Media Review for December 14, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/14/2012

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

Embattled Rice pulls out of US secretary of state race
Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration Thursday to be the next secretary of state after the embattled UN ambassador ran into a stand-off with Republicans over her handling of the Benghazi consulate attack in Libya in September. France 24

Susan Rice and the ruthless calculus of Barack Obama’s political capital
Fried Rice, cooked Rice, ground Rice … pick your own favorite snarky headline: after weeks of speculation, Susan Rice has officially withdrawn her name from consideration as secretary of state. In one way, this is a surprising move. After all, it was only a few weeks ago that President Obama, fresh off re-election, offered an impassioned defense of his friend and current US ambassador to the United Nations. Beyond the personal attacks she was subjected to, the supposedly substantive criticisms of Rice – that she went on the Sunday talk shows and lied about what happened in Benghazi last September when a US diplomat and three other Americans were killed – were always ridiculous. So, then it seemed Obama was practically spoiling for a fight – particularly since the loudest critic of Rice was his 2008 rival John McCain, for whom the president clearly has no love lost. The Guardian

Foreign Money and Revolving Doors
It was difficult to take seriously the attack on President Obama’s UN ambassador, Susan Rice, based on her faulty renditions of events surrounding the killing of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya. [...] The subsequent reports about her actions regarding various African conflicts and her coziness with certain brutal strongman figures are another matter. [...] But there’s one fact in the background of Susan Rice that ought to be considered disqualifying—her past work for Rwanda when she was a consultant with a strategic consulting firm called Intellibridge. The riff on Rice is that she has demonstrated a certain softness toward Rwanda and particularly its president, Paul Kagame, in various policy deliberations regarding Rwanda’s support for a brutal rebel group that is wreaking havoc in neighboring Congo. And some have wondered if her past business relationship with Rwanda may be influencing her thinking on the matter. The National Interest

Mali’s Coup 2.0: Adjusting to the New Normal
“What else is there to say?” asked Malian shop owner Aliou Sidibe over the phone, “it is the guys in Kati [a military town 15 km from Bamako] who are in charge…that is the reality”. What was obvious to Sidibe became apparent worldwide early Tuesday morning, when Mali’s then Prime Minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, was taken into custody and brought to the military barracks in the nearby town of Kati by soldiers loyal to the coup leaders that toppled Mali’s democratically-elected government last March. Local news sources have described the arrest as “violent”, and a source close to the arrest suggested to Think Africa Press that “kidnapped” might be the most appropriate term to describe the events. Think Africa Press

Dozens of militants seen in Mali city of Timbuktu
Dozens of militants loyal to an al-Qaida-linked group in northern Mali descended upon the fabled city of Timbuktu on Thursday following meetings before talks with the Malian government, witnesses and officials said. The unannounced arrival of the Ansar Dine militants alongside allies who have left other groups to now join them demonstrates Ansar Dine’s growing clout as it prepares to hold negotiations with the government. AP on Stars and Stripes

Morocco leads Sahel security drive
Morocco is using its United Nations Security Council presidency to rally international attention to the Mali conflict, terrorism, transnational crime and other threats to Sahel security. “The Kingdom will continue to defend all political and development issues relating to the African continent, in particular the crisis in northern Mali,” Foreign Minister Saadeddine El Othmani said when Morocco assumed the rotating chair of the Security Council at the start of the month. Magharebia

Almost a million displaced in DRC
More than 900 000 people have been displaced by violence in the strife-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of Congo region of North Kivu, up about 500 000 on the figure made public in April, a UN official said on Thursday. The steep rise was due to intense fighting between the army and rebel group M23 around the regional capital Goma, said Gert Weskereen of UN refugee agency UNHCR. News 24

U.N. launches review of Congo force with battered reputation
The United Nations said it had launched a comprehensive review of its Congo peacekeeping mission, which suffered a severe blow to its image last month after it stood aside and let rebels seize control of a major eastern city. But U.N. Security Council diplomats and officials said any changes in the U.N.’s largest peacekeeping force would matter little if authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo did not improve their own army, and neighboring Rwanda and Uganda continued to finance, equip and train rebel groups in mineral-rich eastern Congo. DefenceWeb

Sudan sending military reinforcements to South Kordofan amid reports of heavy battles
The Sudanese army is dispatching heavy reinforcements to South Kordofan in order to defeat the rebellion and increase security in the border region, the country’s defense minister Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein has announced. Sudan Tribune

Sudan detains main opposition leader after week of protests: report
Leading Sudanese opposition leader Farouk Abu Issa today told Reuters that he was being held by security forces. “I’m now in the security agency’s offices,” Issa, thought to be around 80 years old, said by phone. It was not immediately clear why he had been arrested, and the report could not be independently confirmed. Issa heads the National Consensus Forces, an opposition umbrella group. The report comes as Amnesty International today called on Sudan to end the use of forces against student protesters after a week of demonstrations shook the northeast African nation. Globalpost

ICC blasts Security Council over genocide suspects
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Thursday that the U.N. Security Council is not doing enough to root out Sudanese war criminals suspected of genocide. Fatou Bensouda said her team of investigators had uncovered an “ongoing pattern of crimes committed pursuant to the government-avowed goal of stopping the rebellion in Darfur,” noting specific attacks on peacekeepers and civilians in the region. CNN

Morsi’s opponents back off constitution vote boycott
Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi’s opponents yesterday backed away from a boycott of Saturday’s referendum on a controversial new constitution, and instead urged a “no” vote. The National

The Muslim Brotherhood and the New Egyptian Divide
Egypt is running short on common ground. The election of Mohamed Morsi as president was itself a near thing, the longtime Muslim Brotherhood official winning office with less than 52% of the vote over a former prime minister from the time of Hosni Mubarak. But in the last two weeks, his decisions have polarized the country to the extent that some saw, in the strife of the last two weeks, glimpses of a potential civil war. Much of the problem is the Brotherhood and its the ambiguous performance so far, as I report in my magazine story this week. Time

China Daily newspaper launches Africa edition
China Daily, China’s biggest English-language newspaper, has launched an African edition – the latest of several Chinese media initiatives in Africa. The state-run weekly, which also comes in digital form, aims to explain “the relationship between China and the African continent,” its editor says. China’s CCTV and Xinhua news agency already have operations in the region. CNN

Displaced and Forgotten: Ethnic Violence Overshadows Kenyan Campaign
Kenya’s last election ended in chaos and violence. Thousands were killed, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced. They were people like Grace Wambui, who now lives in a wasteland settlement without hope for a better future. Many fear the upcoming election could bring more violence. Spiegle

Malawi: From food basket to a basket case – How did it happen?
Once again Malawi finds itself in a tight spot. A food crisis set off by erratic rains, rising food prices and economic hardships is slowly unfolding. Sadly and unexpectedly, Malawi has lost its hard-earned status as an agricultural success story. Many are now wondering what went wrong and whether there could be lessons for other African countries. Africa Report

UK pays $3.5m to settle Libya rendition claim
A Libyan man who claims he was forcibly sent back home, along with his wife and children, in 2004 to face imprisonment and torture under Muammar Gadaffi’s regime, has accepted a settlement of $3.5m from the UK government over its alleged role in his illegal rendition. Al Jazeera

Tunisia suffers the birth pangs of an apprentice democracy
Rising social tension in postrevolutionary Tunisia was on the minds of two men from different backgrounds as they sat on a cafe terrace overlooking the Gulf of Tunis. [...] If Tunisians are unrealistic in demanding swift improvement in their daily lives, their country cannot be said to be at peace with itself. The National

Witnesses say 3 dead, others raped in Guinea army crackdown on protesters
Witnesses say three people were killed, dozens wounded and at least three women raped in an army crackdown on protesters in the town of Gueckedou, located 700 kilometers (430 miles) southeast of Guinea’s capital, Conakry. Sayon Teliano, one of the emergency personnel, said three bodies were brought to the morgue. The events occurred Tuesday when the army came to disperse demonstrators calling for the resignation of the region’s prefect. AP on Fox News

Analysis: New law fails to ease oil concerns in Uganda
Uganda’s parliament recently passed a law to govern the exploration, development and production of the country’s estimated three billion barrels of oil, a resource whose extraction will directly affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. While the law streamlines the burgeoning industry, analysts have raised concerns over transparency and over who controls the sector. IRIN

Report: 90 Percent of South African Women Abused
[...] According to figures recently issued by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, ninety percent of South African women have experienced emotional and physical abuse; seventy-one percent have experienced sexual abuse; as many as five out of seven children are abused. The modern version of the rallying cry for equality is particularly apt given today’s epidemic level of domestic abuse: “When you strike a woman, you strike a rock!” VOA

In the Market for a Wife: Paying Dowries in Rwanda
The payment of dowries in parts of Rwandan society is rooted in centuries of custom and tradition. But like all traditions, the content and nature of dowries has shifted as the surrounding environment has changed. Traditionally, marriage in Rwanda would be marked by the presentation of a dowry in the form of cows or agricultural tools by the groom’s family to the bride’s. This exchange served to recognise the bride’s family’s efforts in raising its daughter and preparing her for marriage. Think Africa Press

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