John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Kenya’s Al-Shabaab Problem

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, May 8, 2015
A man participates in a protest against the gunmen attack at the Garissa University, at the Eastleigh neighborhood in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 8, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) A man participates in a protest against the gunmen attack at the Garissa University, at the Eastleigh neighborhood in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 8, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Aala Abdelgadir, research associate for the Council on Foreign Relation’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative.

On October 16, 2011, the Kenyan army, in an ostensibly joint operation with the Somalian and Ethiopian militaries, crossed the border into Somalia and attacked the insurgent group al-Shabaab. In response to the October 16 offensive, al-Shabaab launched an attack in Kenya on October 24, 2011. The attack killed one person. Read more »

Boko Haram’s Sex Slaves?

by John Campbell Thursday, May 7, 2015
A girl who was freed by the Nigerian army from Boko Haram militants in the Sambisa forest looks on at the Malkohi camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Nigeria, May 3, 2015 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters). A girl who was freed by the Nigerian army from Boko Haram militants in the Sambisa forest looks on at the Malkohi camp for internally displaced people in Yola, Nigeria, May 3, 2015 (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters).

Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds, perhaps thousands of young women, of whom the Chibok school girls are only the most well-known. Now, many of these girls are being rescued by the Nigerian army after having been abandoned by retreating Boko Haram operatives. Read more »

It Is Time for President Obama to Visit Nigeria

by John Campbell Wednesday, May 6, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama is seen in a mirror behind members of the Nigerian delegation as he meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (not seen) in New York September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama is seen in a mirror behind members of the Nigerian delegation as he meets with Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan (not seen) in New York September 23, 2013. (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters)

Up to now, President Barack Obama has never visited Nigeria. That has been appropriate given the country’s history of rigged elections and the government’s refusal to investigate credible reports of human rights abuses by the security services in the struggle with Boko Haram. The Obama administration did engage with the Jonathan administration, with meetings between the two presidents in Washington and New York, and visits by Secretary of State John Kerry to Abuja. Read more »

For Nigerian Girls Boko Haram Is Not the Only Threat

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, May 5, 2015
A girl displaced as a result of Boko Haram attack in the northeast region of Nigeria, rests her head on a desk at Maikohi secondary school camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa, January 13, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters) A girl displaced as a result of Boko Haram attack in the northeast region of Nigeria, rests her head on a desk at Maikohi secondary school camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Yola, Adamawa, January 13, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Latanya Mapp Frett, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Global, the international arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update April 25-May 1

by John Campbell Monday, May 4, 2015
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 April 25, 2015 to May 1, 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 »

African Leaders Silent on Boat People

by John Campbell Friday, May 1, 2015
Shadows from migrants are cast on a makeshift shelter with the written word "Refugee" in Calais, France, April 30, 2015. (Pascal Rossignol/Courtesy Reuters) Shadows from migrants are cast on a makeshift shelter with the written word "Refugee" in Calais, France, April 30, 2015. (Pascal Rossignol/Courtesy Reuters)

Adam Nossiter has published a thought-provoking article in the April 29, 2015, New York Times. He comments on the silence of African leaders regarding the deaths of scores of African boat people who were trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life. While it is true that many of the Mediterranean boat people are from Syria, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world, the majority are African. Read more »

The Danger of Al-Shabaab’s Evolution

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, April 30, 2015
Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) Policemen guard the bus ferrying rescued students from the Garissa University as it arrives at Nyayo stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 4, 2015. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

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

In the past five years, the Somali jihadist group al-Shabaab has lost most of its senior leadership, surrendered its control of southern Somalia, and seen its cash flow shrink. The group has certainly seen better times. But as the success of recent attacks in Kenya and Mogadishu indicate, the group is regaining some of its previous stature but as a fundamentally different group. Al-Shabaab is now more decentralized and has a larger geographic focus. Given regional dynamics, an inept Kenyan security response, refugee flows from Yemen, and a diminished United States presence, this new embodiment of al-Shabaab is becoming increasingly difficult to counter. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update April 18-April 24

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 29, 2015
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 April 18, 2015 to April 24, 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 »

Is Mali Heating Up Again?

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 28, 2015
A fighter with the Tuareg separatist group MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) stands guard outside the local regional assembly, where members of the rebel group met with the Malian army, the UN mission in Mali and French army officers, in Kidal June 23, 2013. (Adama Diarra/Courtesy Reuters) A fighter with the Tuareg separatist group MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) stands guard outside the local regional assembly, where members of the rebel group met with the Malian army, the UN mission in Mali and French army officers, in Kidal June 23, 2013. (Adama Diarra/Courtesy Reuters)

Mali has been relatively quiet over the past few months, with a UN and Algerian-brokered peace process underway to address decades of ongoing conflicts between the Bamako government and Tuaregs in the north.

However, on April 27, pro-government forces seized the town of Menaka from Tuareg separatists following heavy fighting. Details are scarce. The following day Tuaregs fired on UN peacekeepers near Timbuktu, apparently thinking they were Malian soldiers. The Tuaregs apologized, according to the UN mission spokesman. But, there are also sketchy reports of Tuareg attacks on government troops in the same area at about the same time. Read more »

Where is Abubakar Shekau?

by John Campbell Monday, April 27, 2015
A still from a video of Boko Haram's elusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, October, 2014. A still from a video of Boko Haram's elusive leader, Abubakar Shekau, October, 2014.

There is increased speculation about the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau in the Nigerian media. His last media broadcast was in early March when he pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State and threatened to disrupt Nigeria’s presidential and gubernatorial elections. Read more »