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 Disinformation Dynamics in the Sahel

The Southern Talks #6 - Live Online Event

 Disinformation Dynamics in The Sahel

 Date: 20th March 2024

 Time:  15:00 - 16:00 (Local Time: Rome/Naples)  

The NATO Strategic Direction-South Hub welcomes Dr. Beatriz De Leon Cobo and Mr. Habibou Bako to The Southern Talks. They will share their perspectives on disinformation in the Sahel, and how this impacts western security collaboration - focusing on the G5 states in the francophone western Sahel region.

Talking Points

  • What has been happening in the Sahel?  
  • Current regional situation in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger...
  • What does “Disinformation” in the Sahel look like? 
  • Who is behind the spread of disinformation?
  • What objectives do they have and who are they targeting? 
  • Are the disinformation strategies working? 
  • What are the repercussions of disinformation on a local and regional level? 
  • How will such repercussions impact regional and global security, and affect  multi-lateral collaboration?
  • Role of regional neighbours and partners.
  • What next?

The Webinar lasts approximately one hour, with the second part dedicated to a Q&A session with the registered audience (via Zoom / YOUTube chatrooms) 


Alexander Mackenzie-Smith


CIVMIL Engagement Sub-Saharan Africa - NSD-S Hub

Alex Mackenzie-Smith is a political and security analyst specializing in conflict, cross-cultural engagement and international organisations. He has worked at NATO as a civilian-military engagement officer for Sub-Saharan Africa since 2021, and has 12 years of related field experience in DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda and Sudan, working for the AU, UN, UNDP and several NGOs, mostly in political affairs, reporting and demobilisation. He has a further decade of military and political experience in former Yugoslavia, including four years in the EU political and security monitoring mission and two years of UN multi-lateral diplomacy in Belgrade. He has taught at the UK and US Army Staff Colleges. Fluent in French and Serbian, he has an MA in Peacebuilding and a BA in Politics. He has written academic research on aspects of local ownership and cross-cultural project management in Sudan.


Dr. Beatriz de Leon Cobo

Researcher Security, Violent Radicalisation and conflict management in West Africa and Europe

Beatriz de León Cobo is a researcher and analyst specialising in security, conflict dynamics and violent radicalisation in West Africa and the Sahel. She works as a Conflict, Justice and Security Advisor for First Call Partners. She is a PhD candidate in sociology from the Sorbonne University, specialising in radicalisation. Previously, she has worked as an independent consultant for governments, NGOs, international organisations and think tanks in the field of conflict and security analysis for West Africa. She is also an analyst at the International Security Centre of the Francisco de Vitoria University (Madrid), where she directs the "Forum de Dialogue Sahel Europe”. She is a Fellow at the think tank RUSI (Royal United Services Institute). She has worked closely with international academic institutions, NGOs, think tanks, research groups and the media in conducting research and analysis, including Synopia, le laboratoire des gouvernances, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the Institut des Hautes Études du Monde Religieux, Radio Televisión Española, the Spanish Institute for Strategic Studies, Women in International Security, and the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN)-European Commission. Beatriz holds a Master's degree in Defence, Security and Crisis Management from the Institut de Relations Internationales Strátegiques (IRIS).



Mr. Habibou Bako

 Policy & Outreach Officer - West Africa, Global Affairs & Partnerships

Habibou Bako is an Policy and Outreach Officer in the West Africa Team at Search for Common Ground. He holds a Master's degree in International Relations and Security Studies and is currently a Doctoral Researcher in Political Science and a temporary lecturer at the Abdou Moumouni University in Niamey. He is based in Bamako, and is working on issues related to digital peacebuilding and digital access for societies in conflict. In this regard, he is the coordinator of the Forum on Digital and Social Cohesion in the Sahel. This Forum is a multi-actor framework that brings together researchers, experts, practitioners and civil society actors who work together to better understand the challenges and opportunities presented by digital technologies in countries in conflict such as Mali.