Media Review for December 17, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/17/2012

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

Kerry, Hagel front-runners to lead State, Defense
Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who unsuccessfully sought the presidency in 2004 and has pined for the job of top diplomat, vaulted to the head of President Barack Obama’s short list of secretary of state candidates after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice suddenly withdrew from consideration to avoid a contentious confirmation fight with emboldened Republicans. The exit of Rice and elevation of Kerry shook up Washington on Thursday and was coupled with the potential for even bolder second-term changes in Obama’s national security team next month. Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, emerged as the front-runner to serve as defense secretary. AP

The Real Susan Rice – by Madeleine K. Albright and Samuel R. Berger
On Thursday, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice asked the president to remove her name from consideration as a possible successor to Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. We deeply regret this, not because she is the only person qualified to serve in that position, but because of the false picture that has been painted of her character and service. As rumors spread that President Obama was considering her for the job, Rice became a lightning rod for criticism from Republican politicians and a small herd of pundits and columnists. The caricature that emerged from those criticisms bears little resemblance to the truth. We write to set the record straight. Foreign Policy

Libya closes borders, declares martial law
Libya has ordered the closure of its borders with four of its neighbours as it declared martial law in its vast desert south in the face of mounting unrest, state media has reported. The National Assembly ordered the “temporary closure of the land borders with Chad, Niger, Sudan and Algeria pending new regulations” on the circulation of people and goods, said a decree on Sunday carried by the official LANA news agency.

Hollande heads for Algeria on mission to heal and seal ties
President Francois Hollande travels to Algeria this week on a symbolic trip seeking to end simmering resentment over French colonial rule and to persuade its leaders to back an armed intervention to oust Islamists in Mali. The National

Ansar al-Sharia sets up shop in Mali
Malian Islamists last Sunday (December 9th) announced the creation of their own “Ansar al-Sharia” group in Gao, the largest city in northern Mali. Most of the new group’s leaders hail from the Barabiche tribe in Timbuktu and are close to Ansar al-Din official spokesman Sanad Ould Bouamama. Magharebia

The World’s Worst War
Last month, as I was driving down a backbreaking road between Goma, a provincial capital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kibumba, a little market town about 20 miles away, I came upon the body of a Congolese soldier. He was on his back, half hidden in the bushes, his legs crumpled beneath him, his fly-covered face looking up at the sun. The New York Times

Negotiating with the DRC Rebels: First as Tragedy, Then as Farce?
When on November 20 fighters from the M23 rebel forces seized control of Goma, the prize city in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), it seemed that the initiative was firmly with the rebels and that the Congolese government would soon be forced to its knees at the negotiating table. Instead, the fall of the strategically important town raised questions about the ambitions of the rebels and their backers – alleged by a group of UN investigators to be Rwanda and Uganda – and exposed divisions within M23. Just 11 days after the capture of Goma, M23 had withdrawn its forces from the city and agreed to direct negotiations in the Ugandan capital Kampala. Think Africa Press

Kigali wants federal state in eastern DRC, US Congress told
Controversy over Rwanda’s alleged support for M23 rebels is set to deepen after the Kagame administration was sensationally accused before the US Congress of pushing to establish a federal state in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Steve Hege, who co-ordinated the UN Group of Experts on Congo until its mandate expired at the end of November, told the US Congress that the Rwandan government organised, supplied and directed the M23 rebel group with the aim of spawning an autonomous federal state. The East African

Islamists tighten their brutal hold on northern Mali
[...] The Islamist radicals who seized a vast arc of territory in northern Mali in the spring are intensifying their brutality against the population, according to victims, human rights groups and UN and Malian officials. The attacks are being perpetrated as the United States, European countries and regional powers are readying an African force to retake northern Mali, after months of hesitation. The Independent

Salafi Islamists torch HQ of Egypt’s Wafd party

The headquarters of Egypt’s Wafd Party in Cairo was torched on Saturday by supporters of Salafi Islamist politician Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an Al Arabiya correspondent reported. The liberal party’s deputy chairman Fouad Badrawi was injured in the attack, in which the radical Islamist’s supporters managed to break into the party’s building despite heavy security presence. Al Arabia

Islamists claim victory on constitution, amid allegations of abuses
Egyptians voted in favour of a constitution shaped by Islamists, but opposed by secularists and others, officials in rival camps said after the first round of a two-stage referendum. The document threatens to divide the Arab world’s biggest nation. The Independent

Egypt’s Military Still Plays Kingmaker
As Egypt prepares for an historic constitutional referendum and political polarization intensifies, its military constantly advocates neutrality. It has actively encouraged dialogue between Islamists and opposition to overcome differences. It publicly refuses to suppress demonstrators. Apparently, it remains above the political fray. After all, as guardians of the republic, the military’s self-professed objective is protecting Egypt and all Egyptians. However, another critical aim is protecting its own interests and privileges spanning the political, security and commercial realms which are largely enshrined in the new draft constitution. Overall, Egypt’s military still plays kingmaker behind the scenes. The Huffington Post

Nigeria governor, 5 others die in helicopter crash
A navy helicopter crashed Saturday in the country’s oil-rich southern delta, killing a state governor and five other people, in the latest air disaster to hit Africa’s most populous nation, officials said. Times Live

Army in after Nigeria Governor’s death
Nigerian troops were out on the streets of the volatile northern city of Kaduna on Sunday to prevent any outbreak of violence following the death of the state governor in a helicopter crash. Kaduna state governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, a former national security advisor Owoye Azazi and four other people were killed when a chopper operated by the navy went down in the south of the country on Saturday on route to the oil hub of Port Harcourt. News 24

Bashir’s health a key driver for coup attempt says presidential assistant
The participants in an alleged coup attempt uncovered last month in Sudan justified their move in saying that president Omer Hassan al-Bashir’s poor health will not enable him to carry out his duties, presidential assistant said today. Sudan Tribune

Analysis: Sudan peace talks in a ‘Catch-22′
Ongoing negotiations over the implementation of the stalled peace deal signed between Sudan and South Sudan in September have resumed once more in Addis Ababa with the two countries’ ministers of defence meeting to discuss the question of security on the border. Establishing a demilitarised zone could help establish the underpinning principle of this peace deal, namely that it is in their mutual interest – both politically and economically – to put down their weapons and start cooperating. But no one is holding their breath. Al Jazeera

Under siege Museveni seeks support on oil law, aid cuts
Under pressure from aid cuts that are threatening 25 per cent of the annual budget, accusations by key backers of involvement in the unrest rocking the eastern DR Congo and increased scrutiny of a largely opaque oil industry by civil society, President Yoweri Museveni is fighting to lift the general atmosphere of siege. In one week, the president bulldozed a contentious oil law through parliament, made a highly publicised visit to Moscow and, returning in a combative mood, went on to address parliament seeking legitimacy for the law, which was passed with more than half the House staying away from the session. The East African

West Africa’s Growing Piracy Threatens Western Oil
The latest report by the International Crisis Group on rising piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which supplies around 40 percent of Europe’s oil and 29 percent of the U.S.’s, examines efforts taken by regional organizations and international actors to curb maritime crime. allAfrica

Somalia: : Potential goldmine for fishermen as piracy declines
Rusting hulks of capsized boats decorate the waters around Berbera, a port city in the self-declared republic of Somaliland. Further down Somalia’s coast, pirates raid freighters in the Gulf of Aden. Yet efforts are underway to help Somalis make better use of their 3,300km coastline – the longest on the African continent – by increasing fishing and seafood exports to lucrative markets in the Middle East and Europe. IRIN

Abdessalam Yassine, Leader of Moroccan Opposition Movement, Dies at 84
Abdessalam Yassine, the charismatic religious leader of Morocco’s largest opposition movement and a longtime opponent of two Moroccan kings, died on Thursday. He was 84. His death was announced by his movement, Adl wal Ihsan (Justice and Spirituality). The New York Times

How can Botswana Keep its Sparkle without its Diamonds?
“Even in the absence of the global economic downturn, we would be living through challenging times as we wean ourselves away from overdependence on raw diamond revenues”, proclaimed Botswana’s President Ian Khama in his State of the Nation address this November. “Dependency on anything is never healthy.” President Khama was not wrong, not least because Botswana’s diamond resources, which account for nearly half of government revenue and 70-80% of the country’s export earnings, are due to run out in 20 years. Think Africa Press

South Africa foils ‘plot to bomb ANC’
A plot to bomb the national conference of South Africa’s governing African National Congress has been foiled, a police spokesman has said. Four white suspected right-wing extremists have been arrested, he said. President Jacob Zuma and other top officials are at the heavily-guarded conference in Mangaung, where the ANC is due to start electing its leaders. BBC

ANC attempts to regroup as Nelson Mandela recovers in hospital
As Nelson Mandela lay in hospital for a second week, the movement he led in the struggle to liberate South Africa gathered in an attempt to bury bitter divisions and rekindle his vision. President Jacob Zuma opened the 53rd conference of the governing African National Congress (ANC) to a vociferous reception as many delegates sang, stomped and raised two fingers above their heads to signal his second term, implying his position in this week’s leadership contest is secure. The Guardian

Cyril Ramaphosa, anti-apartheid activist turned tycoon, re-enters S. Africa politics
For a man who shies away from the limelight, Cyril Ramaphosa, the stalwart of the South African struggle who is now a multimillionaire business tycoon, has endured a turbulent few months in the public spotlight. First, Ramaphosa, a potential candidate for the number two job in the governing African National Congress, was unceremoniously dragged into a mining crisis after police shot and killed 34 striking miners in one of the worst episodes of violence in the post-apartheid era. The Washington Post

Is China Too Racist to Succeed in Africa?
[...] Improving African understanding of Chinese is a great goal, though it probably wouldn’t hurt if Chinese expanded their views of Africans. During a China-Africa summit in 2006 billboards lining the road to the airport featured purporting to “glorify” Africans; though at least one, featuring a tribesman with a bone through his nose, depicted a Papua New Guinean. A month before a 2012 China-Africa summit in July, Africans rioted in Guangzhou after a Nigerian was found dead in police custody; “the Chinese social media response to the latest protest in Guangzhou was dismayingly xenophobic,” wrote Time’s Hannah Beech, who also noted that the districts were Africans congregate in Guangzhou are known as ‘chocolate city.’ Foreign Policy

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