John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Showing posts for "Sahel"

United Nations: Harsh Realities and Hard Lessons

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
A barefoot girl jumps over an open drain filled with rubbish at Tomping camp in Juba, South Sudan, January 10, 2014. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters) A barefoot girl jumps over an open drain filled with rubbish at Tomping camp in Juba, South Sudan, January 10, 2014. (Andreea Campeanu/Courtesy Reuters)

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

International peacekeeping missions in Sudan and South Sudan received a lot of bad press last week from a number of different sources. Together these reports challenge a basic tenant of United States (U.S.) policy toward Africa–that peacekeeping missions, in their current form, work. 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 »

Mali’s Elections and the Issues of Kidal

by John Campbell
Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA sit in a pickup truck in the northeastern town of Kidal February 4, 2013. (Cheick Diouara/Courtesy Reuters) Soldiers from the Tuareg rebel group MNLA sit in a pickup truck in the northeastern town of Kidal February 4, 2013. (Cheick Diouara/Courtesy Reuters)

France and the United States are leading the push for elections to proceed on schedule in Mali in late July. The urgency reflects the view that elections are crucial to ending the rift in Bamako and to restoring the legitimacy of the Malian government, which was tarnished by a military coup and a subsequent feckless interim government. But, for elections to have meaning, they must take place throughout Mali. Read more »

Tracking the Traffickers: East African Human Trafficking Networks

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Refugees are seen during a visit by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres to the Shagarab Eritrean Refugees camp at Kassala in East Sudan January 12, 2012. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters) Refugees are seen during a visit by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres to the Shagarab Eritrean Refugees camp at Kassala in East Sudan January 12, 2012. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters)

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

The implosion of Mali and the recent abduction of a French family in Cameroon have brought heightened attention to the culture of kidnapping and trafficking in the western Sahel. Read more »

UN Security Council Unanimously Authorizes UN Mission in Mali

by John Campbell
French soldiers speak to a Nigerian soldier on patrol in the northern city of Gao, Mali February 9, 2013. (Francois Rihouay/Courtesy Reuters). French soldiers speak to a Nigerian soldier on patrol in the northern city of Gao, Mali February 9, 2013. (Francois Rihouay/Courtesy Reuters).

On April 25, the Security Council approved a UN “peacekeeping” force of 12,600 for Mali. They asked the UN Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative for Mali, and called on member states to provide troops, police, and the necessary equipment. It also authorized the secretary general to approve cooperation between the UN mission in Mali and the UN missions in Liberia and Ivory Coast for the temporary sharing of logistical and administrative support. Read more »

Boko Haram Recruitment Strategies

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
BAUCHI, Nigeria
Members of an local Islamic group lie on the ground at a police station after their arrest in the northeastern city of Bauchi, July 25, 2009. (Ardo Hazzad/Courtesy Reuters). BAUCHI, Nigeria Members of an local Islamic group lie on the ground at a police station after their arrest in the northeastern city of Bauchi, July 25, 2009. (Ardo Hazzad/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.

April 2013 marks two and a half years since Boko Haram launched its first attack on a Bauchi prison in September 2010. Since May 2011, another group, Ansaru, which likely has close connections to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and focuses on kidnapping foreigners, has also been active in northern Nigeria. Though both groups are relatively new, there is enough information available to identify some of their recruitment methods. Read more »

French President’s Camel Eaten

by John Campbell
Camels stand in a farm in Benghazi, February 11, 2013. (Esam Al-Fetori/Courtesy Reuters) Camels stand in a farm in Benghazi, February 11, 2013. (Esam Al-Fetori/Courtesy Reuters)

You read this right. The British media, citing French sources, is having a field day with the report that the camel given to French president Francois Hollande during his February 2013 visit to Mali, has been eaten by its care-takers. According to the French media, the minister of defense broke the news to Hollande. Embarrassed, a Malian official said, “as soon as we heard of this, we quickly replaced it with a bigger and better-looking camel,” according to Reuters. Read more »

Bloody Easter in Nigeria’s Middle Belt

by John Campbell
A family gathers around the grave, where three murdered family members were buried together, in Jos in Nigeria's Plateau state, December 28, 2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A family gathers around the grave, where three murdered family members were buried together, in Jos in Nigeria's Plateau state, December 28, 2011. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Over Easter weekend there were at least fifty deaths attributable to ethnic and religious conflict near Jos in Plateau state in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. This time, based on media reports, most of the victims appear to have been Christian farmers, with the perpetrators allegedly Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen. Read more »

How to Stabilize Northern Mali

by John Campbell
Nigerian soldiers patrol in the northern city of Gao, Mali February 9, 2013.  (Francois Rihouay/Courtesy Reuters). Nigerian soldiers patrol in the northern city of Gao, Mali February 9, 2013. (Francois Rihouay/Courtesy Reuters).

Lori-Anne Theroux-Benoni, writing for the Institute for Security Studies from their office in Dakar, has written succinct analysis of the different approaches to peacekeeping employed in Africa. She contrasts the seeming inactivity of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Congo (MONUSCO) when M23 rebels overran Goma in November 2012, with the dynamism of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISO) moving against al-Shabaab. 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 »