John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Reform the Nigerian Military

by John Campbell Friday, June 10, 2016
A Nigerian military officer directs civilians at a checkpoint along Sapele-Warr road in the Niger Delta region May 26, 2009. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) A Nigerian military officer directs civilians at a checkpoint along Sapele-Warr road in the Niger Delta region May 26, 2009. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Once the most effective military force in West Africa, the Nigerian military played a highly positive role in peacekeeping missions. However, Nigeria was unable to subdue the Niger delta insurgency; in 2012, it could not deploy for front line operations in Mali; and, it suffered a series of reverses in the fight against Boko Haram until it was stiffened by troops from its neighbors and South African-led mercenaries in 2015. What happened? Read more »

Islamist Terrorism in South Africa

by John Campbell Thursday, June 9, 2016
A Cape Town Muslim awaits the sighting of the crescent moon marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along the city's Sea Point beachfront, September 9, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) A Cape Town Muslim awaits the sighting of the crescent moon marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, along the city's Sea Point beachfront, September 9, 2010. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

Over the past few days, both the United Kingdom and the United States have warned their nationals of a possible Islamist terrorist attack in South Africa. The warnings cite upscale shopping malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town as the most likely targets. Read more »

The Sub-Saharan Security Tracker

by John Campbell Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Volunteers set up eight thousand candles in the shape of the African continent as part of a demonstration entitled "Africa needs medicine now" at the parliament square in Berne, Switzerland December 1, 2005. (Reuters/Pascal Lauener) Volunteers set up eight thousand candles in the shape of the African continent as part of a demonstration entitled "Africa needs medicine now" at the parliament square in Berne, Switzerland December 1, 2005. (Reuters/Pascal Lauener)

The Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa Program has just “soft-launched” a new online tool we call the Sub-Saharan Security Tracker (SST). We anticipate a roundtable at the Council’s New York and Washington offices to introduce formally the SST. In the meantime, it is available for use. Read more »

South Africa’s Land “Expropriation Bill”

by John Campbell Tuesday, June 7, 2016
A Muslim man stands next to iftar (breaking fast) meal plates on the first day of Ramadan in India, at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India July 7, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) A Muslim man stands next to iftar (breaking fast) meal plates on the first day of Ramadan in India, at the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque) in the old quarters of Delhi, India July 7, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

There is less than meets the eye to the South African parliament’s passage at the end of May of a land reform bill, called the “Expropriation Bill.” Ostensibly, the new legislation has some similarity to law of eminent domain in the United States. The new legislation would permit the government to take land for a “public purpose,” but (as in the United States) South African landowners would be compensated with an amount determined by a new ‘valuer general.’ The new legislation replaces the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle of land reform. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: May 28–June 3

by John Campbell Monday, June 6, 2016
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 May 28, 2016 to June 3, 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 »

Rugby, Race, and South Africa

by John Campbell Friday, June 3, 2016
Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula (2nd R) gestures after the appointment of the new Springboks rugby coach Allister Coetzee (2nd L) as the president of South African Rugby Union Oregan Hoskins (L) and the CEO of South African Rugby Union Jurie Roux look on in Randburg, outside Johannesburg, April 12, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula (2nd R) gestures after the appointment of the new Springboks rugby coach Allister Coetzee (2nd L) as the president of South African Rugby Union Oregan Hoskins (L) and the CEO of South African Rugby Union Jurie Roux look on in Randburg, outside Johannesburg, April 12, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

South Africa’s sporting record is outstanding. The country regularly produces world-class performances in golf, tennis, cricket, rugby, and soccer (‘football’). As with much else, sports in South Africa are shaped by race. Under apartheid, like everything else, sports were strictly segregated by race. White South Africans, especially, were ‘sports mad,’ and felt keenly the imposition of sporting sanctions as part of the world wide anti-apartheid campaign. Of the two mass spectator sports, rugby was ‘white’ while soccer was ‘black.’ Other sports, such as tennis and golf, were almost exclusively play by white South Africans. Read more »

South African Firefighters in Canada

by John Campbell Thursday, June 2, 2016
Firefighters battle to control a bushfire in Cape Town's Tokai forest, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings) Firefighters battle to control a bushfire in Cape Town's Tokai forest, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Mike Hutchings)

A footnote to the May 2016 forest and brush fires in Alberta, Canada is the presence of three hundred South African professional firefighters. They had previously received training in the use of Canadian firefighting equipment. Air Canada transported the firefighters from South Africa to northern Alberta, a flight that lasted more than twenty hours. According to Canadian media, the flight was the first time Air Canada operated to South Africa. Read more »

The Surge of Insurgency/Terrorism in Recent Times: Social and Economic Consequences

by John Campbell Thursday, June 2, 2016
The flag of Nigeria is carried by Maryam Usman as the team enters the stadium during the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, July 23, 2014. (Reuters/Jim Young) The flag of Nigeria is carried by Maryam Usman as the team enters the stadium during the opening ceremony for the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, July 23, 2014. (Reuters/Jim Young)

The following text is the entirety of John Campbell’s speech delivered at the Nigeria Summit on National Security held by the Council on African Security and Development in Abuja, Nigeria, on May 25, 2016. 

Thank you for your warm introduction. It is a pleasure to be at this important conference, to see old friends, make new ones, and to be back in Nigeria. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: May 21–27

by John Campbell Tuesday, May 31, 2016
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 May 21 to May 27, 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 »

Nigeria’s Oil Production Down by 40 Percent

by John Campbell Friday, May 27, 2016
Ships and tankers seen on the horizon off the coast of the Apapa port Lagos, Nigeria, Febuary 25, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Ships and tankers seen on the horizon off the coast of the Apapa port Lagos, Nigeria, Febuary 25, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Oil is the property of the Nigerian state. Most of it is produced through partnerships between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which is owned by the state, and private oil companies. Oil provides the Nigerian state with about 70 percent of its revenue and roughly 90 percent of its foreign exchange. President Muhammadu Buhari’s current national budget is expansionary, not least because of the struggle against Boko Haram. The budget is based on the production of 2.2 million barrels per day at $38 per barrel. He has also declined to officially devalue the national currency, the naira, which trades at an official rate of about 200 to the U.S. dollar and about 345 to the U.S. dollar on the black market. Read more »