John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "United States"

U.S. Shoots Itself in the Foot over Visas for Africans

by John Campbell
Abdul Giwa holds a copy of his passport during an interview with Reuters on the recent pronouncements of the Kaduna State government on the activity of the Shi'ite group in Kaduna, Nigeria, November 2, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Each year the University of Southern California hosts the African Global Economic and Development Summit. It is intended to bring together business, government, and others interested in U.S.-African trade and investment. This year, according to the Voice of America (VOA) there were no African participants. All Africans that had been invited or applied to attend were denied U.S. visas, including speakers and African government officials. This included citizens of U.S. partners such as Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa. Nigeria and South Africa have the continent’s largest economies and both are on a democratic trajectory. In addition, Ethiopia is an important U.S. strategic partner in the war on terror, while Ghana has notable growing economic and cultural ties with the United States. Read more »

President Trump’s “Skinny Budget” and Peacekeeping

by John Campbell
U.S. President Donald Trump's overview of the budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2018 are displayed at the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) on its release by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in Washington, U.S. March 16, 2017. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

At present, there are sixteen UN peacekeeping missions around the world, nine of which are in Africa: Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Western Sahara (Sudan has two, Darfur and Abyei). Like all UN peacekeeping missions, these were mandated by the UN Security Council (UNSC). UN peacekeeping operations funding is the responsibility of all member states. The UN uses a complex formula to assess member state contributions that, among other things, takes into account relative wealth. Beyond that formula, the permanent five members on the UNSC (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) pay a supplement because of their special responsibilities and privileges. Read more »

U.S. Arms Sales to Kenya

by John Campbell
2015A Kenya Defense Force soldier takes cover near the perimeter wall where attackers are holding up at a campus in Garissa April 2, 2015. (Reuters/Noor Khamis)

The United States and Kenya have a long standing military relationship. They are allies in the “war on terror,” of which Kenya has been a major victim. Notable attacks on Kenyan soil include the 1998 Al-Qaeda led bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi where twelve Americans and hundreds of Kenyans lost their lives, and the Westgate Shopping Mall bombings of 2013 by Al-Shabaab, which claimed the lives of nearly seventy Kenyans and expatriates. In addition, Kenya has been embroiled in a war against al-Shabaab in Somalia. U.S. forces are involved in training exercises with the Kenyan Defense Forces. As a result of this conflict, the insurgency has spilt over into Kenya’s northern (Turkana) and Coastal regions (Mombasa and Lamu). This has sparked numerous successful, and unsuccessful terrorist operations throughout the country. Read more »

Podcast: Africa and The New Administration

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama walks off stage as he finishes his news conference at the conclusion of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. State Department in Washington, August 6, 2014. (Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Africa in Transition announces a new podcast series. For our inaugural effort the CFR Africa program’s own John Campbell and Allen Grane discuss the United States’ policy priorities in Africa and what the new Trump administration means for America’s relationship with its African partners. There is also a discussion of the focus of the CFR Africa program. Read more »

African Elite Reaction to President Trump’s Travel Ban

by John Campbell
African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (L) and Chadian President Idriss Deby attend a news conference at the close of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2016. (Reuters/Tiksa Negeri)

It is too soon to say what the lasting consequences will be of President Trump’s “travel ban” of the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries and his 120-day suspension of all refugee admissions to the United States. But, it could have serious effects on U.S.-African relations. In 2010 the Pew Research Center found that of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population of 823 million, 234 million were Muslims. The Islamic population is heavily concentrated in West Africa where U.S. strategic and economic interests on the continent are the greatest, especially Nigeria, where at least 50 percent of the country’s population of two-hundred million is Muslim. However, there are Muslim minorities in nearly all African countries. 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 »

Ten of Top Twenty Emergency Aid Recipients are African States

by John Campbell
Somali displaced families receive food donation from a Qatari charity organization for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in the Somali capital Mogadishu, June 20, 2015. (Reuters/Feisal Omar)

A survey by IRIN, an independent, non-profit news agency now separate from the UN, lists the top twenty recipients and donors of emergency aid. Citing the OECD, it reports that total emergency aid spending in 2016 was $22 billion, about 16 percent of the $131.6 billion in total international aid spending. Read more »

The Dilemma of U.S. High-Profile Visits to African Conflict Zones

by John Campbell
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.) Samantha Power visits the Mugunga III camp for internally displaced people in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, October 6, 2013. (Reuters/Kenny Katombe)

High profile visits to war or disaster zones have long been common and popular among senior U.S. officials, as has foreign travel in general. Hillary Clinton was proud that she had traveled to 112 countries as secretary of state. At the same time, security requirements have grown, seemingly exponentially, often causing indignation among local people because of the disruption in their daily lives. And sometimes tragedy happens, as in Cameroon, where U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power’s speeding motorcade killed a child in April. But, U.S. officials welcome the U.S. media attention such visits provide, as do local elites and politicians who ae often disconnected from the people they ostensibly govern. Read more »

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka “Disengages” from the United States

by John Campbell
Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka looks on as he sits before his interview with Reuters in Pretoria, February 1, 2012. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

Wole Soyinka, the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, says he has “torn up” his green card and left the United States to return to Nigeria. Soyinka’s act is in protest against the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. During the campaign, Soyinka had said that he would leave the United States if Trump were elected. As reported in the British media, Soyinka said “I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the card and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been.” (Holders of a green card are alien permanent residents of the United States with most of the privileges of U.S. citizenship, including the ability to freely travel abroad.) Read more »

Ignoring Africa

by John Campbell
U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump (L) to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, U.S., November 10, 2016. (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

One of the aspects of the utterly dispiriting, just-concluded U.S. campaign and election cycle was the all but complete absence of discussion about the United States and sub-Sahara Africa. It is true that the murder of the American ambassador in Benghazi was a political issue in the campaign. But, Libya is not part of sub-Sahara Africa and the Benghazi debate was about the war on terror and partisan point-scoring, not Africa, even North Africa. Read more »