John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 22-August 28

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 22, 2015 to August 28, 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 »

UN Secretary General in Nigeria

by John Campbell
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon receives a wreath before laying it in memory of persons who died in the 2011 bombing of the Abuja United Nations by Boko Haram members, ahead of the incident's 4th anniversary, in Abuja, Nigeria August 24, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon receives a wreath before laying it in memory of persons who died in the 2011 bombing of the Abuja United Nations by Boko Haram members, ahead of the incident's 4th anniversary, in Abuja, Nigeria August 24, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Abuja August 23 to 24, his first to Nigeria since the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari. The secretary general commemorated the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the UN building in Abuja that killed some twenty UN employees and others. He also marked the 500 day anniversary of the Boko Haram kidnapping of more than 200 Chibok schools girls. As expected, the secretary general praised Nigeria for the conduct of the 2015 elections and the democratic transfer of power. According to the media, in his conversation with President Buhari, the secretary general affirmed his support for Nigeria’s struggle against terrorism stressed the need for education, especially for women and girls, and then emphasized the humanitarian challenges in northern Nigeria. Read more »

The Closing of the Canadian Border

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter Keinan Abdi Warsame, also known as K'naan (C) talks to Somali refugees during his visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya, August 23, 2011. K'naan travelled to the Dadaab camps to assess the famine and drought situation currently affecting the Horn of Africa including northern Kenya. Picture taken August 23, 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Fredric Coubert) Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer, songwriter Keinan Abdi Warsame, also known as K'naan (C) talks to Somali refugees during his visit to the Dadaab refugee camps in northern Kenya, August 23, 2011. K'naan travelled to the Dadaab camps to assess the famine and drought situation currently affecting the Horn of Africa including northern Kenya. Picture taken August 23, 2011. (Courtesy Reuters/Fredric Coubert)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

Canada’s reputation as a country that offers safe resettlement to refugees is in sharp decline. From 1961 until the early 2000s, Canadian immigration policy welcomed both immigrants and refugees, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa. However, Stephen Harper’s conservative government has made it increasingly difficult for refugees to resettle in Canada over the past decade. Nevertheless, in the lead up to the October 19 federal elections, immigration policy has not been the subject of public debate and most candidates have remained relatively silent. Read more »

What to Do About Sudan’s al-Bashir and the UN General Assembly?

by John Campbell
Outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (R) of Argentina leaves after the swearing-in ceremony to install Fatou Bensouda of Gambia as his successor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands June 15, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Bas Czerwinski/Pool) Outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (R) of Argentina leaves after the swearing-in ceremony to install Fatou Bensouda of Gambia as his successor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands June 15, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters/Bas Czerwinski/Pool)

In early August, the Sudanese UN envoy stated that Sudan President al-Bashir plans to travel to New York to speak at the upcoming UN General Assembly (UNGA). Al-Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court. Countries that are signatory to the Rome Statute are required to apprehend those indicted and to hand them over to the International Criminal Court (ICC). That almost happened earlier in the summer when al-Bashir attended an African Union summit in South Africa. A South African superior court ordered the Zuma administration to arrest him. In that case, al-Bashir, perhaps with the connivance of the Zuma administration, left before the court’s order could be carried out. (The Zuma administration’s failure to arrest al-Bashir is still before the South African courts.) Read more »

Nigeria’s Abubakar Shekau Is Back, If He Ever Left

by John Campbell
Leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, speaking on video footage from the Nigerian terrorist network. (AP) Leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, speaking on video footage from the Nigerian terrorist network. (AP)

Boko Haram warlord and public face, Abubakar Shekau, was last heard from in March, when he pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State.  His silence since then led to speculation that he was dead or had been replaced. Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, recently claimed that Shekau had been replaced as Boko Haram’s leader with a figure unknown to observers. (See Africa in Transition, August 12, 2015.) Deby’s comment led to Shekau issuing an eight minute audio message in Hausa on August 16 in which he said he was still in command. The SITE Intelligence Group, Agence France-Presse, and the BBC have stated that “there is no doubt that the voice is that of Abubakar Shekau.” So, at least we know he is not dead. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 8-August 14

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 8, 2015 to August 14, 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 »

Putin’s Russia and Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (C) arrives at the airport in Abuja, Nigeria May 28, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Eugene Steinberg, an assistant editor at the Council on Foreign Relations.

From 1961 to 1992, one of Moscow’s most prestigious schools bore the name of Patrice Lumumba, the Soviet-supported Congolese independence leader brutally executed in 1961. Patrice Lumumba University recruited and educated generations of foreign leaders, especially African leaders, and was just one of the many ways in which the Soviet Union cultivated ties with Africa. Then with the fall of the Soviet Union, after years of pouring money, arms, and manpower into left-leaning anticolonial movements, Russia’s presence in Africa, and Lumumba University, nearly disappeared overnight. But today, two decades later, Russia is once again working to establish a foothold on the continent. Read more »

Boko Haram’s Shekau Replaced? Not So Fast

by John Campbell
Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, Chad's President Idriss Deby and Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (L-R) pose during the presentation of the communique of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, June 11, 2015. Nigeria and its neighbours agreed on Thursday to set up a joint military force to counter Boko Haram, a sign of President Muhammadu Buhari's intent to crush the Islamist militant group early in his tenure. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, Chad's President Idriss Deby and Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari (L-R) pose during the presentation of the communique of the Summit of Heads of State and Government of The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, June 11, 2015. Nigeria and its neighbours agreed on Thursday to set up a joint military force to counter Boko Haram, a sign of President Muhammadu Buhari's intent to crush the Islamist militant group early in his tenure. (Courtesy Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Chadian President Idriss Deby’s August 11 comments that Abubakar Shekau has been replaced by Mahamat Daoud and that the latter is open to negotiations with Nigeria’s Buhari government, has predictably stirred the Western media. (As of August 12, the story is not yet featured by the Nigerian media.) As is usual with stories about potential negotiations, Western media ties this story to hopes for freedom for the more than 200 Chibok school girls. Read more »

Women and the Boko Haram Insurgency

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun) A girl stands in front of soldiers from Niger and Chad in the recently retaken town of Damasak, Nigeria, March 20, 2015. Soldiers from Niger and Chad who liberated the Nigerian town of Damasak from Boko Haram militants have discovered the bodies of at least 70 people, many with their throats slit, scattered under a bridge, a Reuters witness said. (Courtesy Reuters/Emmanuel Braun)

This is a guest post by Claire Wilmot, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a master of global affairs candidate at the University of Toronto.

In June 2014, Nigeria experienced its first attack by a female suicide bomber. Since then, Boko Haram has increasingly used girls and women as operatives in suicide attacks on soft targets. According to the Nigeria Security Tracker, Female suicide bombers have been responsible for over 200 deaths since May 2015, nearly half of all casualties from Boko Haram-attributed suicide bombings during this period. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update August 1-August 8

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 1, 2015 to August 8, 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 »