John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Niger"

Kidnapping, Ransoms, and the Sahel

by John Campbell
Former French hostage Daniel Larribe is welcomed by relatives as French President Francois Hollande looks on on the tarmac upon their arrival at Villacoublay military airport, near Paris, October 30, 2013 (Jacky Naegelen/Courtesy Reuters). Former French hostage Daniel Larribe is welcomed by relatives as French President Francois Hollande looks on on the tarmac upon their arrival at Villacoublay military airport, near Paris, October 30, 2013 (Jacky Naegelen/Courtesy Reuters).

Rukmini Callimachi has a chilling story on the front page of today’s New York Times, “Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror.” It is a must-read. The story is based on a wide range of interviews with victims, government officials, counterterrorism experts, and thousands of pages of internal al-Qaeda documents found in Mali. Read more »

United States Military to Train Nigerian Rangers?

by John Campbell
A U.S. Special Forces trainer supervises a military assault drill for a unit within the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) conducted in Nzara on the outskirts of Yambio, November 29, 2013. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. Special Forces trainer supervises a military assault drill for a unit within the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) conducted in Nzara on the outskirts of Yambio, November 29, 2013. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters)

In the March 5 New York Times, Eric Schmitt’s article “U.S. Takes Training Role in Africa as Threats Grow and Budgets Shrink,” reviews U.S. military assistance and training to the weak states of the Sahel that are confronting jihadi militantsHe discusses the constraints on what the U.S. is willing and able to do in a context of domestic budget cuts and a general war-weariness in the aftermath of Iraq and Afghanistan. Read more »

Refugee Flows from Northern Nigeria

by John Campbell
Women attempt to cross Jos Road with their belongings, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of Maiduguri in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Women attempt to cross Jos Road with their belongings, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of Maiduguri in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

The UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs has registered 37,332 people fleeing the fighting between the Nigerian security services and jihadist insurgents called Boko Haram. According to the UN, the refugees have been registered at Diffa, in southeast Niger. The flow of refugees into Niger has increased sixfold since the Abuja government declared a state of emergency in Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa states in June this year. Read more »

Ansaru: Who Are They And Where Are They From?

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Evidence is displayed during a hearing for suspected members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) at a military court in Tunis June 9, 2012. (Zoubeir Souissi/Courtesy Reuters) Evidence is displayed during a hearing for suspected members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) at a military court in Tunis June 9, 2012. (Zoubeir Souissi/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the Washington D.C.-based think tank, The Jamestown Foundation, and a contributor for the West Point CTC Sentinel.

Ansaru is not a grassroots organization like Boko Haram, the more prominent Islamist militant group in Nigeria. Nonetheless, Ansaru has been more of a threat to Western interests than Boko Haram. Recent evidence also shows that the two groups may be merging. Read more »

Communications Further Cut in Northeastern Nigeria

by John Campbell
A woman tries to get reception on her mobile phone in Maiduguri, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of the city in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A woman tries to get reception on her mobile phone in Maiduguri, after the military declared a 24-hour curfew over large parts of the city in Borno State May 19, 2013. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

When President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states in response to a radical Islamist insurgency, the Nigerian government banned the use of cell phones. Earlier, the Islamists had destroyed many or most of the cell phone towers. A result has been little telephone communication between the northeast and the rest of the world. This is in addition to existing restrictions on the operations of the press in the affected region. A consequence is that the outside world knows little about what is actually going on in northeast Nigeria independent of government sources. Read more »

U.S. Nigeria Relations and the State of Emergency

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters) A poster advertising for the search of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is pasted on a wall in Baga village on the outskirts of Maiduguri, in the north-eastern state of Borno May 13, 2013. (Tim Cocks/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African Affairs for the Washington D.C.-based think tank, The Jamestown Foundation, and a contributor for the West Point CTC Sentinel.

After Boko Haram launched major attacks on the rural border towns of Baga, Monguno, Bama, and Marte in Borno State, in April and May, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno and neighboring Adamawa and Yobe states on May 14, 2013. Soon after, more than two thousand Nigerian troops were deployed to Borno, which shares borders with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Read more »

Mapping the Nigerian State of Emergency

by John Campbell
Soldiers from Lagos, part of an expected 1,000 reinforcements sent to Adamawa state to fight Boko Haram Islamists, walk near trucks as they arrive with the 23rd Armoured Brigade in Yola May 20, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Soldiers from Lagos, part of an expected 1,000 reinforcements sent to Adamawa state to fight Boko Haram Islamists, walk near trucks as they arrive with the 23rd Armoured Brigade in Yola May 20, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Emily Mellgard coauthored this post. Emily is the Africa research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Information about the state of emergency in the three northern Nigerian states of Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa comes almost exclusively from government sources. Cell phones no longer operate and there are few journalists in the area; though some have been able to make contact with refugees fleeing across the border into Cameroon and Niger. The government claims that as many as 2,000 troops were deployed within twenty-four hours of President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of the state of emergency. They are accompanied by air and ground support, including military jets, helicopters, and tanks. But we cannot confirm these claims from independent sources. The troops appear to have been compiled from those already deployed in other parts of Nigeria, Mali, and Liberia. Read more »

The Great Green Wall of Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A dried up river filled with sand winds its way across the desert near Gos Beida in eastern Chad June 5, 2008. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters). A dried up river filled with sand winds its way across the desert near Gos Beida in eastern Chad June 5, 2008. (Finbarr O'Reilly/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Kyle Benjamin Schneps; a dual master’s degree candidate at Columbia University specializing in international security policy and global health initiatives. He is currently completing a graduate internship with the Africa Studies program at Council on Foreign Relations. Read more »

Violent Islamism in Africa

by John Campbell
Ugandan soldiers, operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), sit on a tank as they advance towards Buurhakaba from their former position in the town of Leego, alongside members of the Somali National Army (SNA) on February 24, 2013. (Tobin Jones/Courtesy Reuters) Ugandan soldiers, operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), sit on a tank as they advance towards Buurhakaba from their former position in the town of Leego, alongside members of the Somali National Army (SNA) on February 24, 2013. (Tobin Jones/Courtesy Reuters)

The Robert S. Strauss Center at the University of Texas at Austin has just published a research brief on Islamist violence in Africa; “Tracking Islamist Militia and Rebel Groups.” The author is Caitriona Dowd at Trinity College, Dublin. The brief is based on the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset (ACLED), of which she is the senior research and data manager. The data covers the past fifteen years. Her discussion includes North Africa as well as sub-Saharan Africa, and she sees a “rising global consciousness among Islamist groups and Muslim populations” in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Read more »

Drones in Niger: A Fateful Decision

by John Campbell
A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle assigned to the California Air National Guard's 163rd Reconnaissance Wing flies near the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California in this January 7, 2012. (U.S. Air Force/Courtesy Reuters) A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle assigned to the California Air National Guard's 163rd Reconnaissance Wing flies near the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California in this January 7, 2012. (U.S. Air Force/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama announced in a letter to Congress that he deployed “approximately one hundred” U.S. military troops to Niamey, Niger to establish a drone base to survey the Sahel and the Sahara. This base, which could eventually host up to three hundred U.S. troops, contradicts earlier administration assurances that there would be no U.S. boots on the ground. There has been limited U.S. surveillance of the region before, using light aircraft. However, a drone base dramatically ups the visibility–and the ante. Read more »