Last month, Josh at In an African Minute wrote about why he thinks those opposed to sending troops to Somalia are misguided. I don’t think anyone would contest the fact that a stable Somalia is in the best interests of everyone from Somali citizens to the American government. The question, then, is whether or not a Ugandan presence will actually contribute to stabilization.
Josh argues that Ugandan troops will be met with more support than Ethiopians, but so far they’ve been met with bombs and mortars that have already killed or injured almost 30 civilians and two soldiers. The peacekeeping mission is miserably underfunded and understaffed, and several human rights organizations have expressed serious concerns that the operation will be a repeat of Uganda’s intervention in the Congo, during which the UPDF was found to have tortured and killed civilians. An editorial in Friday’s Daily Monitor compared the American anti-terrorism fervor to the Cold War and accused Museveni of “playing this card against terrorism as a tool to help him in his quest for a life presidency.”
Perhaps most importantly, there is no real peace to keep. Though the Ethiopians dispelled the Islamic courts last year, making way for the Transitional Federal Government, insurgents have “vowed to kill the incoming peacekeepers” and have been launching almost daily attacks in Mogadishu, and Eritrea has warned that the presence of Ugandan forces could prompt a full-out war.
In the face of so many contra-indicators, I would argue that those who support Ugandan involvement are the misguided ones.