John Campbell

Africa in Transition

Campbell tracks political and security developments across sub-Saharan Africa.

The Great Green Wall of Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, April 30, 2013
A dried up river filled with sand winds its way across the desert near Gos Beida in eastern Chad June 5, 2008. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters). A dried up river filled with sand winds its way across the desert near Gos Beida in eastern Chad June 5, 2008. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Kyle Benjamin Schneps; a dual master’s degree candidate at Columbia University specializing in international security policy and global health initiatives. He is currently completing a graduate internship with the Africa Studies program at Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Katanga’s Quest for Autonomy from Kinshasa

by John Campbell Monday, April 29, 2013
Congolese children in Mitwaba camp for internally displaced people watch as a U.N. helicopter lifts off after delivering emergency food aid in Katanga Province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo February 9, 2006. (Stephanie Savariaud/Courtesy Reuters) Congolese children in Mitwaba camp for internally displaced people watch as a U.N. helicopter lifts off after delivering emergency food aid in Katanga Province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo February 9, 2006. (Stephanie Savariaud/Courtesy Reuters)

Africa has had many secessionist movements in the post-colonial period. Only South Sudan and the Republic of Somaliland have so far been successful, and the latter lacks international recognition. Some secessionist movements never really go away. Katanga, currently the southernmost province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), established itself as a state separate from the rest of the former Belgian Congo in the years immediately after independence, allegedly with Belgian connivance. Read more »

UN Security Council Unanimously Authorizes UN Mission in Mali

by John Campbell Friday, April 26, 2013
French soldiers speak to a Nigerian soldier on patrol in the northern city of Gao, Mali February 9, 2013. (Francois Rihouay/Courtesy Reuters). French soldiers speak to a Nigerian soldier on patrol in the northern city of Gao, Mali February 9, 2013. (Francois Rihouay/Courtesy Reuters).

On April 25, the Security Council approved a UN “peacekeeping” force of 12,600 for Mali. They asked the UN Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative for Mali, and called on member states to provide troops, police, and the necessary equipment. It also authorized the secretary general to approve cooperation between the UN mission in Mali and the UN missions in Liberia and Ivory Coast for the temporary sharing of logistical and administrative support. Read more »

Nigeria’s President Launches Amnesty Committee for Boko Haram

by John Campbell Thursday, April 25, 2013
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (C) arrives with other officials during a working visit to Borno state, northeast region March 7, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (C) arrives with other officials during a working visit to Borno state, northeast region March 7, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

On April 24, President Goodluck Jonathan inaugurated the Committee and established its modalities in a ceremony at the presidential villa. The committee is to open talks with the Islamic insurgency Boko Haram within three months, and work out modalities for an amnesty for the insurgents and compensation for its victims. Read more »

South Africa’s Trevor Manuel Uses the “Apartheid Card” to Force the Issue of NDP Implementation

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, April 24, 2013
South Africa's Finance Minister Trevor Manuel chats with ruling African National Congress President Jacob Zuma in Parliament in Cape Town during the swearing in of members and the formal election of the country's president, May 6, 2009. (Nic Bothma/Courtesy Reuters) South Africa's Finance Minister Trevor Manuel chats with ruling African National Congress President Jacob Zuma in Parliament in Cape Town during the swearing in of members and the formal election of the country's president, May 6, 2009. (Nic Bothma/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by John Causey, a private equity consultant based in Cape Town, South Africa. He specializes in sub-Saharan Africa transactions, with investors mainly from the EU and U.S.

The recent wave of optimism in South Africa has been challenged by a skirmish surrounding the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP). It involved two African National Congress (ANC) heavy-weights: President Jacob Zuma and Planning Minister Trevor Manuel. Read more »

“New Deal” Has Potential to Provide New Solutions for Fragile African States

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, April 23, 2013
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan November 30, 2011. (Saul Loeb/Pool/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan November 30, 2011. (Saul Loeb/Pool/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Hamish Stewart, a co-founding Director of the Centre for African Development and Security.

The world is optimistic about Africa’s future, but to unlock its economic potential concerted efforts must be made to engage with its most fragile states. Read more »

A Nigerian Rubicon or More of the Same?

by John Campbell Monday, April 22, 2013
A soldier walks past the scene of a bomb explosion in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna December 7, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) A soldier walks past the scene of a bomb explosion in Nigeria's northern city of Kaduna December 7, 2011. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the weekend, fighting in the northern Nigerian border town of Baga killed at least 185, according to the New York Times and Nigerian media. The magnitude of the killings leads the Times to conclude that a Rubicon of sorts has been crossed: “The assault marks a significant escalation in the long-running insurgency Nigeria faces in its predominately Muslim north, with Boko Haram extremists mounting a coordinated assault on soldiers using military-grade weaponry.” Read more »

Kidnapped French Family Freed in Cameroon

by John Campbell Friday, April 19, 2013
French President Francois Hollande (C) speaks with Cameroon's President Paul Biya (R) after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, January 30, 2013. (Philippe Wojazer/Courtesy Reuters). French President Francois Hollande (C) speaks with Cameroon's President Paul Biya (R) after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, January 30, 2013. (Philippe Wojazer/Courtesy Reuters).

While attention is focused on the manhunt for the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings, there is good news from West Africa. In a Paris news conference, French president Francois Hollande announced that the French family of seven kidnapped in northern Cameroon—including four children—have finally been released after two months of captivity. Hollande said the release followed several weeks of secret negotiations, and that the French had not paid a ransom. As has been well documented, ransoms paid by European countries in the past have been a significant source of revenue for terrorist operations in West Africa and the Sahel. Read more »

Potential Role for Traditional Muslim Leaders to Counter Boko Haram

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, April 18, 2013
The new Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar,(C) the spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims, receives a copy of the Qura'an from Sokoto state governor Atahiru Bafarawa, during a coronation ceremony in Sokoto March 3, 2007. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) The new Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar,(C) the spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims, receives a copy of the Qura'an from Sokoto state governor Atahiru Bafarawa, during a coronation ceremony in Sokoto March 3, 2007. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the Washington D.C. based think tank, The Jamestown Foundation, and a contributor for the West Point CTC Sentinel.

Traditional Muslim leaders, the sultan of Sokoto in particular, may have an important role to play in countering the extremist views that attract recruits to Boko Haram, Ansaru, and other radical Islamist groups. The sultan may still command the respect of a  majority of Muslims in Nigeria. Even though Boko Haram and Ansaru reject the sultan’s authority and have tried to assassinate a number of traditional Muslim leaders, the sultan’s moderate message may make the operational environment less conducive for groups such as Boko Haram and Ansaru. The sultan and other traditional leaders could serve as a bulwark against Boko Haram and other extremists by reducing the potential Boko Haram recruiting pool. But, they are less likely to influence Boko Haram directly. Read more »

Zimbabwe Ban on EU and U.S. Election Observers Undermines International Confidence

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 17, 2013
People queue to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare March 16, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) People queue to vote in a referendum at a polling station in Harare March 16, 2013. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

In March, Zimbabwe’s government, headed by Robert Mugabe, announced that no EU or U.S. observers would be invited to the national elections, now scheduled for the end of June 2013.  The official reason for the ban is EU and U.S. sanctions against the Mugabe government. Read more »