John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Soccer: African Islamism and the “Beautiful Game”

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Players from Heegan (blue shirt) compete against players from Gaaddidka (red shirt) during the first soccer match of the Somalia Premier League at the Banadir stadium in Mogadishu, November 8, 2013. (Omar Faruk/Courtesy Reuters) Players from Heegan (blue shirt) compete against players from Gaaddidka (red shirt) during the first soccer match of the Somalia Premier League at the Banadir stadium in Mogadishu, November 8, 2013. (Omar Faruk/Courtesy Reuters)

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

When al Shabaab, the violent Islamist group in Somalia, took control of the capital city Mogadishu, it actively destroyed buildings and overt displays of Western institutions and influences. This included outlawing soccer. The group destroyed cinemas and viewing centers in Mogadishu during the 2010 World Cup to stop residents from watching the matches. Their first successful international attack was the twin explosions in Uganda’s capital Kampala at viewing stations during the tournament. Read more »

Security Hazards of Being a FIFA World Cup Spectator

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A fan waits for the start of a 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match between Cameroon and Denmark at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, June 19, 2010. (Dylan Martinez/Courtesy Reuters) A fan waits for the start of a 2010 World Cup Group E soccer match between Cameroon and Denmark at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, June 19, 2010. (Dylan Martinez/Courtesy Reuters)

This guest post was coauthored by Emily Mellgard, research associate, and Amanda Roth, volunteer intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program.

Even with their immense diversity, nearly all Africans love soccer. There is a cultural obsession with the sport similar to that of Americans for football, and it has, in the past, caused riots between fans of rival teams. Most of the time however, Africans’ passion for soccer is a constructive social pastime, and national teams can be a focus of unity and identity. Read more »

The Dependent South Sudan

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A South Sudanese girl displaced by the conflict carries a younger boy on her back as they walk through mud in a flooded camp for internally displaced people at the UNMISS base in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 30, 2014.   (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters) A South Sudanese girl displaced by the conflict carries a younger boy on her back as they walk through mud in a flooded camp for internally displaced people at the UNMISS base in Malakal, Upper Nile State, May 30, 2014. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Allen Grane, former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program. Allen is currently an officer in the Army National Guard. His interests are in Africa, conflict, and conflict resolution. Read more »

Central African Republic: Chaos Could Further Radicalize the Conflict

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Seleka fighter takes a break during a patrol as he searches with other Seleka fighters for anti-Balaka Christian militia members near the town of Lioto, June 6, 2014. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters) A Seleka fighter takes a break during a patrol as he searches with other Seleka fighters for anti-Balaka Christian militia members near the town of Lioto, June 6, 2014. (Goran Tomasevic/Courtesy Reuters)

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

In September 2014 twelve thousand United Nations peacekeepers are slated to phase out and replace two thousand French troops and to assimilate six thousand African Union troops in the Central African Republic (CAR). The French forces currently in the CAR intervened to halt a political and humanitarian catastrophe and prevent what many feared would amount to genocide. The situation the UN peacekeepers inherit in September will in many ways be worse. Read more »

African Wildlife Conservation and Kenya’s Wildlife Policy Act

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
An elephant stretches during their aerial census at the Tsavo West national park within the Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem, southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, February 4, 2014. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) An elephant stretches during their aerial census at the Tsavo West national park within the Tsavo-Mkomazi ecosystem, southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, February 4, 2014. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Mrs. Joan Sikand, Esq. She has served as development coordinator of the Wildlife Foundation since its inception in 2000. She has been a member of Friends of Nairobi National Park since 1995, and served as its vice-chairwoman from 2004 to 2007. Her articles on conservation have been published in the Kenyan daily, “The People.” Read more »

Time for Better Coordination Against al Shabaab

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Ugandan peacekeeping troops stand during a ceremony at Mogadishu airport in Somalia, May 18, 2014. (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters) Ugandan peacekeeping troops stand during a ceremony at Mogadishu airport in Somalia, May 18, 2014. (Feisal Omar/Courtesy Reuters)

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

Last month, in the wake of the kidnapping of the schoolgirls from Chibok in Nigeria by the Islamist organization Boko Haram, President Francois Hollande of France convened a security summit in Paris. Heads of state from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger attended. The main result was the creation of a “central intelligence platform,” which will serve as a place for West African nations to coordinate their responses to Boko Haram. The United States and its partners in the Horn of Africa should endeavor to copy a form of this strategy to counter al Shabaab in the Horn. Read more »

Nigeria: Addressing Boko Haram’s Roots

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
People carry signs as they attend a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos, May 9, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters) People carry signs as they attend a protest demanding the release of abducted secondary school girls in the remote village of Chibok, in Lagos, May 9, 2014. (Akintunde Akinleye/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jim Sanders, a career, now retired, West Africa watcher for various federal agencies. The views expressed below are his personal views and do not reflect those of his former employers.

There is much to think about Boko Haram and Nigeria during the current crisis. A thought occurred to me recently, that as long as Boko Haram is viewed as an insurgency or terrorist group, the policy implications that flow from this will tend to cluster around counterterrorism operations. Read more »

Negotiating Democracy in Malawi

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Malawi's President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013. (Ray Stubblebine/Courtesy Reuters) Malawi's President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013. (Ray Stubblebine/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Kate Collins, Associate Director, Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, who lived and worked in Malawi in 2012-2013. 

Malawi is currently witnessing a political drama that will prompt Americans to recall the days of hanging chads in Bush vs. Gore. On May 20, Malawi held tripartite presidential, parliamentary, and municipal elections. The vote was chaotic, accompanied by spasms of violence unusual for this quiet southern African country. Some urban polling centers were torched by angry crowds, and the army was dispatched to keep order. The elections were also marred by logistical hurdles that are part and parcel of working in Malawi. Even urban polling stations with good access to infrastructure saw bungled ballot delivery, rescheduled polling, and officials counting votes by hand at night in the dark. Read more »

South Africa’s Political Playground

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
African National Congress  election posters featuring images of South Africa's president Jacob Zuma are displayed on a wall as a school boy climbs over it in Embo, May 6, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters) African National Congress election posters featuring images of South Africa's president Jacob Zuma are displayed on a wall as a school boy climbs over it in Embo, May 6, 2014. (Rogan Ward/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Derek Charles Catsam, associate professor of History and the Kathlyn Cosper Dunagan fellow in the Humanities at the University of Texas of the Perman Basin. Derek was senior editor for the Foreign Policy Association’s Africa blog from 2007 to 2014. Read more »

The UK Stance on Boko Haram

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
International Monetary Fund's (IMF) managing mirector Dominique Strauss-Kahn listens along side Tony Venables (L), chief economist for Department for International Development (DFID), and Remi Babalola (R), Nigerian minister of state, at a workshop at the Trancorp Hilton in Abuja, Nigeria February 27, 2008. (Stephen Jaffe/Courtesy Reuters) International Monetary Fund's (IMF) managing mirector Dominique Strauss-Kahn listens along side Tony Venables (L), chief economist for Department for International Development (DFID), and Remi Babalola (R), Nigerian minister of state, at a workshop at the Trancorp Hilton in Abuja, Nigeria February 27, 2008. (Stephen Jaffe/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Ioannis Mantzikos a PhD candidate at the University of Free State, South Africa. He is currently coauthoring a book with Dr. Denise Baken on the “Transformation of Terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa,” forthcoming July 2014. Read more »