Tuareg fighters have rejoiced in their victory against the Malian army, accomplished in a few months what their movement had failed to achieve in half a century of struggle.
They have now planted their independence flag in every town across northern Mali.
The fighters have so far shrugged off the lack of any outside recognition of their declaration of independence and the threat of military intervention by West African nations.
More difficult to understand, however, is why these rebels have left the city of Timbuktu and other areas to the control of different groups of Islamist fighters.
Al Jazeera's Mohammad Vall reports from Timbuktu.