Media Review for December 11, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/11/2012

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

Mali’s PM Diarra resigns after arrest by military
Mali’s Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra announced his resignation and that of his government on national television early on Tuesday, just hours after he was arrested by the rebel soldiers behind a March coup. France 24

Opinion: Terror central in Mali
Northern Mali, says Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Africa, has become “the largest territory controlled by Islamic extremists in the world.” A Taliban-style rule of stonings and amputations has been imposed, and a dire emergency is unfolding.[...] Not to worry. U.N. officials say that the terrorists will be subdued by a military intervention — but not before the fall of 2013. The extraordinary delay is due not to any debate over the need for armed action.[...] So why the holdup? Mr. Ban contends that “fundamental questions on how the force would be led, sustained, trained, equipped and financed remain unanswered.” The United Nations so far has declined to pick up the estimated $500 million cost, but the African states don’t have the funds. The Washington Post

Algeria, US meet on Mali crisis
US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns paid a visit to Algeria last Thursday (December 6th) to discuss the situation in Mali and ways to boost bilateral co-operation. Algeria and the US have a “shared concern” on “the danger of violent extremist groups using northern Mali as a safe haven”, according to Burns. Magharebia

U.S., France differ over how to deal with “explosive” Mali
Northern Mali, plagued by Islamist extremists and gripped by an aid disaster, is “one of the potentially most explosive corners of the world,” the United Nations warned on Monday, as the United States and France differed over how to tackle the crisis. Reuters

Frustrated Malians threaten to go it alone against Al Qaeda
A growing number of Malians, including in the military, feel abandoned by the international community and are advocating unilateral action to reclaim the north from Islamist militia if foreign armies are too slow to the rescue. Ahram Online

Mali: Heightened Risk of Kidnaps and Attacks in Bamako and Mining Areas
Lack of kidnap targets in the north and increased jihadist capabilities raise risks of kidnap and IED attacks in Bamako and mining areas On November 20, six gunmen abducted a Portuguese-born Frenchman from the town of Diema in the western Kayes region, which borders Senegal and Mauritania. This indicates a southward geographical expansion of jihadist activity from bases in the northern regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal. The militant Islamist group, Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), claimed responsibility for the kidnap. The hostage is currently being held near Timbuktu, about 700km from Diema. Think Africa Press

UN blacklists MUJAO
The UN Security Council last Wednesday (December 5th) sanctioned al-Qaeda splinter group Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). Under the resolution, “UN member states have to freeze the assets of groups and individuals on this black list, impose a ban on arms sales and a travel ban on all of its members,” according to AFP. Magharebia

Al Qaeda may have chemical weapons, Spain’s counter-terror chief warns
The head of National Police counter-terrorist intelligence, Commissioner-General Enrique Baron, told a strategic security conference in Barcelona that it was believed that the self-styled Al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb – AQMI – could have acquired such arms in Libya or elsewhere during the Arab Spring last year. He also warned that the group was encouraging attacks against Spain. The Telegraph

Obama’s Sudan envoy to quit
Princeton Lyman, US special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, is leaving his post, less than two weeks after warning that distrust between the two states was undermining crucial security and oil pacts. President Barack Obama announced Lyman’s departure in a statement, praising him for doing a “tremendous job” in realizing the promise of an independent South Sudan and of working toward two states “living side by side in peace.” AFP

South Sudan: Wau clashes leave 25 dead – former Commissioner
The former Commissioner of Wau County, John Peter Miskin, said Sunday that 25 people had been killed after South Sudan’s army fired live bullets on a group protesting against the administrative headquarters in the county being moved. Sudan Tribune

US sending 20 more F-16s to Egypt, despite turmoil in Cairo
Instability in Egypt, where a newly-elected Islamic government teeters over an angry population, isn’t enough to stop the U.S. from sending more than 20 F-16 fighter jets, as part of a $1 billion foreign aid package. The first four jets are to be delivered to Egypt beginning Jan. 22, a source at the naval air base in Fort Worth, where the planes have been undergoing testing, told FoxNews.com. The North African nation already has a fleet of more than 200 of the planes and the latest shipment merely fulfills an order placed two years ago. But given the uncertainty in Cairo, some critics wonder if it is wise to be sending more top gun planes. Fox News

Rice’s ties to African leaders questioned
A New York Times op-ed titled, “Susan Rice and Africa’s Despots,” received harsh criticism from Michael O’Hanlon, of the Brookings Institution, who called the piece’s argument “absurd.” [...] Salem Solomon, who wrote the editorial, said, Rice “has shown a surprising and unsettling sympathy for Africa’s despots.” These leaders included Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia; Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea, Jerry J. Rawlings of Ghana, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Yoweri K. Museveni of Uganda. O’Hanlon told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that, after reading the op-ed, he did his own research and realized that some of the leaders mentioned had run five of the best countries in Africa, in terms of “economic importance and eternal stability,” making Rice’s relationship with them purposeful. msnbc

Obama urged to cut aid to Rwanda as DR Congo conflict gets renewed attention in Congress
President Obama should immediately cut all military aid to Rwanda and appoint a presidential envoy to respond to the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 15 human-rights organizations urged in a letter to the president Monday. “As the situation once again dramatically deteriorates in eastern Congo, the U.S. response to the crisis has patently failed and is out of step with other Western nations,” the letter states. “The United States must take immediate steps to address meaningfully one of the greatest ongoing humanitarian crises of our generation.” The Hill

DR Congo: Over 600 schools looted or damaged by conflict this year
New clashes in the North Kivu province have more than doubled the total number of schools affected by conflict this year to over 600, UNICEF said today. At least 240,000 students have missed weeks of schooling as a result of the conflict since April. In the aftermath of the recent fighting that led to the displacement of more than 130,000 people, families and parties involved in the conflict have since September, occupied or looted some 250 additional schools in North and South Kivu province in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). UNICEF

Heavy fighting in northern CAR, many flee: military
Heavy fighting broke out Monday between armed men and forces of the Central African Republic in the key northern city of Ndele, causing many residents to flee, a military source said. “Armed men entered the city firing automatic weapons. Then loud detonations started being heard,” forcing many people to flee to neighbouring towns or the bush, the military source told AFP. AFP

West Africa: Defining piracy in the Gulf of Guinea
In July last year President Boni Yayi of Benin sent a worried letter to the UN secretary-general. His country was being threatened by the activities of pirates, who were scaring shipping away from the ports on which his country’s revenues depend. He wanted international help of the kind which had been deployed against piracy off the coast of Somalia. IRIN

Ghana pulls off sixth ‘free and fair’ election in model for region
Ghana has once again voted freely and fairly in a presidential election, electing its president for four more years and bolstering its image as a stable democracy in a region where smooth elections are rare. The election victory for President John Dramani Mahama followed the death of former President John Atta Mills in July as well as a contentious campaign largely fought over how best to manage the country’s education system. CS Monitor

Mandela Hospitalization Punctuates ANC Leadership Change
Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized just a week before South Africa’s ruling party gathers to choose a leader who will be heir apparent to the presidency. As the political storm clouds gather, some citizens say they are losing faith in the party that inextricably is tied to the beloved former president. South Africa’s ruling African National Congress turned 100-years old this year, and welcomed the event with a raucous celebration involving party stalwarts and foreign heads of state. VOA

Moroccans Fear That Flickers of Democracy Are Fading
[...] A year ago, it seemed Moroccans were giddy with the sense that they had found a gentle, negotiated answer to the popular uprisings in the streets. The country’s king, Mohammed VI, 49, defused angry protesters by volunteering to share his power. Within months, Morocco had a new Constitution. [...] But these days, many here are questioning whether the king and his entourage really gave up anything at all. Telquel, perhaps the country’s most influential magazine, ran a cover story this fall saying that the palace had gradually taken back its concessions: the king’s shadow cabinet was interfering at will and was even sending its own emissaries to the United States and Brussels when Moroccan interests needed tending to. The New York Times

African Court Not Ready for International Crimes
The three year old impasse between the African Union (AU) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) is being further complicated by plans to expand the jurisdiction of African Court on Human and People’s Rights (African Court) to cover grave international crimes. While new leadership in the two bodies offers a chance at reconciliation, African states must live up to their obligations to hold perpetrators to account rather than diluting the mandate of the over-stretched African Court. African Arguments

U.S. knew for years of Benghazi extremism
Senior State Department, defense and intelligence officials were well aware that Benghazi and its surrounding area harbored al Qaeda-linked extremists long before the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city. Benghazi became famous last year as the birthplace of the revolution that swept Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi from power. But in recent interviews with The Washington Times, several former high-level officials explained that eastern Libya was notorious in Washington’s counterterrorism community for more than a decade as a hub for jihadists leaving for or returning from insurgencies abroad. The Washington Times

US intelligence sees fight ahead over water, food
Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2030, with most people middle class, connected by technology, protected by advanced health care and the United States and China perhaps cooperating to lead the way. That’s the best-case scenario in a report, Global Trends 2030, released Monday by the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council. In the worst-case scenario, the rising population leads to conflict over water and food, especially in the Mideast and Africa, and the instability contributes to global economic collapse. AP on The Economic Times

Lost in Cyberspace: Why the State Department’s proposed new Twitter restrictions are a terrible idea
According to a draft U.S. State Department document obtained by the blog Diplopundit, State employees tweeting in their official capacity may soon have to submit their tweets to a two-day review before posting them. Like other measures being considered in Foggy Bottom, the restrictions on tweeting are meant to ensure employees do not write things that could “damage the department” or disclose “protected information,”. Although the review began before the U.S. Embassy in Cairo tweeted controversial denunciations of the anti-Mohamed YouTube clip that sparked riots in September, friends at State tell me that Embassy Cairo’s tweets — which were not approved by Washington — gave added urgency to the effort to draft new guidelines for online behavior. Foreign Policy

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