John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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The Future of Islamic State Operations in Africa

by John Campbell
A fighter of Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government aims his weapon as he takes up position inside a ruined house at the front line of fighting with Islamic State militants in Ghiza Bahriya district in Sirte, Libya, November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Ismail Zitouny)

As the self-proclaimed Islamic State loses ground in Syria and Iraq, there is increasing concern that it will gradually shift its operations to Africa. Indeed, in late 2016, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Bagdhadi claimed that the group had shifted elements of command, media, and wealth to Islamic State “provinces in north Africa and west Africa.” However, in a useful article Joseph Siegle of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies convincingly argues that the Islamic State is not well established in those areas of Sub-Saharan Africa where extremist Islamist groups operate. The two most violent groups, Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, predate the formation of the Islamic State and are not dependent on it for operational or tactical support. Furthermore, it is the Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states that is the major ideological foundation of radical, Jihadi Islam in sub-Saharan Africa, rather than the Islamic State. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: February 25 – March 3

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from February 25 to March 3, 2017. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Podcast: The Lake Chad Crisis

by John Campbell
People wash clothes in a dry riverbed in Maroua, Cameroon, March 17, 2016. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

In this episode of the Africa in Transition Podcast series John Campbell is joined by the International Crisis Group’s Nnamdi ObasiHans De Marie Heungoup, and EJ Hogendoorn. The group discusses the origins of Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon, as well as the current security and humanitarian crisis occurring in the Lake Chad Basin. Read more »

Caught in the Crossfire: What Future for Women and Children in Nigeria’s Forgotten Crisis

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A mother holds her malnourished baby at the Molai General Hospital Maiduguri, Nigeria, November 30, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabai Sotunde)

This is a guest post by Sherrie Russell-Brown. Sherrie is an international lawyer, who writes about issues of gender, security, international justice and humanitarian law, with a regional focus on sub-Saharan Africa. She also coordinates a collaborative group of experts dedicated to promoting research and analysis on the Sahel, and, in particular, the Boko Haram insurgency. Read more »

Biafra and the U.S.-Nigeria Relationship

by John Campbell
Supporters of Nnamdi Kanu are seen outside the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria January 10, 2017. (Reuters/Stringer)

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a separatist movement that seeks to recreate Biafra as an independent state. From 1967-70, there was a civil war over Biafra’s attempt to secede that left up to two million Nigerians dead. Ever since, the Nigerian government has tried to crack down on Biafra secessionist movements. Hence, it’s imprisonment of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu. Read more »

Possible End to the Gambia Crisis

by John Campbell
Gambian refugees in a wooden canoe approach a beach in the Senegalese village of Niafarang, Senegal, January 17, 2017. (Reuters/Emma Farge)

Adama Barrow was sworn-in January 19 as the president of the Gambia at his country’s embassy in Dakar. He was the victor in the Gambia’s presidential elections on December 11. However, Yahya Jammeh, the loser of the election, who has ruled Gambia since 1994, refuses to step down. The members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with the Senegalese at the lead have sent in military forces. The UN Security Council, which convened today, announced its support of Barrow, but emphasized pursuing a political transition first. Read more »

Nigerian Air Force Mistakenly Bombs IDP Camp

by John Campbell
Women gather at a water collecting point at the internally displaced people's camp in Bama, Borno State, Nigeria, August 31, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

There is heavy media attention to the Nigerian air force’s tragic, accidental bombing of a camp for internally displaced persons near Rann, in northeast Nigeria. Though details are hardly definitive, it appears that the attack resulted from the mistaken identification of the camp as a center of Boko Haram. (Recently, Boko Haram has been active in the area.) As is usually the case when such accidents happen in northeast Nigeria, the numbers killed are not definitively known, but appear to be in the fifty to one hundred range. The media reports that the number of dead is likely to increase because of the difficulty of evacuating the wounded from an isolated area and because of the inadequacy of medical facilities in the camp. The dead include humanitarian workers for the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. Both organizations have issued scathing public statements. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: January 7 – January 13

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from January 7 to January 13, 2017. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Delta Militant Group Turns Against Buhari

by John Campbell
A militant of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) guards hostages of the Philippines at an undisclosed location on the creeks of Niger Delta, January 31, 2007. (Reuters/George Esiri)

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) announced New Year’s Day that it had passed a vote of no confidence in President Buhari. Prior to the 2015 election, MEND had endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari, rather than Goodluck Jonathan. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: December 24 – December 30

by John Campbell
The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau) The map above depicts deaths in Nigeria by state. (Source: CFR Nigeria Security Tracker; powered by Tableau)

Below is a visualization and description of some of the most significant incidents of political violence in Nigeria from December 24, 2016 to December 30, 2016. This update also represents violence related to Boko Haram in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »