Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Museveni Dismisses Somali Islamists' Threats to Peacekeepers

President Museveni of Uganda told IRIN reporters earlier this week that "death threats" by Somali Islamist leaders would not deter Uganda from sending troops to Somalia, as promised. "If you bring Jihad, we'll bring back Black Jihad to you," he is quoted as saying.

Museveni also insisted that the Ugandan troops in Somalia would not be a "peace-keeping" force but rather a "peace-building" force, intended to empower those Somalis who truly wish to rebuild their country. Uganda, he said, had sent similar forces into Rwanda, [DRC]Congo, and Sudan with the same goal in mind. By contrast, "Peace-keeping is a Western concept. [It] is UN-ism . . . which is simply loitering around the globe with no solutions, adding to the problems. We are not part of the UN confusion."

Portions of the interview concerning Somalia follow; you can read the full interview by clicking here.

Q (IRIN): In terms of the domestic issues you have to deal with, is it wise to get involved in Somalia?

A (Museveni): The Somalia issue is not that difficult in my opinion. It is the collapse of the state of Somalia. Now that the Somalis have consensus, they should be helped to rebuild their state. Our going to Somalia will not be to do work for Somalis, but to enable them to do their work - rebuild their state, rebuild their army in particular, train the new army. And that is all. This can be done, we've done it before; it is not such a big problem.

Q: What exactly have you offered the African Union?

A: Soldiers - to provide insurance against any attempt to overthrow the government. And number two, to train the Somalis. It is a catalyst force, not the one to do the work. The problem with western countries is they try to act on behalf of the people, that is where their programmes get into problems. But if you come to empower the people to do their own thing, it is easier - that's what we did with the Tanzanians in 1978-1979 against Idi Amin. The Tanzanians empowered us, and then they left. Thereafter we did our own thing.

Q: After the Ethiopian invasion and the US bombardment, there is a power vacuum and no peace to keep. Is it a problem sending in peace-keeping troops when there no peace to keep?

A: That concept of peace-keeping is a western concept. It is just a part of the UN [United Nations]-ism. There is a problem called UN-ism, which is simply loitering around the globe with no solutions, adding to the problems. The issue there is peace-building. We are not going to keep the peace, because we are not supposed to be bringing the peace. That's opportunistic - how can you say, I will not come in until there is peace, and I will come to keep the peace! Who will get the peace? It should be part of peace-building. That is what we did in many of the situations - in Uganda with Idi Amin; in Rwanda with the genocidaires, we empowered the RPF [Rwanda Patriotic Front], then they were able to stop the genocide. In our fight with Sudan - we empowered those who wanted peace in Sudan, and a solution. So in Somalia it's the same thing - it is not 'peace-keeping', it is peace-building. And peace-building is helping the Somalis to empower themselves, on the one hand, and on the other to be as inclusive as possible. After a little while, maybe two, three years - I don't know what they've agreed - go for elections, give back sovereignty to the people. So it is peace-building, not peace-keeping. That is UN-ism; we are not part of the UN confusion.

Q: The African Union is aiming to recruit 8,000 troops - if they are not able to raise that number, would you still send in the Ugandan unit?

A: Yes, because what the Somalis need is someone to train them, that is all.

Q: But there have been death threats against the peacekeepers .

A: That is no problem - we are used to those so-called Jihadis . because we had [Hassan al] Turabi [a prominent Sudanese Islamist politician] here on our border, he was using that language - 'Jihad'. We are black people, this is a black continent - our continent. You cannot bring that Middle Eastern nonsense here. We are not going to accept it. If you bring Jihad, we'll bring back Black Jihad to you. These are Somali people. They are all Muslims. So Jihad to do what now? [Somalis] have a temporary government now. Restore a normal life; then go for elections, after a little while. So, Jihad against whom?

1 comment:

Thomas said...

i think what he descirbes as "peace-building" is nothing different from the true concept of peace-keeping. The UN in fact is more than a bunch of soldiers with blue helmets keeping residents in check. but without guaranteeing security the whole building-approach can't be successful. so before anyone (somalis or whatever) can concentrate on doing what he describes as an alternative to "UN-ism", you'll need peace-"keeping"-troops.