By James William Mugeni I Opinion/Commentary
U.S.—13, December 13, 2020: The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) deployment in Somalia at this time is one of the most ridiculous wonders you can have in this world. A quick observation, the UPDF is now in the spotlight for atrocities in Uganda and not worth this deployment!
The army that has just murdered Ugandans, the army that is still reigning terror on the streets of Uganda, what a shame to the region and the military world! How can the world lack standards to this extent? Is Somalia so downtrodden that exported terror suits them?
I imagine through covert operations terrorist activities will be difficult to detect and used to justify occupation in Somalia. If Ugandans killed by the military in broad daylight on the streets of Uganda cannot get justice, how much easy would it be to conceal killings in Somali since the Al-Shabaab is a terrorist group?
Is this deployment another way of managing a large unproductive force that is also becoming unmanageable to get funding from USA, since it is only war that keeps this army busy?
Not long ago, as a member of the Foreign Service National Council with the US Embassy Kampala, I remember spelling it out clearly to the mission in one of the meetings that Uganda’s deployment of the UPDF was predatory and I am here to say it again. President Museveni, after realizing the tide is against him and his army, the whole world is focused on Uganda for the January 14, 2021 election, deployed the UPDF which is a stunt to try to sanitize the terror machine he has developed.
The security situation in Somalia cannot be more serious than Covid-19 in Uganda. Somalia is manipulated to serve the predatory state and those that fund terror. The claim that UPDF are deployed to assist the Somali security forces to provide security for the political process at all levels as well as stabilization, reconciliation and peace building in Somalia is a ploy. You cannot kill Ugandans and you easily get this escapism to Somalia with the terror machine. Why then are we having diplomatic communications crisscrossing missions about Uganda?
The deployment comes immediately after the US announces removing American soldiers from Somalia.
The Pentagon announced on Friday that virtually all the approximately 700 troops in Somalia — mostly Special Operations Forces who have been conducting training and counterterrorism missions — will be leaving by Jan. 15, five days before President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is inaugurated.
The debate over the value of counterterrorism and training missions like the one in Somalia; the site of the bloody “Black Hawk Down” debacle in 1993 is growing — among the public, in Congress, and even in the Pentagon.
Among the points of contention is whether the United States should expend life and treasure for shadowy security operations in remote parts of the world.
Does this withdrawal of US troops create room for Africa, particularly Uganda to deploy, or Uganda has become the bully who likes to throw her weight around in the region to prove her worth to the boss and just grabs this opportunity?
Under the UN Security Council Resolution 2372 (2017), AMISOM are authorized to carry out the following priority tasks which most African countries are not party to:
To assist, as appropriate, the Somali security forces to protect the Somali authorities to help them carry out their functions of government, their efforts towards reconciliation and peacebuilding, and security for key infrastructure;
To protect, as appropriate, its personnel, facilities, installations, equipment and mission, and to ensure the security and freedom of movement of its personnel, as well as of United Nations personnel carrying out functions mandated by the Security Council;
To secure key supply routes including to areas recovered from Al-Shabaab, in particular those essential to improving the humanitarian situation, and those critical for logistical support to AMISOM, underscoring that the delivery of logistics remains a joint responsibility between the United Nations and AU;
To conduct targeted offensive operations against Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups, including jointly with the Somali Security Forces;
To mentor and assist Somali security forces, both military and police, in close collaboration with UNSOM and in line with the National Security Architecture;
To reconfigure AMISOM, as security conditions allow, in favor of police personnel within the authorized AMISOM personnel ceiling, and provide updates on the reconfiguration through the Secretary-General;
To receive on a transitory basis, defectors, as appropriate, and in coordination with the United Nations and the Federal Government of Somalia.
With the above tasks by AMISOM is not a travesty for any army with a bad record and reputation such as that of the UPDF in Uganda to play such an important role. Why is UPDF just getting a pass without questions? Surely, where is the red line over the UPDF? Why would this deployment go on without serious vetting?
In April 2001, heads of state of African Union countries met and pledged to set a target of allocating at least 15% of their annual budget to improve the health sector. It is not so surprising that out of over 50 member states only Tanzania and Botswana have fulfilled this obligation.
Covid-19 has complicated Africa’s health care system and at such a time, one would expect a contingent of medical workers would be what Uganda is deploying to Somalia than the marauding army.
Most AU countries are not yet on track to achieve the Health Millennium Development Goals, and part of the explanation is due to lack of financial resources. The Abuja Declaration recognized this as a potential problem 20 years ago; highlighting the importance for governments in AU countries to put greater weight on health in the allocation of government revenues, while at the same time urging donor countries to increase their funding levels.
Raila Odinga’s statement below soon after another Doctor; Dr Stephen Mogusu, died of Covid-19 tells you all about Africa health and funding. The 28-year-old health worker who was stationed at Machakos County succumbed to the disease. His family and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) tried to raise money for his care and hospital bill. This shows the despondency in African nations that signed the Abuja declaration.
“All I want to do is to appeal to our doctors to be more understanding. We are in a crisis at the moment, people are dying, ordinary Kenyans are also dying of this Covid-19. We are also in a die-hard situation in as far as the economy is concerned. This is not the time to hold the government to ransom. The doctors themselves took an oath to protect life. How then do you justify downing your tools when people are dying?” Raila asked.
With such a statement, a member nation cannot deploy 1700 soldiers in the region expecting other African nations to contribute. Such a nation expects to tap funds by ransoming the U.S through crafted terrorism; funds and equipment used to secure a dictator in power while the population is languishing in a non-existent health care system faced with increasing Covid-19 infections.
It is clear that through Somalia the USA has created Yoweri Museveni—a DICTATOR in Uganda and a BULLY elsewhere in the region. Even with undisputable atrocities meted on the people of Uganda, he gets a pat on the back to deploy in Somalia; the same armed forces that continuously commit atrocities on the citizens of Uganda. Isn’t this a double standard?
Mugeni is a Medical Clinical Officer/Certified Public Manager
Phone: +1 515 346 5317