John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Africans in China: The Pivot Back

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, July 26, 2016
African traders buy clothing at a shopping mall in Guangzhou July 31, 2009. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu) African traders buy clothing at a shopping mall in Guangzhou July 31, 2009. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

This piece has been co-authored by Nathan Birhanu and Bochen Han. Nathan is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program and is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development. Bochen is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Asia Studies program and is an undergraduate majoring in political science at Duke University. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: July 16 – July 22

by John Campbell Monday, July 25, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from July 16, 2016 to July 22, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Why Tensions Have Cooled between Ethiopia and Eritrea

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, July 21, 2016
Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2013. (Reuters/Mike Segar) Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2013. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

Nathan Birhanu is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is a graduate of Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

The June 2016 border clash between Ethiopia and Eritrea reflected renewed tensions between the two countries that have been mutually hostile since their 1998 – 2000 war. Shortly after the clash, tensions escalated as Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgn claimed further retaliation will be administered if “destabilizing efforts” continued, while Eritrea accused the Ethiopian administration of human rights abuses. Read more »

Corruption, Nigeria, and the United States

by John Campbell Wednesday, July 20, 2016
DATE IMPORTED:May 12, 2016World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, from left, Sarah Chayes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari take part in a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (Reuters/Frank Augstein/Pool) DATE IMPORTED:May 12, 2016World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, from left, Sarah Chayes, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari take part in a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016. (Reuters/Frank Augstein/Pool)

Nigeria’s notorious corruption was a centerpiece of the 2014-2015 presidential campaign of Muhammadu Buhari, and fighting it has been a centerpiece of his administration. Abuja is an important Washington partner, and a successful Nigerian campaign against corruption is in the American interest. However, Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow Matthew Page argues that the United States is not doing nearly enough in a hard-hitting, thought-provoking brief on corruption, “Improving U.S. Anticorruption Policy in Nigeria.” Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: July 9 – July 15

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 19, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from July 9, 2016 to July 15, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Nelson Mandela Day

by John Campbell Monday, July 18, 2016
Nelson Mandela raises his fist to the crowd in Port Elizabeth, April 1, 1990. (Reuters/Juda Ngwenya) Nelson Mandela raises his fist to the crowd in Port Elizabeth, April 1, 1990. (Reuters/Juda Ngwenya)

Africa in Transition usually runs an update of the Nigeria Security Tracker on Mondays. However, July 18 is Nelson Mandela Day, so the Tracker update will appear on Tuesday, July 19.

Nelson Mandela was born July 18, 1918. He died in 2013; were he living, he would be 98 years of age. Read more »

South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius Sentenced to Six Years Imprisonment

by John Campbell Thursday, July 14, 2016
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves the court after his sentence hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, July 6, 2016. (Reuters/Marco Longari/Pool) Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius leaves the court after his sentence hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, July 6, 2016. (Reuters/Marco Longari/Pool)

The tragedy-as-soap-opera starring Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is over. Or, maybe not. Pistorius, a Paralympian gold medalist who also competed in non-disabled events, was a major media celebrity and hero in sports mad South Africa. In 2013, he killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, by shooting her through a closed bathroom door. He maintains that he thought she was an intruder. Read more »

Zimbabwe and an “Arab Spring”

by John Campbell Wednesday, July 13, 2016
DATE IMPORTED:July 13, 2016Zimbabwean protesters wait outside the Harare Magistrates court before the arrival of arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) DATE IMPORTED:July 13, 2016Zimbabwean protesters wait outside the Harare Magistrates court before the arrival of arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire, in the capital Harare, Zimbabwe July 13, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Zimbabwe is rapidly deteriorating, if not imploding. In the midst of a drought, estimates are that up to half of the rural population will face hunger or famine in the coming year. The economy is contracting, and the government is running out of hard currency, British sterling, the U.S. dollar, and the South African Rand, which it uses since it abandoned its own currency. The government is failing to pay its civil servants and some of its security forces and has imposed a ban on imports from South Africa. Unemployment figures are so high – up to 85 percent –as to be meaningless. The government’s diamond revenue is running out or diverted. President Robert Mugabe – at times referred to as “Uncle Bob” – is 92 years of age, and it shows. His political behavior is increasingly quixotic. He has abandoned a traditional pillar of his regime, the “war veterans,” who played a crucial role as Mugabe’s thugs and drove the white farmers out. He has even threatened the “veterans” with mayhem if they dabble in succession politics. Read more »

“Talking Past Each Other”: U.S. Citizen Security Messages in Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The Victoria Island waterfront is seen from the Ikoyi neighbourhood in Lagos June 3, 2014. (Reuters/Joe Penney) The Victoria Island waterfront is seen from the Ikoyi neighbourhood in Lagos June 3, 2014. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

On July 5, 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria issued a “security message” for U.S. citizens advising that “groups associated with terrorist activity” might attack Lagos hotels during the Eid al-Fitr holidays. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: July 2 – July 8

by John Campbell Monday, July 11, 2016
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from July 2, 2016 to July 8, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »