John Campbell

Africa in Transition

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

Amnesty International Calls for International Criminal Court Prosecution of Nigerian Military

by John Campbell Thursday, June 4, 2015
A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters) A soldier walks past a burnt building in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters)

In a long expected report, Amnesty International has claimed that the Nigerian security services have detained 20,000 men and boys since 2009 and that 7,000 of those detainees died in detention under inhumane circumstances. Amnesty also reports that 17,000 people were killed in northeast Nigeria in the same time frame, meaning that 41 percent of deaths occurred under Nigerian custody. Read more »

New Possibilities for the U.S.-Nigeria Security Relationship

by John Campbell Wednesday, June 3, 2015
A signboard rests against a wall in a compound in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye) A signboard rests against a wall in a compound in Michika town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Courtesy Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Following the international response over Boko Haram’s 2014 kidnapping of hundreds of school girls from the town of Chibok, the Obama administration and other partners offered assistance to Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan. However, cooperation never really got off the ground. The nadir was reached in December 2014 when Nigeria unilaterally cancelled a small U.S. military training mission. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update May 23-May 29

by John Campbell Tuesday, June 2, 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 May 23, 2015 to May 29, 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 »

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari’s Inauguration Address

by John Campbell Monday, June 1, 2015
Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed swears in Muhammadu Buhari (C) as Nigeria's president while Buhari's wife Aisha looks on at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria May 29, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters) Chief Justice of Nigeria Mahmud Mohammed swears in Muhammadu Buhari (C) as Nigeria's president while Buhari's wife Aisha looks on at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria May 29, 2015. (Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

In Nigeria’s current circumstances, it is hard to imagine a better inaugural address than the one President Buhari delivered on May 29. It strikes all the right notes. He accepted his new role as an international leader and thanked former president Goodluck Jonathan for his “statesmanship” in the transition, everyone involved in the electoral process, and Cameroon, Chad, and Niger for their part in the fight against Boko Haram. The speech was plain and devoid of national or personal self-congratulation and baroque rhetorical flourishes. It was also very short—only 1,909 words—but packed with substance. Read more »

Inauguration Day in Nigeria

by John Campbell Friday, May 29, 2015
Nigeria's outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan (L) congratulates incoming President Muhammadu Buhari after the handover at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde) Nigeria's outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan (L) congratulates incoming President Muhammadu Buhari after the handover at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, May 29, 2015. (Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde)

Muhammadu Buhari will be inaugurated president of Nigeria today, May 29, in Abuja’s Eagle Square. To call an occasion “historic” is hackneyed. But, this time, it is true. Read more »

What’s Happening With Boko Haram?

by John Campbell Thursday, May 28, 2015
An armoured tank is seen abandoned along a road in Bazza town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters) An armoured tank is seen abandoned along a road in Bazza town, after the Nigerian military recaptured it from Boko Haram, in Adamawa state, May 10, 2015. (Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters)

Nigeria inaugurates its new president, Muhammadu Buhari, on May 29. It is the first time a Nigerian head of state has defeated an incumbent at the ballot box. Buhari’s successful campaign was largely based on the need to restore security and to counter corruption. Now, as he takes office, the radical Islamist insurrection labeled Boko Haram is the country’s most immediate security threat. Read more »

Major Airlines Ban Animal Cargo

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Wednesday, May 27, 2015
An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, with Tail Number A6-EEV, lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, April 11, 2015. (Reuters/Louis Nastro) An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, with Tail Number A6-EEV, lands at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, April 11, 2015. (Reuters/Louis Nastro)

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

In April, South African Airways (SAA) announced that SAA Cargo, the company’s airfreight division, would no longer transport hunting trophies from rhinoceroses, elephants, tigers, and lions internationally. Shortly after, in May, Emirates Airlines announced that they would no longer transport the very same trophies. Read more »

Nigeria Security Tracker: Weekly Update May 16-May 22

by John Campbell Tuesday, May 26, 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 May 16, 2015 to May 22, 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 »

The Conflicting Messages of Jacob Zuma

by Guest Blogger for John Campbell Friday, May 22, 2015
South African President Jacob Zuma attends the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called to discuss industrialisation in southern Africa, in Harare, April 29, 2015.  (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters) South African President Jacob Zuma attends the summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called to discuss industrialisation in southern Africa, in Harare, April 29, 2015. (Philimon Bulawayo/Courtesy Reuters)

This is a guest post by Cheryl Strauss Einhorn, a journalist and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has denounced the anti-immigrant violence racking his country while also promising to step up a crackdown on illegal immigration. It’s a tricky and dangerous high stakes game to play, one that does not address the nation’s underlying problems of unemployment and poverty, and that sadly puts South Africa’s stability at stake. Read more »

United States Support for African Peacekeeping

by John Campbell Thursday, May 21, 2015
U.N. peacekeepers patrol in their tank, past the deserted Kibati village, near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, August 7, 2013. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters) U.N. peacekeepers patrol in their tank, past the deserted Kibati village, near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, August 7, 2013. (Thomas Mukoya/Courtesy Reuters)

Multilateral peacekeeping operations have long been a feature of the international community’s response to African conflicts (most of which are domestic though often with outside meddling). For those concerned about African peacekeeping operations, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action has just published an important new special report by Paul D. Williams titled Enhancing U.S. Support for Peace Operations in Africa. It is a must-read for those involved in African security issues. Read more »