John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "African Solutions"

What’s Next for Burkina Faso?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 31, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Anti-government protesters gather in the Place de la Nation in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 31, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Molly Rapaport, a Research Associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. She recently returned from a Fulbright fellowship in Burkina Faso, where she studied polygamy.

Ça chauffe moins pour le moment au Burkina. Things have cooled off in Burkina Faso, where massive protests three weeks ago led to the October 31 resignation of Blaise Compaoré. Blaise, as he is known colloquially, was president for twenty-seven years and intended to remain in power. When his proposed constitutional revision, which would have allowed him to run again in 2015, went to the National Assembly for a vote, hundreds of thousands of Burkinabe citizens protested. Their message, reinforced by burning the parliament building and tearing down a statue of Blaise, was crystal clear. Protest signs combined the president’s name with that of a terrible virus (making “Ebolaise”), and Burkinabe entreated their fellow citizens to “disinfect” themselves. Read more »

Can the U.S. Help Nigeria Confront Boko Haram?

by John Campbell
Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters) Women study Hadith excerpts at Maska Road Islamic School in Kaduna, July 16, 2014. (Joe Penney/Courtesy Reuters)

For a long time Nigeria was Washington’s most important strategic partner on issues of security and stability in Africa. But, the Boko Haram insurgency and Abuja’s response to it has put that partnership in jeopardy. The movement and the Nigerian government’s failed response to it pose a dilemma for the Obama administration. On the one hand, Boko Haram is repellent, regularly resorting to terror against the highly vulnerable, including the murder and kidnapping of young people in school. On the other hand, the official security forces carry out atrocities against the local population, and the government has thus far failed to address the drivers of the insurgency, including political marginalization, accelerating impoverishment, and rampant corruption. This state of affairs has allowed Boko Haram to ramp up its military campaign in 2014, having killed over 3,600 civilians and seizing control of more than 10 towns in northeast Nigeria. Boko Haram has also carried out cross-border operations, notably in northern Cameroon. Read more »

How Can U.S. Intel Training Help Fight Boko Haram?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) in New York, September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (L) in New York, September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Jesse Sloman is a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations and a reserve officer in the Marine Corps. He served on active duty from 2009 to 2013. The views expressed here are his own. Read more »

Central African Republic: Forgotten Crisis

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Internally displaced women from Bangui attend a community meeting in Bambari June 16, 2014.
(Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters) Internally displaced women from Bangui attend a community meeting in Bambari June 16, 2014. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Thomas Zuber, intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in International Political Economy and Development at Fordham University. 

The Ebola crisis in West Africa has distracted international attention from developments in other parts of Africa, notably in the Central African Republic (CAR). On September 15, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Central African Republic (MINUSCA) initiated peacekeeping operations in a country divided by civil war. It began working alongside two thousand French soldiers already on the ground and is integrating African Union troops into what will be a twelve thousand strong peacekeeping mission. Read more »

Africa on the UN Security Council

by John Campbell
The United Nations Security Council votes on a resolution on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York September 24, 2014. (Adrees Latif/Courtesy Reuters) The United Nations Security Council votes on a resolution on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York September 24, 2014. (Adrees Latif/Courtesy Reuters)

First, a primer. The UN Security Council consists of fifteen members. Five are permanent and have the power to veto all resolutions. These member states are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition, there are ten non-permanent members that are elected for two-year terms by the UN membership in the General Assembly. Read more »

De Beers Diamond Moves Sales Army from London to Botswana

by John Campbell
A worker at the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company displays a rough diamond during the sorting process at the purpose-built centre in the capital Gaborone, August 26, 2004. (Juda Ngwenya/Courtesy Reuters) A worker at the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company displays a rough diamond during the sorting process at the purpose-built centre in the capital Gaborone, August 26, 2004. (Juda Ngwenya/Courtesy Reuters)

For the past century or so, big mining corporations have pursued their operations in Africa, but their senior management, marketing, and sales have been in Europe or North America. That is changing.

The government of Botswana and De Beers Group, the diamond company, agreed in 2011 that the latter would sort, value, and sell diamonds produced by the company Debswana, a joint 50/50 business venture between Botswana and De Beers that accounts for a third of Botswana’s GDP. For its part De Beers agreed to transfer its London based rough diamond sales to Botswana. The move involves the transfer of professionals, equipment and technology from London to Botswana’s capital, Gaborone. In November 2013, De Beers started diamond sales in Gaborone in a state-of-the-art facility. Batswana, nationals of Botswana, are about 50 percent of the de Beers’ employees in the sales division. Read more »

Ebola and Counterinsurgency—A Struggle for Legitimacy

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Supplies, including 100 tons of emergency medical aid, are seen before being loaded on to a 747 aircraft at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport September 20, 2014. The chartered 747 jet, carrying the largest single shipment of aid to the Ebola zone to date and coordinated by CGI and other U.S. aid organizations, departed the airport on Saturday afternoon bound for West Africa. (Carlo Allegri/Courtesy Reuters) Supplies, including 100 tons of emergency medical aid, are seen before being loaded on to a 747 aircraft at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport September 20, 2014. The chartered 747 jet, carrying the largest single shipment of aid to the Ebola zone to date and coordinated by CGI and other U.S. aid organizations, departed the airport on Saturday afternoon bound for West Africa. (Carlo Allegri/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Colonel Clint Hinote. He is the 2014-2015 U.S. Air Force Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. The opinions expressed here are his own.

As the United States sends military forces forward to support the effort to stop Ebola in West Africa, it is striking to see how similar this struggle is to counterinsurgency operations. While American soldiers will not be conducting any combat or law enforcement operations, counterinsurgency concepts are applicable to the deteriorating situation, and these have major implications for the broad coalition joining the fight against Ebola. Read more »

Ebola: The Dog That Has Not Barked

by John Campbell
A woman passes a sign posted in an awareness campaign against the spread of Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone, September 18, 2014 in a handout photo provided by UNICEF. (UNICEF Handout/Courtesy Reuters) A woman passes a sign posted in an awareness campaign against the spread of Ebola in Freetown, Sierra Leone, September 18, 2014 in a handout photo provided by UNICEF. (UNICEF Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

Especially in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Ebola news gets worse and worse, with victims and deaths seeming to grow exponentially. Yet the disease does not appear to have spread east along the Gulf of Guinea from Liberia. Given the general porosity of African national boundaries, why and how has the march of the disease seemingly stopped at the Liberia/Ivory Coast border? (In Nigeria, the index case arrived in Lagos directly by air from Monrovia; all of the Ebola cases in the country appear to have been related to him, and his contacts have been traced and quarantined.) Read more »

Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau Dead or Alive?

by John Campbell
A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters) A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters)

With his gruesome videos and fierce rhetoric, Abubakar Shekau is the public face of Boko Haram, the Islamist insurrection against the Nigerian secular state centered in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. However, there is little hard intelligence on the internal dynamics of Boko Haram’s leadership. Read more »

HIV/AIDS, South Africa, and the United States

by John Campbell
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after attending a PEPFAR (U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) Transition Signing, at Delft South Clinic in Delft South, a suburb of Cape Town, August 8, 2012. (Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after attending a PEPFAR (U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) Transition Signing, at Delft South Clinic in Delft South, a suburb of Cape Town, August 8, 2012. (Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Courtesy Reuters)

In the aftermath of the miracle of a democratic transition from apartheid to “non-racial” democracy, South Africa faced a disease nightmare. During the presidencies of Nelson Mandela and his successor, Thabo Mbeki, up to a third of some population groups in South Africa were victims of HIV/AIDS. Deaths soared, and the national life expectancy dropped by a decade. Read more »