Saturday, July 31, 2010
We have a right to self-defence, says Museveni
Somalia seems to be suffering on account of a confluence of three factors:
A failed government under Siad Barre that could not defeat or keep under check the various rebel groups; incapable resistance groups to that government of Siad Barre; and, more recently, the infiltration into the area of reactionary ideology from the Middle East (what some people call “extremism”, “fundamentalism” etc).
The Siad Barre government collapsed in January 1991. I do not have time to go into why it collapsed. I have not even done enough research into that subject. However, collapse it did. This was factor number one in the Somali problem.
l Factor number two was that the armed opposition groups that were fighting Siad Barre seemed to have been having ideological problems and had also problems in grasping strategy. I visited General Aideed and Al-Mahdi in Mogadishu in 1992. One of the questions I asked General Aideed was: “Why did you attack the city (Mogadishu) if you did not have the capacity to control it?”
It was clearly a mistake to shift from rural guerrilla operations to attacking the city and attempting to seize power there if Aideed did not have the fire-power and the accompanying organisational capacity to capture it quickly and retain the control. Those Somali groups seem to have been suffering from the mentality of “putschism” – wanting to seize control even when you do not have the capacity.
This is apart from the more fundamental ideological issues of those groups basing themselves on clanism as a base of political organisation. This created a proliferation of warlords based on clans. These warlords disintegrated the unity of the country and turned it into fiefdoms.
At some stage, former President of Kenya, Mzee Arap Moi, started mediating among the Somali groups. After a long time, they agreed to share power in the transitional government that was supposed to last some years and, then, go for elections.
This formula has worked in both Congo-DRC and Burundi. The IGAD countries supported this formula. If any Somali group was interested in helping, this was the easiest way out of the problem. Such a group or groups should have prepared for elections so that legitimacy is re-established.
This, however, was not to be. Some Somali groups, supported by reactionaries from the Middle East and Central Asia, now introduced a new problem. Somalia had to become what they call a fundamentalist Islamic state governed by Sharia.
Women had to cover themselves from head to toe, otherwise they will tempt men into immorality; people must not watch television because that is some form of atheism etc. etc. All this must be achieved by coercion. Besides, this model should be exported to the rest of Africa.
You all remember the problems we had with the tabliques who were being supported by elements from the Sudan. Since fighting is not an easy enterprise, the leaders of these reactionary groups use manipulation and drugs to induce young disadvantaged youth and, sometimes even children, to undertake suicide missions.
You saw one of the children that was on television telling the world how he had been injected with drugs to be “fearless” – attack under intoxication. Apparently, these poor children are told that they will go to heaven if they die as suicide bombers.
If suicide bombing is such a good investment, why don’t the leaders of these reactionary groups set the example of blowing themselves up instead of sending children and vulnerable youth? We have seen these so-called “jihadists” on our border and have dealt with them decisively in the past.
The UPDF got involved after the Somali clan factions agreed to form a transitional government. The African Union (AU), the IGAD and the UN gave the mandate to us to help the Transitional Government by doing two things:-
Guarding some strategic points (Port, Airport and State House) as well as help in training the Somali Army, along with others from the rest of the world.
It is, therefore, sacrilege for anybody to fire at, let alone assault, an AU Force on a capacity building mission in Africa. Who are these who dare to fire at an AU Force? They can only be agents of external, non-African forces trying to impose a new colonialism on Africa.
We defeated European colonialism and we are going to defeat this new form of colonialism. The Somalis are part of the ancient African peoples, such as the ancient Egyptians – the ones that built the Pyramids. They are a Cushitic people – part of Nilo-Saharan group of languages. Some of their words are even to be found in the Bantu dialects.
Africans believe in a philosophy of live and let live. They never try to impose anything on anybody if they are really acting in the African traditions. There are many symbiotic groups in Africa, living side by side. Some of the groups from outside Africa talk of “haram” – abominable items. They do not know (and they do not bother to find out) that among the indigenous African people, there are even longer lists of haram (ebihagaro).
In part of my community, for instance, we do not eat pork, chicken, sheep, fish etc. Many of our neighbouring communities, however, eat many of these foods, especially fish. The Banyankore, for instance, would not eat chicken. They would keep the chicken only for divination (kuraguza).
A Munyankore, therefore, would be happy to surrender one of his chicken to a visiting Muganda or Mukooki. That is how the Africans lived. Even today, you can see the sort of freedom we enjoy – trans-night dances etc. I am a tee-totaller, but I further most vigorously the interests of our drunkards by exceeding all previous records of beer production. Africans, therefore, reject chauvinism. We want freedom.
If the Somali reactionaries want to implement Sharia law in Somalia, let them stop disturbing the peace of their country so that the Transitional Government organises elections and they can put their agenda to the people. If the people decide to impose Sharia law on themselves, that will be their choice.
Anyway, in the immediate, the main issue is our mandate to the AU Force to assist the Transitional Government by guarding the State House, the Airport and the Port. Guarding them well, we have done. The Somali reactionary groups, supported by their foreign leaders, have attacked us many times and we have defeated them.
The cowardly act of attacking our merry-making non-combatants on July 11, 2010, will make their situation worse. In the past, we were only guarding the three (3) installations as per the AU Force mandate. These reactionary groups have now committed aggression against our country. We have a right of self-defence.
We shall now go for them. These agents of mindless, cowardly Middle-Eastern terrorism will discover that Africa has got its defenders if their failures when they attacked us in the past, have not shown them that already.
In Africa we fought anti-colonial wars. Here in Uganda, we fought some wars for extended periods. Why do we not use terrorism - attacking non-combatants?
Infiltrating into Uganda to plant bombs will not be easy now that we are aroused. However, it will also not be easy for the Somali reactionary groups to stay in Somalia. It is part of the African soil. What we need is World Solidarity.
The Somali people, however, are the ones with the key for the solution to this problem. We can only play a supportive role. Many of the Somali people have voted with their feet by running away from the oppressor. They need to be organised so as to defeat the reactionaries.
The neighbouring countries and the AU, however, also have a responsibility to the people of Somalia when dealing with these murderous groups. If the internal forces are still in formation, it is the duty of Africa to stand with the Somali people. This is the experience of Africa in the last 50 years.
Mwalimu Nyerere stood with us in order to cope with the horrors of Idi Amin. That is how we, the Ugandans, got a new chance to rebuild our country. How can we leave the people of Somalia to adventurers from the Middle East and Asia?
Finally, the people of Uganda in particular and Africa in general need to know that there are heroic fighters in Somalia. These heroic fighters have already avenged the deaths of their innocent loved ones by punishing the killers in Mogadishu who came to attack the TFG and our forces on the 21st of July, a few days ago.
Scores of the attackers were killed and many were injured. The dead included white-skinned people. Africa should interest itself in knowing where those white-skinned people are coming from. The UPDF will continue to punish these agents of foreign interests if they dare again to attack the positions of the AU Forces, flying the flag of Africa.
I congratulate the heroic fighters of the UPDF and, particularly, their commanders on the ground: Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha, Col. Ondoga, Lt. Col. Chemo, etc. I also salute our Barundi compatriots for their courage and Pan-Africanism.
I thank you.
Yoweri K. Museveni
President of the Republic of Uganda
24th July 2010