John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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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 »

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 »

The Consequences of Deteriorating Sanitation in Nigeria

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Children play at a slum in Ijegun Egba, a suburb of Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, July 2, 2008. (Courtesy Reuters/George Esiri) Children play at a slum in Ijegun Egba, a suburb of Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, July 2, 2008. (Courtesy Reuters/George Esiri)

This is a guest post by Anna Bezruki, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Global Health Program. She studies biology at Bryn Mawr College.

According to the final report on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) released earlier this month, more than a third of the world population (2.4 billion) is still without improved sanitation. The target to halve the global population without adequate toilets by 2015 has not been reached. Consequently, sanitation has been pushed on to the post-2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs). Although India is perhaps the most widely cited failure, accounting for roughly half of open defecation worldwide, it is at least making progress toward the SDG target. The same cannot be said for Nigeria. Lacking the political infrastructure to reform sanitation and faced with security and political concerns that overshadow development goals, Nigeria is struggling to reverse the trend. Read more »

Burundi: What Went Wrong?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) A protester who is against Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza and his bid for a third term shouts in Bujumbura, Burundi, June 4, 2015. (Courtesy of Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

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.

Over the weekend, 170 opposition fighters were captured and thirty-one killed by Burundian armed forces in the Chibitoke region (near the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo). This is the latest in a series of violent incidents following President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term in office in violation of Burundi’s constitution. Last week Nkurunziza’s party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), announced victory in the parliamentary elections, despite an opposition boycott and the UN proclamation that the vote was not free, fair, or credible. Once a post-conflict success story, Burundi now threatens to relapse into violence, raising questions about what went wrong in the peacebuilding process. Read more »

Al-Shabaab’s Ivory Trade, Continued

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger walks past a pile of 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers before it was burnt to mark World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger walks past a pile of 15 tonnes of ivory confiscated from smugglers and poachers before it was burnt to mark World Wildlife Day at the Nairobi National Park, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

This is a guest-post by Andrea Crosta, co-Founder and Executive Director of Elephant Action League (EAL).

The Elephant Action League (EAL) is appreciative of this opportunity to justify our findings on al-Shabaab’s involvement in the ivory trade and our decision to not share certain details gleaned from confidential sources due to security and confidentiality reasons. 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 »

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 »

Major Airlines Ban Animal Cargo

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, with Tail Number A6-EEV, lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, April 11, 2015. (Reuters/Louis Nastro) An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, with Tail Number A6-EEV, lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, April 11, 2015. (Reuters/Louis Nastro)

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

In April, South African Airways (SAA) announced that SAA Cargo, the company’s airfreight division, would no longer transport hunting trophies from rhinoceroses, elephants, tigers, and lions internationally. Shortly after, in May, Emirates Airlines announced that they would no longer transport the very same trophies. Read more »

The Conflicting Messages of Jacob Zuma

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
South African President Jacob Zuma attends the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called to discuss industrialisation in southern Africa, in Harare, April 29, 2015.  (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) South African President Jacob Zuma attends the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called to discuss industrialisation in southern Africa, in Harare, April 29, 2015. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has denounced the anti-immigrant violence racking his country while also promising to step up a crackdown on illegal immigration. It’s a tricky and dangerous high stakes game to play, one that does not address the nation’s underlying problems of unemployment and poverty, and that sadly puts South Africa’s stability at stake. Read more »