By Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Attacking malls, football fans, students shows they cannot even attack a well- guarded police station
The most atrocious, criminal, cowardly and monstrous attacks by Al-Shabaab against soft and innocent targets such as shoppers in a Shopping Mall, young students in a University or football fans watching the World Cup matches at the Rugby Club in Kampala may look very frightening to those that are not used to war or that are not well informed. However, those attacks, in fact, prove three things.
They prove that Al-Shabaab is sectarian which is obvious because it only targets Non- Moslems. Secondly, it proves that Al-Shabaab is bankrupt both morally and ideologically. Why attack non-combatants? Why not attack soldiers if you want to fight? Why attack only Non-Moslems? Thirdly, however, it also proves that Al-Shabaab is already defeated. Why do I say this?
I say this because it is that bankrupt Al-Shabaab that initiated attacks against the UPDF in the month of May in the year 2009 in Mogadishu. The UPDF had gone to Mogadishu, not to fight anybody, but, to stabilise the situation there and to guard the port and the airport. This was after the Somali factions had, in Djibouti, agreed to a shared government and after the American mistakes of manipulating the warlords had failed. We went there under the African Union Flag. You know that flag. It consists of the conspicuously huge map of Africa. Nobody that is not blind can mistake this for anything else.
What IGAD and AU wanted was negotiations to include anybody that had been left out of the Interim Government – especially the groups that had been in Eritrea. In any case, we were in just a small portion of Somalia, at the Port, at the airport and, later on, on the request of the Interim Somali Government, State House and Kilometre 4 (linking the different positions) was added. Even if the Al-Shabaab did not want to negotiate with the Interim Government for any obscure reason, it was not wise to attack the Ugandan and Burundian troops carrying the AU flag. Why do you attack the AU flag? Do you not belong to Africa? If you do not belong to Africa, where do you belong? In any case, big chunks of Somalia, including ports and airports, were under their control. They could build capacity there if they had any ambitions to do so.
However, intoxicated with their bankrupt ideology of Islamic chauvinism (arrogance and narrow-mindedness), they attacked our troops calling them “Kaffir”, “Bakafiri” (primitive people that do not know God) just like the European Imperialists used to call us. Well, the “Kaffirs” taught those idiots that we know how to defend the African soil and the African flag. Our well trained and well-disciplined Army smashed the fanatical attacks of these misled people. Especially in the Ramadhan of August 2010, we smashed the mass attacks of these confused people and advanced to Barawe, Marka, Juba Hotel, Bondhere, Florencia, Telebunka, Elhindi, Santa gate Shigare, Bakara Market, National Stadium, Mogadishu University, Dayinley, Afugoye, Kilometre 50, Elsaalini and Shalambot beyond our original positions of airport, seaport, Kilometre – 4 and State House. They, then, started sniping at our troops from the built up areas. We brought in the commandos that were experts in counter sniping. Between May 2011 and September 2011, at least, 320 Al-Shabaab fighters were killed by UPDF counter snipers. With other attacks and movements, the Al-Shabaab fled from Mogadishu on August 6, 2011. The manipulation of the young moslem youth by their cowardly and criminal leaders promising these unfortunate young people going to heaven (janah) by dying fighting the “Kaffirs” could no longer persuade these poor children to withstand the might of the UPDF. Although I have not bothered to follow the identities of these criminal leaders who send small children (young people in their teens or adolescence) to blow themselves up in futile but criminal suicide attacks, I, sometimes wonder about the moral standing of these leaders. If pre-mature going to heaven is such a good thing, why don’t some of these leaders set an example for the young people by blowing themselves up instead of only sending these poor children to die?
After that Al-Shabaab was defeated in Baidoa, Afgooye, Marka, Beledweyne, Kismayu. Therefore, the Al-Shabaab is now attacking shopping malls, football fans, university Students etc. because they are already defeated. They cannot attack anything else – not even a well- guarded Police Station let alone a battalion of the AU forces.
Armed population option
In their bankruptcy and ignorance of war, they miscalculate that attacking soft targets will frighten the Africans and cause them to abandon the Somali People to these idiots. That will not happen. Indeed, while reading Ugandan newspapers of recent, although some commentators were worried, others like Bishop Godfrey Makumbi of West Buganda Diocese, Masaka hit the nail on the head when it comes to cowards who only attack soft targets (children and non-combatants).
In the Monitor newspaper of Wednesday April 22, 2015, Bishop Makumbi reminisced about the “Mchakamchaka” NRM programme of training militarily the whole population to defend itself against terrorists. There, the cowardly and criminal terrorist leaders have the answer from a pacifist Bishop, of all people.
I have not talked about the concept of the Armed Population in recent times in public. In 1980s, 1990s, when some actors were threatening to invade us; we had trained a Militia of two million men and women. All S6 leavers used to get military training. However, with increased Secondary School and University enrolment, the numbers became too big.
We, therefore, suspended that generalized mass training and, instead, concentrated on the areas that had insecurity at that time – Teso, Lango, Karamoja, the Rwenzori Region, etc. In Teso we had a militia (Local Defence Units – LDUs) of 8,000 known as the Arrow boys; in Lango we had another 8,000 and they were called Amuka, etc. Now that the Al-Shabaab can no longer either fight conventional or guerrilla battles against the AU force and they are only relying on terrorist attacks against the soft, innocent targets, we can harden the soft targets with the concept of the Armed Population, maybe, initially, in the threatened areas as defined by intelligence.
In order not to worry Bishop Godfrey Makumbi, we had not forgotten the concept of Mchakamchaka although some of the Western Agencies used to campaign against it. It involves a cost of feeding, clothing, equipping, transporting, training (the bullets), etc. Since we need that money for the roads (as you all can see the impact on that sector), the electricity etc., we had to scale down on the concept of the Armed People – Povo armada, as Frelimo used to call the strategy. However, it is there and it can be re-activated at any time. That is why we have Reserve Force Commanders in all the districts. That is their purpose. I have, actually, already given confidential instructions to the Armed forces (Police, UPDF, ISO, etc.) to re-activate that strategy as guided by intelligence. When the idiots in Mogadishu were calling us “Kaffir”, they, probably (in their ignorance), did not know that the UPDF has got thousands of Moslems and that, under the NRM Revolution, we pour scorn and contempt (kuzimuula) sectarianism. It is the ideology of the traitors who hope to weaken the African People by that scheme of dividing us so as to dominate us (divide and rule).
The Somali People are part of the ancient Cushitic People of Africa. Some of these people live in Ethiopia, Sudan, Southern Egypt, East Africa, etc. Some of them are Moslems and others belong to other religions. What right do these sectarian elements have to seek to separate them from the other Cushitic Peoples and, indeed, from the other Africans? To hell, we direct the sectarianists.
The sectarian chauvinists are, first and foremost, the enemies of the Moslem People even before they become enemies of the generality of Africans. Why? Take a look at the map of East Africa, including the Horn of Africa. The Moslems live, mainly, near the Coast (Pwani). Even in the pre-colonial times, not to mention the present capitalist World, the Coast (Pwani) depended for prosperity on the Mainland (Bara) and vice-versa. The pre-colonial peoples of the Great Lakes depended for textiles (emyenda in Runyankore, engoye in Luganda), glass beads (enkwanzi), guns, etc. on the Coast, including Zanzibar. The coast depended on the hinterland for ivory, especially and, unfortunately, for slaves also (a responsibility of the Criminal Chiefs in many cases). In the modern times, by our Coastal People providing efficient services at the Sea Ports (Djibouti, Mogadishu, Kismayu, Mombasa, Tanga, Dar-es-Salaam, etc.), even if they did not do anything else (and there are many things they are better positioned to do e.g. manufacturing using imported inputs), they would be very prosperous on account of the huge volumes of merchandise from and to the interior of the continent. Whose enemy are you when you interfere with this mutually beneficial arrangement? Certainly, the Non-Moslems would lose but so would the Moslems of both the Interior and the Coast. The whole of Africa would lose.
Not all Moslems are al- Shabaab
Finally, I want to also advise those who are shallow and superficial in their analysis even contrary to the facts. The criminals in Kenya have been killing non-Moslems and sparing Moslems. Does it mean that all Moslems support these criminals? Certainly not. How do I know this? There are 2.5 million Somali Moslems in Mogadishu who selected to stay with the AU force instead of going with the Al-Shabaab terrorists.
That is the same story in Baidoa, Kisimayu, Afgooye, Beledweyne, Marka, etc. How many Somalis are with the terrorists out of the total population of Somalis of 10.5 million? According to the 2002 census of Uganda, the Moslem population of Uganda was 12% of the whole population. How many joined the criminal Jamil Mukulu of the ADF? Very few. During the anti-Amin war, although Amin was pretending to use Islam while he was an alcohol drinker, I was always harboured in Kampala by my Moslem comrades -Kibazo Abbas, Zubairi Bakari, Kabala, Mayanja, Lubanga of Jinja etc., etc. Therefore, anybody who suspects all Moslems because a few Moslem criminals are involved in atrocities is wrong. It is like saying that since Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army was pretending to be a Christian in his crimes, we should suspect all Christians.
I wish to inform those that have a propensity to get confused, that the African populations are always symbiotic. When I was growing up in Ntungamo, I would see this symbiosis. We were cattle keepers in my family. We would exchange products with the cultivators (okucurika-barter trade). However, the few Moslems in the area would also provide a service which the non-Moslem Banyankore (cattle keepers and agriculturalists) were not doing at that time – running butcheries and eating houses (ebirabo). Bigyega, the butcher, was a Moslem, Kapaasi (son of Musa Kilwa), the hotel (ekirabo) owner, was a Moslem and the sons of Amisi Muganzi were the itinerant traders. Siyalo Kiyemba of Mbarara owned buses. Some of these trading and services providers were not only Moslems but also, originally, Baganda. They were providing services that were vital to the other Banyankore (mainly non-Moslem) but which the latter were not providing. Who was the loser in this partnership? Long live the partnership of the wealth creators and down with the parasites that cannot understand the dynamics of wealth creation.
As for the Security issue that we started with, be informed, again, that Al-Shabaab is already defeated. They can no longer attack the Army or even the Police, they cannot fight conventional warfare or guerrilla warfare and, being ideologically bankrupt, they go for terrorism (attacking soft targets). This is curable as already pointed out by the concept of “Povo Armada’’-the Armed People as Bishop Makumbi rightly observed.
The Al-Shabaab are in a very vulnerable situation. On account of the defeats, they can no longer move in big groups – platoon size (30-40) or more because they will be detected and destroyed by the Army (infantry, tanks, IFVs, Air force, etc.). They can only move, by concealment, in small groups (4 or 5). These can easily be dealt with by the LDUs (Local Defence Units) with potential for re-enforcement by the Police and Army. The one factor that we must emphasize is intelligence – tactical (in a locality) and strategic (in the whole Country and the Region). This will simplify the work. The Al-Shabaab is already defeated. The brutality they exhibit may scare people but it is defeatable and it is the last desperate card. If it was me, I would not have played that card having been defeated in conventional and guerrilla battles because terrorism stigmatises and delegitimises you forever. I would have negotiated with the other stakeholders if I had any legitimate concerns.
Fighting a just war
In any case, even before you start a war, you must be sure that you intend to fight a just war – a war that is for justice and not for aggression or oppression. Moreover, you should be sure that there is no other peaceful way of solving that problem other than war.
Otherwise, if you start a war for purposes of aggression or oppression or you start a just war before you have exhausted peaceful means, you are a criminal. Then having started a just war on account of having no other option for having justice, you must fight a war where violence is used in a disciplined way. The main element here is to target combatants, especially the armed combatants. The unarmed opponents (spies, informers, etc.) should be scared away if possible or jailed if the struggle is developed enough to run prisons. Killing non-combatants (shoppers, students, football fans, bar-goers (like the ones of Kabalagala) or kidnapping people like Kony and Boko Haram do, are war crimes.
The NRA fought and won the war of Resistance on the basis of a Revolutionary Code – use violence on armed combatants. Also fighting a war on a sectarian basis is a mistake even if you consider a section of the population to be oppressed. The ANC guided the Black People, through the Freedom charter of 1955, not to wage a racist struggle against the Whites who were oppressing the Blacks. This was because, even within the Whites, there were people who did not support Apartheid. I saw many of them with my own eyes – Ben Turok, Joe Slovo, Ruth First, etc., etc. The Indians, the Coloureds all joined. It was a national struggle – not a sectarian one – although the oppressors were targeting Blacks.
Yoweri K. Museveni (Gen. Rtd) is the president of the Republic of Uganda. This article was offered for publication on April 24, 2015.