Media Review for December 13, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/13/2012

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

U.S. escalates African counter-terror war
The U.S. military is expanding its key counter-terrorism base in Africa, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, as Washington escalates a secretive shadow war against al-Qaida and its allies. Most of the attacks by U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles armed with Hellfire missiles are launched from Lemonnier. So are strikes in nearby Somalia against the al-Shabaab Islamist group, which is affiliated with al-Qaida. UPI

Sorting the terrorists
Who is a terrorist? Who is a terrorist “affiliated” with al-Qaeda? Who is really affiliated with al-Qaeda, and who in turn threatens the United States? And what does the United States do about any of it? [...] One of the newest dilemmas for the United States is what to do about Mali, where beginning in January separate groups in the northern part of the country seized areas that total the size of Texas. They defeated Malian army forces and set themselves up as governors. The Washington Post

Millions in Ransoms Fuel Militants’ Clout in West Africa
Lots of Western countries are paying enormous sums to the jihadists,” he said in a telephone interview from northern Mali, crowing about the hefty ransoms militants have collected in the region. “The source of our financing is the Western countries. They are paying for jihad.” Kidnapping is such a lucrative industry for extremists in western Africa, netting them tens of millions of dollars in recent years, that it has reinforced their control over northern Mali and greatly complicated plans for an African-led military campaign to take back Islamist-held territory. The New York Times

The Gulf of Guinea: The New Danger Zone
Within a decade, the Gulf of Guinea has become one of the most dangerous maritime areas in the world. Maritime insecurity is a major regional problem that is compromising the development of this strategic economic area and threatening maritime trade in the short term and the stability of coastal states in the long term. Initially taken by surprise, the region’s governments are now aware of the problem and the UN is organising a summit meeting on the issue. International Crisis Group

Piracy group: Make sure Somali pirates aren’t paid
A U.K.-led Piracy Ransom Task Force says the shipping industry must adopt additional measures to ensure that payments aren’t made to pirates after a successful attack. The task force’s final recommendations noted that more than $300 million in ransoms has been paid to Somali pirates since 2008. AP on Stars and Stripes

Can France and Algeria find common ground on Mali?
While France has been pushing for a military intervention in northern Mali, Algeria has been less than enthusiastic. Can French President François Hollande manage a diplomatic breakthrough during his visit to Algeria next week? France 24

UN Security Council condemns Mali PM arrest, warns of sanctions
The U.N. Security Council condemned on Tuesday the arrest of Mali’s prime minister by members of the army, which led to his resignation and complicates international efforts to push out Islamist extremists in the country’s north. Times Live

UN to deploy 2 000 extra troops, drones to revitalise DRC peacekeeping operations
The United Nations says it is considering the use of drones to monitor the activities of the M-23 and other rebel groups and militias involved in the cycle of wars being fought over Goma and the volatile North and South Kivu provinces of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). defenceWeb

Recovery and Reconciliation in Ivory Coast
The Ivory Coast, or Cote D’Ivoire, is stumbling along the road to democracy, revealing the weak legs on which President Alassane Ouattara’s government is walking. Ouattara was elected to power in 2010. Former President Laurent Gbagbo did not leave office quietly; his armed retaliation nearly brought the country to a post-election civil war. Ouattara reigned in the violence, a feat accomplished in part by forming an alliance with the Parti Démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI). The Epoch Times

Major Study Suggests Crimes Against Humanity in Sudan

Reporting on the results of a two-year investigation, on Wednesday the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch presented findings that suggest that the Sudanese government’s aerial bombardment of civilians in the country’s south could amount to crimes against humanity. IPS

Egypt: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi – Islamist government’s new military chief
The new defence minister, a former director of military intelligence and reconnaissance, has an air of the unknown about him. The Africa Report

After Students Are Killed, Protests In Sudan’s Capital
In the third straight day of demonstrations, hundreds of Sudanese students in the capital Khartoum rallied to protest the deaths of four university students last week. While the recent deaths sparked the protests, some students are also calling for the ouster of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. NPR

Why East Africa can now smile as Kenya leaders seal political deals
There was a dramatic rush in Nairobi last Tuesday to beat the deadline for registering coalitions for the March 4, 2013 General Election. When the dust settled, the rest of East Africa, which had been worrying itself to death about Kenya having another violent election as it did in 2007/2008, thus throwing the region over an economic cliff, had reason to breathe easier. The East African

Kenya: Uhuru, Ruto Banned From Visiting Europe
Various European countries have already issued travel bans against Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto because they are facing charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. The suspects have not officially been informed of the travel bans but would find out if they applied for visas to travel to Europe. The US government is also reportedly taking a tough line on travel by the suspects. The Nairobi Star

Museveni strikes deal on oil and arms with Russia
Russia’s largest private crude producer, LUKoil, has expressed interest in the exploration, production and refining of Uganda’s waxy oil, according to reports in the Russian media. The development came a day before President Museveni met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow Tuesday, where they discussed prospects of bilateral cooperation on energy and mining. The East African

Obama accused of failed policy over Rwanda’s support of rebel group
Leading campaign groups and thinktanks have written to Barack Obama accusing him of a failed policy over Rwanda’s support for rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and calling on the president to impose sanctions. The letter – signed by 15 organisations including George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, Global Witness, Freedom House and the Africa Faith and Justice Network – follows the seizure last month of the eastern Congolese town of Goma by a rebel group, M23. The Guardian

Rwanda’s genocide and the bloody legacy of Anglo-American guilt
The United States is allowing one tragic foreign policy failure to compound another. Eighteen years ago, President Bill Clinton watched passively as the Hutu extremist regime in Rwanda oversaw the murder of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis. His administration refused even to utter the word genocide for fear it would oblige the US to intervene. The Guardian

Nelson Mandela is not South Africa
Madiba is in hospital. Spokespeople assure us he is doing well. That he is old, sick and likely to die soon are avoided or dealt with euphemistically. The tip-toeing around Nelson Mandela’s mortality encourages the idiotic myth-making by self-styled experts on South Africa who don’t live here. Some of them are downright ridiculous, suggesting that the country will unravel when Mandela dies. The Guardian

Zuma’s deputy Motlanthe to challenge him for the leadership of the ANC
Jacob Zuma, the South African president, is facing the most serious challenge to his leadership since taking control of the African National Congress five years ago after sources confirmed that his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, will run against him. The Telegraph

Rebels in Central African Republic take 3 towns
A rebel group that signed a peace accord with the government of the Central African Republic announced Wednesday that it had taken three towns in the country’s north, in a move that is intended to force the state to review the six-year-old accord. Reached on his satellite phone in the distant north of the country, rebel spokesman Col. Narkoyo said the government had failed to uphold its end of an April 13, 2007 deal, which was to provide amnesty and integration into the regular army for fighters belonging to the rebel Union of Democratic Forces for Unity, known by its French acronym of UFDR. AP on U.S.News & World Report

Tobacco companies see Africa as fertile ground
Smoking rates are declining or flat in much of the world. But they’re rising in Africa, where even a child can afford the cost of a single cigarette. LA Times

Africa’s digital election trackers
Harry Kargbo barely slept the night before Sierra Leone’s recent election for president. “I was so excited,” he said. “I was up until 1 AM the night before. I was thinking, ‘What will happen tomorrow? What will tomorrow look like?’” Four hours later, Kargbo was up and out the door. Armed with nothing more than a mobile phone, he spent the next 10 hours navigating his way through a vehicle ban and police checkpoints, observing voting at polling stations around this West African country’s capital, Freetown, and reporting on what he saw using the basic text messaging function on his phone. Al Jazeera

Technology Transforming Elections in Africa
The use of information technology and particularly social and mobile technologies during elections has become prevalent across Africa. Technology has been used to monitor elections, solicit feedback from citizens on issues pertinent to their nation at times of elections and even provide capability to manage crises that occur following election results disputes. Ghana, which is considered Africa’s model democracy only very recently conducted its elections and technology played a key role. Afrinnovator

iTunes Africa Launch Promises Change in Music Market
This month, Apple announced the launch of their iTunes music store in 56 countries, including 14 on the African continent. The launch means easier purchases for consumers, and a whole new brand of competition for existing music stores. VOA

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