Media Review for January 3, 2013

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 01/03/2013

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. Debates Framework for Counterterror Operations in Africa
As U.S. counterterrorism officials seek greater capability to combat terrorist groups in Africa, the Obama administration is considering asking Congress to approve expanded authority to allow military operations in places such as Mali, Nigeria and Libya, where perceived threats to U.S. security are proliferating. Broad disagreements remain, however, regarding the nature of these threats and how best to engage them. The diversity of potential targets also raises legal questions, as many of the terrorist groups operating in Africa are not necessarily affiliated with al-Qaida’s flagship franchise, now located in Pakistan. World Politics Review

Report: US, Algeria eye intelligence deal to combat al Qaeda in Africa
American intelligence officials are reportedly eying a deal to provide Algeria with advanced surveillance satellites as part of an effort to keep closer tabs on al Qaeda’s increasing foothold in the western Africa. Under the terms of the proposal, Washington would provide the satellites to military and intelligence officials in Algeria to track Islamic militants tied to al Qaeda’s African cell — dubbed al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) — operating in northern Mali, United Press International reported Wednesday. The Hill

Mali, America’s new Afghanistan
As the United States forces gradually withdraw from Afghanistan after closing shop in Iraq, Mali could become the next frontier for the so called war on terror. The Africa Report

Mauritania eyes impact of Mali crisis
Mauritania’s economic and cultural ties with Mali run deep, but the threat of war in the neighbouring nation has everyone on edge. To address their shared challenges and concerns, Mauritanian party leaders, diplomats, journalists and academics met with representatives of Mali’s National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) in Nouakchott on December 15th for a unique symposium. Magharebia

Embattled Central African Republic president sacks defense minister, army chief
Central African Republic President Francois Bozize has sacked and taken from his son Jean Francis Bozize as defense minister and also sacked the army chief of staff, a decree read over state radio said on Wednesday. Reuters

Central Africa on the Brink, Rebels Halt Their Advance
Rebel forces halted their advance on Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, on Wednesday and said they were prepared to enter into peace talks with the government. The announcement, made by rebel spokesmen, heralded the possibility of a peaceful resolution to a conflict that has driven thousands of civilians from their homes and into the dense Central African forest, seeking refuge from the violence that has accompanied similar uprisings in recent years. The New York Times

Congress OKs bill expanding rewards program
Congress has approved legislation that would expand the State Department’s rewards for justice program to target the world’s most serious human rights abusers, with African warlord Joseph Kony a top target. The House passed the bill by voice vote Tuesday night and sent it to President Barack Obama for his signature. The State Department strongly backed the legislation. “This bill responds to the need to develop more tools to pursue the world’s worst,” said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., sponsor of the legislation and the next chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. AP

South Sudan: Tensions grow between refugees and host community
The earth in Maban County, South Sudan, is already dry and cracked, and even a faint breeze raises a haze of brown dust. The trials of the rainy season – flooded homes and impassable roads – are over. But as the weather changes, and the emergency response transforms into a longer-term humanitarian relief effort, new worries weigh on the minds of refugees and aid workers alike. IRIN

Nubians fear for heritage as ancient clashes with modern
The Nubian wrestlers, bare feet on red sand, enter the ring with more sway than swagger in their step. Murmurs of appreciation ripple through a crowd of men with bright white robes against the green-painted arena and startling blue sky. The National

South Sudan’s oil production hasn’t trickled down to basic services
South Sudan may have received slightly more than $10bn (£6bn) in oil revenue from 2005 to January 2012, when oil production shut down, according to government officials and the World Bank. But development experts have urged the government to begin investing in the country and its people, as basic social services remain scarce. South Sudan shut down production of oil after a dispute with neighbouring Sudan over transit fees this year. But production is expected to resume in the next few months, after the two countries reached an agreement in September. The Guardian

18 pilgrims killed in Senegal road crash
A minibus and a coach packed with pilgrims collided on Tuesday in western Senegal, killing at least 18 people and leaving another 16 wounded, emergency services said. The accident brought to 26 the number of people killed in the past two days in road accidents involving members of the Senegalese Muslim Mouride brotherhood heading to the town of Touba for their annual pilgrimage. News 24

Ivory Coast stampede survivors blame barricades for deaths
Survivors of a stampede in Ivory Coast that killed 61 people, most of them children and teenagers, after a New Year’s Eve fireworks display said Wednesday that barricades stopped them from moving along a main boulevard, causing the crush of people.Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara ordered three days of national mourning and launched an investigation into the causes of the tragedy but two survivors, in interviews with The Associated Press, indicated why so many died in what would normally be an open area, the Boulevard de la Republic. CS Monitor

Ambassador Rice at U.N. on Sanctions Against DRC Armed Groups
The United States welcomes the decision today by the UN Security Council’s Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Sanctions Committee to impose targeted sanctions on two armed groups operating in the DRC: the March 23 Movement (the M23) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (the FDLR). We believe these designations will directly help advance the goal of a sustainable peace in eastern DRC. We urge the rank and file of both the M23 and the FDLR to defect and demobilize in order to disassociate themselves from the sanctioned groups.

Egypt Commission Says Mubarak Watched Uprising
Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak watched the uprising against him unfold through a live TV feed to his palace, despite his later denial that he knew the extent of the protests and crackdown against them, a member of a fact-finding mission said Wednesday. The finding could lead to the retrial of the 84-year-old ousted president, already serving a life sentence. In questioning for his trial for the deaths of some 900 protesters during the uprising, Mubarak said he was kept in the dark by top aides as to the gravity of the situation and fended off charges that he ordered or knew of the deadly force used against the protesters. NPR

In Egypt, young revolutionaries feeling despair
Many of Egypt’s twentysomething generation, hungry for a just society and economic opportunities, say they see themselves as lost after last month’s clashes over the nation’s constitution.[...] Despair like theirs could be dangerous for the Islamists, who risk alienating the larger population with heavy-handed measures, and also the opposition, which may be adept at protests but is unable to offer a compelling vision for governing or mobilizing grass-roots followers at the polls. Los Angeles Times

Top cop kidnapped in Libya’s Benghazi
The acting head of the criminal investigations department in Libya’s second city Benghazi has been kidnapped at gunpoint, officials told AFP on Thursday. “Abdelsalam al-Mahdawi was kidnapped late Wednesday when travelling from his farm to the criminal investigations department,” a security official told AFP. France 24

Fighting over fundamental principles in North Africa
Liberals, theocrats and soldiers in Egypt and Tunisia are fighting running battles over the powers and privileges they can enshrine in their founding political texts. Two parties who joined Islamist party Ennahda in the ruling troïka in Tunisia – Ettakatol and the Congrès pour la République – may have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of liberal Tunisians, but they struck out proposed constitutional clauses on blasphemy and limits on the role of women. The Africa Report

Meet Proscovia Oromait, the world’s youngest MP
[...] Ms Oromait, who turned 20 today, is Africa’s youngest-ever MP, and she is thought to be the youngest legislator currently serving anywhere in the world. The position has certainly added something to her CV, which previously highlighted her role as a newsreader at assemblies and being named as her school’s Miss Wildlife.[...] Ms Oromait’s age has caused a stir in a country where President Museveni, 68, has five septuagenarians in his Cabinet and the average age of ministers is 62. Already the critics are lining up decry her lack of experience, no matter that she more accurately represents a nation where 78 per cent of the population is under 30. The Independant

Africa Is Hooked on Growth
A few years into sub-Saharan Africa’s renaissance, there were the natural doubts. Economists had competed for so long to explain the region’s growth tragedy that good news was a shock. But now, more than a decade into the revival, the good news has grown better. The lesson is that sound policies can make a difference even in the least promising of settings. Defeatists everywhere, cheer up. Council on Foreign Relations.

Wealthy Gulf investors warm to Africa
Wealthy Gulf Arab companies are boosting their investment in Africa’s vast lands and untapped resources, marking a shift for investors who have traditionally directed their money towards assets in the United States and Europe. One reason for the shift is negative: with government debt problems weighing on U.S. and European markets, those regions no longer look as attractive to some Gulf investors as they did just a few years ago. But there are also a string of positive motives, including Africa’s fast economic growth, the rise of a free-spending African middle class, and a sense that much of the continent is becoming better governed and more stable politically. Reuters

Can You Fight Poverty With a Five-Star Hotel?
Accra is a city of choking red dust where almost no rain falls for three months at a time and clothes hung out on a line dry in 15 minutes. So the new five-star Mövenpick hotel affords a haven of sorts in Ghana’s crowded capital, with manicured lawns, amply watered vegetation, and uniformed waiters gliding poolside on roller skates to offer icy drinks to guests. A high concrete wall rings the grounds, keeping out the city’s overflowing poor who hawk goods in the street by day and the homeless who lie on the sidewalks by night. Foreign Policy

Africa: Discordant Development and Insecurity in Africa
Richard Joseph explores how “discordant development” – deepening inequalities and rapid progress juxtaposed with group distress – is often one of the root causes of uncertainty, insecurity and violent conflict in Africa. For example, Mali and Ghana have experienced similar growth rates but Mali is sundered and in disarray, while Ghana has experienced both political and economic progress. Brookings

Gambia to open hospital to treat Aids patients with herbal medicine
President Yahya Jammeh said in 2007 he had found a remedy of boiled herbs to cure Aids. “With this project coming to fruition, we intend to treat 10,000 HIV/Aids patients every six months through natural medicine,” Mr Jammeh said in his New Year’s address, adding that he expected the 1,111-bed hospital to open in 2015. The World Health Organisation and the United Nations have said Mr Jammeh’s HIV/Aids treatment is alarming mainly because patients are required to cease their anti-retroviral drugs, making them more prone to infection. The Telegraph

Media Review Archive
View Past Issues