Alexander H. Noyes

Photo of Alexander Noyes
Political Scientist
Washington Office


Ph.D. in politics, Oxford University; Master's in African studies, Oxford University; Bachelor's in government, Connecticut College


Alexander Noyes is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation. His work focuses on peace and security issues, including security sector reform, security cooperation, defense institution building, power sharing, violent extremism, and electoral violence, mostly in Africa and the Balkans. Prior to this position, he was an adjunct political scientist at RAND, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and an adjunct research staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. From 2015 to 2017 he served as team lead for Niger and Nigeria at the U.S. Security Governance Initiative, a White House initiative focused on improving security governance in Africa. He also has previous experience at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Department of Defense's Africa Center for Strategic Studies. 

He is a frequent commentator and his work has appeared in a variety of media and academic outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and BBC World, as well as peer-reviewed publications such as International Peacekeeping, Parameters, and several edited volumes. His latest publication is “Plus ça Change? The Dynamics of Security Sector Reform in Zimbabwe, 2009-2013,” forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook of Zimbabwean Studies (Oxford University Press). He holds a doctorate from the Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford University, a master's degree in African studies from Oxford, and a bachelor's degree in government from Connecticut College. He is a cofounder of the Zimbabwe Working Group and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


  • People carry banners and Algerian national flags during a protest calling on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to quit, in Algiers, Algeria, March 22, 2019, photo by Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

    African Dictators Have Been Losing Power—Some to Democratic Governments. Militaries Can Tip the Scales Toward Democracy

    Africa's security forces most often make headlines when they commit atrocities, crack down on protesters, or seize power in coups. But Africa's troops can also contribute to democracy and peace when they lay down their arms or refuse orders to turn their guns against the people.

    Sep 16, 2019 The Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog

  • Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is welcomed at Robert Mugabe International Airport, to return home after hearing the news of the death of former President Robert Mugabe, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe, September 6, 2019, photo by Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

    Why Ethiopia Sailed While Zimbabwe Sank

    At a time when outside powers are calibrating how they respond to political transitions around the world, the divergent paths of Ethiopia and Zimbabwe illustrate their precariousness and offer lessons for how the international community can support democratization processes in Africa and beyond.

    Sep 9, 2019 Foreign Policy

  • Mozambique on a map with a green pin, photo by Mark Rubens/Adobe Stock

    Counterproductive Counterinsurgency: Is Mozambique Creating the Next Boko Haram?

    Despite recent claims of ties to the Islamic State, the threat in Mozambique from the Islamist insurgent group al-Sunnah wa Jamaah appears to be domestic, with scarce evidence of direct ties to international extremist groups. But if the Mozambique government continues to respond in a heavy-handed manner, the threat is likely to grow, with potentially devastating effects for the country and region.

    Sep 3, 2019 Lawfare

  • Liberia's former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the new President-elect George Weah at his swearing-in ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia, January 22, 2018

    In Africa, Presidential Term Limits Are Working

    World news regularly features headlines about African power grabs and constitutional coups. Presidents Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia both adhered to term limits, stepping aside after finishing their second terms. Are they part of a broader trend?

    Apr 24, 2018 The Washington Post Monkey Cage Blog