America’s plan to send commandos to Africa to help eliminate terrorists in Uganda appears to have all the ingredients for getting the US military bogged down in a new prolonged Afghan-like military quagmire.
Washington made public plans to deploy around 100 special operations troops to Uganda to help local forces fight the Lord's Resistance Army, which is widely considered a terrorist group.
Regional authorities have been trying to get rid of the army’s leader, Joseph Kony, for decades. Uganda said it did not ask for American help, but nevertheless welcomed it.
President Barack Obama announced that the soldiers will be there for a humanitarian mission in the interest of America’s national security.
At the same time, the Pentagon has confirmed troops will remain in the region and in surrounding countries, including South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
US Senator John McCain, a former POW himself, was quick to blame Obama for dragging the US into a yet another military conflict. McCain told CNN that he remembers well the outcome of America’s attempts to intervene in Somalia and Lebanon.
Some analysts, however, question the motives behind the move.
Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar says America has far-reaching plans for the region, which have little to do with protecting civilians.
He says that by sending US special forces to Uganda Barack Obama is actually presenting a gift to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for a quarter of a century already and who is equally responsible for attacks on civilians and for murders of his own compatriots as the notorious Lord's Resistance Army leader, Joseph Kony.
Escobar made parallels between the dispatch of American military advisors to Vietnam in 1961-1962 and the war that followed and the current decision of the Obama administration on Uganda.
“This is a civil war and it is an ethnic war. Once again the US is stepping right into the middle of an ethnic war that has been going on [in Uganda] for almost two decades,” the journalist points out, adding that the bigger picture is even more complicated as the matter is not confined to Uganda itself.
“Even Obama admits that those ‘advisers’ are also going to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo as well. When you look at that area in Central Africa and see the amount of oil and mineral riches at stake and see China making investments in this area, when you look at AFRICOM’s agenda which is to combat China commercially via the militarization of Africa, then you understand these 100 [special forces] are the beginning of many that will be going there soon.”
John Glaser, an assistant editor for the website Antiwar.com, argued that the real reason is to help the dictatorial Ugandan regime effectively fight the Somalia-based al-Shabab terrorist organization, which the Ugandan army has been fighting for decades.
“We have been basically bribing [Uganda’s president] with millions of dollars and military equipment to fight in a proxy war against al-Shabab,” he claimed.
Obama stated that this measure is only short term, saying America does not want to get bogged down in another conflict. Glaser, however, warned that “this has all the ingredients of a prolonged military quagmire.”John Glaser's full interview
According to journalist Ann Garrison, the real reason the US African Command (AFRICOM) is interested in the region is oil and other natural resources. South Sudan, northern Uganda and eastern Congo all have well-known oil fields.
“In September there was a conference in Kenya about building a pipeline to run the oil from that region out to the Indian Ocean,” she said, noting that American involvement in the region has already caused casualties and the displacement of thousands of locals.
Ann Garrison's full interview
The US is protecting its interests in the region, which is oil in South Sudan and Uganda, argued Milton Allimadi, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Black Star News newspaper.
The US has been financially supporting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for 26 years, he said, and “if you take a poll, most Ugandans would prefer the US not standing in their way as they try to remove Museveni from power.”
Allimadi suggested that the small US contingent in Uganda is only the beginning of a “creep mission,” as was the case in Libya.
“People in Uganda are concerned that there will be an escalation of hostilities,” he concluded.
Milton Allimadi's full interview