Monday, December 6, 2010

Oil, African Genocide, and the USA's LRA Excuse

KPFA Radio Weekend News, 12.04.2010. 

On Wednesday, November 24th, President Obama sent Congress his plan to mobilize Uganda's army, the Uganda People's Defense Force, to cross its northern border into the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan, to disarm the Lord's Resistance Army, a militia that has been fighting the Ugandan government for over 20 years. The White House issued a statement saying:

“The development of the strategy, relied on the significant involvement of the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Agency for International Development and the Intelligence Community."   --White House "Strategy to Support the Disarmament of the Lord's Resistance Army," posted to the website of the Pulitzer Center

The President seemed either unaware or unconcerned about the UN Mapping Report, released on October 1st, which documents Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's army's war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocidal massacres of civilians, Rwandan Hutu refugees and Congolese Hutus, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

How else could he propose to mobilize the very same army to enter the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan to protect civilians and refugees, and "meet humanitarian requirements" in "affected populations," as his strategy statement said he would?

Just over a week later, on Friday, December 3rd, NBC News Dateline aired "Winds of War, George Clooney in Sudan," which warned that the Northern Sudanese Moslem regime of Omar al-Bashir might commit genocide in Christian Southern Sudan.  The next day I called Black Star News Editor Milton Allimadi from the KPFA Radio studios, in Berkeley, California, to produce this segment for the KPFA Weekend News: 

KPFA Weekend News Anchor/David Rosenberg:
NBC's Dateline last night aired an hour long documentary titled "Winds of War, George Clooney in Sudan."   The actor warned Dateline's audience that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir's regime in Khartoum has already been indicted, by the International Criminal Court, for war crimes and genocide, and that he is now amassing weapons and troops to prevent Southern Sudan from forming an independent state.  Critics of U.S. interventions in the region say that the U.S. is also amassing weapons and troops to move on Southern Sudan, from the Central African Republic, and from its southern border with Uganda, to secure oil.  Ann Garrison is live in the studio with this report.

KPFA/Ann Garrison:
George Clooney, on Friday night's NBC Dateline, cited the opinions of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the CIA, and President Barack Obama as evidence that everyone agrees that the U.S. must engage to stop genocide after Southern Sudan's January referendum, in which the Southern Sudanese are all but certain to vote for independence. 

Actor George Clooney on NBC's Dateline: 
The State Department said, the Secretary of State said it's a ticking time bomb. The CIA said this is the next genocide if we're not careful; it is the biggest risk.  The President has said as much.  This, everyone acknowledges that this is what is going to take place if someone doesn't moderate and mediate.  And that's not just my saying it.  That's everyone saying it.  I'm just trying to say it as loud as possible.

Ann Garrison:
Clooney's "everyone" did not include Ugandan American journalist Milton Allimadi, Editor of the New York City-based Black Star News.  Allimadi says that if the President were really serious about stopping genocide in Africa, he would send peacekeepers into eastern Congo, where the worst African genocide is ongoing and has been for the past 16 years, with a loss of over 6 million lives.    

Allimadi also said that Obama would not be martialing the Ugandan army of Yoweri Museveni in Northern Uganda, to move into the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan, enacting the LRA DIsarmament Act, after the October 1st release of the UN Mapping Report documenting the Ugandan Army's war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocidal massacres of Hutu civilians in Congo.  Allimadi says the LRA is really an excuse to secure Southern Sudanese oil after Southern Sudan's January referendum on independence.

Black Star News Editor Milton Allimadi:
I don't buy this LRA business, not for one minute. The United States is not interested in going after the LRA. If the Ugandan government, which is familiar with the terrain, could not defeat the LRA in 24 years of conflict, what added dimension can the United States bring to this? We already saw one disastrous instance, in December 2008, using U.S. logistical support and intelligence, the Ugandan Army attacked the LRA camp at Garamba, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And the consequences were just disastrous. They failed to get the key leaders of the LRA and instead provoked massacres of innocent Congolese civilians. Who knows who did the killings, whether it was the LRA or the Ugandan troops? It was a massive disaster.

Milton Allimadi:
I think this is what's really happening: 

As you know, in early January, Southern Sudan, whose capitol is Juba, is going to vote on a referendum.  That referendum will decide whether it becomes an independent republic, and it's a foregone conclusion that they're going to vote for independence.  

Now here's the deal.  Most or all of the oil wealth that is now sustaining the government of Sudan in the North happens to be located in Southern Sudan.  I don't see how the government in Khartoum can survive and sustain itself without this oil wealth.   

I think the U.S. has taken a keen interest in the management and control of this oil wealth.  And if you look at the map very carefully, the LRA right now, is purported to be concentrated in Central African Republic, which also conveniently happens to be bordered with the Sudan.  It's on the southwestern part of the Sudan's border, so they share a border.  And in fact, if you're going to look at it from a military point of view, it's half the distance to march from the outpost of the border in Central African Republic to the capitol of Khartoum than it is to march from Juba, the capitol of Southern Sudan, to Khartoum.   

I am convinced that the United States, with its ally, the Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni, are setting up a front line in Central African Republic, in order to weaken the government of the Sudan in Khartoum and make it difficult for the government of the Sudan in Khartoum to launch an attack against Southern Sudan, should they declare independence, which is a foregone conclusion.  That to me is a much more credible story than this bogus story about the U.S. wanting to go after the LRA. 

KPFA/Ann Garrison:
And do you think they want to do this in order to secure Southern Sudanese oil reserves?

Absolutely.  Southern Sudanese oil reserves.  And that is becoming a huge oil field now.  Southern Sudan borders northern Uganda.  And going from that region into Western Uganda, that's a vast oil field.  As you know in recent years there's been massive discoveries of oil fields in that part of Uganda as well.   So if you look at this as a continuous region, starting from Western Uganda sweeping into Northern Uganda, into Southern Sudan, very rich oil fields, which, considering the U.S. presence in the region right now, is much more secure than some of the oil fields in the Middle East.   

KPFA/Ann Garrison:
President Obama himself, in his 2006 Senate Bill, the Obama Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, said that rebel militias serve as pretexts for Uganda and Rwanda's invasions and resource plunder of neighboring Congo, but Allimadi says that Obama, the U.S. Africa Command, and federal legislators now seem to be using the pretext themselves.  

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