Media Review for November 16, 2015

France Pays Price for Front-Line Role From Syria to West Africa
[…] France sent troops to Mali in January 2013 to prevent the country falling to an al-Qaeda affiliate based in the Sahel, as the southern rim of the Sahara is called. That intervention has now been transformed into a mission covering Niger and Chad to prevent Islamic militants based in southern Libya from destabilizing the area. French forces work closely with the U.S. which flies drones over the region from a shared based in Niger. France joined U.S. air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq in September 2014, before any other European country. A year later, France extended its air strikes to Syria and has bombed an Islamic State training camp and oil facilities. France has nine Rafale jets based in Abu Dhabi and has sent six Mirage 2000’s to Jordan. The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is scheduled to leave this week for a second tour of duty in the region. “Contemporary activity by France makes them a tier-one target,” said Thomas M. Sanderson, director of Washington D.C.-based Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They’re not the primary actor from the air, we are, but they are much more reachable than the U.S. is.” Bloomberg

African Leaders Stand in Solidarity with France Following Paris Attacks
Several African leaders on Saturday sent messages of support and condolence to the French government and people of France following the deadly Paris attacks. At least 128 people were killed and 300 wounded in six separate attacks at a concert hall, restaurants and the national stadium. “Deeply shocked, deeply angered by these attacks,” said Manoah Esipisu, spokesperson for Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. “Any place on earth that is hit, we feel for them.” “Kenya obviously has been a victim of terror attacks from time to time and we feel solidarity with France,” said Esipisu, referring to the attack on Garissa University this year and Westgate Mall in 2013. RFI

F-15 Fighters Kill Head of IS in Libya: US
An F-15 fighter jet strike killed the head of the Islamic State group in Libya, the Pentagon said Saturday, in another high-profile US hit following the targeting of the most-wanted “Jihadi John.” The announcement comes as the extremist group said it was responsible for Friday’s attacks in Paris that killed at least 129 people during an onslaught of bombings and shootings on the French capital, though the Pentagon said the two events were not connected. Washington has orchestrated an air campaign going after the IS group and senior figures in Syria and Iraq, but this is the first US strike against an IS leader in Libya.  AFP on Yahoo News

Obama to Burundi’s Leaders: Halt Rhetoric, Hold Talks (Video)
U.S. President Barack Obama called on Burundi’s leaders to take part in talks to end the country’s political crisis and halt a growing wave of violence, in a statement given to VOA. The president spoke in a video message addressed to the people of Burundi, broadcast early Saturday on VOA. Obama said killings of innocent people and “hateful rhetoric” from leaders is jeopardizing the Central African country’s future. He urged the government to halt the rhetoric and engage in an internationally-mediated dialogue, outside the country. The president also appealed to Burundians to stand against violence and work toward unity. VOA

Burundi on Brink: Obama Turns to Zuma
Burundi is on the brink – at the edge of a precipice. The UN Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has expressed alarm to the UN Security Council at the inflammatory and threatening language being used in Burundi, saying “some of it is very similar to the language used before and during the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda”. Bodies have been piling up daily on the streets of the capital Bujumbura, and there are reports of assassinations, torture and killings by police and the Imbonerakure (youth wing of the ruling party), as well as grenade attacks by government opponents against the police. The head of the UN’s Human Rights Office, Scott Campbell, warned this week that the UN was less equipped to deal with the violence in Burundi than it was during the Rwandan genocide.  IOL News

Six Killed in Burundi Violence: Police
At least six people were killed and several others wounded in the latest violence in Burundi’s capital, police and witnesses said Monday, a week after the launch of a crackdown search for weapons. “There have been several armed criminal attacks in many neighbourhoods of Bujumbura which were apparently coordinated,” a senior police officer said, confirming that six people were killed in separate attacks overnight Sunday. Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye declined to comment Monday on the violence. Burundi descended into violence in April after President Pierre Nkurunziza launched a bid for a third consecutive term in office, despite concerns over the legality of such a move.  AFP on Yahoo News

More Than 21 Years Later, Washington Faces Another Problem From Hell
Rwanda’s genocide still stands more than two decades later as the starkest symbol of the great powers’ unwillingness to confront mass slaughter in the modern age. Now, the United States and the U.N. face a similar test of their commitment in neighboring Burundi, were ethnic Hutu elites in government have darkly hinted at plans to exterminate members of the country’s Tutsi minority. It’s a potentially big test for U.S. policy makers, particularly for national security adviser Susan Rice, who handled key aspects of Rwanda policy in the White House during the 1994 genocide, and Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who as an independent journalist wrote a blistering indictment, entitled “Bystanders to Genocide,” of the Clinton administration’s failure to act to stem the bloodletting. Since coming into government, Power has sought to ensure that the Barack Obama administration doesn’t make similar mistakes; she urged, for example, intervention in Libya in 2011 to prevent a bloodbath. For the time being, Power seems reluctant to call in the troops, preferring to let diplomacy, backed by the threat of sanctions, play its course. Foreign Policy

ICG: Africa Must Act Now on Burundi
The deteriorating situation in Burundi is a perfect storm of much that undermines stability in Africa today: presidents seeking impunity and power through dubious new terms, authoritarian regimes muzzling opposition and independent media, regional rivalries stalemating efforts to bring peace and outside powers unwilling or unable to act. Daily Maverick

“Bodies Dumped on the Streets on an Almost Nightly Basis”: Burundi’s Crisis, Explained
Burundi, a small country in Africa’s Great Lakes region, is in the midst of some seriously dangerous violence. Since April, more than 240 people have been killed; according to a letter written by concerned NGOs, “bodies [are] dumped on the streets on an almost nightly basis.” And things could get much, much worse. Adama Dieng, the UN’s special adviser on the prevention of genocide, said that the government’s rhetoric is “very similar to language used before and during the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda.” Experts following the conflict, though, are quick to point out that Burundi’s situation is very different from Rwanda’s, and that while the risk of more violence is real, it does not currently appear to be ethnic in nature or yet prone to what would qualify as genocide. Still, what’s happening there is deadly serious. Here’s a look at how things got so bad — and the desperate attempts by the international community to make sure they don’t get any worse.  Vox World

High Corruption Risk in the South African Defence Environment
South Africa faces a high risk of corruption when it comes to defence, according to the latest Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index (GI) released today by Transparency International (TI), with the greatest risk of corruption among South African troop deployments. In its latest report, TI noted that South Africa, a significant troop contributor to UN missions with 6 000 personnel deployed on internal and external missions, was at particular risk of corruption on operations. “But there are concerns across all risk areas. Political considerations were found to play a strong role in appointments and promotions, and have resulted in an absurdly high ratio of general’s per soldier, undermining the professionalism of the military and destroying morale.” TI gave South Africa a score of D in its assessment, noting the risks of political corruption is moderate; financial is high; personnel is moderate; operations is very high and procurement is high.  DefenceWeb

South Sudan Thought it Solved its Child Soldier Problem. It hasn’t
Just months ago, the signing of a U.S.-backed peace deal provided a road map to end South Sudan’s brutal civil war. But the conflict has raged on — and aid agencies say even more child soldiers are being drawn into the fighting. About 16,000 children have been recruited by government and rebel forces since the war here began in 2013, according to the United Nations. They are foot soldiers and cooks and cleaners, boys and girls as young as 9. Many were taken from their homes and schools and forced onto the battlefield. “We’ve seen huge increases in these violations throughout the entire year,” said Ettie Higgins, the UNICEF deputy representative in South Sudan. In the rare instances when children have been released, UNICEF officials report treating boys with bullet wounds and deep psychological scars. Scores have lost track of their families. The Washington Post

In Angola, the political elite face new opposition: their Children
Serena Mancini watched Angola’s 40th anniversary celebrations this week from her home here in Portugal’s capital. For the last 20 years, she has tried to ignore the growing economic inequalities of her homeland under the strong-arm rule of President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, instead choosing, like many young affluent Angolans, a life of privileged self-exile. But this year, a movement by young Angolans has forced her to turn her eyes back home and consider the Angola she wants to see in the next 40 years – a movement led by her brother Luaty Beirão.  CS Monitor

Congolese Warlord Katanga First ICC Convict Released
Judges at the International Criminal Court on Friday granted early release to convicted war criminal Germain Katanga, making the Congolese warlord, sentenced to 12 years prison in 2014, the first ICC convict to be freed. Katanga, known as Simba during his time as a feared militia leader, was the second person to be convicted by the permanent global war crimes court. The time he spent in custody after being handed to the court in 2007 counted towards his sentence. The ICC, set up in 2002 to prosecute the most serious international crimes, has been criticized for its slow pace of work, handing down just three verdicts since its inception at a cost of more than 100 million euros a year.  VOA

At Least 18 Killed in 2 Separate Clashes in Somalia
Two separate attacks in southern Somalia Saturday killed at least 18 people killed and wounded more than 30 others. Near the port of Kismayo, at least 15 people were killed and 25 others wounded when al-Shabab militants mounted a surprise attack on a former military academy currently used as a base for forces of the regional administration in Jubbaland state. Jubbaland’s minister for security and interior affairs, General Mohamed Warsame, told VOA his troops repulsed the al-Shabab attack and killed six militants, but lost nine of their own men in the battle. The base that came under attack, 7 kilometers north of Kismayo, is located close to a Kenyan military base that operates AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia. VOA

At least 22 dead in Central African Republic village attacks
At least 22 people were killed in a string of raids on villages in Central African Republic this week, a local official and state radio said on Friday, as an escalation of violence threatened to derail a visit by the pope and crucial elections. Pope Francis has already hinted that his trip, scheduled for Nov. 28 and 29, could be canceled if the attacks worsen, though government and church authorities in the capital Bangui have sought to offer assurances that the visit will be peaceful. The former French colony descended into inter-religious violence two and a half years ago after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, sparking reprisal killings by Christian anti-balaka militias. Reuters

Is Vote Too Soon in Diamond-Rich Central African Republic?
Central African Republic’s presidential and parliamentary elections next month may deepen the crisis in the diamond-producing country as armed militias occupy large areas and as much as a fifth of the population won’t be able to vote. The capital, Bangui, is facing the worst outbreak of violence since early 2014 after the murder of a Muslim taxi driver in September triggered revenge attacks in which about 100 people were killed, according to the government. The army has disintegrated, while armed groups have partitioned the nation of 5 million people and battle to control the gold and diamond trade. “The country is in pieces,” the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report. Bloomberg

Pope Central African Trip on Despite France’s Security Fears, Vatican Says
Pope Francis’ trip to Central African Republic, which has been rocked by strife between Christians and Muslims, is still scheduled to go ahead despite warnings from France of major security risks, Vatican sources said on Friday. The former French colony descended into inter-religious violence two and a half years ago after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, sparking reprisal killings by Christian anti-balaka militias. The pope is due to visit the country on Nov. 28-29 despite intensifying violence that has killed dozens in the capital Bangui since late September. His trip is scheduled to include a visit to a mosque in one of Bangui’s most dangerous districts. French officials have said the pope and those who turn out to see him would be in danger and have hinted that the Vatican should consider scrapping the trip or scaling it back. Reuters

Egypt Air Barred from Entering Russia
Russian aviation authorites have banned Egypt Air from flying into the country, with Russian flights between the two countries already suspended following the passenger jet crash in Sinai. “The airport has received a telegram from the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency on the prohibition of Egypt Air’s flights to Russian territory from November 14,” a representative of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport told Russian news agencies. VOA

Egypt’s Woes Erode al-Sisi’s Image of Invincibility
The criticism was blunt – and startling, since it came from a TV presenter on a state-owned station that, like most other media in Egypt, usually has nothing but praise for Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the country’s general-turned-president. Presenter Azza el-Henawy demanded al-Sisi take action after deaths from floods in areas north of Cairo last month that many blamed on neglect of infrastructure by authorities. She said corruption was being ignored and addressed the president, saying, “As long as no one is held accountable, you will be just talking and making promises and we will get no results … This is why the people are fed up.” El-Henawy was promptly suspended by the state broadcaster for “unprofessional conduct”.  News 24

Tensions Flare as Niger Opposition Candidate Arrested on Return
Opposition Niger presidential candidate Hama Amadou was arrested Saturday on his return from a year in exile over allegations of baby trafficking, a party colleague said. “He was arrested on leaving the plane. Police presented him with a warrant issued for his arrest,” said lawmaker Amadou Salah. The former prime minister and national assembly president fled the country in August last year to escape baby trafficking charges. According to Salah, after leaving the plane Amadou “was led to a car (and taken) to an as yet unknown destination.” Security forces blocked the route and access to the area as the two-time former premier was driven away. AFP on Yahoo News

Egypt Police Kill 15 Sudanese Migrants at Israel Border
gyptian officials in the Sinai Peninsula say police killed 15 Sudanese migrants and wounded another eight who were trying to jump the border fence into Israel. The officials say police opened fire on the migrants Sunday after they ignored warning shots and sprinted toward the fence. The security forces arrested another eight Sudanese migrants who were not wounded. “Fifteen bodies of Africans shot dead were found at dawn on Sunday south of (the town of) Rafah,” said Tariq Khatir, a representative of the health ministry in North Sinai. “We also found eight Africans who were wounded but whose condition is stable.” The Times of Israel

Giving Money to Eritrea and Sudan to Stop Refugees is Almost Satire
African governments have been offered €1.8bn to help stem the flow of refugees to Europe. Yet the migrants European leaders want to “send back” are in many cases fleeing the governments the EU is now collaborating with. It could almost be satire. Amongst those present at the Malta summit in Valletta were Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia – widely condemned for their disregard of human rights. In Sudan, for example, according to the High Commission for Refugees there are 400,000 internally displaced people in Darfur, thanks to continued conflict between rebel groups and government forces. A further 6.9 million people are in need for humanitarian assistance. By the end of 2015, the UN estimates there could be up to 460,000 refugees in Sudan alone.  The Guardian

Yemeni Refugees Seek Shelter in Djibouti
As fighting intensifies in Yemen, over 120,000 people have fled since April. Around 30,000 of those have sought safety across the Gulf of Aden in Djibouti. Since late September, the population of Markazi camp near the Djiboutian coastal town of Obock has quadrupled to more than 2,600 Yemeni refugees, including civilians who were wounded in the war and require medical treatment. Many refugees are women and children, who have arrived traumatised and in need of psychological support. As the camp expands, so too does the need to develop community centres and other facilities to help refugees heal and rebuild their lives – but humanitarian agencies say there is a dire lack of funding. Al Jazeera

Leaving Joseph Kony
[…] This is a first, as Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Joseph Kony, among other LRA leaders, have been portrayed often as mindless savages and the embodiment of evil. That Evelyn, abducted as a child, is able to survive the worst of life and tell her story is testimony to her own strong will. That at the same time she manages to dispel the myth of the simplistic good and evil duality is a personal triumph over her abductors and commentators who ignore the complexities surrounding this nearly 30-year conflict. Joseph Kony founded the rebel group that later became the Lord’s Resistance Army in 1987 in the Acholi sub-region of northern Uganda. By the late 1990s, Sudanese military aid to Kony in exchange for attacks against the southern rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, transformed the LRA from a small rebel group to a sizeable force of about 3,000-armed men. Ugandan army pressure combined with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudans, forced the LRA to relocate to the DR Congo’s Garamba National Park at the end of 2005. African Arguments

Guinea Releases Last 68 People from Ebola Quarantine
The final 68 people who had been in contact with an Ebola patient were released from quarantine on Saturday, said a senior health official, raising hopes of an end to the disease in the last West African country with confirmed cases. The world’s worst Ebola epidemic, which hopped borders to kill more than 11,300 people and devastate already fragile West African economies, has already been declared over in Liberia and Sierra Leone. But Guinea, where the outbreak began, has had a more difficult time eradicating the disease. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones