Media Review for December 6, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/06/2012

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

Pentagon planning for multinational military operation in Mali
U.S. military planners have begun to help organize a multinational proxy force to intervene next year in Mali, the famine-stricken, coup-wracked African country that has become a magnet for Islamist extremists, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The international force would be led on the ground by several thousand Malian and West African troops but would receive extensive support from the Pentagon and the State Department, which would help train, equip and transport the troops, Obama administration officials said. The Washington Post

African Union Asks United Nations to Finance Intervention in Mali
The African Union appealed on Wednesday for the United Nations to pay for a military operation to combat Islamist extremists in northern Mali after the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, cautiously recommended that the Security Council approve the force without financing it. Mali descended into chaos in March when soldiers toppled the president, leaving a power vacuum that enabled rebels to seize two-thirds of the country. The New York Times

Mali: the fight for the north
An exclusive report from the city of Mopti ahead of the international military intervention that hopes to push out Islamist rebels from northern Mali in 2013. A military victory would only be a first step, as the country must elect a new government and rebuild the trust destroyed by the north-south divide. The Africa Report

Chad leader slams ‘total confusion’ on Mali intervention
Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno on Wednesday denounced the confusion surrounding plans for a UN-backed military intervention to oust Islamists in control of northern Mali. After meeting with French President Francois Hollande, Deby said it was premature to discuss whether Chadian troops would participate in a military operation because “there is total confusion” about if and when the mission might take place.IpotNews

Droukdel threatens Sahel states
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) just released a video warning African and European states against any military intervention in northern Mali. “If you want peace and security in your country, we are for it. If you want war, the Sahara is a large graveyard for your soldiers and a disaster for your interests,” AQIM chief Abdelmalek Droukdel said in a new video released by Sahara Media on Saturday (December 1st). Magharebia

U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands
The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats. The New York Times

Egypt crisis: Tanks deployed after fatal Cairo clashes
The Egyptian army has deployed tanks and armoured troop carriers outside the presidential palace in Cairo after clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi left five dead and hundreds injured. But, despite their presence, there are reports of a fresh outbreak of stone-throwing between the two sides. Egypt is seeing growing unrest over a controversial draft constitution. BBC

Morsi: Egypt’s Democratic Dictator?
[...] The new Constitutional Declaration, the Revolution Protection Law, and the new presidential decrees have several aims: First, to remove the public prosecutor, a Mubarak-era holdover who failed to convict dozens of that regime’s officials who had been charged with corruption and/or abuse of power. Second, to protect the remaining elected and indirectly elected institutions (all of which have an Islamist majority) from dissolution by Constitutional Court judges (mostly Mubarak-era holdovers). Third, to bring about retrials of Mubarak’s security generals. Fourth, to compensate and provide pensions for the victims of repression during and after the revolution. Think Africa Press

Why the Military Is Unlikely to Intervene in Egypt’s Messy Power Struggle
If a cabal of Egyptian generals had been planning a coup, their moment to strike should be imminent. Tuesday saw new clashes between police and tens of thousands of antigovernment demonstrators outside Cairo’s presidential palace as a constitutional deadlock hardened into a not-yet-violent civil war between Islamists and their rivals [...] The turmoil plays out against the backdrop of an Egyptian “fiscal cliff” that urgently demands political stability. Still, even if the current scenario includes conditions similar to those that have preceded coups in unstable societies with powerful militaries, a putsch by Egypt’s generals remains unlikely. Time

Conflicting reports on postponed Mursi visit to White House
Conflicting reports surrounding whether or not Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi’s visit to the U.S. this month will go ahead as planned have arisen Wednesday morning. News on microblogging site Twitter circulated that Mursi’s visit was postponed until early next year, sparking speculation that the reported decision may be tied to recent anti-government unrest in Egypt. Al Arabiya

Islamist vs. Secularists: The Post-Revolution Struggle for the Arab Soul
The rise of political Islam following the Arab Spring has many worried that the democratic achievements of the revolution could be lost. In Egypt and Tunisia alike, citizens are once again taking to the streets. But this time they are opposing Islamism. Does secularism still stand a chance? Spiegle

Africa: U.S. Africanists Worry Over Obama’s Next Secretary of State
[...] Behind the domestic furor over events in Libya, some Africa specialists in the United States are questioning her suitability on the basis of her record on Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other east and central African nations, going back to the 1990s when she held posts in the administration of former president Bill Clinton. Jason K. Stearns, a former United Nations official and director of a project of the Rift Valley Institute, charged in a recent blog post that “guilt over her inaction” on the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and “frustration” with Congolese leaders in the same era had led to Rice developing sympathies with the post-genocide leadership of Rwanda. allAfrica

US navy ships stopped in Port Sudan last month: Sudan FM
[...] (a) U.S. navy warships stopped in Port Sudan for few hours in November but offered no further details. A U.S. pentagon official in Washington reached by Sudan Tribune said he has no knowledge of the stop. The U.S. has placed Sudan on the list of states that sponsor terrorism since 1993 on allegations of harboring regional and international militants including for some time Al-Qaeda’s late leader Osama Bin Laden who was killed in Pakistan by US Navy SEALS last year. Sudan Tribune

Joint Statement on U.S.–African Union High-Level Meeting
The United States and the African Union (AU) met on November 28 and 29, 2012 in Washington for the third annual U.S.-AU High Level Meetings. The discussions focused on how the AU and the United States can work together to address challenges and opportunities of mutual interest in order to promote global peace and development. The U.S.-AU talks provided an opportunity to discuss a number of cross-cutting issues, including the leadership role the AU plays throughout the continent in promoting a prosperous Africa at peace with itself.

Ghana polls a close contest despite boom
[...] The presidential and parliamentary contests set for Friday are expected to be close. Under the winner-takes-all system, the prize is control over billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues expected to flow in the next four years, giving the victorious party the potential means not only to transform the economy but also to stay in power for a long time. The Washington Post

Sao Tome and Principe Premier, Government Removed by Decree
President Manuel Pinto da Costa of Sao Tome and Principe dissolved the government of Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada, according to a decree read on state television. The broadcast didn’t say whether Trovoada and his government will be replaced via an election or whether his party will be asked to form another government. Bloomberg

Somalia’s al-Shabab targets Puntland military
A bomb blast and a shoot-out between Islamists and troops from the semi-autonomous Puntland region have left 31 people dead or wounded, officials say. Fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group attacked a military base and planted a roadside bomb, the officials said. Al-Shabab fighters have reportedly moved to Puntland in recent months. BBC

Ethiopia PM willing to talk to Eritrea
In an exclusive interview, Hailemariam Desalegn tells Al Jazeera he is ready to speak to President Issaias Afeworki. Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopia’s prime minister, has said that he is willing to hold talks with neighbouring Eritrea, with whom Addis Ababa fought a border war that ended in 2000. If Desalgen follows through with Wednesday’s statement, it will be the first time a leader in Addis Ababa has held talks with Issaias Afeworki, the Eritrean president, since the end of the conflict which left at least 70,000 people dead. Al Jazeera

S.Africa state TV muzzles reporters over ‘Zumaville’
South Africa’s state broadcaster SABC has ordered its journalists not to refer to President Jacob Zuma’s controversial state-renovated residence as a “homestead” or as “Zumaville.” In a missive to staff, seen by AFP on Wednesday, SABC news boss Jimi Matthews said the compound at Nkandla, which has been refurbished at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $29 million, should be described as the “Nkandla residence.” Capital FM

South African military aircraft crashes en route to area near Mandela’s village, killing 11
A South African military aircraft on an unknown mission to an area near former President Nelson Mandela’s village crashed in a mountain range, killing all 11 people onboard, officials said Thursday. The Douglas C-47TP Dakota, a twin-propeller aircraft, had taken off from Pretoria’s Waterkloof Air Force Base on Wednesday morning, said Brig. Gen. Xolani Mabanga, a military spokesman. The aircraft encountered bad weather in flight and failed to make its 10 a.m. landing. AP on The Washington Post

200 prisoners break out of Libya jail: officials
“One hundred and ninety-seven prisoners escaped the prison of Sabha yesterday (Tuesday),” a member of the security services told AFP on condition of anonymity. “Judiciary police, who control the prison, facilitated the escape of the detainees, the majority of them common criminals,” said the source, a former rebel in Libya’s 2011 revolution.

Liberia’s Sirleaf makes rival Weah peace ambassador
Liberia announced on Wednesday that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had appointed opposition leader and football legend George Weah, her former election opponent, as the war-scarred African nation’s new peace ambassador. Modern Ghana News

Investigations Underway into Corruption and Embezzlement in West Africa
So-called “ill-gotten gains” investigations are underway into several current and former ruling families from West and Central Africa. Senegal’s new government has launched a landmark investigation into several key figures from the former government, while justice officials in the United States and France continue to investigate the foreign assets of African heads of state and their families who are accused of embezzling money from public coffers back home. VOA

Scholars and spies: A disastrous combination
Buried in a just published Washington Post exposé on the expansion of spying operations by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) is a sentence that should send shivers down the spine of any researcher, journalist, student or scholar working in the Muslim world, regardless of whether she or he is an American citizen: “Having DIA operatives pose as academics or business executives requires painstaking work to create those false identities, and it means they won’t be protected by diplomatic immunity if caught.” Al Jazeera

From the archive, 5 December 1992: US troops in Somalia will do God ’s work, says Bush
President Bush told the American people yesterday that the United States forces he was sending to Somalia to lead an international humanitarian coalition had orders to use ‘whatever military force is necessary to safeguard the lives of our troops and the lives of the Somali people’. ‘This is serious business,’ he added, outlining what promises to be the last decisive act of his presidency. Armed with pledges of 2,000 troops each from France and from Italy, up to 900 from Canada, and with promises of soldiers from Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria, Mr Bush has put together a credibly international force under the United Nations mandate to get relief supplies through the rival Somali militias which have been disrupting the aid effort. The Guardian

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