It appears that since the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Senate Bill 1067, a bill that called for, among other things, to “apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield…and to disarm and demobilize the remaining Lord’s Resistance Army fighters,” the United States has Lake Albert targeted in its crosshairs.
An important provision squeezed into the bill was a section mandating that an official strategy be written up to “disarm and demobilize” the LRA. “Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall develop and submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a strategy to guide future United States support across the region,” the bill reads. “The strategy shall include…a description of how this engagement will fit within the context of broader efforts and policy objectives in the Great Lakes Region.” The Great Lakes Region includes Lake Albert and “broader efforts and policy objectives” translates into, based on State Department diplomatic cables and public statements made in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the control of precious oil resources in the Albertine Basin.
Signed into law by Obama in May 2009, it is crucial to put when the bill was written into proper historical context. As revealed by State Department diplomatic cables, this was roughly a year after the special meeting between Tullow Oil representatives; U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Steven Browning; and then head of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Rear Admiral Phillip Greene near Lake Albert. It was also roughly half a year after the launch of AFRICOM.
Some may have been surprised by this latest announcement to invade another country by the Obama administration, but based on recent history, there are no real surprises here. Still, despite evidence that seems to fly in the face of the reason offered by Obama to send troops to Uganda, it is still worth scrutinizing his rationale.
If there is one thing that is nearly for certain, it is that the Lord’s Resistance Army and Joseph Kony, as awful as they are, likely have nothing to do with this most recent U.S. military engagement in Uganda. In the end, it all comes back to oil, even if top-level U.S. officials maintain that this has “nothing to do with oil.”
For one, days before this incursion, it was announced that the “the Obama administration quietly waived restrictions on military aid to Chad, Yemen, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)-four countries with records of actively recruiting child soldiers…Any country even remotely close to the horn of Africa (like these distinguished four) is just too strategically important…So, for the time being, it’s still guns for the kids,” wrote Mother Jones.
One of the rationales Obama gave for sending JSOC troops to Uganda, was that the LRA recruits and uses child soldiers, which, given this recent decision, made for the second consecutive year, is certainly not something high on the list of Obama’s concerns. Furthermore, if human rights were actually the chief concern, why did the United States show interest in Kony only after the discovery of oil in the region? Not only that but Kony, as many have made it clear, is nowhere to be found in Uganda and is on the run or in hiding somewhere outside of the country.
To top it all off, Yoweri Museveni and his brother, the gun-for-hire Salim Saleh, both have deplorable human rights records, and unlike the LRA, maintain state control over the people of Uganda. An article titled “Uganda’s Tyrant,” written in 2007 by the Guardian, sums up the human rights situation under Museveni:
“President Museveni’s…regime is a constitutional dictatorship, with a rubber stamp parliament, powerless judiciary, censored media and heavily militarised civil institutions…Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International…confirm the harassment of Museveni’s political opponents, detention without trial, torture, extrajudicial killings, suppression of protests and homophobic witch-hunts.” Abhorrent as his human rights record may be, the United States sent a $45 million military aid package to the Museveni-led government in July 2011, which included four drones.
Do not be surprised if, months from now, ExxonMobil or another U.S. oil industry superpower walks away with drilling rights in the Lake Albert region and CNOOC, the current main possessor of Uganda’s Lake Albert oil resources, is sent packing. Also don’t be surprised if Erik Prince and Salim Saleh lead Saracen International, working alongside JSOC troops, who work closely with the Central Intelligence Agency, are working as “security forces” off of the Albertine oil basin.
These are not only likely scenarios, but probable ones. Joseph Kony and his LRA allies might be taken down, but the people of Uganda, on the whole, will not benefit from this “humanitarian intervention.” Things, unfortunately, will probably only worsen for the people of Uganda as time progresses.
Steve Horn is a researcher and writer for DeSmogBlog. He lives in Madison, WI.
Courtesy of AfricaFiles