Media Review for March 19, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 03/19/2012

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

Sudan: George Clooney arrested in Washington DC
Clooney and other protesters, including his father Nick, Virginia congressman Jim Moran, and civil rights leader Ben Jealous, were placed in the back of a US Secret Service van and taken away. The group of activists had been given three verbal warnings not to cross a police line as they gathered outside the embassy. Others at the prostest included Martin Luther King III. They blame the government of Sudan for attacks that have killed civilians there. The Telegraph

Villages razed in Sudan’s South Kordofan
Thousands of people in the Sudanese border region of South Kordofan have fled their homes to the nearby mountains, fearing attacks by Sudanese forces that have left entire villages devastated. Al Jazeera’s Peter Greste gained access to the remote region and documented evidence of villages and crops destroyed and spoke to people who said they had abandoned their homes out of fear that they would be killed if they stayed. Al Jazeera

Exclusive: Congo under scrutiny over Hezbollah business links
Democratic Republic of Congo has awarded lucrative forestry concessions to a company controlled by a Lebanese businessman who also runs a firm subject to sanctions by the United States as a front for Hezbollah. The 2011 concessions issued by Congo’s environment ministry to the Trans-M company, seen by Reuters, could complicate Washington’s efforts to curb what it says are the Lebanese militant movement’s growing business activities in Africa. Reuters

Africa: U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy at Risk
Mali’s foreign minister, Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, traveled to Paris during what’s been a particularly bitter month of March, in a bid to seek help from the former colonial power in this West African location strategically located astride the “Arab” Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa. These geo-cultural concepts are out of date, as is the notion that France can solve the problems of the component parts of what used to be called l’Afrique Occidentale Française, but Mr. Boubèye’s urgent visit is an indication that mentalities sometimes move along less quickly than facts on the ground. The American Spectator

Mali clashes displace 95 000 – UN
Clashes between the army and Tuareg rebels in northern Mali have forced 195 000 people to flee their homes since mid-January, the United Nations humanitarian office Ocha said on Thursday. “The number of people displaced by the conflict continues to increase and is approaching 195 000, including nearly 100 000 who have fled abroad,” read a statement from the agency. News 24

Lethal “cocktail” threatens Africa’s Sahel
Abdoulaye Mahamadou watches with a growing sense of trepidation as the new arrivals to his Niger desert village emerge every morning from flimsy tents made from cloth rags and sticks. Mahamadou, chief of the 1,600-head village of Sinegodar, is doing all he can to help them. But these 13,000 refugees from a Tuareg rebel uprising just over the border in Mali are quite literally eating him out of house and home. Reuters

Celebretarian Intervention
Between the Bieber and Gaga-fueled spread of the Kony 2012 campaign and George Clooney’s arrest in Washington, celebrity activism seems to be the trending topic of the moment. Activists tend to grumble at celebrity do-gooders, but cable networks and politicians tend to focus on the world’s undercovered hotspots more easily when there’s a famous face to go along with a worthy cause. Here’s a look at 10 stars who, for better or worse, are shaping the debate on global poverty and conflict. Foreign Policy

Uganda Responds To Kony 2012 Video
Uganda’s government has taken to the Internet to correct a “false impression” about the country it says was created by a U.S. celebrity-backed online campaign to hunt down fugitive warlord Joseph Kony. The Huffington Post

Five Myths about Africa (StopKony)
Over the past few weeks, the online campaign Kony2012 by the charity Invisible Children has brought unparalleled attention to international efforts to capture Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army and the perpetrator of horrific crimes throughout parts of central and east Africa. Despite the traction the movement has gained, Invisible Children has also come under intense criticism for a number of issues, including its inability to accurately identify the current location of the LRA and uncertainties about the group’s finances. Much of this criticism is valid, however, certain arguments both for and against Kony2012 are built on misconceptions about Africa and modern life on the continent. We’d like to explain what life in Africa today is really like. Brookings

Reintegrating LRA Fighters
The recent release of Invisible Children’s viral video, Kony 2012, revealed how ill-informed opinion can push for action that might not only be futile, but damaging. This article is neither about military intervention nor media influence. It is about another, often overlooked, aspect of the LRA conflict: the social wounds of the people of northern Uganda and prospects for their healing. Think Africa Press

UK steps in to help West Africa in fight to overturn EU fishing abuses
Small-scale fishermen in West Africa have appealed to the UK fisheries minister Richard Benyon to protect their future by voting on Monday to restrict over-fishing in the coastal waters of developing countries. Leaked EU documents seen by the Guardian suggest that Britain has successfully blocked Spanish proposals which, if passed, would allow EU fishermen to continue to overfish African and other waters. The Guardian

Egypt’s Copts pay last respects to Pope Shenuda III
Egyptian Copts were on Sunday paying their last respects to their spiritual leader Pope Shenuda III, who died at the weekend aged 88. The pope’s body will remain on display in Cairo’s St Mark’s Cathedral until his burial on Tuesday. France 24

Spy Chief and Torturer for Qaddafi Is Captured
Abdullah el-Senussi, the former intelligence chief and brother-in-law of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was arrested Saturday at an airport in Mauritania, the authorities there said, in the most significant capture of a former official of the Qaddafi government since the apprehension of the dictator’s son Seif al-Islam by Libyan fighters in November. The NY Times

Nigeria: Failing State, Fading Peacekeepers
Recently, this column analysed Nigeria’s defence spending and raised concerns about the poor levels of equipment of our armed forces. The write-up reflected pride in the Army for its various peace-keeping roles from the 1960s to the recent ones in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Somalia and concluded that our military deserved credit for stabilising and democratising Sierra Leone and Liberia in the 1990s. This, my brother Sanusi Lamido Sanusi once tragically observed, is a peculiar Nigerian tendency of exporting what we lack (like true democracy, internal security), while ironically importing what we have in abundance (like petroleum products)! allAfrica

‘Narco state’ Bissau at crossroads with election
Voters in Guinea Bissau cast their ballots in an election on Sunday which was meant to steer the coup-prone West African state towards stability, but could instead extend its decades-long history of turmoil if the results are contested. Its international partners are keen to see the tiny nation, whose president died in January after a long illness, clamp down on rampant drugs trafficking that has made it the main African transit point for South American cocaine bound for Europe. Reuters

Senegal: Macky Sall, Wade’s submissive challenger?
The Senegalese presidential election run-off, set for March 25, will be a battle between incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade and his former ally Macky Sall. The locking of horns between the two marks the end of a political collaboration. The Africa report

Algeria: Self-belief outstrips reality
Despite the inspiration of the Arab Spring, Algeria’s Islamists are not as organised as their brothers next door quashed a nascent victory for the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS). The Africa Report

Africa Union fails to break leadership deadlock
Leaders of eight African Union countries failed on Saturday to break a deadlock over the leadership of the 54-member body, highlighting divisions that have repeatedly stymied its decision-making. Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe linked to Iran sanctions busting
Zimbabwe’s role as a potential conduit for military equipment destined for Iran is likely to come under the spotlight as international agencies probe claims that bribes were solicited in South Africa for sanctions-busting deals with the Persian Gulf state. Times Live

Amisom now racing to pacify Somalia ahead of Kenya poll
Events have become hectic in Somalia in the past few days, with a major reconfiguration taking place of how the African Union Peace Keeping Mission will work towards stabilising the country. It is now emerging that Ethiopia is planning to withdraw its troops from Somalia at the end of April. This will allow Uganda, Burundi and Kenya to take an expanded role in managing the stabilisation of Somalia, which is second phase of the peacekeeping strategy in that country. East African

UK-Tanzania: BAE Systems is fined over military contract fraud
BAE Systems is to pay at least £29.5m towards educational projects in Tanzania following an agreement with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). BAE was fined £500,000 back in 2010 for failing to keep proper records of payments it made to an adviser. These payments were to win a £28m Tanzanian military radar contract. Africa Defense Journal

Uganda: Security Minister in land grabbing scandal
The accusation. Minister Muruli-Mukasa bought the public land at Shs650 per acre. He allegedly forcibly evicted people after selling them the land at Shs250,000 per acre. At least 140 families in Kyangwali Sub-county, Hoima District, have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, accusing the Security Minister of illegally evicting them from their land after he sold it to them. The petitioners also say Minister Muruli-Mukasa is using the army to destroy their property in an attempt to scare the settlers off the land. Daily Monitor

Zuma warns against illicit capital outflow
Replying to questions in the National Assembly, he said the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) recently estimated that US50 billion (about R383.28bn) was illegally exported out of the African continent every year. This was done through tax evasion, incorrect invoicing, import over-pricing, and under-pricing exports. According to information given to the African Union, the countries most affected were South Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Nigeria. Sowetan Live

Mauritania: Slave master becomes an abolitionist
As a member of Mauritania’s slave-owning class, Abdel Nasser Ould Ethmane could have had anything he wanted as a present for his circumcision ceremony: a toy, money, a camel, or, as his brother would choose, a bicycle. But the 7-year-old wanted something more sinister. He chose Yebawa Ould Keihel, a young boy with skin the color of coal. At that moment, Abdel became a slave master. Editor’s note: Mauritania was the last country to abolish slavery. This story is part of a special report, “Slavery’s Last Stronghold.” CNN

Food and the Arab spring: Let them eat baklava
It is sadly appropriate that Mohamad Bouazizi, the Tunisian whose self-immolation triggered the first protest of the Arab spring, should have been a street vendor, selling food. From the start, food has played a bigger role in the upheavals than most people realise. Now, the Arab spring is making food problems worse. The Economist

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