Media Review for April 27, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 04/27/2012

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

Former Liberian President Convicted of War Crimes
Charles G. Taylor, the former president of Liberia and once a powerful warlord, was convicted by an international tribunal on Thursday of 11 counts of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes committed in Sierra Leone during its civil war in the 1990s. He is the first head of state to be convicted by an international court since the Nuremberg trials after World War II. The New York Times

Taylor conviction sends warning to tyrants
Former Liberian President Charles Taylor on Thursday became the first head of state since World War II convicted by an international war crimes court, a legal landmark observers say sent a clear message to tyrants around the world that their days of impunity are numbered. AP

How diamonds fuel Africa’s conflicts
Conflict or “blood” diamonds are illegally traded to fund conflict in war-torn areas, particularly in central and western Africa, according to the World Diamond council, which represents the commercial diamond trade. The United Nations defines conflict diamonds as “…diamonds that originate from areas controlled by forces or factions opposed to legitimate and internationally recognized governments, and are used to fund military action in opposition to those governments, or in contravention of the decisions of the Security Council.” CNN

How to Defuse Sudan Conflict
Tensions along the oil-rich border that divides Sudan and recently independent South Sudan have escalated in recent weeks, raising the prospect of a full-scale war between the longtime foes. China, which maintains considerable oil interests in both countries, has called for restraint (Reuters) and vowed to work with the United States to bring both sides back to the negotiating table. Jendayi Frazer, the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, says while the role of mediation should remain with the African Union, the United States and China are vital players in this conflict that can bring pressure to bear on both parties. Council on Foreign Relations

Arab League condemns South Sudan “aggression”
Cairo: The Arab League on Thursday condemned South Sudan’s “military aggression” against an oil-rich border region claimed by Sudan while also supporting Sudan’s right to defend itself. The statement came as some fear growing disputes between the two countries may soon lead to an all-out war. ZeeNews

AU pushing roadmap for resolution of conflict between Khartoum and Juba
The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) unveiled a new roadmap aimed at resolving the ongoing conflict between Sudan and South Sudan in the wake of the worst military confrontation since the East African nation split into two last year. Sudan Tribune

Bin Laden Worried About Arab Spring, Says US Intelligence Chief
[...] In a rare interview, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told VOA that at the time of his death Osama bin Laden was concerned that his al-Qaida movement was being sidelined by the forces of what came to be known as the “Arab Spring.” “They [Arab Spring protests] weren’t fomented or inspired,” Clapper said. “They weren’t a global jihadist sort of thing. They had other aspirations, other motivations. And so I think there was some concern to the extent that he was aware of all this – again, given his isolation – that would cause him and his movement to be marginalized.” VOA

FBI chief visited Algeria for security talks: US embassy
FBI chief Robert S. Mueller met with Algerian security and justice officials here this week, the US embassy said Thursday, in a visit coinciding with several crises and terror threats in sub-Saharan Africa. AFP

Africa: For African Anti-Terrorism, Region Must Lead, but U.S. Is Helping
Porous borders and weak security institutions have heightened the threat posed by violent groups in East and West Africa, and the United States is working with countries in both regions to counter the threats, not only by empowering their security forces, but also by promoting better governance, human rights practices and economic opportunities, a senior State Department official told U.S. lawmakers. United States Department of State on allAfrica

Terrorism: Ransom money finance AQIM
Several Western countries are to blame if Al Qaida in Islamic Maghreb not only extended its activities all over the Sahel, but also cast its sinister shadow on several other countries in Western Africa; indeed, Western countries decided to pay the ransom for their fellow countrymen and women who had been either directly kidnapped by Al Qaida or given to the Jihadist group by other groups. ANSA med

Ecowas to send troops after Mali, Guinea-Bissau coups
West African leaders have agreed to send troops to Mali and Guinea-Bissau following coups in both countries. The regional grouping Ecowas said after an emergency summit that it expected both countries to organise presidential elections within the next 12 months. Between 500 and 600 troops will be sent immediately to Guinea-Bissau. BBC

Guinea Bissau: Media Blackout Follows Coup
The coup against the government of Guinea-Bissau has been followed by “grave” media freedom violations, including threats to journalists, a news blackout and media censorship, say the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Freedom House. According to RSF, the military high command suspended all media activity in the weekend following the 12 April coup, for the sake of “national cohesion.” IFEX

Senegal and Mali: Some thoughts on West African democracy
Over the two months, the state of West African democracy has been tested on several occasions. In Senegal, after second round elections, citizens elected a new president, their once Prime Minister Macky Sall. In Mali, Coupists, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, overthrew elected President Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), even though presidential elections were originally scheduled for April 19. And in Guinea Bissau a chaotic military junta has grabbed hold of power in the face of civilian political challenge to its ascendancy. All are pivotal events for the region and the continent. They are keystone markers that may reveal as much about the ardent need to preserve and build democracy in Africa, as the precarious and fragile foundation on which it is built. African Argument

Security Council extends sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire for another year
The Security Council today renewed for another year the set of sanctions imposed on Côte d’Ivoire, while adjusting the arms embargo in light of the need for weapons and ammunition to train and equip the country’s security forces. UN

Bombs target newspapers in Nigeria
At least seven people were killed, including one suspected suicide bomber, in three bomb blasts in central and northern Nigeria Thursday, the Red Cross said. The targets of the first two bombs were newspaper offices, the country’s president said. The third blast, in the northern state of Kaduna, was confirmed by emergency management officials, but no information on casualties or damage were immediately available. CNN

Nigeria’s security worries ahead of June qualifiers
The Nigerian Football Federation admit they have a security headache ahead of their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and 2014 World Cup qualifiers in June. The two home matches were set to be played in the northern city of Kaduna. But some players and officials have expressed concerns about playing in the city following a bombing over Easter which killed more than 30 people. BBC

Failed states are multiplying
There is a new and troubling trend in the Middle East and Africa: failed and/or nonfunctioning states. In March Anouar Boukhars of the Carnegie Endowment for International peace wrote: “The Western Sahara, a former Spanish territory annexed by Morocco despite Algerian objections, is a critical region that could quickly become part of the criminal and terrorist networks threatening North Africa and the Sahel. The Washington Post

Somalia: Asylum Seekers Forced Into Battle
Reports were released of Iran and Saudi Arabia both accusing each other of recruiting and training Somali refugees in Yemen as fighters, Radio Garowe reports. An Iranian news agency FNA said last week that 1,300 Somali refugees were transferred to a military base in Saudi Arabia to be trained to fight Houthis a Shia insurgent group operating in Yemen. The Yemeni government alongside US, and Saudi support has waged a war against the insurgent group. Garowe Online

Saving Somalia
The influx of Turkish aid workers has corresponded with a fresh interest by the Ankara government in Somali affairs. In 2010, Turkey established itself as a key international player in Somalia by hosting an international conference in Istanbul that focused on security and investment in a country more often thought of for piracy and social chaos. Then last August, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a landmark trip to Mogadishu, traveling with his family and a plane full of ministers and advisors. They only stayed for the day, but the visit — the first by a non-African leader in more than 20 years — made a lasting impression. Foreign policy

Analysis: South Africa’s Zuma on track for second term
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is the favorite to win a second term to lead the ruling ANC in a race dominated by factional politics instead of policy reforms for Africa’s most powerful economy. Reuters

Julius Malema’s future: Be careful what you wish for!
If you are happily waving Julius goodbye, beware, says CHRIS GIBBONS, you never know what might come back. You could be unpleasantly surprised. Daily Maverick

Mobile money in Africa: One business where the poorest continent is miles ahead
MANY people know that “mobile money”—financial transactions on mobile phones—has taken off in Africa. How far it has gone, though, still comes as a bit of a shock. Three-quarters of the countries that use mobile money most frequently are in Africa, and mobile banking in some of them has reached extraordinary levels. The Economist

  View Past Issues