John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Africa"

African Leaders Silent on Boat People

by John Campbell
Shadows from migrants are cast on a makeshift shelter with the written word "Refugee" in Calais, France, April 30, 2015. (Pascal Rossignol/Courtesy Reuters) Shadows from migrants are cast on a makeshift shelter with the written word "Refugee" in Calais, France, April 30, 2015. (Pascal Rossignol/Courtesy Reuters)

Adam Nossiter has published a thought-provoking article in the April 29, 2015, New York Times. He comments on the silence of African leaders regarding the deaths of scores of African boat people who were trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life. While it is true that many of the Mediterranean boat people are from Syria, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world, the majority are African. Read more »

The Danger of Al-Shabaab’s Evolution

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, Assistant Director, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

In the past five years, the Somali jihadist group al-Shabaab has lost most of its senior leadership, surrendered its control of southern Somalia, and seen its cash flow shrink. The group has certainly seen better times. But as the success of recent attacks in Kenya and Mogadishu indicate, the group is regaining some of its previous stature but as a fundamentally different group. Al-Shabaab is now more decentralized and has a larger geographic focus. Given regional dynamics, an inept Kenyan security response, refugee flows from Yemen, and a diminished United States presence, this new embodiment of al-Shabaab is becoming increasingly difficult to counter. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update April 18-April 24

by John Campbell
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 18, 2015 to April 24, 2015. 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 »

Is Mali Heating Up Again?

by John Campbell
A fighter with the Tuareg separatist group MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) stands guard outside the local regional assembly, where members of the rebel group met with the Malian army, the UN mission in Mali and French army officers, in Kidal June 23, 2013. (Adama Diarra/Courtesy Reuters) A fighter with the Tuareg separatist group MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) stands guard outside the local regional assembly, where members of the rebel group met with the Malian army, the UN mission in Mali and French army officers, in Kidal June 23, 2013. (Adama Diarra/Courtesy Reuters)

Mali has been relatively quiet over the past few months, with a UN and Algerian-brokered peace process underway to address decades of ongoing conflicts between the Bamako government and Tuaregs in the north.

However, on April 27, pro-government forces seized the town of Menaka from Tuareg separatists following heavy fighting. Details are scarce. The following day Tuaregs fired on UN peacekeepers near Timbuktu, apparently thinking they were Malian soldiers. The Tuaregs apologized, according to the UN mission spokesman. But, there are also sketchy reports of Tuareg attacks on government troops in the same area at about the same time. Read more »

Where is Abubakar Shekau?

by John Campbell
A still from a video of Boko Haram's elusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, October, 2014. A still from a video of Boko Haram's elusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, October, 2014.

There is increased speculation about the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau in the Nigerian media. His last media broadcast was in early March when he pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State and threatened to disrupt Nigeria’s presidential and gubernatorial elections. Read more »

Europe’s Migrant Crisis

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
African migrants walk on a pier after being rescued by the Libyan navy following their boat suffering engine failure, at the coastal town of Gharaboli, east of Tripoli, November 20, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) African migrants walk on a pier after being rescued by the Libyan navy following their boat suffering engine failure, at the coastal town of Gharaboli, east of Tripoli, November 20, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Amanda Roth, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a graduate student at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, where she studies international security policy Read more »

U.S. Visa Revocation

by John Campbell
Patience Jonathan, wife of Nigeria's president, casts her vote in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, March 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Patience Jonathan, wife of Nigeria's president, casts her vote in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, March 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

When Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria in January in advance of Nigeria’s March 28 elections, he observed that anyone who incited violence or interfered with the electoral process would be subject to U.S. visa sanctions. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the same point in an opinion piece she published in a Nigerian newspaper on April 20 in which she praised the Nigerian people and the election process. Read more »

Meet Africa’s Hero Rats

by John Campbell
A worker holds a mine detecting Gambian giant pouch rat (Cricetomys Gambianus) at a mine field near Vilancoulos in southern Mozambique, 450 km (265 miles) north east of the capital Maputo, in this November 2004 file photo. (Howard Burditt/Courtesy Reuters) A worker holds a mine detecting Gambian giant pouch rat (Cricetomys Gambianus) at a mine field near Vilancoulos in southern Mozambique, 450 km (265 miles) north east of the capital Maputo, in this November 2004 file photo. (Howard Burditt/Courtesy Reuters)

Today is Earth Day, an appropriate moment to remember Africa’s HeroRats. On April 19, the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called attention to these creatures and their ability to sniff-out land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as their ability to screen sputum samples for tuberculosis. To date these animals have detected over 48,000 land mines and UXO’s, and screened over 290,000 samples for tuberculosis. Read more »

Zulu King and South Africa’s Wave of Xenophobia

by John Campbell
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini leaves a meeting in Durban, April 20, 2015. South Africa's influential Zulu King Zwelithini on Monday described recent anti-immigrant attacks as "vile," defending himself against claims that previous comments he made about foreigners had fueled the unrest. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters) Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini leaves a meeting in Durban, April 20, 2015. South Africa's influential Zulu King Zwelithini on Monday described recent anti-immigrant attacks as "vile," defending himself against claims that previous comments he made about foreigners had fueled the unrest. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters)

There is widespread anger across Africa toward the current South African government for its inability to mitigate the current wave of xenophobic violence. At least eight people have been killed and more than 1,000 foreigners have been displaced from their homes and places of business in KwaZulu-Natal. African media is evoking the memory of the continent-wide assistance offered to the liberation movements, especially the governing African National Congress (ANC), in the anti-apartheid struggle. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update April 11-April 17

by John Campbell
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 11, 2015 to April 17, 2015. 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 »