Media Review for December 4, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/04/2012

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

US military: Intervention in Mali now would fail
The top US military commander in Africa warned Monday against any premature military action in Mali, even as he said that al-Qaida linked extremists have strengthened their hold on the northern part of the country. Army Gen. Carter Ham said that any military intervention done now would likely fail and would set the precarious situation there back “even farther than they are today.” AP

Terror groups in Africa working with Al-Qaida, US General says
Terror groups operating in Mali, Nigeria and elsewhere in northern Africa are collaborating among themselves and receiving training from al-Qaida affiliates in the region, according to the head of the U.S. Africa Command. “We are seeing clear indications of collaboration amongst the organizations,” Army General Carter Ham said Monday in Washington. The Independant

Leader of Al-Qaida Unit in Mali Quits AQIM
An Algerian-born jihadist who heads one of the most powerful and feared cells of al-Qaida’s North African branch has decided to leave the al-Qaida franchise in order to create a movement spanning the entire Sahara desert, said one of his close associates and a local official who had been briefed on the matter on Monday. Moktar Belmoktar, formerly the head of a cell of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, is one of the most prolific kidnappers operating in Mali’s lawless north. The New York Times

Nigerian Terrorist Threatens the United States
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau delivered a video speech in Arabic posted November 29, on jihadist websites. In it, he associates the United States, Britain, Nigeria, “and other crusaders” with Israeli oppression. Shekau salutes fighters for “the Islamic state in Mali,” Somalia, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Palestine. Unless the Nigerian police repent, they will be killed: “Allah the Glorious and Almighty made your blood permissible to us, because you worship the laws of the government and not the laws of Allah the Almighty. Democracy is also a disbelieving system, O Obama, O Jonathan…” Council on Foreign Relations

Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam: A Mega-Dam with Potentially Mega-Consequences
While Egypt was undergoing dramatic political changes last year, Ethiopia was secretly moving to unveil “Project X” – a huge hydropower dam it intends to build on the Blue Nile, 40 km from the Sudanese border. Political commentators, environmental experts and hydrologists have all voiced concerns about the dam’s ecological impact, the strain it might place on relations between the three eastern Nile nations, and the financial burden of this mega-dam on Ethiopian citizens. Think Africa Press

Germany halts aid to Uganda over corruption scandal
Germany has suspended aid to Uganda in protest over corruption and alleged military support for rebels in Congo, making it the latest European country to halt payments in the wake of a scandal involving the theft of donors’ funds. The corruption scandal, involving the siphoning off of some $13 million in donor funds, has already led Britain – Uganda’s biggest donor – to suspend aid to Kampala. Denmark, Norway and Ireland have followed suit. Euronews

18 Eritrean national football players go missing in Uganda
18 members of the Eritrean national football team have gone missing in the Ugandan capital Kampala after the team was eliminated in the ongoing Council for East and Central African Football Associations (Cecafa) Senior Challenge Cup. Sylvia Nakamya, the manager of Sky Hotel, where they were staying said on Monday that the whole team went shopping on Sunday but only seven and five officials returned. Xinhua

How Rice dialed down the pressure on Rwanda
On October 1, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador and the president’s presumptive nominee to be the next U.S. secretary of state, met at the French mission here in New York with top diplomats from Britain and France, where they discussed the crisis in eastern Congo. [...] France’s U.N. ambassador, Gerard Araud, pressed Rice and Britain’s U.N. envoy, Mark Lyall Grant, to apply greater political pressure on the mutineers’ chief sponsor, Rwanda, a close American ally, that stands accused by a U.N. panel of sponsoring, arming, and commanding the insurgent M23 forces. [...] But Rice pushed back, reasoning that any move to sanction Rwandan leader Paul Kagame would backfire, and it would be better to work with him to find a long-term solution to the region’s troubles than punish him. Foreign Policy

DR Congo army returns to Goma
DR Congo troops have entered the eastern mining city of Goma, two days after rebel M23 fighters withdrew in line with a regionally brokered deal. But the rebels have warned they will retake the city, if the government fails to meet their demands within 48 hours. Al Jazeera

Congo rebels’ withdrawal from Goma ‘purely tactical’, say analysts
After much initial confusion, reports indicate that rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have finally withdrawn from the eastern city of Goma. This is, very tentatively, good news. Just a week ago, no one was quite sure whether the rebels intended to make good on their threat to march on the capital Kinshasa and overthrow the Congolese government, a move that could well have escalated into another regional war centered on the DRC. The Guardian

Maybe Morocco can help
The United States is short on allies and effective means of influencing events in the Middle East. Syria is still a bloodbath. Libya is threatened by jihadists. Egypt has taken a turn toward dictatorship. Mali is a non-functioning state in which jihadist separatists control much of the country. The “peace process” (for good reason) is going nowhere. To break up the monotony of bad news, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is no doubt delighted to be hosting Morocco’s Deputy Foreign Minister Youssef Amrani who is in Washington D.C to prepare for Clinton’s upcoming trip to Morocco. Morocco will be chairing the United Nations Security Council in December when all of these issues are likely to be swirling and will be hosting a critical international gathering on Syria. Opinion – The Washington Post

Senegal investigation sparks fear of violence
Tensions in this West African country are rising, with fears of an outbreak of political violence as a corruption probe continues to dog the son of a former president. Karim Wade is the 44-year-old son of Senegal’s former president, Abdoulaye Wade, who ruled the country from 2000 until his loss in violence-marred polls in March, in which 15 people were killed. Al Jazeera

Law and Order: Special Kenya Unit
In Nairobi, we talk incessantly about security — armed home invasions, a neighbor whose guard dogs were poisoned, a shoot-out at somebody’s front gate, a hold-up at an ATM machine, or an armed bank robbery in broad daylight. And the crimes in Nairobi’s 40 slums accumulate, often unsolved. On his day off, Jeff, our night guard, was last seen alive mounting a motorcycle at 11 p.m. to go home. A week later, his wife identified his body in a morgue. He had been hacked to death and dumped naked into a ditch. No arrests have been made.

Ghana’s opposition leader takes second shot at top job
Akufo-Addo spent years campaigning against military regimes that once led Ghana and now, with democracy firmly in place, he is hoping to emerge victorious in this week’s elections. His rimless spectacles and full, round face are well known in this West African nation, with “Nana”, as he is commonly known, having previously been attorney general, foreign minister and presidential candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) he still leads. Mail and Guardian

Ghana Elections 2012: the power of the thumb
[...] The carnival tone of the rallies has been countered by the more sobering, incendiary language of some politicians and activists as well as isolated instances of political violence, giving way to a sense of unease surrounding the conduct of the polls. The collective decision by the ‘international community’ not to attend the elections this time around suggests a certain level of maturity in Ghana’s democratic tradition; one hopes that this level of confidence is not misplaced. African Argument

Broken Sudan opposition hopeful as cracks appear
[...] Economic blows and growing discontent among military and religious leaders are feeding a feeling that shifts may be coming from within the establishment Mr Al Bashir has dominated for 23 years. Thirteen top military and intelligence leaders were arrested last month in connection, officials said, with a plot to sabotage the government. It was a move that diplomats and analysts in Khartoum said was probably a warning to dissatisfied elements of the regime, which came to power in a military coup in 1989. The National

Power struggle paralyzes South Africa’s ruling ANC party
Political analyst Mark Gevisser described South African President Jacob Zuma’s term in one word: “Disastrous.” He’s “the worst leader the ANC has ever had. He’s a lost cause. He merely fights to save his own skin and to stay out of jail,” another analyst, Justice Malala, wrote in October. LA Times

Tribunal to try Chad ex-dictator in Senegal to become operational soon, rights expert says
A human rights expert says that the tribunal which will try ex-Chadian dictator Hissene Habre in the nation of Senegal, where he is exiled, is due to become operational soon. Reed Brody, lawyer for Human Rights Watch, said Monday the court proceedings could begin later this month. Fox News

Commentary – Biotechnology and Africa’s strategic interests
Global food politics is riddled with paradoxes. While threats to global food security are becoming increasingly evident, efforts to stall the adoption of new technologies appear to intensify. There is a clear disconnect between comfort with familiar agricultural practices and the food challenges that lie ahead. Though food is recognized as a national security issue, it has yet to acquire the strategic importance it deserves, especially in African countries. The lack of strategic thinking underlies many of the poor decisions that many African countries make regarding agricultural biotechnology. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

African Leaders Criticize Climate Proposals by Developed World
Africa came to the Doha climate change summit with a basket of expectations. But the first full week of negotiations have not been promising. Campaigners say rich countries have been evasive on almost every major issue, from climate finance to the reduction of emissions. African campaigners said they do not expect a promising outcome. And as ministers prepared to join the talks at a higher level, campaigners took to the streets. VOA

Going Farther by Going Together: Building Partner Capacity in Africa
Absent an African capacity to see to African security, the United States and the international community will continuously be stepping in to oversee disaster and contingency responses. The U.S. Africa Command position is establishing African ownership through collaboration and capacity building. The approach is playing on trust and mutual interest to make the United States the partner of choice for African nations facing a plethora of needs. A variety of programs and initiatives to bolster African defense capabilities are outlined, showing that the command is pursuing its ambition of focused, sustained engagement through collaboration with the interagency, Embassy country teams, regional organizations, and African governments. NDU Press

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