May 30, 2023
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


Zoom Webinar

The Africa Study Group and the Middle East Institute are pleased to invite you to the third discussion in a series focused on the Sahel and Sahara regions. Worsening political instability in the Sahel is increasingly garnering international attention and concern. In September 2022, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted that non-functional state institutions in the region have fostered a growing humanitarian crisis and allowed non-state armed groups to step into the vacuum and consolidate their hold on local areas and populations. This fast-deteriorating regional security situation may metastasize into a global threat if it leads to the resurgence of transnational terrorist and violent extremist groups capable of striking far beyond the African continent. 

MEI invites you to a virtual panel discussion that will address the prospects of and challenges associated with a potential international response to the multi-faceted crisis facing the Sahel.


Amb. J. Peter Pham
Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council

Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni
Regional Director, Office for West Africa, the Sahel, and the Lake Chad Basin, Institute for Security Studies

Jonathan Winer
Non-Resident Scholar, Middle East Institute 

Cheickh T. Bangoura
President, Africa Study Group 

Intissar Fakir, moderator 
Senior Fellow; Director, Program on North Africa & the Sahel, Middle East Institute 


Detailed Speaker Biographies

Amb. J. Peter Pham
J. Peter Pham rejoined the Atlantic Council as a distinguished fellow in March 2021, after concluding public service as U.S. special envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and U.S. special envoy for the Sahel Region with the personal rank of ambassador. He had previously been Atlantic Council vice president for research and regional initiatives and director of the Council’s Africa Center. Prior to joining the Atlantic Council in 2011, he was senior vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and editor of its journal, American Foreign Policy Interests. He served on the Senior Advisory Group of the U.S. Africa Command from 2008 to 2013. From 2008 to 2017 he also served as vice president of the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa and was founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Middle East and Africa. Amb. Pham is the author of more than 300 texts and the author, editor, or translator of over a dozen books, including, most recently, Somalia: Fixing Africa’s Most Failed State (Tafelberg, 2013; co-authored with Greg Mills and David Kilcullen). Amb. Pham is the recipient of numerous honors and awards from African countries, including Commander of the National Order of Mali, Commander of the National Order of Burkina Faso, Officer of the National Order of Merit of Niger, Commander of the National Order of Merit of Gabon, and Commander of the Order of the Friendship of Peoples of Burundi.

Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni
Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni is the regional director of the Institute for Security Studies, West Africa, Sahel, and Lake Chad Basin Office. She is based in Dakar, Senegal. Previously, Lori-Anne worked as a researcher on peace and security issues at the Peace Operations Network (PON) of the University of Montreal. She has developed various projects related to peace operations, mainly in New York and Addis Ababa. Théroux-Bénoni holds a PhD in Anthropology. Her dissertation focused on media, conflict, and democratization in Côte d'Ivoire, where she conducted regular field research between 2003 and 2011. Her latest research project focused on the certification of post-conflict electoral processes by the United Nations, with a particular focus on Côte d'Ivoire.

Jonathan Winer
Jonathan Winer was the United States special envoy for Libya, responsible for developing, coordinating, and implementing U.S. policy on Libya. He previously served as the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement and as the first general secretary of the Global Forum on Corruption. Winer also served for 10 years as counsel to U.S. Senator John F. Kerry as well as a regulator attorney specializing in national security law and cross border regulation. He has written and lectured widely on national security and foreign policy, human rights, international money laundering, sanctions, corruption, and the legal implications of globalization. In 2016, he received the highest award granted by the secretary of state for extraordinary service to the U.S. government.

Cheickh T. Bangoura
Dr. Cheickh T. Bangoura is the president of the Africa Study Group. Bangoura was a fellow and university lecturer in Germany, before joining the United Nations for a career spanning over 20 years. He has also held the positions of regional director and deputy regional director for the U.N. International Drug Control Program (now UNODC), respectively, in the regional offices for West Africa and ECOWAS, and for East and Southeast Africa (Nairobi). More recently, he served as senior legal advisor, policy coordinator, and diplomatic advisor to U.N. under-secretaries-general and prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. Between his international assignments, Bangoura has worked for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, CANADEM, the Pearson Peacekeeping Training Centre, and CIDA, and has served on several international and Canadian humanitarian and electoral missions (including Haiti, Ukraine, DRC, Liberia, Togo, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Mali, Benin, and Burundi.

Intissar Fakir 
Intissar Fakir is a senior fellow and director of MEI’s North Africa and Sahel program. She is an expert on North Africa, the Sahel, and key regional thematic issues including governance, social change, migration, and security. She has written extensively on North Africa’s evolving politics including Islamist electoral politics in post-2011 Morocco and Tunisia, the Western Sahara issue, foreign policy priorities in Morocco and the broader region, and the impact of COVID-19 on regional political stability. Her research has also included political transitions, mobilization trends, energy, and social change in Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and Tunisia.

Photo via Scott Peterson/Getty Images

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