Mountainous massif in northern Niger in the Agadez département. In the Hausa language, it goes by the name of Abzin. It is a Precambrian granite massif with past volcanic activity. It runs 400 kilometers from north to south and 100 to 200 kilometers from east to west and contains fertile valleys and hidden oases. Its area covers 61,000 square kilometers between the desert plains of Azawak and Ténéré. Humans have occupied the area since prehistoric times, when its climate was more hospitable and humid. It is presently populated by nomadic and agropastoralist Tuareg, Hausa, and other ethnic groups. The area has salt pans of considerable importance in In Gall and Teguidda-n'Tesemet, cassiterite at El Mecki, uranium in several places (including Arlit), coal in the south, and other minerals in what is Niger's mining area and its hard-currency provider. It came under French control in 1904 and was a center of Tuareg political activism and revolts during World War I.
   Starting in the 11th century, Tuareg groups have poured into the Aïr area. Among the first to arrive were the Issandalan and the Kel Gress, later the Kel Owey. Today, the area is home to the Kel Ferouane, Kel Fadey, and the Ouilliminden. The Issandalan, who arrived to Aïr in the 12th century and among whom the Itesen were the most important group, founded Assodé as their capital, the latter considered to be the oldest city in Aïr. It was also the Issandalan who were behind the rise of the sultanate of Agadez prior to their conflicts with the Kel Owey and Kel Gress. With the fall of Assodé, political and economic power associated with the trans-Saharan caravan trade shifted to Tadeliza, then Tin Chaman, and finally Agadez. Given the dislocation effects of the 1970s Sahel droughts, most of the Tuareg population is composed of the Kel Owey, the Kel Tamat, and the Kel Ikazkazan. These groups are under the jurisdiction of the anastafidet, the leader of the Kel Owey. The other groups in the area include the Kel Ferouan in the vicinity of Agadez and west of the massif toward Damergou. Most Tuareg pastoralists, who became refugees in the 1970s, are not subject to the rule of the anastafidet, nor do they fall under the authority of the Kel Amenukal.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.


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