Media Review for February 20, 2013

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 02/20/2013

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

French family of seven kidnapped near Cameroon-Nigeria border
Seven French tourists, four of them children, have been kidnapped in northern Cameroon, French President François Hollande confirmed on Tuesday afternoon. Armed men took their captives across the border into Nigeria, sources told RFI. RFI

France asks nationals to leave north Cameroon
France has urged its citizens to leave north Cameroon “as quickly as possible” after seven of its nationals were kidnapped by gunmen on Tuesday. French President Francois Hollande said he suspected militant Islamists from neighbouring Nigeria of being behind the abductions. He added that the seven tourists, including four children, had probably been taken to northern Nigeria. BBC

French soldier killed in northern Mali
A French soldier has been killed while fighting rebels in northern Mali’s mountainous Iforhas region, Francois Hollande, France’s president, has said. The dead serviceman was identified as Staff Sergeant Harold Vormezeele, a commando with the Second Foreign Parachute Regiment, an elite unit of the French Foreign Legion. Al Jazeera

U.S. Air Force crews deliver supplies to Mali
Air Force crews from Joint Base Lewis-McChord have been delivering troops and supplies to Mali for more than three weeks in support of an international mission against a North African al-Qaida group. The Air Force announced Friday that teams from Lewis-McChord and Dover Air Force Base hit a milestone in delivering 2 million pounds of cargo for Malian and French forces over 23 days They’re flying C-17 Globemaster IIIs out of Istres, France. Airmen say they’re enjoying the opportunity to support an allied military. McClatchy

Mali: France’s Version Of Shock And Awe, Add Allies, Crush AQIM
F rance has been hailed by the people of Mali for driving al Qaeda-linked thugs from their country. Malians greeted French President Francois Hollande with cheers of Vive la France when he recently visited Timbuktu. But the rebels and al Qaeda are not yet crushed, though they have been forced to cede most inhabited territory. The mix is getting richer now with kidnappings that appear to be in retaliation for the French operations claiming seven French tourists, including three children, in northwest Cameroon and seven foreign workers in Nigeria. Murielle Delaporte, a respected French defense analyst, analyzes just what has made the French operations so successful so far. This article includes an exclusive interview with the commander of French helicopter forces in Mali. AOL Defense

AQIM aimed to take over all “jihadist activities in the Sahara”
David Blair of The Telegraph explains how he discovered a record of a March 18 meeting of the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu. The document detailed plans by AQIM leadership to “take command and control of all jihadist activities in the Sahara.” A full translation of the document and additional context can be found at Blair’s report. The Long War Journal

An Unexpected Mission for France’s Defense Minister
Jean-Yves Le Drian, a lifelong Socialist, remembers vividly the day Nicolas Sarkozy called to offer him the post of defense minister. He was flattered to be asked, Mr. Le Drian said in an interview, but not persuaded — even when Mr. Sarkozy later offered him the job again. [...] There are already concerns about “mission creep” — France wants to hand off as soon as possible to the West African regional group Ecowas and allies like Chad, whose troops, being more light-skinned like the Arabs and Tuaregs of Mali’s north, are more acceptable to residents there than the darker-skinned Malian Army. France wants a new United Nations Security Council resolution to rebadge the African force as blue-helmeted peacekeepers and has been pushing for new elections in Mali, now scheduled for July 7. The New York Times

International military exercises in Mauritania
Military exercises involving 20 countries including Western, Arab and African countries, will start tomorrow in Mauritania. Mauritanian News Agency quoted the exercises coordinator Colonel Hamada Ould Baeda as saying “The exercises will take place in the eastern provinces of Mauritania with the participation of twenty Arab and foreign countries”. He denied any connection between the exercises and the current developments in Mali, stressing that these maneuvers has been programmed three years ago. Qatar News Agency on The Peninsula

Analysis: Peace unravels in the two Sudans
[...] a polite game of diplomatic ping pong between the two Sudans repeatedly state a sincere commitment to peace. But these commitments look increasingly hollow as one deadline after another set by African Union mediators slip by. The promised peace has not left the piece of paper it was written on. This hiatus in the peace process may be coming to an end, but not in the way the mediators had hoped. In recent weeks, reports have emerged of a build-up of troops along the countries’ shared border, including in hotspots like the disputed Abyei area and the oil fields of Heglig. Incidents along the border are already taking place, with reports that 24 people have been killed in recent weeks. Al Jazeera

Tunisian leader Hamadi Jebali resigns
Tunisia’s prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, resigned on Tuesday after his attempt to end a political stand-off by forming a government of technocrats failed. “I vowed that if my initiative did not succeed I would resign and … I have already done so,” Jebali told a news conference after meeting the president, Moncef Marzouki. The Guardian

Arab Spring at Risk: Belaïd Assassination Exposes Deep Rifts in Tunisia
The murder of opposition politician Chokri Belaïd was also an assault on Tunisia’s emerging democracy. It has exposed the chasm between Islamists and secularists, and threatens to plunge the nation at the forefront of the Arab Revolution into chaos. Spiegle

Algeria denies licence to salafist party
The Algerian Interior Ministry refused to license the first salafist party in the country. The Free Awakening Front had planned to hold its founding convention on Saturday (February 16th). The interior ministry officially notified the party officials, through Algiers wali, that their application for the convention had been denied. The interior ministry did not explain the decision. “We were surprised with the rejection because our file has met all legal requirements,” salafist party head Abdelfattah Zeraoui Hamadache told reporters. “We think that this involves an illegal move on the part of security authorities.” Magharebia

Morocco’s weakened reform movement hopes to rebound
Morocco’s 20 February movement, born during the Arab Spring uprisings and increasingly marginalised in the two years since then, is hoping to rebound amid rising discontent against the Islamist government. Tens of thousands of Moroccans took to the streets in the kingdom on February 20, 2011 after protests had already overthrown dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. But since then, a new constitution and government have been put in place, and the number of people affiliated with the movement has dwindled. In recent months, its demonstrations have struggled to gather even a few hundred people. Al Ahram

Pirates take 6 foreigners captive near Nigeria
Pirates kidnapped six foreign sailors when they boarded a ship two days ago off Nigeria’s coast in the latest in a string of attacks off Africa’s biggest energy producer, security sources said on Tuesday. Reuters

Minnesota congressman visits Somalia
A U.S. congressman from Minnesota has arrived in Somalia for a rare visit by a United States politician. Keith Ellison said Tuesday that his visit to Mogadishu fulfills a request from his constituents with ties to Somalia. Minnesota has one of the largest populations of Somali-Americans in the U.S. Ellison noted that the U.S. government recently recognized the Somali government for the first time since the country fell into anarchy in 1991. President Barack Obama’s administration formally recognized the Somali government on Jan. 17. AP on Politico

Can Kenya`s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission deliver?
After several false starts, Kenya’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) has finally promised to release its findings on 3 May 2013. Established by an Act of Parliament in 2008 (although it only came into being in 2009) to investigate gross human rights violations and other historical injustices in Kenya from 12 December 1963 to 28 February 2008, the TJRC was initially crippled by internal wrangles and litigation against its chairperson, Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat. Local groups accused Kiplagat of aiding and abetting the very human rights abuses that the TJRC sought to investigate. Four years later, the TJRC is struggling to salvage its credibility by promising a report that will no doubt struggle to satisfy Kenyans’ desire for the truth. IASS

The Belly Dancing Barometer, by Thomas L. Friedman
The Daily News of Egypt reported that the national administrative court ruled last week that the popular Al-Tet “belly dancing channel” be taken off the air for broadcasting without a license. Who knew that Egypt had a belly dancing channel? (Does Comcast know about this?) It is evidently quite popular but apparently offensive to some of the rising Islamist forces in Egypt. It is not clear how much the Muslim Brotherhood’s party had to do with the belly ban, but what is clear is that no one in Egypt is having much fun these days. The country is more divided than ever between Islamist and less religious and liberal parties, and the Egyptian currency has lost 8 percent of its value against the dollar in the last two months. Even more disturbing, there has been a sharp increase lately in cases of police brutality and rape directed at opposition protesters. The New York Times

The Muslim Brotherhood’s 213-Year Revolution
[...] Indeed, for the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s revolution has been going on for centuries, and essentially boils down to a long-term effort to resist western political influence and secularism, which it views as a foreign cultural import. To understand this hostile historical view, it is worth examining Muslim Brotherhood party leader Abdel Mawgoud Al-Dardery’s recent talk at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Many think that the Egyptian revolution only started on the 25th of January [2011],” Al-Dardery told an audience of Washington policy wonks last week. “But I think the revolution was in the making for so many decades before that.” According to Al-Dardery, Egypt’s revolution took “213 years,” beginning with resistance to Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 and intensifying with resistance to Britain’s invasion of Egypt in 1882. The Atlantic

The Arrogance of Universal Democracy
[...] There is a political and intellectual consensus in Washington that the campaign launched by President George W. Bush to remake the Middle East along liberal-democratic lines as part of an ambitious Freedom Agenda has failed miserably, and if anything, led to the emergence of anti-Western political forces in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. Similar expectations in Washington and among Western politicians and intellectuals—that the so-called Arab Spring would end up looking like a rerun of the 1989 political spring in central and eastern Europe and usher in an era of a New Peace in the Middle East—proved to be wishful thinking. The National Interest

‘Land Grabbing’: Foreign Investors Buy Up Third World Farmland
Foreign investors are buying or leasing vast amounts of farmland in Third World countries to profit from surging demand for food crops as a result of rapid population growth. “Land grabbing” amounts to a new form of colonialism that often runs counter to the interests of locals. Spiegle

Shock as 60pc of Tanzania students fail national exam
Six out of every 10 Tanzanian students who sat last year’s ordinary secondary level examinations attained the lowest grade possible, government results showed Monday. Close to 54 per cent of students tested picked up Division Zero in National Form IV exams, a big rise from the 32 per cent who had failed to score in 2011. Some were so dismal that they instead resorted to writing insults on the answer sheets after the realisation that they were completely unprepared. East African

Little Senegal in the Big Apple: Harlem’s West African heart
At the heart of West Harlem, West Africa is buzzing. Nestled inside one of the world’s most diverse cities, over the years the thriving neighborhood of Harlem has become the hub of New York’s African American community. At the start of the 20th century, throngs of African Americans migrated from the southern United States into the big city, lured by the jobs and opportunities of urban life. CNN

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

State’s Carson on Crisis in Mali
“As the Malian Government, regional partners, and the international community continue to respond vigorously to the ongoing crisis in Mali, we must be mindful of the four underlying challenges Mali continues to face: al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) continued presence in northern Mali, the restoration of democracy, the need to begin negotiations with northern groups that renounce terrorism and recognize the unity of the Malian state, and a significant ongoing humanitarian crisis. Failure to address these challenges – comprehensively and simultaneously – risks perpetuating the cycle of violence and insecurity that has plagued northern Mali for decades and threatened stability across the Sahel.” – Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs

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