Media Review for January 10, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 01/10/2012

Please note: The following news items are presented here for informational purposes. The views expressed within them are those of the authors and/or individuals quoted, not those of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the National Defense University, or the Department of Defense.

Today’s News

Corps’ Africa mission may be growing
A select group of Marines is quietly battling terrorism across a wide swath of Africa as part of the first wave of what could become a long-term mission for the Corps. The 180 members of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 12 are serving in the Trans-Sahel region of Africa, stretches across the center of the continent’s north along the Sahara Desert. The unit has also deployed farther east, in countries such as Djibouti. Marine Corps Times

Guinea-Bissau president dies
President Malam Bacai Sanha, who was elected in this tiny, coup-prone nation on Africa’s western coast about two years ago after the previous leader was assassinated, died Monday in Paris after a lengthy hospitalization. No immediate cause was given but the 64-year-old president was known to have diabetes, and had undergone medical treatment in both France and neighboring Senegal during his time in office. National radio announced his death Monday afternoon. AP

Guinea Bissau Looks to Power Transfer After President’s Death
Recently strengthened relations between Guinea Bissau’s Prime Minister and the military should help the country transition to new leadership after the death of President Malam Bacai Sanha was announced Monday, said International Crisis Group Senior Analyst, Vincent Foucher. VOA

Compaore to mediate in Guinea Bissau
Burkina Faso’s president has accepted a request by the African Union to broker mediation in the politico-military conflict in Guinea Bissau. Daily Nation

Boko Haram and U.S. plans in Africa
Oil-rich Nigeria is gripped by an escalating uprising by Islamist militants that has triggered massacres of Christians, including a Christmas Day suicide bombing blitz, which the federal government seems unable to contain. Amid deepening suspicions the Islamists are aided by al-Qaida’s North African wing, which has been extending its operations southward of late, there are fears the bloodletting could plunge Africa’s most populous state into a sectarian civil war. UPI

N/Delta Militants Warn Boko Haram, Threaten Oil Installations
A militant group in the Niger Delta has warned that it will be forced to retaliate the killing of Christians and other Southerners by the extremist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, if the federal government failed to tackle the security challenges in parts of the country. This was just as it threatened to attack major oil installations and military bases if nothing urgent was done to check the ugly situation. Leadership

Nationwide Strike Begins in Nigeria Over Gas Costs
A national strike paralyzed much of Nigeria on Monday, with more than 10,000 demonstrators swarming its commercial capital to protest soaring fuel prices and decades of government corruption in the oil-rich country. ABC News

Niger Delta group alleges plan to assassinate Jonathan, Mark, COAS •Warns of disintegration of Nigeria
Niger Delta leaders on Sunday alleged that some people were planning to assassinate President Goodluck Jonathan, Senate president, David Mark, Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Onyeador Ihejirika and warned that the country would face crisis if any harm came to their son. Nigerian Tribune

Somali insurgents’ adoption of Twitter takes Kenya by storm
The Twitter account of a Somali militant group threatening stability in the horn of Africa has garnered a surprise following among social media devotees in Kenya. “Yes, I am following them, out of curiosity,” said Sumeya Ali, a student at the United States International University in Nairobi. “They say keep your enemies closer. So, I guess that would be one of the main reasons why I am following them.” UPI

Ex-US soldier charged with trying to join Shebab
A former American soldier with specialist intelligence and cryptology training has been charged with trying to join Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants, US justice officials said Monday. Craig Baxam, a 24-year-old from the Maryland suburbs outside Washington, appeared briefly in court Monday near the US capital to hear charges that he attempted to join — and provide material support to — a terrorist group. AFP

Somalia and Ethiopia: Might things get better for once?
How many countries does it take to chase away a ragtag band of al-Qaeda fighters? In Somalia, the answer is a hatful. The country has a “transitional” government that has for years failed to put up a serious challenge to the al-Qaeda-linked Shabab militia. Backing the government are soldiers from Burundi, Djibouti and Uganda who are fighting the Shabab under an African Union mandate. The Economist

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Report on “Piracy off the coast of Somalia”
Somali piracy is a major problem for the UK and the international community. As a state whose strengths and vulnerabilities are distinctly maritime, the UK should play a leading role in the international response to piracy. The upcoming international conference to be hosted by the UK in February must produce decisive results. UK Parliament

Key political risks to watch in Rwanda
Just over a year since President Paul Kagame’s landslide election win, observers have lauded economic progress in Rwanda but warned a lack of political freedom and media restrictions have dented any reforms. Defence Web

22 killed in new ethnic violence in South Sudan
Members of a South Sudanese tribe targeted in massive attacks late last month have killed 22 people and burned down three villages of the opposing tribe in new attacks, a state governor said Monday. AP

S. Sudan: In a Fledgling Country, Perils for the Press
[...] At the dialogue forum for the media and security services, both sides were called on to get along with each other. But the event didn’t seem to ease tensions. A spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, or S.P.L.A. as the new country’s army is more popularly known, told reporters what they could cover and what would be risky for them — a list that included covering the army, for example. NYT

East Africa: EAC Political Federation Draws Mixed Feelings
As negotiations on the establishment of the East African Community Political Federation continue, a cross section of Rwandans has expressed concerns over the ultimate EAC integration process. The stage is the fourth step in the bloc’s integration process after the customs union, common market and monetary union, whose negotiations are equally still underway. allAfrica

France’s RFI radio back on air in DR Congo
France’s RFI international radio network Monday was allowed to resume operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo after broadcasts were cut at the start of the year over its election coverage. AFP

Peace still elusive in Africa – pope
Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said peace and reconciliation in Africa remained a “distant” goal, pointing to anti-Christian attacks in northern Nigeria that have killed dozens of people in recent days. “On the continent of Africa … it is essential that co-operation between Christian communities and governments favour progress along the path of justice, peace and reconciliation, where respect is shown for members of all ethnic groups and all religions,” the pope said in a speech at the Vatican. News 24

South Africa’s ANC reaches a milestone, but loses its way
Last weekend the African National Congress celebrated its centenary. The party, which played a pivotal role in the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa, has much to look back on with pride, and the celebrations included concerts, church services and a political rally. The Sydney Morning Herald

Triumph of the New Wilsonism
When operation Odyssey Dawn commenced in the skies over Libya on March 19, 2011, it represented a major turnaround in U.S. policy. Only nine months earlier, U.S. ambassador Gene Cretz had characterized the regime as a “strategic ally” of the United States due to Libyan cooperation on counterterrorism and nonproliferation issues (and its halting, tentative steps toward greater openness). Now Libya found itself on the receiving end of conventional U.S. military power for repressing a civilian population agitating for governmental change. [...] This marks a fundamental break with past American emphasis on serious threats to U.S. national security as the prime motivation for action, especially armed intervention.The National Interest

Zimbabwe gold deposits ‘claimed’ by Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF
A gold rush near a Zimbabwean mining city has raised fears of a violent crackdown by security forces aiming to tighten President Robert Mugabe’s grip on power. [...] Its gold wealth has now been “claimed” by Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, NewsDay said, in a potential replay of Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields, where Zanu-PF has allegedly siphoned off tens of millions of dollars. The Guardian

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