West African Papers

The West African Papers series explores African socio-economic, political and security dynamics from a regional and multidisciplinary perspective. It seeks to stimulate discussion and gather information to better anticipate the changes that will shape future policies. The series is designed for a wide audience of specialists, development practitioners, decision makers and the informed public. Papers are available in English and/or French, and summaries are available in both languages. Initiated by the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC) to highlight and promote West African issues, the work presented is prepared by its Secretariat, Members and partners, other OECD departments, related international organisations, associated experts and researchers.

English Also available in: French

Military coups, jihadism and insecurity in the Central Sahel

This paper examines the interactions between the 2020-23 Sahelian coups and the trajectories of jihadism and insecurity, covering three countries: Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. First, it examines pre-coup trends in violence. Second, the paper finds that coup-makers’ policy choices have accelerated the worsening of violence beyond the pre-coup baseline trend, especially when coup-makers authorise new actors to commit violence, although trends in violence remain somewhat erratic and are even more complex at the sub-national level. Third, it offers an ambivalent finding on the impact of the withdrawal of the French Operation Barkhane following Mali’s second coup in 2021. Finally, the paper discusses the apparent strategies of the region’s two main jihadist groups, which have largely continued their pre-coup strategies, but have also responded to new conflict actors and pursued certain opportunities for increased territorial influence.


Keywords: Sahel, jihadism, violence, ECOWAS, Burkina Faso, Niger, coups, Mali
JEL: Q34: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation / Natural Resources and Domestic and International Conflicts; D74: Microeconomics / Analysis of Collective Decision-Making / Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions; F50: International Economics / International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy / International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy: General; F51: International Economics / International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy / International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
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