John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

What Is New About Sectarian Fighting in Nigeria’s Middle Belt

by John Campbell Thursday, May 5, 2016
A tribal Fulani boy stands near cows at a local milk collecting centre in Dangwala Karfi village on the outskirts of Nigeria's northern city of Kano January 19, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A tribal Fulani boy stands near cows at a local milk collecting centre in Dangwala Karfi village on the outskirts of Nigeria's northern city of Kano January 19, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Sectarian conflict in Nigeria’s Middle Belt is attracting more attention both at home and abroad. Typically, conflict involves Muslim Fulani herdsmen clashing with Christian Barome (or other small tribes) farmers. Conflict between pastoralists and farmers has been endemic for years in the Middle Belt, where the predominately Christian south and the mostly Muslim north meet. The coincidence of boundaries between religions, land use, and ethnic groups promotes conflict, as does its manipulation by politicians to advance their particular agendas. Historically, the Fulani preyed on minority tribes to feed the slave trade. When Christianity arrived in the Middle Belt, it was embraced by the minority tribes, as opposed to the Islam of the slave catchers. Read more »

New U.S. Defense Cooperation Agreement With Senegal

by John Campbell Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Senegalese soldiers and European trainers return to base after training during Flintlock 2016, a U.S.-led international training exercise with African militaries in Thies, Senegal, February 11, 2016. (Reuters/Sylvain Cherkaoui) Senegalese soldiers and European trainers return to base after training during Flintlock 2016, a U.S.-led international training exercise with African militaries in Thies, Senegal, February 11, 2016. (Reuters/Sylvain Cherkaoui)

Emblematic of the growing U.S. defense presence in West Africa is a new defense cooperation agreement signed on May 2 with Senegal. According to the low-key report carried by Associated Press (AP), the agreement improves access for the U.S. military to Senegal should they need to deploy in the event of a security or humanitarian crisis. In Dakar, U.S. Ambassador James Zumwalt said, “With this agreement, the United States military and the Senegalese military can plan better together, accomplish more with joint training, and better prepare to respond in concert to risks to our shared interests.” Read more »

South African President Zuma’s Legal Problems Unlikely to Drive Him From Office

by John Campbell Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Protesters call for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma as the country commemorates the anniversary the country's first democratic elections in Cape Town, April 27, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Protesters call for the removal of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma as the country commemorates the anniversary the country's first democratic elections in Cape Town, April 27, 2016. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

South Africa’s High Court has ruled against the president yet again. It has determined that the prosecutor’s decision to drop 783 charges of corruption against Zuma should be reviewed. According to the BBC, Judge Aubrey Ledwaba characterized the 2009 decision to drop the charges as “irrational.” The ruling allows the National Prosecuting Authority to reinstate the charges, though it is unclear whether it will do so. Nevertheless, once again, South Africa’s judiciary has demonstrated its independence from the executive. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 23-29

by John Campbell Monday, May 2, 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 April 23, to April 29, 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 »

Christian Association of Nigeria Warns Against Arrest of Goodluck Jonathan

by John Campbell Friday, April 29, 2016
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) presents a gift to president-elect Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) presents a gift to president-elect Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja, Nigeria, May 28, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

According to Nigerian media, the northern branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) warned President Muhammadu Buhari that “Nigeria would boil” if former President Goodluck Jonathan, the “hero of democracy,” were arrested as part of the ongoing anti-corruption campaign. Read more »

No Legal Rhino Horn Trade for South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, April 28, 2016
A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

The South African government has announced that it will not petition the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for a legal trade in rhinoceros horn. South Africa formed a committee to determine the viability of a legal trade in rhino horn in February 2015. After nearly a year of deliberating, the committee’s recommendation was “that the current mode of keeping the country’s stock levels be kept as opposed to the trading in rhino horns.” Read more »

Nigerian Security Services, Boko Haram, and the 2015 Zaria Shiite Massacre

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Shiite men talk while sitting under posters of their Islamic leaders in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Shiite men talk while sitting under posters of their Islamic leaders in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

In 2009, following Boko Haram’s apparent revolt, the details of which remain murky and contentious, the Nigerian security services, mostly the army, destroyed the group’s Maiduguri compound. The army arrested then Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and turned him over to the police, who extrajudicially murdered him. The army killed at least eight hundred of his followers and family members. Boko Haram survivors went underground only to emerge in 2011 under a new, bloodthirsty leader: Abubakar Shekau. Read more »

Boko Haram Tied to the Self-Proclaimed Islamic State

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Libyan soldiers man a checkpoint in Wadi Bey, west of the Islamic State-held city of Sirte, February 23, 2016. (Reuters/Ismail Zitouny) Libyan soldiers man a checkpoint in Wadi Bey, west of the Islamic State-held city of Sirte, February 23, 2016. (Reuters/Ismail Zitouny)

Especially after Boko Haram “face” Abubakar Shekau’s March 2015, pledge of allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State, there has been speculation that the two movements are drawing closer together. However, there has up to now been little evidence of tactical or strategic cooperation. That could be changing. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 16-22

by John Campbell Monday, April 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 April 16, to April 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 »

The Likelihood of Instability in Zimbabwe

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, April 22, 2016
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Tyler Falish is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, and a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

Last spring, the Council on Foreign Relations published a Contingency Planning Memorandum (CPM) by Ambassador George F. Ward that described the potential for political instability and violence in Zimbabwe. Amb. Ward detailed three paths to instability in Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe’s death before an appointed successor is installed; a serious challenge to Mugabe’s control driven by increased factionalism; and an economic crisis triggering demand for political change. He also offered three corresponding “warning indicators”: any sign that Mugabe’s health is in decline; indication of increased dissent or infighting within the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF); and public unrest. Read more »