In recent months, two western ruling groups have suffered defeat in the elections. Although it is not the culture of Africans to talk about other people’s “houses” (internal affairs of other people), I feel compelled to comment on the events in the USA, Britain and Hungary in recent times because they are somehow connected with Africa and the Middle East.
In the month of June, our friend David Cameron suffered a defeat in the UK in a Referendum as to whether to remain in the EU or not. In the month of October, the Government of Hungary called a Referendum against immigration to the chagrin of elements of the elite in Europe where the voters rejected the refugee policy of the EU and, recently, Mr. Trump won the election in the USA against our longtime friend, Hillary Clinton. Although Hillary won the popular vote, Mr. Trump won the Electoral College vote. That is their system which we must respect.
Although there are other reasons that we outsiders cannot easily know, there is one factor that has turned into a curse for the perpetrators. This is the factor of conducting wars of aggression against Sovereign States that are, moreover, members of the UN. In the last 16 years, since the attack on the twin-towers, in New York in the year 2001, the USA and the other western countries have attacked Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Of these wars by the West against Independent and Sovereign States, two were clearly wars of aggression; they were unjust wars.
It is only the war in Afghanistan that was a just war because some confused group, called Al-Quaeda, intoxicated with religious chauvinism, had carried out aggression against the USA. It was correct that the USA responded and dislodged the Talibans and their allies, Alquaeda, from Afghanistan. We all supported this.
It is the other attacks that were wrong and unjust. These were the attacks on Iraq and Libya. In the case of Iraq, it was said that they had weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and chemical). In the end, those weapons were not there. In any case, who is supposed to have the weapons of mass destruction and who is supposed not to and why? Why doesn’t the world concentrate on getting rid of those dangerous weapons rather than waging wars to maintain monopoly over those criminal and cowardly weapons? Why do some countries want to maintain monopoly over those criminal and cowardly weapons? In the case of Libya, it was because Gaddaffi was about to launch a counter-attack to recapture the City of Benghazi in an internal civil war. It was to “protect” the “people” against the “regime” ─ the same imperialist arguments that were used in the last-but-one century (“spreading civilization”, etc). Cameron was about to add Syria to the list, when the UK Parliament rejected his efforts in 2013. In the end, these wars of aggression against Sovereign States, have generated human catastrophes that have few equals in the history of the world. I, certainly, did not know that there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq (2003). Since the 2003 Iraq war, Iraq Christians have been relocated to Syria. Currently, apparently, there are 275,000 Christians in Iraq; 500,000 Yazidis in Iraq; 2.9 million Christians in Syria, etc.
Until the recent upheavals in those areas, these Christians and Yazidis were living in these areas. The authoritarian regimes of the area notwithstanding, those groups were living there quietly. Hundreds of thousands of refugees started heading for Europe. In the USA, there was talk of allowing in the Syrian refugees. Both the movement of refugees into the EU and the talk of them coming to the USA, generated a backlash from some of the locals, not without justification. With different and conflicting cultures, big infusion of refugees into countries, can, in the long run, create conflicts. In Uganda, we allow refugees from Africa because they are part of the Bantu, Nilotic or Cushitic communities that are already part of Uganda. In fact, you cannot easily tell the difference between these African refugees on the one hand and the Ugandans on the other. Middle Eastern and African groups flooding into Europe and the USA, could have a different impact.
Cynically speaking, though, the USA and EU should not complain about Africans and Arabs flooding into those countries as refugees. They are the ones that had invaded our countries as imperialists, in the first place. The USA was built by African slaves. Be that as it may, the promoters of attacks in the Middle East and North Africa, provoked a human exodus that has caused the backlash bringing down Mr. Cameron and Mrs. Clinton. Although immigration is not the only reason that brought down those groups, it is certainly one of them. The question then, is: “Were these deliberate imperialist designs or were they just mistakes?” The Western countries and Africa need to scrutinize this issue and come up with correct answers.
When I was in Germany in the month of June, journalists from the Newspaper Die Spiegal asked me the following question: “Last year, 1.3 million refugees came to Germany, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but also from Africa. Many believe this is only the beginning of an exodus to Europe. What do you suggest to stop this wave of migrants?” I answered the questioner that I could not answer that question at that time. I knew that it was a delicate problem for people like Mrs. Clinton who had been involved in the attack on Libya that had turned into such a disaster. I am now released from that obligation. That is why I have written this missive.
The present African leaders are, however, also co-guilty in this matter. We should never have allowed external powers to attack any part of the African soil without our permission. I had fought Gaddafi two times: 1972 and 1979. I needed no lectures on the positive and negative points of Gaddafi. However, to allow the former colonial countries to attack any portion of Africa without a response from us, was betrayal. To be fair to the African leaders, one could say that we were taken by surprise. Even me, I did not believe that Western leaders could be so reckless as to do what they did in Libya.
However, attack Libya, they did. What is the contingency for the future and how do we rescue Libya? We recently had a meeting in Addis Ababa and told all and sundry that AU intends to rescue Libya and we also made it clear that future attacks on African soil without coordinating with AU are not acceptable, to put it mildly. Can Africa defend African soil? Very much so. In the 1960s, a few frontline States ─ Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana ─ supported by the socialist countries and working with the Liberation Movements in the occupied African countries, defeated Portugal in Mozambique and Angola, Ian Smith in Zimbabwe and, eventually, the South African racist regime which had manufactured nuclear weapons to intimidate us, as well as its colonial government in Namibia (SWA). All these colonial dictatorships (in Angola, Mozambique, Rhodesia ─ Zimbabwe, Namibia ─ SWA and South Africa), were either supported or encouraged by some of the Western countries.
The other countries that stood with the Liberation Movements were Algeria, Egypt and Guinea-Conakry; even Nigeria, under the Military Government, took a patriotic position. Africa today, the weaknesses notwithstanding, is much more capable than we were in the 1960s. The problem is lack of consistent unity. Lack of cohesion is Africa’s problem. When the USA was still young, in 1823, one of their Presidents, James Monroe, in order to shield the Americas from the rapacious European countries, promulgated the Monroe doctrine which stated: “Further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as ‘the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States’. At the same time, the doctrine noted that the U.S. would recognize and not interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries”. The AU needs to put out a “Monroe doctrine” of sorts to all and sundry. Otherwise, the present African leaders will have let down Africa like the pre-colonial chiefs did between 1400 and 1900 when the European imperialists slowly penetrated Africa while these chiefs could not unite to defend us against the slave trade and colonialism.
Before the Western countries killed Gaddaffi, Libya, in spite of its small population of only 6 million people, had the second biggest amount of electricity in the whole of Africa after South Africa and was becoming a big source of investments for the rest of Africa as well as a market for African products. Hundreds of thousands of Africans were also working in Libya during that time. The destruction of Libya has also led to terrorist groups invading Mali, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, etc. Why should Africa tolerate such disruption on her territory caused, in part, by foreigners? That was one reason Uganda intervened in Somalia. We could not tolerate the importation of the Middle Eastern nonsense of intolerance, allegedly on “behalf of God”, into Africa.
We had to let those confused people know that Africa has its owners, the Africans. The same message needs to be sent to the Western aggressors. Our Lord’s Prayer says in part:“ Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Africans should not tempt greedy or confused foreigners into the temptation of interfering with us by being weak.
I cannot end this missive without talking about the foreign agents that masquerade as freedom fighters. This is a subject I talk about with a lot of authority. Freedom fighters do not need foreign fighters to fight for them. They fight for themselves. Who fought for us? Genuine Revolutions do not need foreign invasions. Who caused the Russian Revolution in 1917? Who caused the victory of the Chinese Revolution in 1949? Who caused the changes in the Soviet Union? Who has caused the recent Trump victory in the USA? Which foreign actors caused the victory of the Brexit vote in the UK? Who caused the Iranian revolution in 1979? Did foreigners cause these changes? Not at all. On the contrary, the foreigners, in the majority of them, tried to stop these changes but failed. Therefore, the adventurism of some groups in the West, should not be camouflaged as fighting for freedom.
Many of the stooges of foreign interests or local oppressors spend alot of time looking for foreign sponsors rather than looking for ways of how to reconcile with their own people. That is the litmus paper test for pseudo-freedom. Authentic freedom fighters will sustain themselves even if they do not have external support. They certainly do not need foreign troops. Pseudo ─ freedom fighters, on the other hand, are always calling for foreigners to interfere in their affairs.
It is a vote of no confidence in oneself to call for foreigners to fight for you? It is, therefore, wrong for foreigners to eagerly rush into local situations in support of local stooges or opportunists. Those foreigners become part of the problem and not part of the solution. Local factions should be encouraged to reach compromise rather than getting foreign sponsors to suppress and ignore their domestic rivals.
Anyway, for now, the adventures of the Western countries into North-Africa and the Middle-East, have caused human disasters in those target areas but also political casualties in the countries of the aggressors, not to mention the nationalist backlash against “Western liberalism.” “Whatever a man sows, that is what he will reap,” it says in the book of Galatians, Chapter 6, verse 7.
By Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Gen(rtd)
President of Uganda.