Media Review for December 26, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/26/2012

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

Teams from a US Army brigade heading to 35 African nations to beef up anti-terror training
A U.S. Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the U.S. a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge. The teams will be limited to training and equipping efforts, and will not be permitted to conduct military operations without specific, additional approvals from the secretary of defense. AP on The Washington Post

U.S. Military Builds Up Its Presence In Africa
An Army brigade from Fort Riley, Kan., some 4,000, soldiers, will begin helping to train African militaries. The idea is to help African troops beat back a growing terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida. The American troops will head over in small teams over the course of the next year. The Dagger Brigade returned to Kansas last year from a deployment to Iraq, where it trained and advised that country’s security forces. NPR

Obama nominates John Kerry as secretary of state
President Obama nominated Sen. John F. Kerry on Friday to be the next secretary of state, saying that “in a sense, John’s entire life has prepared him for this role.” Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his selection all but guarantees a swift, smooth path to confirmation. The lawmaker has been a frequent foreign policy adviser and confidant to Obama, and his five terms in Congress have gained him bipartisan advocates in the Senate. The Washington Post

Egypt constitution: Near-64% backing
Egypt’s constitution was passed with 63.8 percent voter support in the two-stage referendum that ended last weekend, the national electoral commission said on Tuesday. Turnout was 32.9% of Egypt’s total 52 million voters, the president of the commission, Samir Abul Maati, told a news conference in Cairo. The figures confirmed those given by President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which had backed the new charter. News 24

Egypt faces political disaster
Author and journalist Khaled al-Khamissi sees a difficult political crisis ahead for Egypt. He says the Muslim Brotherhood, with the support of the US, is trying to transform the country into an Islamic state. Deutsche Welle

Can Egypt’s Democratic Uprising Be Redeemed?
In a forgotten burst of national unity, Egyptians rejoiced on February 11, 2011, amazed at what they had done: forced a longtime autocrat from office with massive protests throughout the country. In the outwardly immaculate political moment of that uprising, it was easy to conceive of a peaceful transition to an open, democratic, just, and more prosperous future. Less than two years later, that seeming democratic genesis has lapsed into hard political realities. A new constitution has been approved. But preliminary figures report less than two-thirds approval and a turnout of under one-third. Today, the fruits of the revolution seem bitter indeed—fratricidal political struggles, outraged and outrageous accusations, occasional violence, and fear. Carnegie Endowment

CAR rebels solidify hold by taking another town
Rebels in Central African Republic have taken another town despite pressure to halt their advance. The rebel coalition on Tuesday seized the town of Kaga-Bandoro, located about 385 kilometers (240 miles) from the capital, Bangui. The move comes just days after they gained control of the key town of Bambari. Telephone lines were cut in Kaga-Bandoro, but a resident of a nearby community reported seeing the rebels’ vehicles crossing the town on Tuesday. AP on Stars and Stripes

Darfur battle leaves rebels in rare ‘control’ over town
Rebels in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region have reported the rare seizure of a town from government control after fighting that resulted in arrests and casualties. Times Live

Deadly Christmas attack on Nigeria church
Gunmen have attacked a church in northern Nigeria, killing at least five people, including the pastor, and setting the building on fire, residents and police have said. The attack took place on Christmas eve on Monday in the village of Peri, near Potiskum, the economic capital of Yobe state. Al Jazeera

West Africa: Nigeria Attacks Pair Piracy, Kidnappings
The 23 December pirate attack on an Italian ship 40 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria’s Bayelsa state is part of a growing trend in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea region. Four crew members were kidnapped. Land-based kidnappings are also on the rise. Until recently, money has seemed to be the primary aim of kidnappers. But a new threat is emerging. Yesterday, the Islamic group Ansaru claimed it was behind last week’s kidnapping in northern Nigeria of French engineer Francis Colump. Previous speculation centered on the al-Qaada linked Boko Haram. allAfrica

Ship crew held for 1,000 days rescued off coast of Yemen
[...] Over the weekend, troops from the Puntland Maritime Police Force rescued the 22 hostages remaining on the Panama-flagged vessel, ending the longest time anyone has been held hostage by pirates, according to Michael Howlett, deputy director of the International Maritime Bureau. CNN

Aid cuts now threaten vital public services in Uganda
Hundreds of millions of dollars in donor aid have been withheld from Uganda in recent months, threatening post-war rehabilitation in the north and key public investments across the country. Keith Muhakanizi, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, said donors, under the Joint Budget Support Framework (JBSF) — including the World Bank, European Union, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom — have suspended about $300 million, or 7.1 per cent of the annual budget, for at least six months. The East African

The Decisive African Youth Vote
The Arab Spring underscored the pivotal role that youth can play in a country’s economic and political stability. This is even truer in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30. Atlantic Council

Netanyahu aims to deport tens of thousands of Africans
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he aims to repatriate tens of thousands of African illegal migrants and that the inflow into Israel from the Sinai peninsula has been brought to a halt. Times Live

The men who would save Mali’s manuscripts
[...] There are around 180,000 medieval manuscripts in Timbuktu, Mr. Haidara says, covering topics from Quranic exegesis to philosophy, mathematics, and law. So far some 23,000 have been cataloged – a scavenger hunt through archives that often lays bare Timbuktu’s past as a crossroads of trade and scholarship. Haidara descends from a line of bookish types, he says – among them scribes, writers, and judges. In 2000 he renovated his family’s library, home to some 45,000 manuscripts, which includes rooms for manuscript restoration, digital scanning, cataloging, reading, and conferences. CS Monitor

Mali: Poorer by the day
After the March coup, Mali has been in steady decline: unemployment and poverty are on the rise, the north continues to be shaken by Islamist rebel activities, and tourists – a main source of revenue – are staying away. Deutsche Welle

Will The Arab Spring Ever Reach Algeria?
For the second time since 1990, Algeria has missed another rendezvous with history, the Arab Spring. Like Saudi Arabia, it remained mostly extraneous to the unrest that overwhelmed the Arab world [...] Paradoxically, all the ingredients for a regime change can be found in Algeria. Just like in Egypt and several other Arab countries, “Algeria is facing demographic pressure, a police state, a private company and there has been no significant reform,” recently noted Bruce Riedel from the Brookings Institution, a former CIA officer and adviser to the White House. Worldcruch – Les Echos

Tunisia foils al-Qaeda expansion plan
Tunisia thwarted an attempt by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to establish a terror cell in the western regions of Kasserine and Jendouba, Interior Minister Ali Larayedh announced on Friday (December 21st). “We have discovered a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in a training camp run by three Algerians close to AQIM leader Abou Moussaab Abdelouadoud” (aka Abdelmalek Droukdel), Larayedh said. Sixteen suspected cell members were taken into custody on December 13th, according to the minister. Magharebia

Secrecy over Mandela’s health fuels concern for South Africa icon
Nelson Mandela’s life is an open book. Volumes chronicle every aspect of his 94 years. However, all that changed earlier this month when he was hospitalized. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and his spokesman have released several brief statements saying essentially that Mandela “continues recovering,” and that there’s “no crisis.” The latest, issued Monday, said Mandela would spend Christmas Day in hospital, with Zuma asking “all freedom-loving people around the world to pray for him.” NBC

In Africa, lots of good news in the fight against AIDS
George W. Bush was loved in Africa, not least thanks to his $15 billion initiative to provide millions of AIDS sufferers with life-saving antiretroviral drugs, and his efforts to prevent millions more from being infected. The program was called the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief, or PEPFAR, and the results were impressive. A 2009 evaluation of PEPFAR’s initial five-year program found that a million fewer people had died and death rates fell by 10 percent. Throwing money at AIDS really did seem to work. Globalpost

6 Biggest Political Developments in Africa in 2012
2012 saw major political developments in Mali, Ethiopia, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Guinea-Bissau, and the Central African Republic. Catch up here on the year’s revolts, coups, and political transitions in Africa as well as what to expect in 2013. Policymic

Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2013
Africa starts 2013 with hope and optimism. Africa has dropped its mantle as a “doomed continent” and has weathered several global economic crises fairly well. Today, the continent is a land of opportunity both for Africans and international investors. Many now see the region as “emerging Africa” because of the positive changes that have taken place and continue to take place across the continent. Brookings

Dakar mosque decked in Christmas lights as mostly Muslim Senegal joins in holiday cheer
It looks a lot like Christmas in Senegal, where 95 percent of the 12.8 million residents are Muslim. Even the Grande Mosquee, a mosque that dominates the city’s skyline, is aglow in holiday lights. “When they go to school, the children learn about Santa,” says Lo, wearing a flowing olive green robe known as a boubou. “We are born into the Senegalese tradition of cohabitation between Muslims and Christians. What is essential is the respect between people.” Senegal, a moderate country along Africa’s western coast, has long been a place where Christians and Muslims have coexisted peacefully. Most Christians here are Catholic and live in the south of country and in the capital. The Washington Post

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