John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Iran"

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)

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 »

“Massacre” of Shia in Northern Nigeria an Opening for Iran

by John Campbell
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) meets Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari in Tehran, Iran, November 23, 2015. (Reuters/

Africa watchers have been focused of late on Burundi. On December 12, however, their attention was drawn back to Nigeria. The Nigerian army killed a number of Shia Muslims in Zaria, Kaduna state. This has resulted in representations from Tehran, Iran, which regards itself as the protector of the Shia everywhere, including Nigeria. As of now, reports from Shia sources are more credible than the lame denials from the military. Amnesty International is demanding an urgent investigation. Yet again, the Nigerian military’s lack of transparency may have made a bad situation worse. Iranian involvement in northern Nigeria and the potential radicalization of the Nigerian Shia could have negative consequences for Africa broader than the current turmoil in Burundi. Read more »

South Africa: Nuclear Power and Politics

by John Campbell
A general view of part of the South African Petroleum Refinery (SAPREF) is seen in Durban November 29, 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

Traditionally, South Africa’s energy sources have been its large coal reserves (85 percent) and imported oil (10 percent), much of it from Iran. In addition, South Africa maintains the only nuclear power station on the African continent, Koeberg, near Cape Town. There are two reactors at Koeberg, which produce between 5 and 6 percent of South Africa’s energy. Read more »

Iran Now a Source for Ammunition in Africa

by John Campbell
M23: A M23 rebel guards weapons returned by the government's army in Goma city November 21, 2012. (James Akena/Courtesy Reuters)

C.J. Chivers has published a must-read article in the January 13 New York Times that shows that Iran has become an important supplier of small caliber ammunition to Africa. It is based on The Distribution of Iranian Ammunition in Africa, a report by Conflict Armament Research (CAR, a private British firm that tracks arms movements). Read more »

Iran, South Africa and the U.S.

by John Campbell
An oil rig lights up Cape Town harbour as the sun sets, August 6, 2011. (Mike Hutchings/Courtesy Reuters)

I am at present in South Africa talking to people about a book I am writing on where the country is going. Iran is right at the top of the South Africa international relations conversation. What I have been hearing underscores the extent to which South Africa and United States seem to talk past each other. Read more »

South Africa: An Alternative to Iran Oil?

by John Campbell
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami (R) welcomes South African Foreign Minister Dlamini Zuma in Tehran, December 14, 2004. (Raheb Homavandi/Courtesy Reuters)

Reuters reports that on March 13, South Africa’s minister of energy, Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, said that South Africa is looking to have in place by the end of May a plan for an alternative to Iranian crude, suggesting Venezuela as a possibility. She told Reuters the United States is not pressuring South Africa to cut Iranian imports nor has Iran offered South Africa concessionary prices. U.S. pressure would be a red flag for parts of the ruling African National Congress that are suspicious of alleged Western “neo-colonialism” in Africa. Read more »

Iran in Africa

by John Campbell

An anti-Tehran human rights advocacy group,, has produced a two-minute video on the Iranian regime’s bloody meddling in Africa. It focuses on Tehran’s deal with  Sudan’s al-Bashir and the devastating consequences for Darfur; with Zimbabwe’s Mugabe whereby Iran supplies oil in exchange for uranium; and its involvement in the arms trade. Read more »