Is the War on Terror Shifting to Africa?
On October 24th the US House Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing regarding the recent decision by the President to deploy Special Forces to Uganda and other regional countries in an effort to follow through with US Law that is designed to rein in the Lord's Resistance Army.
There is an interesting history regarding this Group. In 2001 the State Department placed the Lord's Resistance Army on the Terrorist Exclusion list. In 2008 Joseph Kony the almost mystical leader of the LRA was listed as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist.” These movements were instrumental in having the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act passed by Congress and signed into Law by President Obama.
With all of the testimony that was offered yesterday (Just by the State Department and NOT from AFRICOM) there is one train of thought that needs to be addressed however. In an interview with CBS News the Secretary of Defense was asked if he had “a reason to believe that this part of Central Africa was becoming a haven for terrorism'. The reply by the Secretary was that “There are elements that either have ties to al Qaeda or that represent the forces of terrorism on their own. And that's what's dangerous.”
First of all can this theory be debunked? It is well known and documented that the LRA has in the Past received Aid from and acted as a proxy on behalf of the Sudanese Government. That Country did offer to turn over Bin Laden to the US in the 1990s so that linking that to Al-Qaeda may be a stretch however the Somali Group Al-Shaabab may be an interesting target for the Special Forces.
That group has threatened to launch attacks against both Uganda and Burundi. It has reportedly attempted to build links with the Allied Democratic Forces of Uganda as well. It is widely believed that the ADF operating from its bases in the Eastern DRC/Western Uganda actually assisted in the World Cup Bombing in Kampala back in 2010.
Last Week the Kenyan Military finally moved into Somalia. Although the move has been met with scorn from the Somali President it has been applauded by the Pentagon which has sought this move since 2002. Western Forces have been assisting the Kenyans in this security operation as well. There have been reprisal attacks in Nairobi as well. There are plenty of questions to ask, such as is this a security effort before the Elections scheduled for next year? Is the Kenyan Government finally cracking down against Piracy?
These are not the only locations where security operations are currently underway. The Military Forces of Mauritania recently launched Air Strikes against suspected Islamist Militants hiding out in the Wagadou Forest in Western Mali. A Joint Operation launched in June reportedly led to the deaths of 17 Militants at that time. One would think that this would garner more interest since the US has used Mali to train Special Forces in Western Africa over the Last Decade.
What is currently occurring in Africa is very murky. When it comes to the actions of various governments including the United States the motives have to be scrutinized. Most of the conflicts are trending to be in area with copious resources such as petroleum and minerals such as gold and even diamonds. So sending American Forces there in any capacity will make them a target to some.
Having a coherent policy could also make a difference. Some advocacy groups remarked that the testimony yesterday was naïve about the LRA. This means that the Intelligence Services are not doing their job in providing information to State. It makes you wonder what the Military is getting in regards to intelligence as well not only regarding the LRA but what is really going on in Africa.
The Author Comments on US Policy Towards Africa and Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. Confused Eagle can be found at confusedeagle.livejournal.com