Media Review for February 6, 2013

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 02/05/2013

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


Top Tunisian opposition leader shot dead
A top Tunisian opposition figure, Chokri Belaid, leader of the left-leaning opposition Democratic Patriots party, has been shot dead as he was leaving his home. He was transported to a hospital in the suburbs of Tunis on Wednesday, where he died of his wounds, his bother confirmed. [...] Belaid had been critical of Tunisia’s leadership, especially the Islamic party Ennahda that dominates the government. He had accused authorities of not doing enough to stop violence by ultraconservatives who have targeted mausoleums, art exhibits and other things seen as out of keeping with their strict interpretation of Islam. Al Jazeera

France to start pulling troops from Mali in March
France expects to begin pulling its troops out of Mali in March, the French foreign minister told the Metro newspaper. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said troops will continue operations in northern Mali, where he said “some terrorist havens remain.” His interview was published Tuesday on Metro’s website and will appear in the Wednesday newspaper. CNN

Chadian Forces Secure Malian City of Kidal
Chadian soldiers have begun securing the Malian city of Kidal, the last major stronghold of Islamist militants in the country. French officials Tuesday said about 1,800 Chadian soldiers began entering the city about a week after French-led Malian forces took control of Kidal’s airport. The French defense ministry said airstrikes have hit 25 Islamist targets in northern Mali in recent days. VOA

France’s Strategy for Success in Mali [Audio]
France’s military intervention is aimed at creating a stable state in Mali that is in French and EU strategic interests. What is France’s strategy in Mali? LTG Jean-Paul Perruche, former director-general EU Military Staff, in conversation with Sarwar Kashmeri, senior fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security and adjunct professor, Norwich University. Atlantic Council

A free, democratic Mali is worth fighting for
[...] Mr. Traoré has promised to hold national elections this summer, which might conceivably restart the democratic process. But first he and neighbouring countries will have to find a way to permanently sideline Capt. Sanogo and the other junior officers. If they can place Mali into a kind of temporary African trusteeship, civility and good governance can gradually be restored to the country (where three-quarters of the population live in the south, especially in Bamako and Ségou), while autonomous arrangements are made with and for the Tuareg belonging to the secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (a Tuareg word for northern Mali). Simultaneously, the remnants of Ansar Dine and al-Qaeda need to be pursued northward and eastward beyond Timbuktu and Kidal into the mountains and desert of the Sahara. That is what the French are now doing. The Globe and Mail

The remote mountains of northern Mali – perfect for guerrillas
[...] The surrounding landscape is desiccated and featureless, encrusted with black rocks that bake under a merciless sun. It is the perfect place to fake a moon landing. Unfortunately for the French, the Tegharghar mountains are also a perfect place for a guerrilla army. The annual rains fill up the gueltas, or ponds, with drinking water for nomadic animal herds and insurgents. The numerous caves offer shelter from sand storms and helicopter gunships. BBC

Bernard-Henri Lévy On France Taking the Lead In Mali
Bernard-Henri Lévy on Mali, Libya, and how the French are surpassing the U.S. as the principal guardians of human rights. [...] France is taking on not only the moral but also the operational leadership of a just war, sending its best soldiers to stand in for the missing Blue Helmets of the United Nations. It is a strange but undeniable fact that France, with its limited means, its high unemployment, its foreign trade deficit, its habit of coming uncoupled from the train of globalization, is playing the role that one might have expected of the powerful United States. The Daily Beast

Will romanticising the Tuareg threaten the peace in Mali?
France has a long history of glamorising the “blue men of the Sahara”. But following the intervention in Mali, should France be perceived as partial to the minority Tuareg, the chances of a lasting peace could be under threat. France 24

Misadventures in Mali: Implications for Trans-Sahel Terror
A month ago, the crisis in Mali was on few Americans’ radar. But when France launched a military operation to combat a terrorist coalition that had taken over half the country, Mali became the crisis du jour. There had been plenty of warning, but many were surprised to learn that terrorists in Africa’s Sahel region now pose a significant and growing terror threat to international security and western interests. Still, America’s next steps are far from certain. The Huffington Post

The dignified defiance of Timbuktu
[...] Here in Timbuktu, liberated from its 10-month oppression after a French-led intervention, people are spilling over with stories to tell about the suffering they endured after tribal independence fighters and then Islamist radicals kicked the Malian army out and took over last March. They set up Islamic police and courts that people say were unreasonable and brutal in their enforcement of Sharia. But through the tales of violence and humiliation, there runs a vein of resilience, fighting spirit and sass, never quite knocked out of the Timbuktuis by the bearded men with guns who patrolled the streets looking to see if a hijab had slipped or a cigarette was being sneaked in the back of a shop. The National

France: Why intervene in Mali and not Central African Republic?
[...] Mali’s calls were answered with a swift and affirmative response, and France found itself intervening in Africa once again, having been involved in conflicts in Libya and the Ivory Coast in 2011. France sent 2,500 troops who, together with the Malian army, have so far retaken several strategically important towns and are continuing to sweep north. By contrast, when President François Bozizé of the Central African Republic (CAR) petitioned the country’s former colonial ruler for assistance in fighting rebels, his calls were firmly rejected despite the fact the insurgency was gaining significant ground and looked like it could threaten the capital Bangui before too long. This seemed to be at odds with typical French post-colonial policy, especially given that the French have three military bases in the region. The Guardian

Mali a “wake-up call” for drug trafficking, says think tank
At the launch of a Ghana-based Commission on the Impact of Drug-Trafficking on Governance, Security and Development in West Africa, its chair, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, said the situation in Mali should serve as a “wake-up call” to the perils of allowing organized crime to escalate out of control. He described the country’s north as a “den of drug trafficking, extremism and criminality”. Several research groups have reported that traffickers have linked up with extremist groups in the Sahel region, who use the profits to purchase weapons and fund radical activities. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has partially funded its activities in northern Mali over the past decade through profits from drug and cigarette trafficking and hostage ransoms, according to a 2012 report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. IRIN

Algerian forces guarding the border given shoot-on-sight orders, says official
A high-ranking Algerian security official says troops guarding the country’s border with Mali have been given shoot-on-sight orders against anyone who attempts to illegally cross the frontier. The official, who is responsible for security in the North African nation’s vast Sahara region, says the fear is that victories by French forces in northern Mali will send rebels there across the border into Algeria. Some of those rebels are linked to al-Qaida. The Washington Post

President Obama’s Message to the People of Kenya (Swahili Captions) [Video]
In a video message, President Barack Obama tells the people of Kenya that the upcoming elections are a historic opportunity for Kenyans to stand together, as a nation, for peace and progress, and for the rule of law. The White House

Building a Stable Somalia [Video]
His Excellency President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will discuss the priorities for the new Somali government. With regional and international partners committed to fighting the country’s insurgency, there is optimism that Somalia can build on security gains already made. The president will give his views on the country’s political future, including building the legitimacy of the state, the role of the regions, and the need to bolster the rule of law and Somalia’s armed forces. He will also consider how international engagement can best assist Somalia to build a more stable future. Chatham House, London

Pro-Gbagbo exile arrested, returned to Ivory Coast
An ally of Ivory Coast’s ex-president accused of organizing a series of deadly raids from exile has been arrested in Ghana and handed over to Ivorian authorities, Ivorian government and security officials said on Tuesday. Reuters

Where is Eritrea heading?
The secret world of Eritrea has begun to unravel at a stunning pace. Just two weeks ago, on 21 January 2013, mutinous soldiers overran the Ministry of Information. Reported to number roughly 100, apparently led by junior officers and backed by a couple of tanks, the soldiers called for the implementation of the 1997 constitution. They also demanded the release of political prisoners, tens of thousands of whom are held in half a dozen undisclosed prisons. ISSAfrica.org

Madagascar delays presidential vote to July

Madagascar said on Tuesday it has delayed by more than two months a presidential election aimed at ending a long-running political crisis on the Indian Ocean island. The vote has been moved to July 24 from May 8 because of “operational difficulties”, the electoral commission said in a statement. At a second round will be held on September 25 if necessary, on the same day as the legislative elections are scheduled. GlobalPost

Can military professionalism and democracy co-exist in Uganda?
[...] Can military professionalism, a persistent theme in the President’s modernization diatribes, coexist with democracy and economic development? Can a revolutionary army such as the UPDF stay in barracks and strictly confine their activities to military affairs when the direction political events seem to be taking is fraught with risk? It is a contradiction to talk of democracy in the army because military establishments and command structures are hierarchical and authoritarian, not democratic. When under attack in an ambush, the commander does not first hold a Baraza of the entire fighting unit to vote on whether to counter-attack or defend themselves! The commander takes charge and issues the appropriate orders without consulting his fighters. Daily Monitor

Interview: Morocco Islamists Warn of Unrest
Morocco likes to project itself as unique in the Middle East in finding a third way between revolution and repression amid the uprisings of the Arab Spring. The nation’s largest opposition Islamist group is challenging that view. In an interview with The Associated Press, Fathallah Arsalane, political leader of Al Adl wal Ihsan, or the Justice and Charity movement, warned that Morocco is at serious risk of a popular revolt if the state doesn’t recognize the demands of the Arab Spring and implement real democratic reforms. AP

#Jihad’s social media trend
[...] Evan Kohlmann, an expert on online jihadism, noted on December 10, 2012: “Due to the absence of top jihad chat forums, al-Shabab (formerly @HSMPress) in Somalia has been forced to rely on Twitter to distribute its latest video release. This may be the first time that any terrorist group allied with Al-Qaida has ever used Twitter as the exclusive point of release for media.” It should be highlighted that unlike other al-Qaeda affiliates, al-Shabab releases its content through the distribution network Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF). [...] On January 25, Twitter shut down al-Shabab’s extremely active account, which had some 20,000 followers and often featured pithy, tongue-in-cheek tweets attacking Western governments or other adversaries. Twitter said the ban was in response to a tweet sent by al-Shabab announcing that they would kill French hostage Denis Allex, and then saying they had done so, violating Twitter’s rules against violent messages. Foreign Policy

DR Congo: War Crimes by M23, Congolese Army
[...] Ongoing talks among parties to the conflict, countries in the region, and the United Nations should ensure that any agreements include holding those responsible for war crimes to account and that rebel commanders with abusive records do not serve in the Congolese army, Human Rights Watch said. “The killings and rape by M23 and government forces around Goma were fueled by an environment in which horrific abuses are rarely punished,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The UN and others involved in talks should send a strong message to rebel leaders and Congolese army commanders that they will not be rewarded for their atrocities.” Human Rights Watch

Africa’s increasing risks scaring off mining investments: report
Increasing security risks from militant Islamists, exacerbated by poor governance and a burgeoning cross-border illicit economy are some of the key increasing risks affecting West Africa, according to the report published Wednesday by analysis firm Maplecroft. In its 5th annual Global Risks Atlas, the UK-based risk consultancy says West Africa is experiencing the highest regional surge of risks to investors. The Atlas analyses 36 separate ‘global risks’ for 178 countries, across the areas of macroeconomic risk, security, resource security, climate change and infectious diseases. It also evaluates a country’s resilience to external shocks to identify high risk operating environments for companies and investors. Mining

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

Defense Department Press Briefing from the Pentagon
January 29, 2013 – U.S. Department of Defense“Since French operations began on January 11, the U.S. has been sharing intelligence with the French. In addition, since January 21st, the United States has been providing airlift support to the French army. As of January 27th, the United States Air Force has flown 17 C-17 sorties, moving French personnel, supplies and equipment into Bamako. We have carried more than 391 tons of equipment and supplies and nearly 500 passengers.” – DOD Press Secretary George Little


Media Review Archive
View Past Issues