USA : The Pentagon, “Joseph Kony (LRA), No Longer Seen as a Threat”

Fatima K. LAMINE

WASHINGTON (LNC) — The Pentagon’s Africa Command thinks that, as Kony’s fighting force has dwindled to about 100 soldiers from a peak of 3,000, LRA is no longer a threat to CAR, or indeed to its regional neighbours. So, USA are seriously considering withdrawing its troops from Centrafric.

Since 2008, the United States sent around 200 troops in CAR, in the far east of the country, to work with the African Union soldiers (composed at 70% of Ugandan soldiers) against the L.R.A. Providing advisory support, intelligence and logistical assistance; spending quite $800M to do so. In 2011, the Obama administration went further, and deployed more troops and support to the mission. But things are going to change drastically, with Donald Trump’s coming to power.

Even, a decision on renewing the mission for six more months has been scheduled for April, but the Trump administration, even before taking office, signaled its desire for change in a series of questions from its transition team to the State Department.

AMERICA FIRST

With the brutal and provocative arrival at office of Trump administration, the United States relapse into its nasty habits of autism, isolation and withdrawal into oneself.

“The L.R.A. has never attacked U.S. interests, why do we care? […] We hear that even the Ugandans are looking to stop searching for him (Kony), since they no longer view him as a threat, so why do we?” Trump team asked.

This recently supported by Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the head of the Africa Command (AFRICOM), saying in recent congressional testimony that “the L.R.A. does not currently threaten U.S. or western interests in the region.”

This is one way of admitting that US troops in Centrafric are not on ground over there to protect the population, but  for their own interests only. Hunting Kony was not a priority.

Voices stir up against

However, many others in the American Special Operations community, argue that a long-term United States presence on the ground in these countries under LRA threats, is in America’s national security interest, and warn against a precipitous withdrawal. “Persistent presence is the best way to help locals serve as an antibody to extremism,” said retired Lt. Col. D. Scott Mann, a former member of the Green Berets, adding that: “Without long-term measures like this campaign, the threats always come back. A small footprint of well-trained and resourced advisers can make a big impact.”

Some policy analysts also proposed this line of action. The United States military should continue to focus on protecting local populations.

Paul Ronan, the director of research and policy at NGO “Invisible Children” stated: “The L.R.A. is a wounded tiger. But, even in a weakened state, it poses a severe threat.” “A premature withdrawal of U.S. and Ugandan troops from eastern C.A.R. would create a security vacuum there that could enable a surge of violence against civilians, both by the L.R.A. and by other armed groups,” Mr. Ronan added.

UGANDAN ALSO WANT TO WITHDRAW

Indeed last June, the Uganda People’s Defense Force announced its troops would be withdrawn from the missions by the end of the year, but then reversed course. The Ugandan military forces are based in Obo. Such  situation which would gives South-Sudaneses a free hand in the area, as well known to be Joseph Kony’s constant support. And no one knows what would happen in such a case. The Power in CAR is unable to defend its territory in its entirety, even less the eastern, due to the UN arms embargoes.

JEFFREY HAWKINS PUT THE WORD OUT

In Bangui, the US Ambassador tries to ‘sell’ to people, the idea of the US withdrawal.

Past week a local elected representative from the Haut-Mbomou accused the US troops deployed in city of OBO and around, to not doing their best to track down the LRA. What is so far true!

Jeffrey Hawkins on the contrary thinks that the mission was very successful: “I’m sorry, but I do not agree with that way of looking at things. Quite 5 years ago, when we deployed the African Union’s Task force, the LRA included thousands of people. Now, It is reduced to hundred people, again roaming in the bush, who unfortunately continuing to commit exactions against the population. But they are no longer a threat for the National Security of the Central African state. All LRA’s top leaders, except Kony have been caught or neutralized. It is an organization quite dead. So I think it’s been a really, really great success.”

However, just last week, the LRA attacked a village close to Rafaï, and abducted five people including the village chief who will be released in the evening.

“The LRA continues to threaten the security of the population in its operating area and has notably increased its alleged attacks in the CAR during the reporting period, reportedly extending into areas that had previously seen little to no LRA movement,” said Abdoulaye Bathily, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Regional Office For Central Africa (UNOCA), in his briefing to the Security Council.

And Jeffrey Hawkins keeps speaking about a big success?

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© March 2017 – LAMINE MEDIA

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