John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Libya"

Weapons in the Sahel

by John Campbell
An assortment of 5,250 illicit firearms and small weapons, recovered during various security operations burns during its destruction in Ngong hills near Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 15, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) An assortment of 5,250 illicit firearms and small weapons, recovered during various security operations burns during its destruction in Ngong hills near Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 15, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

Conflict Armament Research, a UK organization that monitors armaments transfers and supply chains, has just published an important report, “Investigating Cross-Border Weapon Transfers in the Sahel.” The report was funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the European Union, and the German Foreign Office. It carries the normal disclaimer that it does not reflect “the positions of the UK Government, the European Union, or the German Federal Foreign Office.” More than fifty pages long, the report is thoroughly detailed. It is based on ten months of well-funded research with visits to Algeria, the Central African Republic, Chad, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Syria. Read more »

AU Vote to Leave the International Criminal Court of Little Consequence

by John Campbell
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri) Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

Led by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the African Union (AU) voted by a huge margin in favor of a proposal for withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the aftermath of the vote, President Jacob Zuma reiterated his threat that South Africa would withdraw from the ICC’s jurisdiction: “Our strongly held view is that it is now impossible, under the circumstances, for South Africa to continue its participation…” The AU chairman, Chadian President Idriss Deby, repeated the regular criticism that the ICC is biased against Africa: “Elsewhere in the world, many things happen, many flagrant violations of human rights, but nobody cares.” Read more »

What to Watch: Africa 2016

by John Campbell and Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney) Boys play on the roof of the entrance to a football stadium in Gao February 20, 2013. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

While western governments are currently transfixed on events in Iraq and Syria, it is important that they do not forget Africa. Boko Haram has become the world’s deadliest terrorist organization and Libya is increasingly becoming a base of operations for the Islamic State. Below, CFR’s Africa program outlines six African issues to watch in 2016. While they could certainly affect the lives of millions of Africans, these issues could also have serious implications for international politics. Read more »

What to Expect from the African Union Summit

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
The opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Negeri). The opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2014 (Courtesy Reuters/Negeri).

This is a guest post by Jason Warner. He is a PhD candidate in African Studies at Harvard University, serving as a U.S. Government Boren National Security Fellow in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Late January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia brings waves of impenetrable traffic, pan-African flags adorning the central Bole Road, and scarcely a vacant room in the city’s infamously hotel-filled landscape. The cause: the semi-annual African Union (AU) Heads of State Summit, which this year began on Friday, January 23. As the AU’s most important annual meeting kicks into high gear this week, here are some of the more pressing questions that observers and participants will have on their minds. Read more »

An African Odyssey

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy reach out for life jackets tossed to them by rescuers of the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) some 25 miles off the Libyan coast in this handout photo provided by MOAS October 4, 2014. MOAS, a privately-funded humanitarian initiative, began operating at the end of August and has assisted in the rescue of some 2,200 migrants crossing from Libyan shores towards Europe.
(MOAS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/Handout via Reuters) A group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy reach out for life jackets tossed to them by rescuers of the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) some 25 miles off the Libyan coast in this handout photo provided by MOAS October 4, 2014. MOAS, a privately-funded humanitarian initiative, began operating at the end of August and has assisted in the rescue of some 2,200 migrants crossing from Libyan shores towards Europe. (MOAS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/Handout via Reuters)

This is a guest post by Amanda Roth, a former intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Program. She is a graduate student at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, where she studies international security policyRead more »

Defining “Africa” Through Geography or Regional Cooperation

by John Campbell
Citizens of Mali protest during the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting, where the Mali crisis and Guinea-Bissau coup are discussed, in Abidjan April 26, 2012. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters) Citizens of Mali protest during the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting, where the Mali crisis and Guinea-Bissau coup are discussed, in Abidjan April 26, 2012. (Luc Gnago/Courtesy Reuters)

What is “Africa?” Nomenclature raises difficult issues. Maps in school rooms show “Africa” as a distinct continent, the second largest in the world. But the U.S. Department of State assigns North Africa –the states of the Mediterranean littoral (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco), to its Near East bureau– not its Africa bureau.  On the other hand, the Department of Defense’s African Command (AFRICOM) includes Africa’s Mediterranean littoral with most of the rest of the continent in its area of responsibility.  The international consulting organization McKinsey & Co. included North Africa in its aggregated data on Africa in its well-known report Lions on the Move, the results of which would have been different absent the relative economic powerhouses of the Mediterranean littoral. The Libyan dictator Qaddafi famously tried to pose as an “African”—not Middle Eastern– leader, and he bankrolled the African Union. The Council on Foreign Relations follows the Department of State’s usage. Read more »

Guest Post: Democracy in Africa: Form Over Substance

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Expelled African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) President Julius Malema (R) and South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe gesture during an ANCYL rally in Limpopo province March 25, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Expelled African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) President Julius Malema (R) and South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe gesture during an ANCYL rally in Limpopo province March 25, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/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.

Events in Mali are very likely to be seen mainly as an outgrowth of those in Libya, but the heavy focus on reversing the coup, with less on the partition of the country, is stunning in its neglect of a more basic issue: namely, Western preoccupation with the trappings of democracy, e.g., elections, constitutions, etc., rather than its substance. The ease with which the country’s president was ousted and half the country’s territory lost, indicates a very weak government, lacking its population’s support and confidence. Read more »