Media Review for January 29, 2013

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 01/29/2013

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

U.S. Weighs Base for Spy Drones in North Africa
The United States military is preparing to establish a drone base in northwest Africa so that it can increase surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region. For now, officials say they envision flying only unarmed surveillance drones from the base, though they have not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens. The New York Times

Niger gives green light to U.S. drone deployment: source
Niger has given permission for U.S. surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters in northern Mali and the wider Sahara, a senior government source said. Reuters

U.S. Reaches Deal With Niger to Fight Africa Extremists
The U.S. and Niger reached an agreement allowing American military personnel to be stationed in the West African country and enabling them to take on Islamist militants in neighboring Mali, according to U.S. officials. The accord could make it possible for the U.S. to base unmanned surveillance aircraft there, said one official, adding that no decision has been made to station the drones. President Barack Obama’s administration doesn’t intend to send combat troops to Niger, a White House official said. Bloomberg

Mali: French Troops Advance In Timbuktu
French troops are inside the historic city of Timbuktu in Mali after advancing north into an area held by Islamist militants. As they fled, the insurgents apparently set fire to a library that is home to thousands of ancient manuscripts, an act described by the city’s mayor as a “devastating blow” to world heritage. Sky’s Special Correspondent Alex Crawford was the first journalist to enter Timbuktu as the French were heading into the city. Sky News

French-led operation looks north after Timbuktu liberated
After Monday’s liberation of Timbuktu, the French-led Operation Serval to retake northern Mali from Islamist militants must now turn its focus to Kidal in the north of the country, a city that Tuareg rebels say they now control. France 24

UK troops to be sent to Mali as general warns of guerilla warfare
Hundreds of British troops could be deployed to Africa under plans being considered by ministers, as the former head of the Army warns forces face “protracted guerilla warfare” against rebels. The Telegraph

With Timbuktu Retaken, France Signals It Plans to Pull Back in Mali
[...] The rapid advance to Timbuktu, a day after French and African troops took firm control of the former rebel stronghold of Gao, may spell the beginning of the end of France’s major involvement in the conflict here. The French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was a little more cautious than the mayor in his assessment of the situation in Timbuktu on Monday evening, saying on television station TF1: “French and Malian forces are liberating the city. It’s not completely finished, but it’s well on its way.” The New York Times

Regional Leaders Want African Troop Surge in Mali
West African heads of state have decided to send more troops to Mali in an effort to speed up the defeat of Islamic militants who control parts of that West African country, according to regional official. The decision of the leaders is expected to lead to a deployment of 5,000 to 6,000 troops, up from the initially planned 3,300 troops. VOA

U.S. Troops in Mali: America Follows France Into Yet Another Conflict
It is unfortunate that the U.S. is forgetting the lesson of Vietnam and following the French into a conflict in one of their ex-colonies. It seems that harsh lesson is being ignored and we are wading our way into the Mali conflict. Not surprisingly routing out the Islamist cockroaches in Mali will take quite some time. One only has to look at how long it took the Algerians to overcome their Islamist problem in the 1990s to understand how complex it is in the African desert. How can Obama justify getting the U.S. involved in yet another open-ended conflict against Islamists? A U.S. official has admitted this won’t be a quick operation: Policymic

Mali’s 2.5 Percent Problem: The real reason the Sahel is awash with terrorists? Rapid population growth.
As they debate how to tackle the threat of insurgency and unrest in Africa, Western leaders could do worse than to consider one of the most important, yet curiously underplayed, aspects of that troubled region — the dangers of rapid, unchecked population growth. It is no coincidence that in recent decades Mali’s population has been growing at an unsustainable annual rate of around 3 percent. In other words, the average Malian woman has six children, while the country’s population has tripled over the past 50 years and, according to the latest U.N. estimates, is set to triple again over the next half century. Foreign Policy

‘Darker Sides’: The Vast Islamist Sanctuary of ‘Sahelistan’
France is advancing quickly against the Islamists in northern Mali, having already made it to Timbuktu. But the Sahel offers a vast sanctuary for the extremists, complete with training camps, lawlessness and plenty of ways to make money. Spiegle

Global experts tackle Sahel security
Over 150 diplomats, officials and analysts from 67 countries convened in Marrakech on January 25th-26th to explore solutions to Sahel instability. There is an urgent need to prevent the threat of terrorism from spreading across the region, concluded participants in the fourth Marrakech Security Forum, held by the African Federation for Strategic Studies (FAES) and the Moroccan Centre for Strategic Studies (CMES). All Sahel states must now show determination to devise an efficient and effective strategy to tackle terrorism, said Mohammed Benhammou, who presides over both think tanks. Magharebia

Tribes and Terrorists: The Emerging Security Threat from Libya’s Lawless South
One of the reported demands of the terrorist group that seized the In Aménas gas field last week was safe passage to the Libyan border, some 30 miles away and the likely launching point for their attack on Algeria. This should not be surprising, despite a stream of statements from Benghazi regarding increased security in southern Libya, an oil-rich region that has also become a home for criminal gangs, arms traders, smugglers, militias, armed tribal groups and foreign gunmen since the fall of the Qaddafi regime. The Jamestown Foundation

Somali militant group seeking new territories
Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia escaping from African Union forces are causing security scare in Puntland and Somaliland, the autonomous regions of the country struggling to restore central government after more than two decades of civil war. Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Somalia Amb. Mahamat Saleh Annadif said forces of the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) are now in control of all the major urban centres that were previously controlled by the militant group affiliated to global terrorist network Al-Qaida. “They are now waging a guerrilla war from their hiding places in remote areas. Others have mixed with the population while others have run to the autonomous regions,” he said. The East African

Is America Training Too Many Foreign Armies?
Gen. Carter Ham, the head of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), made an unusually blunt admission last week regarding the failure of U.S. military training to instill respect for human rights in a Malian army now accused of massacring Arabs and Tuaregs as it fights its way north into rebel-held territory. “We didn’t spend probably the requisite time focusing on values, ethics, and a military ethos,” Ham acknowledged, saying that most U.S. training for the Malians focused on tactics, strategy, and “technical matters.” Foreign Policy

US warns E.A armies on undermining democracy
Peppering the cracks. U.S Ambassador to Uganda reminds regional army leaders how they have come along way in maintaining peace, warning that they must not turn the guns on civilians. The United States government has expressed concern that there could be a threat to democracy if some regional militaries abdicate their functions of upholding the rule of law. “Strong, professional militaries are essential to regional security. Security, in turn, is essential to development as it allows economies to prosper and democratic institutions to grow,” U.S Ambassador to Uganda, Scott Delisi said yesterday. Daily Monitor

Wars do End: why conflict in Africa is falling
Recent events in Mali, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan seem to confirm one of the most durable stereotypes of Africa, namely that the continent is unstable and uniquely prone to nasty political violence. Writing in Foreign Policy two years ago, New York Times East Africa correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Jeffrey Gettleman espoused this view. He painted a dismal picture of pointless wars waged by brutes and criminals “spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic.” African Arguments

Inhofe Joins Republican Call To Boost U.S. Presence in Africa
U.S. Senate Republicans continue blaming President Obama for increasing unrest and al-Qaida gains in Africa, and are calling for a much larger U.S. military footprint there. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s new top Republican, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, this weekend joined his predecessor, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in calling for a larger American military presence in Africa. DefenseNews

African coastal piracy in 2013 – the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?
African maritime insecurity, particularly in connection with acts of piracy, has constituted an important field of study for security researchers in recent years. It has also frequently made local and global media headlines. However, the focus in recent reports is starting to shift away from alarm towards detailing the diminishing threat of piracy around Somalia. Large-scale piracy there would appear to be on the wane, but in what ways can we reasonably expect 2013 to be different from the past, in East Africa and elsewhere? ISS

African Union Unable to Bring Peace to Warring Sudans

The African Union summit failed to provide a breakthrough in the ongoing negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan when it ended on Monday Jan. 28. President Salva Kirr of South Sudan and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir met on the sidelines of the summit, which was held in Addis Ababa from Jan. 27 to 28, to discuss the implementation of agreements the two countries signed in September 2012. IPS

A Glimpse into a Mysterious African Dictatorship: Is Eritrea on the Verge?
Eritrea made a rare foray into international headlines on Monday, Jan. 21, as news agencies and social-media sites disseminated speculation of a coup attempt. Reliable information on events in Asmara is hard to come by, however, with the tiny East African nation being one of the world’s least open societies and allowing no independent journalists to operate. One signal that all was not well in the Eritrean capital, however, was the fact that the state television service, which is broadcast from inside the headquarters of the Ministry of Information, went off the air for the first time since its creation in 1993. Time

Egyptian Army Chief Warns Crisis Could ‘Collapse’ State
The head of Egypt’s military has warned that the country’s political crisis could lead to the “collapse of the state.” Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who also serves as defense minister, made the comments Tuesday in a speech to military academy cadets. It followed a night of protests with hundreds of anti-government demonstrators packing the streets in Egyptian cities, defying state-of-emergency rules and a nighttime curfew imposed to suppress anti-government riots. VOA

Egyptian F-16 deliveries begin
Egypt has received the first of 20 F-16 Fighting Falcons ordered from the United States in 2010. Deliveries are set to conclude this year in spite of opposition from US lawmakers. On January 22, four F-16s departed for Egypt from Fort Worth, Texas, according to Fox News. In December 2009 the US and Egyptian governments signed an agreement for Block 50/52 F-16s to upgrade the existing fleet. In March 2010 Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract to build 16 F-16Cs and four F-16Ds. DefenceNews

Mugabe Can Lead Zimbabwe for 10 More Years; Constitution
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe will be allowed to try and extend his 33-year rule for another decade, according to a new constitution agreed to between his party and its main opponents to pave the way for elections. While the constitution limits the holder of the office of president to two five-year terms, the measure is not retroactive, according to a copy of the document obtained by Bloomberg News from an official who helped negotiate the law. The position of Prime Minister, currently held by Mugabe’s political opponent Morgan Tsvangirai, will be abolished. Bloombaerg

We Have No Idea if Africa Is Rising
It’s been fascinating to watch FP’s recent debate on economic growth in Africa. Some commentators argue that African economies are destined to remain trapped in the bottom billion unless some sort of fundamental change occurs. Others beg to differ, speaking of a continent that’s showing every indication of rapid progress. Yet, despite their wildly different interpretations, what’s striking is that both camps base their arguments on the same set of numbers. Foreign Policy

Investing in Africa: Is Brazil the New China?
In December, senior representatives of the Chinese and Brazilian foreign ministries met in Beijing for what was billed the ‘second China-Brazil consultation on African affairs’. They claimed to have expanded their consensus on Africa issues, but to what extent does such a consensus exist? It is understandably tempting to draw parallels between China and Brazil’s economic and political engagement in Africa, and both have generated much speculation. But how similar are the two emerging powers’ interactions with the continent? Think Africa Press

FOR THE RECORD – AFRICA – U.S. Government Events, Statements, and Articles
A weekly compilation by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) .

“American foreign policy is also defined by food security and energy security, humanitarian assistance, the fight against disease and the push for development, as much as it is by any single counter terrorism initiative. It is defined by leadership on life threatening issues like climate change, or fighting to lift up millions of lives by promoting freedom and democracy from Africa to the Americas or speaking out for the prisoners of gulags in North Korea or millions of refugees and displaced persons and victims of human trafficking.”

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