Hamid Lellou

Operational culture, linguist and conflict analyst. Certified mediator with expertise in Middle East and Africa.


Contact: hamidlellou@gmail.com

Tuareg Mali

This research paper consists of looking at the socio-economic dynamics, through the lens of land use management in ungoverned spaces, that may have triggered conflicts between Tuareg people, non-Tuareg farmers, and the central governments of Niger and Mali since the 1960s. The region is already instable and has seen several violent conflicts. The Tuareg case is of great importance to the conflict resolution community; without a resolution, the conflict may spread to the entire Sahel region. The goal of this research is to determine the most important variables governing the relationship between Tuareg pastoralists, non-Tuareg farmers, and the central governments; and the relevance of each variable in the context of defining the scope of the problem from the perspective of all involved parties.

Algerians’ aspirations for change: two sociological theories to understanding and intervening in the conflict

On February 22, 2019, Algerian people began regular peaceful demonstrations in all of the 48 regions. Unlike past demonstrations in the MENA region, known as Arab Spring, these sustained rallies have been about political, not social demands. Millions of citizens have been chanting slogans asking for the total departure of the political system that has ruled Algeria for the last 57 years, following the independence from France. After four weeks of protests, the people of Algeria were able to topple the president who led, what the demonstrator’s call ‘the mafia regime’ for the last twenty years. These protests are particularly unique in a sense that their organizers have shown their ability to 1) mobilize millions of people to peacefully march in all big cities, 2) cycle demonstrations, where ordinary citizens including women, men, and elderly invade streets on Fridays and students parade on Tuesdays, 3) unite peoples’ demands so they are consistent and formulated via chanting, dancing, and brandishing placards tinted with humor and jokes, 4) prevent the regime from holding fake presidential elections twice.

Is Boko Haram an Islamic Terrorist Organization? - A Review of the Literature | Small Wars Journal

Is Boko Haram an Islamic Terrorist Organization? - A Review of the Literature Despite its wealth in natural and human resources, and its political and economic influence on the continent of Africa, the Nigerian government struggles to reduce or eliminate insecurity. One of the most prominent security challenges is the Boko Haram terrorist organization which has already resulted in human, infrastructure, and military loses in the north-eastern part of the country. (Ehwarieme 1; Bamidele 7) Nearl

Al-Shabaab - From Unity to Terrorism | Small Wars Journal

Al-Shabaab, is a terrorist organization that began conducting attacks in Somalia in 2006, and later claimed allegiance to al-Qaeda.  Although they have labeled themselves as an Islamic armed Organization, there is evidence that suggests that the root cause is structural, while Islam and the group’s behavior are dynamics. As with other terror groups, the historical, political, and geographical context in which al-Shabaab developed their goals and became violent are crucial to understanding their

Conflict Resolution: The Case of Northern Mali

The ongoing intra-state conflict in Mali between the central government based in Bamako, and the ethnic minority Tuareg based in northern Mali has seen several short-lived conflict resolutions since the 1960s, including the recent one that followed the 2012 rebellion. Northern Mali has been living in perpetual and unfulfilled postwar reconstruction phases due to repeated unsuccessful national reconciliations. As the Institute for Economics & Peace (2016) has claimed, Mali is near the bottom in t

Unmasking the Islamic State Organization. Operational culture comparative analysis and identification of al-Qaeda and the Islamic state organization

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.”1 After more than two decades of dealing with al Qaeda (AQ), we are still struggling to understand an enemy that is constantly adapting to a changing situation. The 2003 surge in Iraq didn’t defeat AQ. Rather, arbitrary arrests and the jailing of Iraqis at Camp Bucca prison helped this organization spawn a new entity, the Islamic State (IS), which has morphed into a monster of its own. “We could never have all got together like this in Baghdad, or anywhere else,” a former top IS leader (Abu Ahmed) told Guardian reporter Martin Chulov. “It would have been impossibly dangerous. Here, we were not only safe, but we were only a few hundred meters away from the entire al Qaeda leadership.”

The “So What?” of the Islamic State | Marine Corps Association

The Islamic State (IS) has become a regional entity we cannot ignore. But what is it—a terrorist group, an insurgency, or a state as they claim? Indeed, the IS occupies land and controls part of the Euphrates River; provides services and institutions not recognized by formal governments; sells oil and protected heritage artifacts to anonymous clients; imposes radical religious views through hisbah; denies elementary human rights to anyone who doesn’t share its belief, and the list goes on. By ap

The Middle East | Marine Corps Association

On a cold night in February 1943, people from around the country gathered around the radio, with map of the world spread out on their table, waiting for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s weekly fireside chat. This war is a new kind of war, he stated. ‘It is different from all other wars of the past, not only in its methods and weapons but also in its geography. That is the reason why I have asked you to take out and spread before you a map of the whole earth, and to follow with me the reference

Which GPS are we using in the Middle East? The Geo Political Savvy or the Great Policy Shift?

On a cold night in February 1943, people from around the United States gathered around the radio, with a map of the world spread out on their table, waiting for President Roosevelt’s weekly fireside chat.  “This war is a new kind of war,” he stated. “It is different from all other wars of the past, not only in its methods and weapons but also in its geography. That is the reason why I have asked you to take out and spread before you a map of the whole earth, and to follow with me the references

Lost in Translation | Small Wars Journal

Lost in Translation: ISIS’s Intention Was in Their Name, But We Missed It The American media's use of the term ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is actually a mistranslation of the Arabic term that the group is using. They call themselves DAASH (Dawla Islamiya fee el-Iraq wa el-Shaam) which directly translates into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL instead of ISIS). The Levant is not just Syria, but includes Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine.  Therefore, as their name implies, we

Arab World Insights. Analyzing MENA culture using CARDS

Tell me what American culture is and I will tell you what Arab culture is. The Arab world, comprised of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries, stretches from Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean to Oman on the Indian Ocean. The element that makes this area exotic and attractive, yet raises feelings of mistrust and suspicion even among experts who continue to call for more U.S. involvement in the region, can be summarized in one world: culture.

Hamid Lellou: Hamas – black sheep or blackballed?

Although the Muslim Brothers organizations in Egypt and Gaza have a lot in common, they are not monolithic. Indeed, their respective journeys and the particular circumstances in which these countries evolved made each of them unique in their own way; in short Egypt is not Gaza. The Muslim Brothers in Egypt evolved as a social and then political movement, while Hamas in Gaza is considered the political wing of a liberation movement. This article will briefly analyze the political situations in E

The Language GAME. A new look at language training

Foreign language skills have become an operational necessity in all branches of the military. In response to this need for communications and cultural training, tactical language programs of instruction have been developed for the Marine Corps in several languages including Arabic, French, Spanish, Pashto, and Dari. These programs of instruction have been developed by applying the Systems Approaches for Training Manual (SAT Manual) (Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, June 2004) which recommends a process that analyzes, designs, develops, implements, and evaluates the instruction.