John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

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Nigeria’s Boko Haram as a Peasants’ Revolt

by John Campbell
People from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) People from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State, February 18, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the past two weeks, Nigerian military forces have driven Boko Haram out of several towns in northeast Nigeria. There have also been reports of Cameroonian, Nigerien, and Chadian successes against Boko Haram. President Goodluck Jonathan made a rare visit to the northeast, and he even stopped in Baga, the site of a notorious Boko Haram massacre. All of this seems to support Jonathan’s recent statement that even if Boko Haram is not defeated by the scheduled national elections on March 28, its scope will have been much reduced and it will be possible for elections to take place. Read more »

ISIS and Boko Haram

by John Campbell
Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province, from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters) Smoke raises behind an Islamic State flag after Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters took control of Saadiya in Diyala province, from Islamist State militants, November 24, 2014. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

The relationship, if any, between Nigeria’s Boko Haram and ISIS is a question that vexes the policy community. If there is one, it would support the argument that Boko Haram is, indeed, a new front in the international war on terrorism, as Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan maintains. If a relationship does not exist, or if it is minimal, that would support the argument that Boko Haram is essentially a domestic Nigerian issue, while ISIS has more of a global agenda. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update February 14-February 20

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 14, 2015 to February 20, 2015. 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 »

South Africa’s Billion Dollar Rhino Question

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Rhinos with cut horns walk at a farm of Dawie Groenewald, who is accused of rhino poaching, in Musina, Limpopo province, May 9, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters) Rhinos with cut horns walk at a farm of Dawie Groenewald, who is accused of rhino poaching, in Musina, Limpopo province, May 9, 2012. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Courtesy Reuters)

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

On February 10, the South African government announced the formation of a committee to determine the viability of legalizing the trade of rhino horn. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update February 7-February 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 February 7, 2015 to February 13, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

To Catch a Victim and a Perpetrator: The ICC and Dominic Ongwen

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell
Dominic Ongwen, a commander of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), waits for the start of court procedures as he makes his first appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Peter Dejong/Pool) Dominic Ongwen, a commander of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), waits for the start of court procedures as he makes his first appearance at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, January 26, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Peter Dejong/Pool)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

They’ve got him, but can they get him? That’s the question before the International Criminal Court (ICC) as it finally confronts Dominic Ongwen, the number two commander in Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The Court has been after him for a decade, almost as long as it has been in existence. Read more »

Nelson Mandela Freed Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

by John Campbell
A local holds a lit candle in front of a mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of Mandela's first death anniversary, in Soweto, December 4, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A local holds a lit candle in front of a mural of former South African President Nelson Mandela ahead of Mandela's first death anniversary, in Soweto, December 4, 2014. (Courtesy Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

In 1964, Nelson Mandela was convicted of sabotage in conjunction with the armed struggle against apartheid in the Rivonia Trial. He was sentenced to life in prison. His statement at his sentencing was an anthem for a democratic South Africa free of racism. Because Americans may be less familiar with it than South Africans, it is worth quoting part of it here: Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update January 31-February 6

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 24, 2015 to January 30, 2015. These incidents will be included in the Nigeria Security Tracker. Read more »

Why Were Nigeria’s Presidential Elections Postponed?

by John Campbell
A vendor displays newspapers with headlines about Nigeria's elections in traffic in Lagos, February 6, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A vendor displays newspapers with headlines about Nigeria's elections in traffic in Lagos, February 6, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

On Saturday, Nigeria’s Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) announced that Nigeria’s presidential election would be delayed until March 28. According to Attahiru Jega, chairman of the INEC, National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki directed the postponement of the February 14 elections for at least six weeks. Dasuki said that starting February 14, the military and security services will launch a campaign against Boko Haram, the militant Islamist movement in northeast Nigeria. Therefore, they can not provide the necessary security for the electoral process. Read more »

Nigerian Presidential Elections Postponed?

by John Campbell
Election posters are displayed on the city gate to Jimeta town, Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) Election posters are displayed on the city gate to Jimeta town, Yola, Adamawa State, January 14, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

Nigeria’s presidential elections are scheduled for February 14, 2015, though there has long been speculation that they might be postponed. The Nigerian National Security Advisor, Sambo Dasuki, called for the elections to be postponed on January 22 to allow time for the distribution of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), which are necessary for a ballot to be cast. Dasuki’s call was rejected by the opposition and civil society. Read more »