John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 20-June 26

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 June 20, 2015 to June 26, 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 »

#IvoryCrush in Times Square

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Crowds look on as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushes over one ton of illegal elephant ivory in Times Square, New York, on June 19, 2015. (Courtesy Allen Grane) Crowds look on as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service crushes over one ton of illegal elephant ivory in Times Square, New York, on June 19, 2015. (Courtesy Allen Grane)

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

On June 19, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) crushed more than a ton of elephant ivory in the middle of Times Square, New York City. Speakers at the event included the Wildlife Conservation Society Executive Vice-President John Calvelli, FWS Director Dan Ashe, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell,  and U.S. Customs and Borders Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. The speakers spoke about the security implications of elephant poaching and how the United States can assist to end the trade with its links to international crime and terrorism. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update June 13-June 19

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 June 13, 2015 to June 19, 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 »

Al-Shabaab and Foreign Fighters in Kenya

by John Campbell
Omar Hammami addresses al-Shabaab fighters in a farm within Afgoye district near Somalia's capital Mogadishu, May 11, 2011. (Reuters/Feisal Omar) Omar Hammami addresses al-Shabaab fighters in a farm within Afgoye district near Somalia's capital Mogadishu, May 11, 2011. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

The Kenyan military has announced that it killed a British subject, by appearance ethnically English, during an al-Shabaab attack on a military base in Lamu county. The Kenyan police have issued a $100,000 reward for the capture of a German national who appears to be ethnically German who also took part in the al-Shabaab attack. Read more »

Bans on Wildlife Trade Gaining Steam

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic). An elephant walks through a swamp during sunset in Amboseli National Park, January 26, 2015. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic).

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

At the end of May the Chinese government announced that following a one year ban on ivory imports, it will “strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted.” If the Chinese are able to follow through, this could be one of the most important actions taken to end the illicit trade of Ivory that is contributing to the decimation of elephant populations in Africa (China is the largest market for elephant ivory). Read more »

Boko Haram Factions Divided over Loyalty to the Islamic State

by John Campbell
A cross sign inscribed at the entrance of a room is seen chiselled in a compound once occupied by Boko Haram in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A cross sign inscribed at the entrance of a room is seen chiselled in a compound once occupied by Boko Haram in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the The Jamestown Foundation. Read more »

Muhammadu Buhari Moves Against Boko Haram

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President-elect Muhammadu Buhari departs after meeting with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2015. (Reuters/Neil Hall) Nigeria's President-elect Muhammadu Buhari departs after meeting with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street in London, England, May 23, 2015. (Reuters/Neil Hall)

The Nigeria Security Tracker shows that Boko Haram activity has escalated over the past two weeks, though it is still below the levels seen before the March elections when there was widespread fighting involving government security services. Buhari has visited Niger and Chad to consult with heads of state about next moves, and he is at present at the G-7 meeting in Germany. According to the Nigerian media Boko Haram is at the top of his agenda. Read more »

Amnesty International Calls for International Criminal Court Prosecution of Nigerian Military

by John Campbell
A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters) A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters)

In a long expected report, Amnesty International has claimed that the Nigerian security services have detained 20,000 men and boys since 2009 and that 7,000 of those detainees died in detention under inhumane circumstances. Amnesty also reports that 17,000 people were killed in northeast Nigeria in the same time frame, meaning that 41 percent of deaths occurred under Nigerian custody. Read more »

New Possibilities for the U.S.-Nigeria Security Relationship

by John Campbell
A signboard rests against a wall in a compound in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A signboard rests against a wall in a compound in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Following the international response over Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of hundreds of school girls from the town of Chibok, the Obama administration and other partners offered assistance to Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan. However, cooperation never really got off the ground. The nadir was reached in December 2014 when Nigeria unilaterally cancelled a small U.S. military training mission. Read more »

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari’s Inauguration Address

by John Campbell
Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed swears in Muhammadu Buhari (C) as Nigeria's president while Buhari's wife Aisha looks on at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria May 29, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters) Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed swears in Muhammadu Buhari (C) as Nigeria's president while Buhari's wife Aisha looks on at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria May 29, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

In Nigeria’s current circumstances, it is hard to imagine a better inaugural address than the one President Buhari delivered on May 29. It strikes all the right notes. He accepted his new role as an international leader and thanked former president Goodluck Jonathan for his “statesmanship” in the transition, everyone involved in the electoral process, and Cameroon, Chad, and Niger for their part in the fight against Boko Haram. The speech was plain and devoid of national or personal self-congratulation and baroque rhetorical flourishes. It was also very short—only 1,909 words—but packed with substance. Read more »