Media Review for December 5, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/05/2012

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

Morsi leaves through back door as Egypt protesters surround palace
Egypt’s presidential palace was encircled by anti-Muslim Brotherhood protesters in a violent demonstration in Cairo, as the constitutional crisis caused by Mohammed Morsi’s assumption of unchallengeable powers showed no sign of abating. The Telegraph

U.S. urges restraint as supporters, opponents of President Mursi clash
The United States on Tuesday appealed for restraint on both sides in Egypt as supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Mursi clashed during nationwide protests. “We would simply urge that protesters express their views peacefully and that they be given the environment, if you will, to protest peacefully,” AFP reported State Department spokesman Mark Toner as saying. Al Arabiya

American Commander Details Al Qaeda’s Strength in Mali
[...] General Ham’s assessment is the most detailed and sobering American military analysis so far of the consequences of the Qaeda affiliate and associated extremist groups seizing the northern part of Mali to use as a haven. “As each day goes by, Al Qaeda and other organizations are strengthening their hold in northern Mali,” General Ham said in remarks at the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University. “There is a compelling need for the international community, led by Africans, to address that.” The new York Times

Mali rebels, government to hold first direct talks
Senior Malian government officials will meet separatist and Islamist rebels for their first face-to-face talks on Tuesday, but Bamako’s rejection of both groups’ demands means swift progress is unlikely. Reuters

African Union, UN disagree over Mali plan
Ministers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the UN on Monday (December 3rd) in Abidjan for being “out of touch” over its lack of urgency in taking action in Mali. “Non-intervention or any reduction over the urgency of sending a force could worsen the security and humanitarian situation in the region and in Africa,” ECOWAS ministers warned. Magharebia

Mali rebels vow to respect national unity, reject terror
Mali government officials met with two armed groups for the first time Tuesday in a landmark encounter that saw the rebels pledge to respect the country’s territorial integrity and root out “terrorism”. The meeting, hosted in neighbouring Burkina Faso, came amid growing calls to deploy an international African force to northern Mali to eject the Islamist groups that seized control there after a March coup. AFP

U.S. Africa Command Finally Receives Spec Ops Unit
Just weeks after the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate and CIA station in Benghazi, Libya, the head of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was for the first time given operational control over a dedicated special operations company that could be tasked with handling similar incidents in the future. Defense News

Radical Islamist sect in Nigeria grows more deadly, poses regional threat
Boko Haram seems to be growing more violent with a record number of people killed this year and slowly internationalizing its stance, a possible danger for the rest of West Africa. More than 770 people have been killed in Boko Haram attacks so far this year, according to an Associated Press count, making 2012 the worst year of violence attributed to the group. “Weak border security as well as corruption — and even membership of immigration officials in Boko Haram — could facilitate the travel of militants between northern Mali and Nigeria” warned analyst Jacob Zenn in an October publication by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. AP on the Mineapolis Star Tribune

Kenya: As polls loom, tensions mount in slums
After Kenya went to the polls five years ago, Victor Situma and his family were among some 600,000 people who fled their homes as, in many parts of the country, a bitter dispute over who had won the presidency degenerated into widespread inter-communal violence. His house and shop were looted and vandalized. In all, more than 1,500 people were killed. IRIN

Sudanese government, splinter group to hold talks for peace in Darfur next week
Sudanese government and a splinter rebel faction of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) will hold talks aiming to reach a peace agreement in the Qatari capital Doha next week, a Sudanese minister said. Sudan Tribune

Translating Famine Early Warning into Early Action: An East Africa Case Study
More than a quarter-century after the 1984 famine in Ethiopia, and following decades of investment in famine early warning (EW) systems, a slow-motion disaster unfolded in Somalia during 2011, as a food security crisis mushroomed into a full blown famine in some central and southern districts. Warnings were sounded as early as August 2010, and only grew in intensity. However, intervention – and funding – commensurate with the scale of the disaster only increased from mid-2011, when a famine had been declared in parts of southern and central Somalia. Chatham House

Tunisians frustrated over lack of change
Tunisia’s government is facing growing pressure over record high unemployment. Residents unhappy with falling living standards have staged a week of protests in the town of Siliana. A deal has been reached with the government to defuse tension and solve the problems of the local population, but the poor, unemployed young protesters want to see actions rather than words. Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra reports from Siliana. Al Jazeera

A Field Diary From Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
Information in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is often like a game of telephone. It’s hard, if not impossible, to pinpoint where a rumor begins, let alone how much it changed from the original source and if it had any credibility to begin with. As the area manager for the international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide in the war-torn province of North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, distinguishing fact from fiction is a big part of my job. And in a country where security can change in an instant, acting on lies and failing to act on truth can have very real — even fatal — consequences. The Huffington Post

Who’s Helping Finance Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill? You Are
[...] American fundamentalists operate in Africa both openly and covertly. They conduct public “crusades” to covert African Christians to their extremist views but also run a plethora of “charitable” projects operated “under the umbrella of nongovernment organizations (NGOs), which provides them with access to grant monies from various overseas agencies,” according to “Globalizing the Culture Wars,” a report by Political Research Associates (PRA). Because none of this is reported, PRA acknowledges that “it is difficult to quantify the exact amounts going to Africa,” but all of it contributes to their influence. The Huffington Post

Namibian president sacks prime minister
Namibia’s President Hifikepunye Pohamba on Tuesday ditched his prime minister for a man tipped by some to be the country’s next ruler. Pohamba told journalists he has shifted Nahas Angula, who has been prime minister for nearly eight years, to the defence ministry, replacing him with Hage Geingob, who returns to the post after a 10-year absence. Times Live

Even in failure, Ghana’s Rawlings family shakes politics
Ghana’s ex-first lady has failed to get her name on the ballot for this week’s presidential polls, but has still managed to roil politics and spark endless guessing over her husband Jerry Rawlings’ intentions. Times Live

Sierra Leone opposition concedes election defeat to president
Sierra Leone’s main opposition party has conceded defeat to President Ernest Bai Koroma, weeks after complaining the election was marred by fraud. Mail and Guardian

Fight against al Shabaab instructive model for future: U.S. general
The African Union war against al Shabaab in Somalia this past year has left the Islamist group “largely in a survival mode” and is instructive for confronting the region’s extremist groups in the future, the head of U.S. Africa Command said on Monday. General Carter Ham, who is responsible for U.S. military ties with Africa, told a forum at George Washington University he was concerned about growing cooperation among Islamist extremist factions across the region. But he also said Washington favored “African solutions for African problems.” Reuters

Somalia: Al Shabaab carries out brazen ambush on government delegation
A delegation of Somalia’s Federal Government ministers and security officials were ambushed by Al Shabaab fighters on Monday as they were returning to Mogadishu from a visit to the city of Marka, Garowe Online reports. Garowe Online

Somalia property boom forces refugees onto street
In parts of Somalia’s capital, rubble-strewn lots that once served as sniper positions have been rebuilt into well-maintained homes, hotels and shopping plazas. Housing prices have doubled, or even gone up ten-fold. AP

New Negotiations Brokered by Sant’Egidio: Hope for Peace in Casamance?
The resolution of the crisis in the Casamance, Senegal, that has been on hold since the ceasefire of 2005, has taken a new turn. Salif Sadio, leader of the northern faction of the armed branch of the Movement des forces démocratiques de la Casamance (Movement of the Democratic Forces of Casamance, MFDC), had appealed for dialogue on 1 June 2012. In an answer to that appeal, President Macky Sall, in a statement at the decentralised Council of Ministers meeting held in Ziguinchor on 27 June, pledged to begin talks with Sadio and the other warlords of the MFDC. ISS

New foreign armed poachers target Cameroon elephants say World Wildlife Fund and US diplomat
Despite armed guards, Cameroon’s dwindling elephant population is being decimated by heavily armed gangs of international poachers, according to a top official of the World Wide Fund for Nature. Tighter security has been mounted because intelligence shows that two gangs of poachers from Sudan are heading for the area, said WWF Cameroon conservation director Hanson Njiforti at a press conference Tuesday. The Washington Post

Mali: How Did This Trekker Haven Turn Into a Jihadi Safe Zone?
France and its allies, namely the United States, call northern Mali a jihadi “safe haven” that threatens the West. As a result, a U.N.-supported multinational African attack on northern Mali is moving closer to reality. U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney repeatedly cited Mali in his October foreign-policy debate with President Barack Obama. But the jihadi takeover in the north, now six months old, carries a touch of bitter irony in Bandiagara as history’s tide washes back across this town that 160 years ago was capital of the Toucouleur Empire. Foreign Policy

Google Street View causes stir in Botswana
Opposition paper in Botswana, the second African nation to get Street View, says images of military bases compromise security. “We feel such places as the military base and the office of the president, the American embassy and any other such high-security areas should not have been allowed to be published,” the Monitor newspaper opined in an editorial on Monday. “This compromises our security.” It went on: “What is also amazing is that prior to the shooting of the map, there was assurance that residential areas would be left out … but now these are in the Google map.” The Guardian

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