USIP's Media, Conflict & Peacebuilding Roundup


United States Institute of Peace



Center of Innovation: Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, September 19 - 25, 2013

Media and Journalism

Internet and Social Media

What's New from PeaceMedia

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Media and Journalism

Syria: The Propaganda Blitz
As the crisis in Syria deepens, the diplomatic battle outside the country - being fought out in the global media - intensifies. Newscasts have chronicled the summit meetings, various bilateral talks, the photo-ops that precede the gatherings behind closed doors - while waiting for a vote on a UN resolution that would mandate the Assad government to hand over all of its chemical weapons. Both sides in this geopolitical tug of war have reached deep into their media arsenals, as politicians and their proxies have pushed their particular agendas.
See the full article (Al Jazeera, 9/25/13)
Click to read about USIP's upcoming event "Women in the Syrian Crisis," on September 27, 2013 at 10:00 am.
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Arrested Moroccan Editor to Face Terrorism Investigation
A Moroccan editor is being investigated on suspicion of helping militants after posting an al Qaeda video on his website, prosecutors said, in a case that rights groups say erodes press freedom. Ali Anouzla, editor of and known for his investigative journalism and columns criticizing the kingdom's rulers, was arrested this month after writing about and posting a link to a video from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African affiliate of the group.
See the full article (Reuters, Aziz el Yaakoubi, 9/25/13)
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Spanish Journalist Abducted in Syria
Veteran Spanish war correspondent Marc Marginedas, who writes for Barcelona's El Periodico, was abducted in Syria by jihadist rebels on 4 September, according to his paper. No group has admitted to holding Marginedas. But El Periodico reports that there was a call on a jihadist internet forum to capture all reporters and search them to discover if they have photos and news reports about jihadists.
See the full article (Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 9/24/13)
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With Global Influence, Turkey Matters
Turkey is hardly a press freedom paradise, but what makes the country so exciting for journalists is the amount of news it generates on any given day. The domestic story is huge, with near-daily street protests, the booming economy beginning to sag, and the prospect of regional conflict looming with Syria. And Istanbul is a base for the international press covering not only Turkey but also Syria, Iraq and Egypt.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Joel Simon 9/24/13)
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North Korea Criticises 'Reptile Media' for Saying Kim Jong-un Ordered Executions
North Korea has attacked the South's "reptile media" for running salacious reports alleging Kim Jong-un ordered nine performers to be executed to protect his wife's reputation. Independent experts warn that rumours and deliberate misinformation about the regime are rife, partly because it is impossible to verify or disprove most stories about the tightly controlled country's elite.
See the full article (Guardian, Tania Branigan and Justin McCurry, 9/23/13)
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The Future of Afghanistan's Media
Back in the days of the Taliban, Afghanistan's media landscape was barren: television sets were banned, radio stations were not allowed to play music and newspapers were forbidden from printing pictures. But since 2001, the country's media sector has been revolutionised. Today, there are more than 400 news outlets. Saad Mohseni, the chairperson of the Moby Media Group says: "Western governments and institutions realised early on that media could play a significant role in terms of facilitating social change in this country and also to open up the world to Afghans."
See the full article (Aljazeera, 9/22/13)
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Reporter Denies Writing Article That Linked Syrian Rebels to Chemical Attack
Three weeks after an obscure Internet news service claimed that Syrian rebels had admitted responsibility for the deadly chemical attack outside Damascus in August, a veteran foreign correspondent whose name and reputation lent credibility to the story has denied writing the article.
See the full article (New York Times, Robert Mackey, 9/21/13) *NYT sign-up may be required to view the full article
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An Empowering 'Peace Journalism' Program for Young Afghans
The capital of Herat Province and the third-largest city in Afghanistan, the city of Herat drew international news coverage this month for roadside explosions and assassinations of regional officials. From the perspective of local Afghan Voices trainee Jalaluddin "Jalal" Jamshiddy, however, Herat's present is but a point in a sweeping history and potentially bright future.
See the full article (Huffington Post, Rachel Kohn, 9/19/13)
Click to read "Afghans Mark International Day of Peace" an Olive Branch Post by Bahir Safi and Casey Garret Johnson.
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Internet and Social Media

UN's Influence Over Online Spying is Limited
It's not everyday that the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War in mid-17th century Europe, is invoked when it comes to Internet policy. President Ilves [of Estonia] said that while the Peace of Westphalia - which dictated that countries (mostly) respect each others' sovereign boundaries - may have historically applied in physical space, this concept no longer applies when it comes to the online world.
See the full article (Wired, Cyrus Farivar, 9/25/13)
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Sudan Loses Internet Access - and It Looks Like the Government is Behind It
Internet intelligence corporation Renesys confirmed reports Wednesday that Sudan has been cut off from the Internet. Al Arabiya reported earlier Wednesday morning that Internet access was cut and schools were closed through Sept. 30, as capital city Khartoum erupted in riots over the lifting of government fuel subsidies.
See the full article (Washington Post, Andrea Peterson, 9/25/13)
Click to read "Sudan Flood-Relief Needs Give Country's Young Activists a New Cause" an Olive Branch Post by Viola Gienger.
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Social Media Aids Humanitarian Work in Syria
There's no obvious solution to the ongoing civil war in Syria that has an estimated death toll of 100,000 civilians and displaced more than 1 million citizens since 2011. Syrian activists and foreign journalists are using social media to communicate and raise awareness about the conflict. Four panelists at the Social Good Summit on Tuesday presented their diverse views on the humanitarian efforts in the conflict.
See the full article (Mashable, Sara Afzal, 9/25/13)
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Authorities and Militants Take Nairobi Battle to Twitter
While international attention has been drawn to the dramatic stand-off at the Westgate shopping complex in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, both Kenyan authorities and al-Shabab militants have been trying to broadcast their messages about the attack on social media. Even before the Westgate shoot-out, al-Shabab had been trying to use English-language Twitter accounts to broadcast its message to the wider world. However, accounts thought to be used by the group had already been shut down by Twitter twice in the past nine months.
See the full article (BBC, Jastinder Khera, 9/24/13)
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China to Unblock Facebook and Twitter-but Only Inside the Shanghai Free Trade Zone
China's ambitious Shanghai Free Trade Zone is designed to welcome foreign investment and open up an attractive yuan-denominated financial sector to the rest of the world. But it's hard to boast about free trade credentials behind the Great Firewall of China, so media outlets and social networks that are banned elsewhere in China will be available in the zone, the South China Morning Post reported today.
See the full article (Atlantic, Heather Timmons, 9/24/13)
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Al-Shabab Showed Gruesome Social Media Savvy During Attack
As the deadly attack unfolded inside Kenya's Westgate mall, the militants who claimed responsibility for the spreading mayhem sent out tweet after tweet, taunting the Kenyan military, defending the mass killings and threatening more bloodshed. Each time Twitter shut the account down - a total of five times, according to a U.S.-based security analyst - al-Shabab started a new feed.
See the full article (AP, 9/24/13)
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Access Denied: Phone Politics in Palestine
Smartphones are ubiquitous in Ramallah. "This is a tech hungry place," said Omar, a phone shop owner. "People want to be connected to news, politics, culture and to each other." But Palestinians are spending hundreds of dollars on the latest smartphones that cannot do what they're built for: The West Bank's two service providers, Jawwaland Kuwait-based Wataniya, cannot provide fast 3G mobile data services because of Israel's refusal to grant the Palestinian Authority sufficient bandwidth.
See the full article (Aljazeera, Samuel Nelson Gilbert, 9/22/13)
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Another Iranian Official Comes Out In Favor Of Facebook
The debate in Iran regarding the censorship of Facebook - the most popular social-networking site among Iranians - continues. Now several of his cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, have joined Facebook, and other officials have spoken out in favor of it.
See the full article (RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari 9/20/13)
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Syrian Rebel Uses iPad for Weaponry
Resourceful Syrian rebels have apparently found or devised an app to aim a homemade mortar that lacked a sighting component, according to a photo taken this week. A photo taken on Sept 15 in Damascus shows a member of the Free Syrian Army using an iPad to help fire the mortar. Paul Szoldra, a former mortar instructor to the school of infantry of the U.S. Marine Corps, speculated that the iPad is acting like a sight unit on standard issue mortars.
See the full article (ABC News, Jon M. Chang, 9/19/13)
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What's New from PeaceMedia

"Gary Slutkin: Can violence Be Cured?"
Does violence spread like a disease? Epidemiologist Gary Slutkin of Cure Violence says the issue has been misdiagnosed, and instead created science-based strategies that aim to stop violence before it erupts.
See the full video
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