John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 16-22

by John Campbell Monday, April 25, 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 April 16, to April 22, 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.
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The Likelihood of Instability in Zimbabwe

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, April 22, 2016
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe gestures as he arrives to address Zimbabwe's Independence Day celebrations in Harare, April 18, 2016.(Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo)

Tyler Falish is an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Africa Studies program, and a student in Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy & Development.

Last spring, the Council on Foreign Relations published a Contingency Planning Memorandum (CPM) by Ambassador George F. Ward that described the potential for political instability and violence in Zimbabwe. Amb. Ward detailed three paths to instability in Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe’s death before an appointed successor is installed; a serious challenge to Mugabe’s control driven by increased factionalism; and an economic crisis triggering demand for political change. He also offered three corresponding “warning indicators”: any sign that Mugabe’s health is in decline; indication of increased dissent or infighting within the ruling party, Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF); and public unrest. Read more »

Into Africa: The Islamic State’s Online Strategy and Violent Extremism in Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, April 21, 2016
A youth launches Twitter social media application on a tablet in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016.  (Reuters/Stringer) A youth launches Twitter social media application on a tablet in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016. (Reuters/Stringer)

This is a guest post by David P. Fidler. He is an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Cybersecurity at the Council on Foreign Relations and a professor of law at Indiana University. He blogs regularly at Net Politics. Read more »

Taking the Temperature of Nigeria’s Boko Haram

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 20, 2016
A soldier walks through a burnt building at the headquarters of Michika local government in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A soldier walks through a burnt building at the headquarters of Michika local government in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

The Nigeria security services regularly announce successes against Boko Haram. Earlier in April, they announced the arrest of Khalid al-Barnawi, a leader of Ansaru—a Boko Haram splinter—and have claimed thereby to have disrupted at least some terrorist networks. Over the weekend of April 16 and 17, the military announced the discovery of a large cache of Boko Haram weapons. An army spokesman said that the captured weapons were worth 20 million naira (the equivalent of roughly $100 thousand, at the official exchange rate, much less at the floating black market rate). The spokesman also said that the army recovered a generator, a Hilux vehicle, and several motorcycles. Read more »

Africa Returns to the Markets

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration) Nigerian naira notes are seen in this picture illustration, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde/Illustration)

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

In early April, South Africa issued its first sovereign bond in over two years. The ten-year, $1.25 billion bond was oversubscribed by a factor of two. This is the first international bond issued by a sub-Saharan African nation in 2016. It is likely to be followed by Kenyan, Nigerian, and Ghanaian issuances. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker Weekly Update: April 9-15

by John Campbell Monday, April 18, 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 April 9, to April 15, 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 »

The Ransom of Nigeria’s Chibok School Girls

by John Campbell Friday, April 15, 2016
Women carrying placards attend a street protest campaigning for the rescue of abducted Chibok girls, in the Ikeja district of Lagos, Nigeria April 14, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) Women carrying placards attend a street protest campaigning for the rescue of abducted Chibok girls, in the Ikeja district of Lagos, Nigeria April 14, 2016. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

The fate of the 219 school girls Boko Haram kidnapped in 2014 has become a feature of the “face” of Nigeria abroad and also increasingly at home. On April 15, for the first time, the Nigerian Senate asked the relevant security agencies for a briefing on the Chibok girls. This is in response to the release of a ‘proof of life‘ video depicting the girls. Read more »

Gains Against Poaching at Risk in Southern Africa

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Thursday, April 14, 2016
An elephant drives a lioness away in Amboseli National Park, southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 25, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya) An elephant drives a lioness away in Amboseli National Park, southeast of Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 25, 2016. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

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

In recent years, southern Africa has been the last bastion for elephant protection. Countries such as Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have been regarded as the leaders of elephant conservation in Africa. While countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania have seen substantial decreases in their elephant populations, many southern African countries have seen an increase in their numbers. Read more »

Fissures Within South Africa’s Governing Party

by John Campbell Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) wave a party flag during the party's 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, South Africa, January 9, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko) Supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) wave a party flag during the party's 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg, South Africa, January 9, 2016. (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) has long been a big tent, with its membership united by opposition to apartheid and, less salient, support for “nonracial” democracy. Conventional wisdom has seen the ANC membership, policy, and electoral support as revolving around four poles or tendencies:  the “democrats,” devoted to Nelson Mandela’s vision of nonracial democracy and the protection of human rights; the South African Communist Party (SACP), in many ways a Marxist party of a generation ago in Western Europe, but also devoted to a nonracial state; the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which promotes the interests of the country’s “labor aristocracy” rather than the unskilled unemployed; and the “Africanists,”  those who want a redistribution of wealth from whites to blacks and an assertion of black identity that recalls the Black Power movement in the United States. (Many of them would drop the nonracial modifiers of democracy.) Depending on the issue, support varies for each of these “tendencies,” and there is substantial overlap. In any event, however sliced and diced, the ANC is likely to remain intact to contest the August provincial and local government elections. Read more »

Nigeria’s Female Suicide Bombers

by John Campbell Tuesday, April 12, 2016
A security officer scans a woman entering a health clinic at Minawao refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Joe Penney) A security officer scans a woman entering a health clinic at Minawao refugee camp in Minawao, Cameroon, March 15, 2016. (Reuters/Joe Penney)

Boko Haram’s suicide bomber female recruits are objects of fascination and horror. The New York Times, citing the Long War Journal, says that Boko Haram has used at least 105 women and girls for suicide attacks since June 2014. In addition, UNICEF reports that Boko Haram has used an increased number of child suicide bombers; 75 percent of these children are young girls. As a tactic, suicide bombing is remarkably successful, killing hundreds and undermining popular confidence in the Nigerian government’s ability to provide security in areas liberated from Boko Haram. Read more »