Media Review for May 16, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 05/16/2012

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

EU forces in anti-piracy raid on Somali mainland
The EU’s naval force off the Somali coastline on Tuesday carried out its first air strikes against pirate targets on shore, officials said. Maritime aircraft and attack helicopters took part in the attacks early in the morning on the mainland, a spokesman said. No casualties were reported in the raid along Somalia’s central coastline in the region of Galmudug. The long coastline of war-torn Somalia provides a perfect haven for pirate gangs preying on shipping off the east African coast. The Guardian

EU airstrike on Somali pirates echoes US drone strategy
An airstrike on Somali pirate logistics by EU helicopters puts EU members on footing similar to that of the US, which has used drones and special forces to target Islamist militant group Al Shabab. CS Monitor

Europe’s mainland piracy attack will escalate conflict
The midnight attack by a single helicopter firing its machine gun into half-a-dozen Somali pirate skiffs is some distance from the “shock and awe” that usually heralds the start of most campaigns. The Telegraph

Blogger Shines Light on U.S. Shadow War in East Africa
An innocuous-seeming U.S. Air Force press release. A serendipitous satellite image in Google Earth. Snapshots from a photographer on assignment at a Spanish air base. The crash of an Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter-bomber in the United Arab Emirates. These are some of the fragments of information that Italian aviation blogger David Cenciotti has assembled to reveal the best picture yet of the Pentagon’s secretive war in the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa. In a series of blog posts over the past two weeks, Cenciotti has described in unprecedented detail the powerful aerial force helping wage Washington’s hush-hush campaign of air strikes, naval bombardments and commando raids along the western edge of the Indian Ocean, including terror hot spots Yemen and Somalia. Cenciotti outlined the deployment of eight F-15Es from their home base in Idaho to the international air and naval outpost at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, north of Somalia. Wired

Privately armed ‘navies’ to protect ships off Somalia coast
Privately armed patrol boats aimed at deterring Somali pirates could be up and running by as early as next month, after a prominent insurance firm agreed to provide financial support. Following the successful introduction of armed guards aboard several merchant ships plying the waters of the Gulf of Eden and the East African coast, Martin Reith, the founder and former chief executive of the Lloyd’s of London insurer Ascot Underwriting, has taken the protection business one stage further with his plans for a Convoy Escort Programme, which will complement the overstretched naval forces in the region. The East African

Big catch in joint hunt for LRA chiefs
The capture of a top Lord’s Resistance Army field commander at the weekend is a milestone that could signal they are closing in on notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony. News of the capture of Maj-Gen Caesar Acellam by Ugandan army, must be a heart-break to Kony, since he is likely to spill the beans regarding the insurgent group’s formation, recruitment and operation plan, as well as the whereabouts of its senior commanders that the Uganda Peoples Defence Force (UPDF) troops are hunting down in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central Africa Republic jungles. Daily Nation

Al-Qaeda in northern Mali training recruits
Reports indicate a new al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) plan that may be under way to turn northern Mali into a base for training terrorists. AQIM is believed to have brought terrorist elements from Pakistan to provide training to new recruits in guerrilla warfare, use of various types of weapons, arms smuggling, and in laundering money collected from ransoms. This is in addition to providing advice to group leaders on how to deal with the world’s war against terror. Magharebia

Mali rebels face backlash after months of instability and violence
Attempts by Malian insurgents to impose sharia law in the north of the country have sparked protests against rebel control. Witnesses say Ansar Dine – the Islamic sect that controls much of northern Mali, together with Tuareg separatists the MNLA and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb – fired into the air injuring five people during protests in the northern city of Gao, including one by a stray bullet. “We received five wounded, including one by a bullet. They are all civilians,” a source at the hospital in Gao told the South African Press Association. The Guardian

Islamists block first Mali aid convoy to Timbuktu
Mali’s Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine blocked an aid convoy with tonnes of food and medical supplies for the northern city of Timbuktu objecting to the presence of women in a reception committee set up for the aid. The convoy marked the first aid deployed to Timbuktu since Mali’s government lost control of the vast northern region to separatist and Islamist rebels who capitalised on a March 22 coup in the capital Bamako to make a swift advance. DefenceWeb

Mali’s worst human rights situation in 50 years
Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by fighting in northern Mali and dozens have been subjected to arbitrary detention, extra-judicial executions or sexual violence including rape, Amnesty International said today. In a report ‘Mali: Five months of crisis, armed rebellion and military coup’ Amnesty International catalogues a litany of human rights violations committed against the backdrop of a food shortage affecting 15 million people in the Sahel region. Amnesty International

Growing concern over jihadist ‘safe haven’ in eastern Libya
Diplomats and other observers in Libya say that with elections one month away, the National Transitional Council is struggling to exert control over various militia prominent in the uprising against Moammar Gadhafi. The situation is further complicated by tribal rivalries and a growing presence of Islamist militants in some areas. One source briefed by Western intelligence officials says of particular concern is the city of Derna on the Mediterranean coast some 160 miles (300 kilometers) west of the Egyptian border. CNN

NATO downplayed civilian deaths in Libya, HRW says
Human Rights Watch issued a report Monday saying that NATO air strikes killed 72 civilians in Libya last year and accusing the Western alliance of underplaying collateral damage during the campaign that helped oust Muammar Gaddafi. France 24

Sudan’s Bashir says no S.Sudan oil exports without security
Sudan will not allow South Sudan to export any oil through its territory unless the two states settle all disputes over border security, said President Omar al-Bashir. Oil, security and frontier disputes ignited border clashes last month and for a while raised fears of full-blown war in one of Africa’s most significant oil regions. South Sudan took three quarters of Sudan’s oil production when it became independent in July under a 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war with Khartoum, Reuters reports. DefenceWeb

Sudan-South Sudan Conflict: Border Marked By New Trench As Rains Approach
[...] America and other nations are trying to stop all-out war from breaking out between Sudan and the world’s newest country, but the weather might do more to dampen hostilities. The sky is a low-hanging gray, portending seasonal rains which will turn the earth into mud, impassable to tanks and trucks. Brig. Gen. Abraham Jongroon Deng thinks the six-month rains will cool tensions. AP on the The Huffington Post

South Sudan’s announcement of $8 billion loan from China draws skepticism
The announcement made by South Sudan last month of an $8 billion loan from China appears to have been overblown, according to officials in Juba as well as diplomats. During a visit by South Sudan president Salva Kiir to Beijing, his Information Minister Barnaba Mariel Benjamin told reporters that the two sides sealed a deal on the line of credit that would be used mainly for infrastructure projects. Sudan Tribune

Uganda’s Museveni: The longer you stay, the lonelier it gets
[...] The country’s economy is at its weakest in nearly 18 years. Inflation dropped to 21 percent in March from a high of 31 percent at start of the year, and high interest rates have rattled investors and created mass discontent, sparking traders’ strikes and street uprisings. Only the army remains fiercely loyal to Museveni, but fissures have emerged over tribalised promotions. Recent leaks of secret information have shown that 86 percent of the top command of the special forces group comes from Museveni’s Western Region. Africa Report

Prosecutor seeks new Congo war crimes warrants
International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has announced new charges against a former Congolese rebel leader who is also a general in the Congolese Army despite having been already accused of war crimes.The court issued an arrest warrant for Bosco Ntaganda in 2006 for his alleged role in perpetrating crimes against humanity, including the conscription of child soldiers in an eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. CNN

Nigeria to deploy troops to Guinea Bissau within days
Nigeria will deploy troops to Guinea Bissau by May 18, Defence Minister Bello Haliru Mohammed said Monday at the opening of a meeting of military officials from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS in Abuja. France 24

Algerian women claw their way into parliament
Algeria’s legislative election saw women take almost a third of the seats, making the national assembly the most gender-balanced in the region but activists say the battle is far from won. Tiles Live

Despite Economic Growth, Food Insecurity Lingers in Africa
[...] food insecurity challenges are being faced by all Africans, as highlighted in a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which paints a gloomy picture of the food situation on the continent. The report, which was released on Tuesday, May 15, by the UNDP in Nairobi, decries what is says is the paradox of Africa being agriculturally endowed, but still acutely food insecure. IPS

Hollande faces first controversy over tribute to ‘racist’ Jules Ferry
France’s new President François Hollande started his term in office with a homage to Jules Ferry, the 19th-century politician seen as the father of the modern French education system. But Ferry was also an apologist for colonialism for racist reasons and that has aroused criticism. RFI

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