A Force for the Right Purpose? Rethinking Western COIN Interventions in Africa’s Sahel


  • Gershon Adela University of Calgary


France, the EU, UN, US and its Western allies have implemented several COIN interventions in the Sahel. While these interventions have accomplished some immediate outcomes, their long-term success remains daunting. This article examines six bad practices responsible for the failure of COIN operations. Comparing these practices to Western COIN interventions in the Sahel, the evidence provided here demonstrates that these Sahelian COIN missions are doomed to fail. In addition to being foreign occupiers in the Sahel, the activities of Western forces and their local allies are considered worse than insurgent groups due to their contribution to the creation of new grievances in the region. Furthermore, the alliance between foreign forces and local militia groups has led to an increase in inter-ethnic and inter-community violence mainly due to differences in their agenda and strategy for combating the insurgency. Finally, some Western actors operating in the Sahel, especially the French, remain unprepared to adapt their strategy for combatting the insurgency.

Author Biography

Gershon Adela, University of Calgary

Gershon Adela is a Doctoral Candidate, Department of Political Science, University of Calgary.






Special Section: Conflict in Contemporary Africa