James Pirtle is a trial lawyer and owner of The Sentinel Law Group, PLLC, a Seattle law firm and he is an attorney on the ground for Legal Advocacy Worldwide (LAW), a non-profit devoted to financing direct legal advocacy on behalf of the oppressed abroad, including the state-sanctioned persecution of the LGBT community in Africa. This blog chronicles how his involvement in the defense of Thomas Kwoyelo, a former child soldier in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda, developed into a broad international human rights practice with crusading Ugandan attorney John Francis Onyango. This blog begins with their involvement in the Kwoyelo case and continues with updates and developments in the human rights cases. Read from the bottom up to see how it all unfolds.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blog Post 12 - Special Forces sent to Uganda

LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony

Special Forces Sent to Uganda

In what appears to be a puzzling development, the United States has committed 100 special operations troops to Uganda.  Ostensibly this mission is to round up what remains of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and its leader, Joseph Kony, to "bring security to the region."

Sadly, we don't exactly commit troops to any causes without ulterior motives, though (shockingly) this is hardly reported in western media.  So, allow me to explain what I think this is about:

We, along with other western powers, pressured the African Union to do something about the "situation" in Somalia.  They all agreed to commit troops; all but Uganda backed out for fear of what could happen a la 1991.  Nevertheless, Uganda committed 10,000 troops and has 90% of Mogadishu under control and sent Al-Shabab. packing (though they are menacing refugee camps in rural areas and in Kenya and are not taking hostages).  So this could be helpful political payback.

But, not as well known, the LRA is weakened to the point of irrelevancy at this point in Uganda.  However, not so much in the DRC.  That is, they along with various warlords (or almost anyone with a gun and some ambition), are very interested in exploiting the conflict minerals there.  Primarily coltan (a mineral ore used in cell phones and other technological gadgetry).  Moreover, with the new southern Sudanese state and the existence of oil both there and in northern Uganda, it all starts to come together.

So, though this move is lauded politically and by human rights organizations as long overdue, I am highly suspicious that our motivation is altruism and stability in the region.  I am quite convinced that this is about "bringing security to the region" in order to secure the availability of the resources.  This is nothing new, but is not widely reported on.  I was supposed to be on the news this weekend to talk about it, but they never called.  I don't know what it will take to generate interest in what is happening there, but I will keep trying.

As always, more to follow.