Media Review for December 20, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/20/2012

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

The Evolving Security Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Implications for U.S. National Security (video)
U.S. House of Representatives, House Armed Services Committee
Chairman Buck McKeon. Witness Panel 1: The Honorable Derek Chollet, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. The Honorable Johnnie Carson Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs. Witness Panel 2: Dr. Jendayi Frazer, Distinguished Service Professor, – Carnegie Mellon University. Mr. Ben Affleck, Founder – Eastern Congo Initiative. Dr. James Jay Carafano, Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies – The Heritage Foundation.

4 Are Out at State Dept. After Scathing Report on Benghazi Attack
Four State Department officials were removed from their posts on Wednesday after an independent panel criticized the “grossly inadequate” security at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that was attacked on Sept. 11, leading to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Eric J. Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, resigned. Charlene R. Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security, and another official in the diplomatic security office whom officials would not identify were relieved of their duties. So was Raymond Maxwell, a deputy assistant secretary who had responsibility for North Africa. The four officials, a State Department spokeswoman said, “have been placed on administrative leave pending further action.” The New York Times

TRANSCRIPT: General Ham Discusses U.S. AFRICOM objectives and Africa security issues at Brown University
The U.S. military is not an independent actor in Africa, and its efforts support larger U.S. government objectives and shared security interests with African partners, according to General Carter Ham, commander of United States Africa Command, during remarks at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, December 8, 2012. Africom

Why are African armies so bad?
The conflicts in Mali and Congo have yet again confirmed fears about how poorly equipped, badly commanded, ill trained and hated most sub-Saharan security forces are. General Carter Ham head of Africom – the U.S. military command for Africa – did not mince his words, when he briefed the Homeland Security Policy Institute, a Washington-based think-tank, about the situation in the two countries on December 3. He expressed skepticism on the ability of a joint African force to successfully lead a military operation in northern Mali. Ham said the few operational armies on the continent had only been trained and equipped for peacekeeping operations and not war. The Africa Report

Rebels continue Central Africa push as Chad troops arrive
Rebels in the Central African Republic seized a town near the border with Chad on Wednesday, a day after Chadian troops entered the country at Bangui’s request to help the army contain the rebel offensive. The escalating violence drew calls from the opposition and former colonial power France for a broad national dialogue. According to sources on both sides, rebels from the Seleka rebel coalition captured the town of Kabo and were pressing on southwards. France 24

US claims progress in Central Africa anti-LRA military deployment, but others want more
Roughly one year after 100 U.S. special forces troops arrived in four Central Africa nations to advise African soldiers in their pursuit, Kony is still on the run and his exact whereabouts unknown. Ugandan officials now say he is hiding in a place called Kafia Kingi, along the volatile Sudan-South Sudan border. When President Barack Obama announced in October 2011 that he was sending in the forces, American policy makers and Africa experts warned that even with the extra U.S. assistance, the hunt for a killer in an expansive jungle the size of France would be difficult. The warnings have proved to be true. The Washington Post

Mali president acknowledges that extremist group Ansar Dine in north made up mostly of Malians
Mali’s president acknowledged Wednesday that the Islamist group carrying out public executions and amputations in the country’s north is made up mostly of Malians and not foreign fighters, a declaration that appears aimed at fostering dialogue with the group. The move comes as Ansar Dine negotiates with the Malian government and West African regional powers push for a military intervention to oust the Islamists who seized power earlier this year. The Washington Post

U.N. Vote Planned on Mali Security
The United Nations Security Council was expected to vote Thursday on a resolution that would approve the deployment of a multinational African force in Mali, along with Western training and equipment for the Malian Army, to help retake the northern part of the country from Islamist militias. The resolution, drafted and offered for a formal vote by France, has widespread support among Mali’s neighbors and other African states and was expected to gain unanimous approval by the 15-member Security Council. The New York Times

Teodoro Obiang – President, Equatorial Guinea
Hardtalk has journeyed to the tiny, oil-rich West African nation of Equatorial Guinea for an exclusive look inside one of Africa’s most controversial regimes. Thanks to an oil and gas bonanza Equatorial Guinea is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but it is also dogged by endemic poverty, corruption and political repression. At the heart of Equatorial Guinea’s extraordinary story is Teodoro Obiang, who has ruled the country for 33 years. BBC

Mauritania hikes defence budget
Mauritania is looking to substantially increase its budget for 2013, notably in the defence and national security sector. The 2013 budget draft was presented to Parliament in Nouakchott at the start of December. If approved by Parliament, the defence sector should receive 44.547 billion ouguiyas. Funds would cover the operating budget, equipment for the National Gendarmerie, salaries and equipment, and military healthcare. Magharebia

Sahel insecurity poses global threat, study finds
Terrorists in northern Mali could expand operations to Libya, Mauritania and Niger, according to a recently published study. European researchers with the Monitoring Centre for Organised Crime (OPCO) released a report in November stating Sahel states could lose control of their territory and possibly face regime collapse from the growing jihadist threat. The centre also warned the Sahel could face more chaos in the years to come, according to a December 11th El Khabar report on the study. The researchers also indicated a growing number of Europeans were joining al-Qaeda terror training camps in the region known as Azawad. Magharebia

The battle for the Sinai
Half a million people live in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip. For decades, they have been governed by a strong security paradigm, and the Camp David accords with Israel – underwritten by billions of dollars in US military aid. Now they are back in the international spotlight because of an increase in militant attacks, arms smuggling and human trafficking. Al Jazeera

Who is a Muslim?
It is impossible to exaggerate the significance of the unfolding events in Egypt, and with Egypt the rest of the Arab and Muslim world. At the writing of this essay, masses of millions of Egyptians are voting in their country for or against a draft constitution that will lay down the foundations of their democratic future [...] a vote for or against this constitution has pronouncedly become a vote for or against Islam, by or defied by Muslims and those standing against them. As I have already argued, this is a deeply flawed bifurcation and we need to dismantle it right here and right now for a clear conception of our future. Al Jazeera

Middle East in 2013: Promise and (Lots of) Peril
The Middle East faces even bigger challenges in 2013 than it did during the first two years of the so-called Arab Spring. So far—a pivotal caveat—the Arab uprisings have deepened the political divide, worsened economic woes and produced greater insecurity. Solutions are not imminent either. More than 120 million people in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen have experienced successful uprisings that ousted four leaders who together ruled a total of 129 years. But more than half of the Arab world’s 350 million people have yet to witness any real change at all. United States Institute of Peace

French president refuses to apologise for colonial Algerian past
“I want to define with Algeria a strategic partnership on an equal-to-equal basis,” he told a news conference after meeting Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. “I am not here to repent or apologise, I am here to tell the truth.” While France wants to heal the wounds left by the war, 58-year-old Hollande, who spent eight months working at the French embassy in Algeria in 1978, has limited room for manoeuvre. Mail and Guardian

Nigeria gunmen seize French man in Katsina
A group of 30 gunmen have used dynamite to force their way into a well-guarded compound in northern Nigeria and seize a French engineer, police say. Two Nigerian guards were killed in the attack, said Katsina state police commissioner Abdullahi Magaji. As the unknown group fled, they attacked a police station, he said. BBC

Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” Bill Back in Limbo
The members of Uganda’s parliament are on vacation now, and won’t be coming back to work until February. It might not be much, given the threat hanging over them, but during those two months, L.G.B.T. Ugandans can rest a little easier. As I write in my story in this week’s issue, from the moment last month when Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of parliament, announced that she would pass the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would imprison gays (and originally suggested the death penalty for certain homosexual behavior), as a “Christmas gift” to Ugandans, activists have been coordinating a global effort to kill the bill, and those whose sexuality would be criminalized have been watching their government closely, as the bill seemed to be the closest it has come to passage since it was first introduced, in 2009. The New Yorker

World Bank launches $4bn worth plan for Ethiopia
The World Bank is set to pump $4 billion into Ethiopia in the coming four years in order to enhance competitiveness and employment generation through its country partnership strategy. Africa Report

Hissene Habre: Senegal MPs pass law to form tribunal
Senegalese MPs have passed a law that will allow a special African Union tribunal to be created to try Chad’s former leader Hissene Habre. The 70 year old has been under house arrest since 2005 in Senegal, where he fled after being deposed in 1990. He denies killing and torturing tens of thousands of his opponents. BBC

Politics of succession: coping when leaders die
[...] Ten of the 13 world leaders who have died in office since 2009 were African. In 2012 alone, presidents Malam Bacai Sanha of Guinea-Bissau, John Atta Mills of Ghana and Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, as well as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, have all died. Some countries have handled succession better than others. As chaotic as they were, the developments in Guinea were not as dire as the more recent situation in Guinea-Bissau. Since President Sanha died in January from an illness, the country has been embroiled in an ongoing transition crisis, with the military mostly controlling the affairs of state. UN – Africa Renewal

Zimbabwe: : Security forces deployed as historians
Security forces are being deployed across Zimbabwe ostensibly to record accounts of the country’s liberation struggle against white-minority rule, but both political parties and independent analysts view the tactic as a prelude to political violence ahead of next year’s scheduled elections. IRIN

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