New Book Outlines How French Strategies Prevented Al Qa'ida's Expansion in Mali

For Release

December 10, 2015

Cambridge University Press has released the book “The French War on Al Qa'ida in Africa” by Christopher Chivvis, a senior political scientist and the associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization.

Although there have been many books on the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are few about the recent military interventions of America's allies in countries such as Mali and others on the African continent. Because the French intervention was quick, effective and relatively low cost, the story contains valuable lessons for future strategy.

In January 2013, France intervened in its former colony in West Africa to stop an Al Qa'ida advance on the capital. French special forces, warplanes and army units struck with rapid and unexpected force. Their intervention quickly repelled the jihadist advance and soon the terrorists had been chased from their safe haven in Mali's desolate north — an impressive accomplishment, according to the new book.

“As ISIS, Al Qa'ida and other terrorist groups expand across North Africa and the Middle East, what France accomplished in Mali in 2013 should be a key reference point for national security experts,” Chivvis said.

Based on interviews with high-level civilian and military officials in Paris, Washington and Bamako, the Mali capital, the book offers a strategic overview of the war.

This book brings the experience of France — a key U.S. ally — and its struggle against terrorism to light. In doing so, the book offers insights into the terrorist threat and the strategies for fighting it.

More information about the book is available at and

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