John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Protesting Power: Ethnic Demonstrations Continue in Ethiopia

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A policeman attempts to control protesters chanting slogans during a demonstration over what they say is unfair distribution of wealth in the country at Meskel Square in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, August 6, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri) A policeman attempts to control protesters chanting slogans during a demonstration over what they say is unfair distribution of wealth in the country at Meskel Square in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, August 6, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

This is a guest post by Zara Riaz, a research specialist in the Politics Department at Princeton University.

In the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia stands out among neighbors for its political and economic stability. Recent protests and escalating violence, however, expose Ethiopia’s longstanding political tensions and pose a serious threat to the government’s ability to maintain its strong hold. Read more »

Don’t Give Up on AMISOM Yet

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers from Burundi patrol after fighting between insurgents and government soldiers erupted on the outskirts of Mogadishu, on May 22, 2012. (Reuters/Feisal Omar) African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeepers from Burundi patrol after fighting between insurgents and government soldiers erupted on the outskirts of Mogadishu, on May 22, 2012. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

This is a guest post by Alex Dick-Godfrey, Assistant Director, Studies administration for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies Program.

Later this year, Somalia looks to continue its recent progress by holding a successful parliamentary election. The election provides an opportunity to improve governance in the country and could illustrate the improvement Somalia has made to the donor community, international businesses, and the world. But, enormous pitfalls remain, and Somalia’s partners, including the United States, have expressed concerns about the process. This election could prove to be disastrous and set Somalia back if not handled correctly. To cope with these pitfalls, Somalia is forced to rely on an already strained African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) to secure this election, but international support appears to be waning for the African Union (AU) force. The AU should reaffirm its commitment to Somalia and implore member and donor nations to not give up on AMISOM, and Somalia, yet. Read more »

The Rescued Chibok Girl and the Victims Support Fund

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki, a Nigerian schoolgirl rescued after over two years of captivity with Boko Haram militants, presents her child to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, May 19, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Amina Ali Darsha Nkeki, a Nigerian schoolgirl rescued after over two years of captivity with Boko Haram militants, presents her child to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, May 19, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Sherrie Russell-Brown. She is an international human rights lawyer, who writes about issues of gender, security, international justice and humanitarian law, with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Read more »

Kicking the Western Sahara Question Down the Road

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic flag flies in Boudjdour desert refugee camp in Tindouf, southern Algeria, March 4, 2016. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra) The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic flag flies in Boudjdour desert refugee camp in Tindouf, southern Algeria, March 4, 2016. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)

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.

On April 29, ten of the fifteen UN Security Council members voted to renew the mandate for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), one day before its expiration. Prior to the vote, Angola, a non-permanent member, requested an informal, confidential Security Council meeting held outside the Security Council room, to allow Joaquim Chissano, Special Envoy of the African Union (AU) for the Western Sahara, to brief the council. NGOs were barred from attending and no translation services were provided. Morocco, which is the only African country without AU membership and considers the AU biased toward the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), opposed the meeting with Chissano on the grounds that the UN is the sole intergovernmental organization legitimately involved in the issue. Angola—along with Russia and New Zealand—ultimately abstained from the vote, while Venezuela and Uruguay voted in opposition. Read more »

South Africa and Iran Aim to Resume Strong Trade Relationship

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 26, 2016. (Reuters/Faisal Mahmood) Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 26, 2016. (Reuters/Faisal Mahmood)

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.

South African President Jacob Zuma was in Iran for a two-day state visit on April 24 and 25. While in Tehran, Zuma and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signed eight bilateral trade agreements as part of a commitment to increase non-oil trade between the two countries. Trade between the two nations plummeted after the imposition of expanded sanctions on Iran by the U.S., EU, and UN. According to UN Comtrade, in 2012—the most recent year of significant trade between the two countries—trade was valued at approximately $1.3 billion. By comparison, bilateral trade in 2015 totaled only $30 million. Read more »

No Legal Rhino Horn Trade for South Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A veterinarian inspects a tranquilized black rhino after it was dehorned in an effort to deter the poaching of one of the world's endangered species, at a farm outside Klerksdorp, in the north west province, South Africa, February 24, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

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

The South African government has announced that it will not petition the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) for a legal trade in rhinoceros horn. South Africa formed a committee to determine the viability of a legal trade in rhino horn in February 2015. After nearly a year of deliberating, the committee’s recommendation was “that the current mode of keeping the country’s stock levels be kept as opposed to the trading in rhino horns.” 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 »

Into Africa: The Islamic State’s Online Strategy and Violent Extremism in Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A youth launches Twitter social media application on a tablet in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016.  (Reuters/Stringer) A youth launches Twitter social media application on a tablet in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016. (Reuters/Stringer)

This is a guest post by David P. Fidler. He is an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Cybersecurity at the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor of law at Indiana University. He blogs regularly at Net Politics. Read more »

Gains Against Poaching at Risk in Southern Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An elephant drives a lioness away in Amboseli National Park, southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 25, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) An elephant drives a lioness away in Amboseli National Park, southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 25, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

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

In recent years, southern Africa has been the last bastion for elephant protection. Countries such as Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have been regarded as the leaders of elephant conservation in Africa. While countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania have seen substantial decreases in their elephant populations, many southern African countries have seen an increase in their numbers. Read more »

Flare-up Threatens Saharan Ceasefire

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An indigenous Sahrawi woman walks at a refugee camp of Boudjdour in Tindouf, southern Algeria, March 3, 2016. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra) An indigenous Sahrawi woman walks at a refugee camp of Boudjdour in Tindouf, southern Algeria, March 3, 2016. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)

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.

On March 22, at the request of the Moroccan government, the United Nations (UN) closed its military liaison office in Dakhla, a city in Western Sahara, the disputed stretch of sand in northwest Africa claimed by the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front. Two days earlier—also prompted by Rabat—seventy-three UN personnel were “temporarily reassigned” away from the headquarters of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). These steps—along with the threat from Rabat to call home the 2,300 soldiers and police it contributes to UN peacekeeping missions—are the kingdom’s reaction to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s use of the term “occupation” to describe the Moroccan presence in the territory on his recent visit to refugee camps in southern Algeria, home to an estimated 150,000 ethnic Sahrawis. Read more »