John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Conflict"

Violence and Population Displacement in Africa

by John Campbell
A man waits to receive food provided by the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) during a visit by a European Union delegation, at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Azaza, east of Ad Damazin, capital of Blue Nile state, Sudan, October 21, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) A man waits to receive food provided by the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) during a visit by a European Union delegation, at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Azaza, east of Ad Damazin, capital of Blue Nile state, Sudan, October 21, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) has published a useful map showing the top ten countries in Africa for population displacement. It finds that 71 percent of the continent’s 18.5 million displaced are from Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It observes that each of the five are experiencing serious conflict, and that of the top 10, nine are autocratically governed. (Nigeria is the exception, with credible elections in 2015 that brought opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari to the presidency.) Read more »

Life in Nigeria’s Maiduguri during the Boko Haram Struggle

by John Campbell
A security personnel gestures at the Bakkasi camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), after security was called in to control a protest rally held to demonstrate against what the IDPs said was a poor distribution of food rations, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) A security personnel gestures at the Bakkasi camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), after security was called in to control a protest rally held to demonstrate against what the IDPs said was a poor distribution of food rations, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria, August 29, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

What was it actually like to live in Maiduguri, one of Nigeria’s larger cities, and ground zero during the Boko Haram assault? Official restrictions on the media and all but non-existent security meant no stream of reporting akin to that of, say, Edward R. Murrow and many other journalists during the London blitz of World War II. There are no photographs of Maiduguri of the genre of St. Paul’s dome floating above the smoke of a burning London. Read more »

Famine in Northeast Nigeria

by John Campbell
A girl displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, uses a mortar and pestle at a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) A girl displaced as a result of Boko Haram attacks in the northeast region of Nigeria, uses a mortar and pestle at a camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Michelle Faul, writing for AP, reports on the horrific famine now underway in Northeast Nigeria. She quotes Doctors without Borders as characterizing the crisis as “catastrophic.” She also quotes an American midwife who runs a feeding center as saying “These are kids that basically have been hungry all their lives, and some are so far gone that they die here in the first 24 hours.” Read more »

Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Now, They are Killing Each Other

by John Campbell
A Boko Haram flag flies in Damasak, Nigeria March 24, 2015. (Reuters/Joe Penney) A Boko Haram flag flies in Damasak, Nigeria March 24, 2015. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

Agence France Press (AFP) is carrying a report of fighting between the Boko Haram factions led respectively by Abubakar Shekau and Abu Musab al-Barnawi. The fighting took place in villages near Lake Chad: Yewle, Arafa, and Zuwa. The number killed appears to have ranged from three to “several” to “unspecified.” Nevertheless, the report has an unusual degree of specificity that lends it credibility, though the Nigerian military declined to comment when contacted by AFP. Based on eye-witness reports, the al-Barnawi faction seems to have been the aggressor. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: August 27 – September 2

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 August 27, 2016 to September 2, 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 »

Credibility and the Nigerian Military

by John Campbell
DATE IMPORTED:August 31, 2016Major General  Lucky Irabor, commander of "Operation Lafiya Dole", the counter insurgency operation in the northeast, attends an interview with Reuters in Maiduguri, Borno, Nigeria, August 30, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) DATE IMPORTED:August 31, 2016Major General Lucky Irabor, commander of "Operation Lafiya Dole", the counter insurgency operation in the northeast, attends an interview with Reuters in Maiduguri, Borno, Nigeria, August 30, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

During the second half of August, the Nigerian military announced numerous successes in the fight against Boko Haram, the militant, jihadist movement that seeks to overthrow the Nigerian state. On August 30, the commander of the fight against Boko Haram, Lucky Irabor, announced that the military will root the group out from its remaining locations within weeks. Previously, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, an army spokesman, said that Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had been “fatally injured” during an air raid. The same day, the chief of air staff, Air Vice-Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, said that the air force killed over three-hundred Boko Haram militants during night airstrikes on August 19. Read more »

United States Foreign Policy Priorities in West Africa

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (R) greets U.S. President Barack Obama before the start of the second plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 1, 2016. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (R) greets U.S. President Barack Obama before the start of the second plenary session of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 1, 2016. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

The below remarks come from a speech delivered on August 16, at an Area Studies Seminar at the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Foreign Service Institute, Arlington, Virginia.

I would like to open with thanks to the Foreign Service Institute for the opportunity to talk about U.S. foreign policy priorities in the Sahel and West Africa. I would hope that these formal remarks will help to frame our subsequent discussion. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: August 6 – August 12

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 August 6, 2016 to August 12, 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 »

Boko Haram’s Factional Feud

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 18, 2015. (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun) Nigerian soldiers hold up a Boko Haram flag that they had seized in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 18, 2015. (Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn. Jacob is a fellow of African affairs at The Jamestown Foundation in Washington DC.

Since Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau pledged allegiance to self-proclaimed Islamic State’s leader Abubakar al-Baghdadi in March 2015, Boko Haram has been known as the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP). From that pledge until August 8, 2016, the formerly bombastic Shekau had not been seen publicly. During this period, Shekau and his former rival for Boko Haram leadership, Mamman Nur, appear to have been locked in a factional feud, with the two of them sending audios behind-the-scenes condemning one another. Nevertheless, until August 3 the Islamic State recognized Shekau as the “wali,” or governor, of ISWAP. Read more »

Guinea-Bissau: The Road Ahead

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A delegate from Guinea-Bissau attends the opening plenary December 7, 2009 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the venue of the COP15 Climate Summit, which started today and runs till December 18. (Reuters/Keld Navntoft) A delegate from Guinea-Bissau attends the opening plenary December 7, 2009 at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the venue of the COP15 Climate Summit, which started today and runs till December 18. (Reuters/Keld Navntoft)

This is a guest post by Russell Hanks. Mr. Hanks is a national security professional and a retired diplomat with the U.S. Department of State.

Guinea-Bissau has a new government, or not, only a few months after the previous attempt to paper over its seriously polarized politics. Elections in 2014 were indecisive and installed officials with the same differences that led to the 2012 coup. The current dispensation is no more likely to bring political stability to the nation than the last. Read more »