Top of the Morning: Tunisia’s Ex-Dictator Gets Life in Prison; Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s EuroTrip; America’s Spywar in Africa

Top stories from DAWNS Digest. 

Tunisia’s Toppled President Sentenced to Life in Prison

It’s been a tough month for former Arab dictators. First Hosni Mubarak gets sentenced to life in jail and now is former Tunisian counterpart gets a similar court sentence. “A military court has sentenced former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali ito life in prison in connection with the killing of 23 demonstrators by police during the revolt that sparked the Arab spring. The victims, now commemorated as “martyrs of the revolution”, were among 132 protesters killed nationwide in the weeks leading up to Ben Ali’s overthrow on 14 January 2011. The mixed panel of military and civilian judges pronounced Ben Ali guilty of complicity in murder and attempted murder. Prosecuting lawyers had sought to prove there were high-level orders to kill protesters. However, lawyers on both sides said they were disappointed that investigating magistrates had failed to reconstruct the exact sequence of events in the hours leading up to the deaths.” (Guardian

Aung San Suu Kyi’s (Historic) EuroTrip

Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in Geneva on Wednesday night at the start of a European tour, her first trip to the continent in nearly a quarter of a century. “The Nobel peace laureate will take in five countries – Switzerland, Norway, Britain, Ireland and France – on a 17-day tour almost certain to wrest the international spotlight away from the astonishing reforms vaunted by Myanmar’s once-vilified leaders. Suu Kyi’s European sojourn, her second trip outside Myanmar in almost a quarter of a century, would have been unimaginable 19 months ago, when an authoritarian junta ruled Myanmar and confined her to her home. ‘I’m excited about each country in a different way,’ the 66-year-old said before her departure from Yangon airport. ‘I’ll get to know this only when I get there.’ The cameras and elaborate flower bouquets that greeted Suu Kyi at Yangon airport were a taste of the attention she will likely receive in Europe, a welcome more fit for a head of state than an opposition parliamentarian – a fact that could strain fragile but cordial ties with President Thein Sein and anger conservatives among the old military guard.” (Reuters

America’s Shadow War on Terrorist Groups in Africa: Exposed

The Washington Post published a lengthy investigative report on an expanding intelligence operations directed against African affiliates of al Qaeda, like AQIM, Boko Haram, and Ansar al Dine in the Sahel region and beyond. At the heart of this intelligence operation are spy planes disguised as simple prop planes that gather intelligence on these groups. “A key hub of the U.S. spying network can be found in Ouagadougou…the flat, sunbaked capital of Burkina Faso, one of the most impoverished countries in Africa. Under a classified surveillance program code-named Creek Sand, dozens of U.S. personnel and contractors have come to Ouagadougou in recent years to establish a small air base on the military side of the international airport. The unarmed U.S. spy planes fly hundreds of miles north to Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara, where they search for fighters from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a regional network that kidnaps Westerners for ransom.” (WaPo