John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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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 »

Electoral Observers and ‘Free and Fair’ Elections

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A supporter of opposition leader Kizza Besigye looks out from behind a gate of Besigye's office in Kampala, Uganda, February 19, 2016. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic) A supporter of opposition leader Kizza Besigye looks out from behind a gate of Besigye's office in Kampala, Uganda, February 19, 2016. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

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.

In late February, Yoweri Museveni was elected to his fifth term as Uganda’s president, extending a reign that officially began in 1986, but was preceded by years as an influential guerilla leader. The New York Times characterized the election as “widely criticized.” The main opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), had good reason to cry foul as party candidate Kizza Besigye was arrested twice in two days during the voting, and has been under house arrest almost continuously since the election on February 18. Read more »

South Africa and Barclays Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A Barclays logo is pictured outside the Barclays towers in Johannesburg, December 16, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A Barclays logo is pictured outside the Barclays towers in Johannesburg, December 16, 2015. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

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

The recent rumor of Barclays PLC’s potential sale of its African businesses has caused a stir in South Africa. While Barclay’s has yet to confirm any decisions, there is plenty of reason to suspect the rumors are credible. Barclay’s has recently had to pay large regulatory fines for illegally rigging the London interbank rate, they have cut back substantially in Asia, and, perhaps worst of all, economic growth has significantly decreased in Africa. If Barclays PLC were to divest of holdings in Africa, it begs the question of who would buy their shares in Barclays Africa, specifically South Africa-based ABSA, one of the country’s largest banks. Read more »

Sitting on Tied Hands: The African Union & Burundi

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A general view shows Chad's President Idriss Deby addressing delegates during the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri) A general view shows Chad's President Idriss Deby addressing delegates during the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

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 February 6, four people—including a child—were killed and twelve injured in a coordinated grenade attack in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. Republican Forces of Burundi (FOREBU), an armed group opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term bid, claimed involvement in separate attacks on February 5. The recent violence continues a trend that began nine months ago, when Nkurunziza first announced his intention to seek a third term. Read more »

Nigeria’s Pro-Biafra Agitation: A Mix of Crisis and Opportunity

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A man carries the Biafran flag during a parade in Ekwe village, near Enugu in southeastern Nigeria, May 27, 2008. (Reuters/George Esiri) A man carries the Biafran flag during a parade in Ekwe village, near Enugu in southeastern Nigeria, May 27, 2008. (Reuters/George Esiri)

This is a guest post by Carl Unegbu. Carl is a Nigerian-born American lawyer and journalist. He lives in New York City.

Nigeria’s old Biafra problem has reared its head again and with it, the specter of disintegration. For a thirty-month period between 1967 and 1970, Nigeria was embroiled in a bloody civil war as its eastern region unsuccessfully tried to secede from the country under the banner of the Republic of Biafra. The latest episode in the Biafra crisis revolves around the arrest on October 19, of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of a secession movement called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Kanu is presently facing trial for sedition and treason. Since his arrest, protesters demanding both his release and an independent Biafra have repeatedly clashed violently with security forces with resulting deaths. On the international front, the European Union’s foreign policy chief recently weighed in on the matter with a policy statement and the controversy is on its way to the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Read more »

Al-Shabab and Islamic State: A New Rivalry

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Djibouti soldiers serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) display weapons and parade suspected al-Shabab members during a patrol in the south central town of Beledweyne in Somalia, May 9, 2013. (Reuters/Feisal Omar) Djibouti soldiers serving in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) display weapons and parade suspected al-Shabab members during a patrol in the south central town of Beledweyne in Somalia, May 9, 2013. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

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

Earlier this month, al-Shabab attacked an African Union (AU) base deep into AU controlled territory. This was followed up last week with an attack on civilians in AU controlled Mogadishu. The attacks reminded the world, again, that although al-Shabab has lost some of its previous stature, it remains resilient. But, a new threat looms. Recently, al-Shabab has been struggling to counter the new threat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s growing influence in East Africa. As the Islamic State gains momentum, and the rival groups compete for recruits and jockey for position, they may both use attacks on AU troops and civilians to prove their legitimacy.  Read more »