Reflections on Politics in the Sahel

I teach and do research on the Sahel at the Brussels School of International Studies. Below, I’m compiling stuff I have written or said, alone or with colleagues, on the Sahel in various media. I share day to day thoughts and relevant links on Twitter. Academic publications are available on Academia (not updated anymore: it used to be cool, now it’s not) and ResearchGate. Media contributions or reports below appear in reverse chronological order (i.e. most recent on top). Last update: 14 May 2019

14 May 2019. Interview in Le Figaro (gated) on the challenges faced by the military intervention in the Sahel (the headline is not from my interview)


13 May 2019. Answering Xavier Martinet’s questions on the expansion of jihadi attacks in the Sahel, following the abduction and the eventual liberation of two French tourists in the North of Bénin


25 Mar 2019. This is not immediately related to Sahel politics yet it is related to how knowledge about Sahel politics is produced. I explain why I left the editorial board of the French journal Afrique Contemporaine after the release of a special issue on Mali was suspended by the journal’s ‘owner’, the French Agency for Development.


25 Mar 2019. I share thoughts for Liberation on the darkest day of Mali’s recent history. In the Bankass district, 134 civilians from a Fulani village were killed in horrendous circumstances. We shouldn’t shy away anymore from using terms like ethnic cleansing. (Frustratingly, the transcript of the itw is not entirely accurate and is full of typos)


17 Mar 2019. I gave a bit of background on jihadi tactics in the Sahel in the wake of the deadly attack against an army base in Dioura, Mali



3 Dec 2018. I have quotes in this detailed piece on Kouffa’s death by Cyril Bensimon in Le Monde [update Match 2019: Kouffa’s death was considered highly plausible at the time, after it was announced certain by the French Minister of Defense and the Malian army. But Kouffa didn’t die and re-appeared in a video in early March 2019. Good lesson for anyone taking official statements for granted, me included]


30 Nov 2018. Interview for RFI, Appels sur l’Actualité, on Kouffa’s probable death and its implications (start at 11’54’’). [update Match 2019: Kouffa’s death was considered highly plausible at the time, after it was announced certain by the French Minister of Defense and the Malian army. But Kouffa didn’t die and re-appeared in a video March 2019. Good lesson for anyone taking official statements for granted, me included]


28 Nov 2018. Interview for DakarActu. I answer Abdou Cisse’s questions about implications of French strike against Hamadoun Kouffa’s katibat. [update Match 2019: Kouffa’s death was considered highly plausible at the time, after it was announced certain by the French Minister of Defense and the Malian army. But Kouffa didn’t die and re-appeared in a video March 2019. Good lesson for anyone taking official statements for granted, me included]



17 Aug 2018. Interview for France Culture about the security challenges re-elected Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita now has to face, starting with the situation in the centre of the country (starts at 8'55")


12 Aug 2018. Interview for BBC World Service, Newshour. I provide basic background on the political crisis in Mali between the two rounds of the presidential election (starts at 14'00")



19 June 2018. Fiona Terry and Brian McQuinn from the ICRC publish a report synthesising findings from various case studies on Roots of Restraint in War. One of these case studies is Mali, written by Ferdaous Bouhlel and myself. Summary by Fiona and Brian below, full report here



4 June 2018. I comment on protests which took place in Bamako on Sat 2 June ahead of the presidential elections for BBC World Service (Newsday)




11 April 2018. Short clip on situation in Mali, based on a lecture I gave at the European University Institute (Florence) on Tribes and Global Jihadism, organised by MEDirections on 26 February 2018





20 Dec 2017. I was heard by the Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defence at the French Sénat. I talked and answered questions about the crisis in the Sahel and the French intervention. Here is the transcript of the talk I gave


20 Dec 2017. I was heard by the Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defence at the French Sénat. I talked and answered questions about the crisis in the Sahel and the French intervention. Whole thing is (very) summarised in this clip




25 Oct 2017. An interview with RFI on US plans to revise their military rules of engagement in the Sahel (in French)




















23 Mar 2016. With Fahiraman Rodrigue Kone. On media coverage of Bassam attack and Ivorian security response (English version). Republished by Quartz Africa


21 Mar 2016. With Fahiraman Rodrigue Kone. On media coverage of Bassam attack and Ivorian security response (French version)





11 Nov 2015. Insurgencies through the Centre-Periphery lens (along with the most Saharan Englishman, Jeremy Swift)




20 Feb 2015. On jihadist media strategies in West Africa. Worth watching thanks to the amazing David Thomson, not me. My worst media experience ever (behind paywall, thank God)


20 Jul 2014. Schooling under Rebel Rule. This is not about the Sahel but about Côte d’Ivoire. I’m using a similar framework to study the occupation of Gao in 2012 (paper not published yet). The lecture was given at the Olympia Summer Academy which any student interested in conflicts should attend once in their life


7 Nov 2013. On situation in Kidal



26 Mar 2013. On French military intervention in the Sahel (during an unforgettable trip in Australia)