John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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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 »

Remarks on Morning in South Africa

by John Campbell
Wild flowers bloom on Cape Town's Table Mountain heralding the coming southern hemisphere spring, August 19, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Wild flowers bloom on Cape Town's Table Mountain heralding the coming southern hemisphere spring, August 19, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

The following text is the entirety of John Campbell’s speech delivered as part of the Department of State’s Ralph J Bunche Library Series, on June 8, 2016. 

From a certain perspective, South Africa is a mess. Many South Africans are disappointed by the way the country has seemingly squandered its promise as the ‘Rainbow Nation.’ Under the Jacob Zuma presidential administration, the country is treading water with respect to poverty and addressing the lasting consequences of apartheid. Corruption is rife. You can read all about it in the Mail and Guardian or the Daily Maverick. Read more »

The Likelihood of Instability in Zimbabwe

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Tyler Falish is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, and a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

Last spring, the Council on Foreign Relations published a Contingency Planning Memorandum (CPM) by Ambassador George F. Ward that described the potential for political instability and violence in Zimbabwe. Amb. Ward detailed three paths to instability in Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe’s death before an appointed successor is installed; a serious challenge to Mugabe’s control driven by increased factionalism; and an economic crisis triggering demand for political change. He also offered three corresponding “warning indicators”: any sign that Mugabe’s health is in decline; indication of increased dissent or infighting within the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF); and public unrest. Read more »

New Frontier in Nigeria’s War on Corruption

by John Campbell
A man on a motorcycle sits near a signboard campaigning against corruption along a road in Dangi district in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, January 19, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A man on a motorcycle sits near a signboard campaigning against corruption along a road in Dangi district in Nigeria's northern city of Kano, January 19, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Confronting Nigeria’s culture of corruption was a primary campaign theme of Muhammadu Buhari’s successful campaign for the presidency. Since taking office, he has fired numerous high officials widely regarded as corrupt, made a reputation for incorruptibility a prerequisite for high appointments (though there have been exceptions), and directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to launch investigations into the allegedly corrupt behavior of numerous high-ranking military and civilian officials. Read more »

The Eastern Congo

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
South African peacekeepers patrol the streets of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, December 2, 2015.  (Reuters/ Ed Cropley) South African peacekeepers patrol the streets of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, December 2, 2015. (Reuters/ Ed Cropley)

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

Last Thursday, the Council on Foreign Relations’ visual media team released its new InfoGuide: The Eastern Congo. Developed in conjunction with experts from Human Rights Watch, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Congo Research Group, the guide provides an excellent outline of the conflict that has plagued the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Read more »

India and Africa: Partners With Potential

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a photo opportunity before the start of their bilateral meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, October 28, 2015.  (Reuters/Adnan Abidi) South Africa's President Jacob Zuma (L) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a photo opportunity before the start of their bilateral meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, October 28, 2015. (Reuters/Adnan Abidi)

This is a guest post by Ashlyn Anderson, research associate for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations.

India recently hosted a milestone summit attended by delegations from all fifty-four African countries. Confronting similar development challenges, India and the nations of Africa charted plans to deepen ties and unite to address shared global concerns. India is one of many countries keen to participate in Africa’s rise, and the third India-Africa Forum Summit signaled an alignment of interests and the potential for a closer relationship. Read more »

U.S. Drone Base in Cameroon

by John Campbell
A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper stands on the runway during "Black Dart", a live-fly, live fire demonstration of 55 unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, at Naval Base Ventura County Sea Range, Point Mugu, near Oxnard, California, July 31, 2015. (Reuters/Patrick T. Fallon) A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper stands on the runway during "Black Dart", a live-fly, live fire demonstration of 55 unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, at Naval Base Ventura County Sea Range, Point Mugu, near Oxnard, California, July 31, 2015. (Reuters/Patrick T. Fallon)

President Barack Obama’s announcement that the United States is establishing a drone base in Cameroon and will deploy up to three hundred military personnel has been enthusiastically welcomed by Cameroonian President Paul Biya and Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari. Read more »

The Evolving Boko Haram War Machine

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A military armoured tank is seen abandoned along a road after the Nigerian military recaptures the town of Michika from Boko Haram, Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A military armoured tank is seen abandoned along a road after the Nigerian military recaptures the town of Michika from Boko Haram, Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves.

From 2014 through the February/March Nigerian military surge, Boko Haram was using advanced weapons systems and tactics to conquer and hold territory in northeastern Nigeria. At one point the insurgent group had control of a territory about the size of Belgium. Read more »

Is President Buhari Making ‘the Perfect the Enemy of the Good?’

by John Campbell
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 28, 2015. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz) Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 28, 2015. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

President Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of Nigeria on March 31. He was inaugurated on May 29. Yet, he appointed his chief of staff and the secretary to the government of the federation – key positions in any administration – only in August. He still has not made any cabinet appointments, though his spokesmen are promising that they will be announced on September 30. Read more »

United States Humanitarian Assistance to Nigerian Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees

by John Campbell
Women displaced by Boko Haram violence residing at the IDP camp yola, are briefed before other women and children rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest by Nigeria Military arrive at the Internally displaced people's camp in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria, May 2, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Women displaced by Boko Haram violence residing at the IDP camp yola, are briefed before other women and children rescued from Boko Haram in Sambisa forest by Nigeria Military arrive at the Internally displaced people's camp in Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria, May 2, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

The conflict with Boko Haram has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe in northeastern Nigeria and adjacent parts of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, with estimates of internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugees sometimes approaching two million. In addition, acute malnutrition is widespread. On August 21, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) issued a useful fact sheet that profiles the severity of the crisis, drawing largely on United Nations (UN) statistics. It also provides useful facts and figures on U.S. humanitarian assistance. Some highlights of the USAID fact sheet are given below. Read more »