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The Sahel and Western Military Assistance in Africa

A panel of experts explore the West’s changing military presence in Africa’s Sahel region and what it could mean for peace and stability across the continent.
Kamissa Camara
Aude Darnal
Armel Dirou
Olivier-Rémy Bel
Elizabeth Shackelford
Event Date

About This Event

As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have drawn down, America’s military posture in Africa remains uncertain. In the Sahel region, 9,000 troops from the United States and Europe have engaged in counter-terrorism operations for years, but France’s announcement that it would withdraw troops in 2022 spells uncertainty. Faced with a deteriorating security situation in several nations of the Sahel, what might Western military assistance in the region look like in the coming years? And will the Sahel's growing strategic importance have implications for its long-term stability?

About the Speakers
Senior Visiting Expert for the Sahel, USIP
A sub-Saharan Africa policy analyst and practitioner with 15 years of professional experience, Kamissa Camara is presently senior visiting expert for the Sahel at the US Institute of Peace. She formerly served as Mali’s minister of foreign affairs, minister of digital economy and planning, and as chief of staff to the president of Mali.
Associate Director, Scowcroft Center, Atlantic Council
Aude Darnal is an associate director at the New American Engagement Initiative in the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. Darnal focuses on the analysis of armed conflicts and the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.
Armel Dirou
Deputy Director of Defence Strategy, Ministry of the Armed Forces, France
Colonel Armel Dirou is a cavalry officer and mountain trooper in the French Army. He holds a PhD from Paris Sorbonne University and is visiting research fellow at King’s College in London. Dirou’s operational experience includes tours in Bosnia and Kosovo, three combat tours in Afghanistan, and CAR. Dirou is currently deputy director of defence strategy at the French Ministry of Defence.
Special Advisor for the French Presidency of the EU Council
Olivier-Remy Bel is a special advisor for the French Presidency of the EU at the French Ministry for the Armed Forces. Previously he was a Visiting Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a staffer to the French Minister of Defense, in charge of European and African Affairs. He is a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council.
Senior Fellow, US Foreign Policy
Council staff Elizabeth Shackelford
Elizabeth Shackelford, a former career US diplomat who served at the US Mission to Somalia and the US Embassy in South Sudan, joined the Council in 2021. Her work focuses on building awareness and understanding of a "restraint" approach to foreign policy, which seeks to limit the use of military force to the defense of core US national security interests and favors robust diplomatic engagement.
Council staff Elizabeth Shackelford