The young touareg I talked to in Tam said they do still have a few tourists coming in to visit Assekrem.
In May 2009, we were all set to go with Rasta and a chap named Tahar to Kidal, having worked out the details. Or so I thought. The morning we were leaving, Rasta showed up dressed as an arab (he was touareg until then - "my father is arab and mother touareg, so I can choose!") and started talking money. Tahar refused to go with us to see the gendarmes for the renseignement - turned out his papers wasn't in order. Rasta made a phone call and with a big grin said "I am planning the ENLEVEMENT" which I thought was particularly bad humour considering the situation!
So more than a little agitated I went back to the agency (Walene) and asked WHAT THE XXXX! And he found us another guide right away, who turned out to be superb (but doubling the fee...) - he was known to everyone we met between Tam and Kidal, all the way to Gao.
I got a lot of references on him in Tam before we left. Everyone said the same thing - he's the best guide you can have for Kidal.
There were a good number of utterly bizarre moments on that trip.
And now Rasta is in jail. Wow.