently quite a few truckloads of we’re still not sure exactly what––they set about helping their brethren in Mali to carve out a new safe area for themselves. As the Tuareg bore down on Timbuktu, the military in Mali begged the government to let them have at the rebels. For whatever reason, the government’s response disappointed the military, which decided to take matters into its own hands before it was too late. Alas, the chaos caused by the coup seems to have accelerated the determination of the Tuareg to seize control before authorities in Bamako could figure out which way was up. Their control now looks to be something of a fait accompli.