From Mr. to Dr. : A PhD Thesis Successfully Defended.

On April 9th, I successfully defended my PhD thesis at the Fletcher School. The thesis is titled “From Contraband to Conflict Links between Smuggling and Violence in the Borderlands of Meso-America and North Africa.”

The following is the abstract:

“In the wake of the Cold War, the global illicit economy surged. Contraband commodity chains now cross borders, nations, and sometimes continents. Smuggling is mainly a peaceful pursuit, conducted by large numbers of men, women, and children, each of whom earns only limited rewards for their efforts. Rather than seeking to end the contraband trade, government officials often seek to profit from it.

However, in a small number of instances, smuggling has transformed into something far more violent and dangerous. Tens of thousands have been killed in “crime wars” in Mexico and Central America over the last twenty years, conflicts that frequently mirror civil wars in their intensity and transgressive use of violence. At other points across the globe, similar conflicts linked to smuggling percolate. This investigation represents an effort to analyze and understand how and why smuggling ecosystems that have been peaceful and controlled transform into situations of violent conflict.

The investigation builds a new theory by modifying theoretic tools developed to explain the impact of primary commodity extraction and applies it to smuggled goods in transit. It utilizes a diverse range of case studies, including the U.S.-Mexico, Mexico-Guatemala, Tunisia-Algeria, and Algeria-Morocco borders.”

The next steps will involve adapting the academic text into a book.

Compiled Articles and Reports on North African Irregular Migration

Between 2015 and 2018, 110,803 irregular migrants from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya were apprehended at sea or in littoral areas by EU nations, western Balkan states, Algeria, and Tunisia. 74,713 of the apprehensions took place in 2017 and 2018, underscoring the rapid escalation of the Maghrebi migration trend.

Over the last several years I've conducted several cross-regional research projects on North African irregular migration, looking at drivers and the routes and means used by the migrants to get to Europe. Another project is underway, with results to be released in the Spring of 2019. 

In advance of that, this post offers some recent reports, articles, commentary, and media interviews I've done on the subject.

Reports, Commentary, and Graphics

Social media bridges North Africa’s divides to facilitate migration,” ISS Today, Institute for Security Studies. Co-authored with Amine Ghoulidi (March 2019).

Algeria’s protests and migration: the fearmongers have it wrong,” ISS Today, Institute for Security Studies. Co-authored with Sofian Philip Naceur (March 2019).

AU summit 32: Maghreb’s changing politics of migration,” ISS Today, Institute for Security Studies (February 2019).

"Tunisia isn’t a migrant transit country – yet," ISS Today, Institute for Security Studies. Co-authored with Max Gallien (August 2018).

Irregular Migrants & Facilitators Intercepted by Tunisian MOI & MOD (June 2017 - June 2018),” La Línea, (June 12, 2018). 

The Top Refugee Issues to Watch in 2018,” Refugees Deeply (January 12, 2018).

Out of the Streets and Into the Boats: Tunisia’s Irregular Migration Surge,” MENASource, The Atlantic Council. Co-Authored with Max Gallien (November 2017).

At the Edge: Trends and Routes of North African Clandestine Migrants,” Institute for Security Studies and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime (November 2016).


Interviews & Media Commentary

Naiara Galarraga Gortázar, “Italia también patrulla el Estrecho,” El Pais, 03 September 2018.

Agence Presse France, “Tunisie: arrestation de 50 candidats à l’émigration clandestine,” 11 February 2018.

Agenzia Nova, “Immigrazione: boom di nordafricani in Italia nel 2017, oltre 15 mila ingressi nel 2017,” 12 January 2018.

Sofian Philip Naceur, “Jagd auf Migranten,” Junge Welt, 10 October 2017.

Alan Clendenning and Vanessa Gera, “Rubber dinghies, old fishing boats feed Europe migrant rush,” Associated Press, 23 April 2015.

Recent Interviews on Tunisia's Security Situation

In addition to my writings on Tunisia’s security dynamics and challenges, I’ve provided interviews in recent months to The New York Times, Jeune Afrique, The Washington Post, and Le Monde which offer further analysis on the situation.

  • World Politics Review, “Is Tunisia’s Post-Arab Spring ‘Success Story’ Only Skin-Deep?,” 23 April 2019. Click here for the article.

  • Mediapart, “A Kasserine, le pari de la résilience face au terrorisme,” 16 March 2019. Click here for the article.

  • The New York Times, “U.S. and Tunisia Are Fighting Militants Together. Just Don’t Ask Them About It,” 02 March 2019. Click here for the article.

  • Jeune Afrique, “Attentat de Tunis : « Cette attaque ne fait pas de la Tunisie un pays moins sûr »,” 31 October 2018. Click here for the article.

  • The Washington Post, “Tunisia feared the return of militants from abroad. The threat now is those who never left,” 08 September 2018. Click here for the article.

  • Jeune Afrique, “Tunisie: « Il faut mener à bien la réforme globale du secteur de la sécurité »,” 14 July 2018. Click here for the article.

  • Le Monde, “La plus grande menace des djihadistes de l’Ouest tunisien est leur capacité de résilience,” 10 July 2018. Click here for the article.