John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Weapons in the Sahel

by John Campbell Tuesday, November 22, 2016
An assortment of 5,250 illicit firearms and small weapons, recovered during various security operations burns during its destruction in Ngong hills near Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 15, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) An assortment of 5,250 illicit firearms and small weapons, recovered during various security operations burns during its destruction in Ngong hills near Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 15, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

Conflict Armament Research, a UK organization that monitors armaments transfers and supply chains, has just published an important report, “Investigating Cross-Border Weapon Transfers in the Sahel.” The report was funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the European Union, and the German Foreign Office. It carries the normal disclaimer that it does not reflect “the positions of the UK Government, the European Union, or the German Federal Foreign Office.” More than fifty pages long, the report is thoroughly detailed. It is based on ten months of well-funded research with visits to Algeria, the Central African Republic, Chad, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Niger, and Syria. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: November 12 – November 18

by John Campbell Monday, November 21, 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 November 12, 2016 to November 18, 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 »

Fallout Over The Poacher’s Pipeline Documentary

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, November 18, 2016
A white female rhino named Kuda is dehorned by the Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation (AWARE) at Lake Chivero Recreational Park in Norton, Zimbabwe, August 25, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) A white female rhino named Kuda is dehorned by the Animal and Wildlife Area Research and Rehabilitation (AWARE) at Lake Chivero Recreational Park in Norton, Zimbabwe, August 25, 2016. (Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

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

Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has released a new documentary titled The Poacher’s Pipeline. The report documents the illicit supply chain of rhinoceros horn from South Africa to China and Vietnam. The report associates South Africa’s minister of state security with an admitted trafficker, and it alleges that Chinese officials that traveled to South Africa with Secretary General Xi Jinping participated in the illicit trade. Read more »

Misaligned Incentives Handcuff the ICC

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, November 17, 2016
The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, March 3, 2011. (Reuters/Jerry Lampen) The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague, Netherlands, March 3, 2011. (Reuters/Jerry Lampen)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn. Cheryl is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School.

Burundi, Gambia, and now South Africa have all recently announced their intentions to withdraw from what they deride as a “biased” International Criminal Court (ICC). The permanent tribunal responsible for investigating crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes that was created in 1998. It’s the latest indignity to the court that has been weakened not only by misaligned incentives that enable it to bring cases globally and yet rely mostly upon member states to enforce its actions, but also by the cozy relationship that has emerged between the ICC’s members and its cases. Thirty-four of its 123 members are African states and all thirty-one individuals that the office of the prosecutor has charged with crimes since the ICC began operating in 2002 are African. Read more »

Ethnicity, Control, and Coups d’État

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Burkinabe President Michel Kafando speaks at a news conference after soldiers took control of the Naaba Koom military camp in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 30, 2015. (Reuters/Arnaud Brunet TPX images of the day) Burkinabe President Michel Kafando speaks at a news conference after soldiers took control of the Naaba Koom military camp in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 30, 2015. (Reuters/Arnaud Brunet TPX images of the day)

This is a guest post by Tyler Lycan. Tyler is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, he recently obtained his Masters in International Security Studies from the University of St. Andrews, and is a former U.S. Marine. Read more »

Ignoring Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, November 15, 2016
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) 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 »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: November 5 – November 11

by John Campbell Monday, November 14, 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 October 29, 2016 to November 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 »

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma’s Nine Lives

by John Campbell Thursday, November 10, 2016
Floyd Shivambu, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reacts ahead of the no-confidence vote, which the South African President Jacob Zuma survived, over what the opposition called his "reckless leadership," after the anti-graft watchdog called for an inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the government, at the National Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, November 10, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham) Floyd Shivambu, a member of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) reacts ahead of the no-confidence vote, which the South African President Jacob Zuma survived, over what the opposition called his "reckless leadership," after the anti-graft watchdog called for an inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the government, at the National Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, November 10, 2016. (Reuters/Sumaya Hisham)

The publication on November 2 of the South Africa Public Protector’s report on “state capture” by the president and his cronies, the Gupta family, would seem to indicate Jacob Zuma’s direct involvement in corruption. The publication has created a media stir, with the quality Western media devoting more extensive coverage to it than is usual. Yet, the report does not contain a “smoking gun,” but rather calls for an extensive (and well-financed) formal investigation. Read more »

Sub-Saharan Africa and a Trump Administration

by John Campbell Wednesday, November 9, 2016
A man hands a newspaper to a customer at a news stand in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton) A man hands a newspaper to a customer at a news stand in New York, U.S., November 9, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

Media indicates that sub-Saharan African opinion is as astonished as everybody else at Donald Trump’s presidential victory. As appears to be true in much of the rest of the world, African opinion makers do not welcome itThe New York Times cites a Nigerian political science professor as saying that most Nigerians believe that a Trump administration will focus little on international issues. It also quotes Kenyan columnist Mafdharia Gaitho as saying, “If Trump wins, God forbid, then we will have to reassess our relations with the United States.” These views accord with what I am hearing. Read more »

Elections: U.S. Prestige Takes a Hit in Africa

by John Campbell Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Katie Hartman, a correspondent for Seriously.TV, poses outside Hofstra University, the site of the September 26 first presidential debate between U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton) Katie Hartman, a correspondent for Seriously.TV, poses outside Hofstra University, the site of the September 26 first presidential debate between U.S. Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

The U.S. image in Africa has been based on more than trade and aid. Africans admire and seek to emulate U.S. rule of law and institutions of governance largely free of corruption. They seek to emulate American elections that are credible and accepted by winners and losers. U.S. ethnic and religious pluralism has long been admired. So, too, has been the American tradition of at least some civility in politics. With the ambiguous exception of Liberia, the United States was not a colonial power and public opinion (if not government policy) was generally hostile to colonialism. The success of American democracy and governance made U.S. criticism of “big man” and other sleazy governments credible to Africans. Read more »