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In the complicated many-sided conflict in Mali, the MNLA, are fighting for a secular state in Azawad, whereas islamists (such as Ansar Dine), seek the imposition of Sharia law across Mali. Recently, France has intervened to prevent islamists from achieving their goals; see also this question.

As the Wikipedia article on the conflict summarises, Ansar Dine and MNLA initially cooperated, but have subsequently waged war because of disagreements about the nature their state should have, and MNLA are now "ready to help" their former opponents in the fight against the Islamists:

We can do the job on the ground. We’ve got men, arms and, above all, the desire to rid Azawad of terrorism.

Source: Al Arabiya

Until recently, MNLA were fighting against the government of Mali, and now they are fighting with the government of Mali. This seems unusual, and I wonder what the consequences for their relation post-conflict may be. Are there any historical examples of armed secessionist groups joining arms with their de jure government to drive out a common enemy?

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migrated from politics.stackexchange.com Jan 21 '13 at 17:16

This question came from our site for people interested in governments, policies, and political processes.

Two marginal cases:

  1. Zionist forces during WW2. Some collaborated with the British, notably the campaign against French Syria and the Jewish brigade, while others were conducting assassinations and working towards strengthening themselves for the liberation struggle (from their POV).

  2. Basque forces during the Spanish civil war, fighting with the legal government against the right wing coup.

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#2 is MUCH stronger than #1, IMO – CGCampbell May 14 at 12:42

Anbar Awakening seems like a good model for what you seek. While not strictly speaking "secessionist", they fought against Iraqi gvernment; but then "grew tired" of transnational Jihadi "brothers in arms" and started supporting Iraqui government (and US military) against them (to oversimplify to the point of absurdity).

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Communists and Kuomintang fighting together against the Japanese.

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The CCP wasn't secessionist. – lins314159 Jan 22 '13 at 0:07
@lins314159: Indeed. But they did control a portion of the country at the time, didn't they? So in a vaguely functional sort of way they can fit the bill, I think. – Felix Goldberg Jan 23 '13 at 0:21
Sure, they had exclusive power over some territory, but the intent was to take over all of China rather than to secede and in the meantime, no one (including themselves) recognised that territory as being a separate country, so to classify them as secessionist would be very tenuous and doesn't address what the questioner is asking. – lins314159 Jan 23 '13 at 3:21

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