Sunday, April 22, 2012

Geffrey Gettleman on Joseph Kony, "dirty wars" and more – Global Public Square - Blogs

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Six weeks ago, very few people outside of Africa had any idea who Joseph Kony was. Today at least 87 million people do. That's how many people have watched the viral vide on YouTube about this brutal Ugandan warlord.
My guest this past weekend was Jeffrey Gettleman.  Gettleman has known about Kony for years. In fact, he was embedded with the Ugandan Army on a hunt for Kony two years ago. Gettleman is the East Africa Bureau Chief of the New York Times and was was just awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. We chatted about Kony, "dirty wars" in Africa and Africa's prospects in general. Here's a transcript of our discussion:
Fareed Zakaria: So what was it like to be with the Ugandan Army while it was trying to find Joseph Kony?
Jeffrey Gettleman: It was a pretty amazing experience. The Ugandan Army has been pursuing Kony for years and now they're stretched more than 1,000 miles away from Uganda. They have gone into Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo and they invited me to go along with them on this manhunt.
And it was some of the roughest terrain I have ever experienced. I mean, impenetrable jungle that we were hacking our ways through, walking up to, you know, to our necks in this black water, these rivers that flow through the jungle.
There was this leaf that these Ugandan soldiers had warned me about. They said, "Whatever you do, don't touch this leaf as you're walking through the jungle." And I was wearing, you know, full clothes, of course and I brushed up against them once and my whole body itched and I'm convinced there are things in that Congolese jungle that science has yet to discover.
Fareed Zakaria: And you had a machete as well? You ...
Jeffrey Gettleman: I actually didn't. I was so incapacitated just trying to keep up with these guys. I mean, these Ugandan soldiers are as tough as steel and it got to the point they were carrying my gear, you know, I was just trying to survive out there.
But the bigger issue is, this guy Kony and the LRA has been brutalizing people for 25 years and they go to where States are weakest. When Uganda was having a lot of trouble in the 80's, the LRA was very powerful. And Uganda got its act together, the military drove the LRA out of Uganda. So they just gravitated to the next sort of, disaster zone, which was Congo.
Fareed Zakaria: And is Joseph Kony the worst of the worst? Because that's (sort of) the implication in the video. But is he?
Jeffrey Gettleman: I think he is. I think that video has taken a lot of criticism for over simplifying the issues, which maybe it did. But, I do think the core issue that the video raised is pretty valid which is, this guy Kony is a brutalizer. He has been terrorizing civilians in Central Africa for more than two decades. His group will continue to do that as long as he's around.
Fareed Zakaria: Why can they not find him?
Jeffrey Gettleman: Because it's an area the size of California with supposedly 250 militants in it and it is this thick, impenetrable jungle. When we were flying over, you couldn't see anything. So aerial surveillance doesn't work. It has to be this sort of old fashioned, on the ground manhunt and that's what I did with these guys.
Fareed Zakaria: You talk about, in a "New York Review Books" article; you talk about how this battle between Joseph Kony and the Ugandan Army is emblematic of the new kind of war in Africa.
Jeffrey Gettleman: Yes, to me it's very interesting. If you look back at Africa 20 or 30 years ago, there were many liberation wars. There were wars against apartheid; there were wars against colonialism still. And then there were wars against guestpits (ph). And many of the rebel leaders that lead these rebellions against guestpits (ph) like Paul Kagame of Rwanda, (INAUDIBLE) of Ethiopia, Uganda's President, Museveni. They were organized. They had ideologies. They had, these rebel leaders were very well educated and they put together these movements that sought to get territory, to liberate people, to introduce a new way of governing and still deliver palpable benefits to the population.
And we see that in these countries. There are criticisms, they're not democrative, but the quality of life has improved drastically in all of those countries I just mentioned. Today, it's a totally different landscape. Rebels are known for brutalizing civilians. They're not fighting for anybody. The LRA is the best case of this. Who do they fight for? Who do they represent? What's driving them? What's their ideology? What could you offer them to entice them to come out of the jungle? That's the problem.
So, in addition to this, sort of, fragmentation and increased violence, these wars go on and on and on because there's nothing you could offer Kony. He doesn't want a seat in the government. He's not standing up for the rights of the repressed people. He's not even motivated by any commercial enterprise like these groups in Congo that are seizing minerals.
Fareed Zakaria: You once wrote a piece, which I was very struck by years ago in Foreign Policy, in which you pointed out, that explains the phenomenon of child soldiers. Because with adults, you have to indoctrinate them with ideology, but you don't have an ideology, so you can't get adults to follow you.
Jeffrey Gettleman: That's exactly right. There's a connection of why we're seeing all of these child soldiers and the proliferation of that across Africa.
These new rebel groups don't stand for anything, so nobody wants to join them. And they're very brutal. Like the LRA, they cut off people's lips, they rape women, they burn down villages. Just gratuitously, there's no strategic purpose here. So nobody's going to volunteer to join them. So the only way they can sustain themselves is kidnapping children and then brainwashing them.
And the LRA, that's another reason why these guys are so brutal is, most of the soldiers in there were kids, you know 7, 8, 9-years- old, who were kidnapped from their families, swept away and then trained to kill. And that's part of their indoctrination. You know, they say to these kids, "You know, here's a club, you have to beat this person to death or we're going to kill you." And that, you know, that just breeds this almost psycopathy in these groups.
And that's why it's so hard to end these wars. Not really wars, I call them "unwars" or "mini wars" or "dirty wars." You know, there's no clear territory, there's no clear distinction between combatants and civilians and we see this across Africa, it's not just the LRA. We see this in Congo, we see this in Sudan, we see this in the Sahara. And some of it has to do with the Cold War. The Cold War imposed an order on Africa. There was a lot of manipulation, a lot of weapons that float in, a lot of bad things that happen. But there was more eyes on African, in a way then, because Africa was seen as strategically important.
And places like Central African Republic where Kony is now, nobody really cares about it and that's why he's able to do what he's doing there.
Fareed Zakaria: Are the "pirates" that we hear about, another version of this phenomenon? No ideology, but essentially criminal gangs?
Jeffrey Gettleman: Yes, I mean, the pirates, they just won't quit. It's amazing that the longevity and the ambition of these guys. There was just a hijacking where the pirates attacked a ship in the Maldives, something like 2,000 miles east of Somalia. And these are, you know, uneducated guys with rusty guns and flip flops, you know, setting out to sea and, you know, derelict boats. They use mother ships now, which is like a hijacked tanker that they've taken and that's their floating base.
And they go out as far as they can go and then they send out these little skips. But again, it's a symptom of a failed state. The pirates are successful in Somalia because they have a place to retreat to. There are still large parts of the country that are lawless and in the, you know, under the authority of various clan militias or criminal gangs.
Until Somalia stabilizes, you know, from end to end, the whole country, until there's a really strong government or a functioning government that can control territory, we're going to see, the piracy problem isn't going to go away. But it's getting harder for them. There's been a naval response that has made it harder to hijack ships. More pirates have been arrested. And I think, you know, these two things are happening at the same time.
As I wrote in this story about Mogadishu, with the advent of more business and more, sort of, normal life, there's going to be an alternative for young men to take a normal job. And I met guys that were trying to get out of the killing business. They were militia fighters and they had spent years carrying a gun and working for this warlord or that warlord. And they said, "You know, I just want to be a driver. I just want a normal job." And that wasn't really possible until recently.
Now, Mogadishu is just a piece of it. There's a big country and a lot of it is still very underdeveloped and poor. But, as the country gets more stable and there's more economic opportunity, you're going to see the appetite for piracy go down.
Because, you know, I've interviewed countless pirates and that's what these guys say. They say, "It's a really, you know, crappy lifestyle. We go out on sea for, you know, for weeks, we don't have enough food, we don't have enough water. Our comrades drown. You know, it's not an easy living. And if there was something else to do, we'd do it."
Jeffrey Gettleman: You know, there's a famous Harvard Professor, Sam Huntington who said that, "For most of the world," and Africa really falls into this category, "Americans never understand that the issue is not the kind of government, but the degree of government." That they just have a government that can actually control the territory or claims to control. Jeffrey Gettleman, pleasure to have you on as always.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ethiopian Raiders Kill 2 Kenyan Officers in Ambush

  2012-04-17 17:30:42     Xinhua       Web Editor: Guo
More than 300 heavily armed Ethiopian militia have killed two Kenyan security officers and wounded five others in an ambush at a remote police camp near the border with Kenya, authorities confirmed on Tuesday.

Kenya's District Commissioner Albert Mwilitsa said the suspected militia from Merille tribe in Ethiopia stormed an Administration Police(AP)'s Rapid Police Unit camp late on Monday in Turkana's Todonyang area where they shot dead the officers.

"The over 300 heavily armed Merille militia from Ethiopian raided the Administration Police camp in Todonyang area of Turkana County and engaged the officers in fire fight. Two APs were killed, one officer is still missing and five were wounded in the fight," Mwilitsa told Xinhua at the scene.

"We have launched investigations to establish the motive behind the raid and also to find the missing Administration Police officer. The five injured will also be airlifted to Nairobi for specialized treatment," the administrator said.

Reports of the ambush has sparked tension in the area with some residents said to be planning a revenge attack. The police helicopter is currently combing the area to arrest the militia.

The raid is the latest in attacks that have pitted communities in the area which falls within the Elemi Triable �C the once disputed triangular border area between Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia �C and residents said the area has known no peace.

The region has been home to protracted and intermitted cattle rustling with many people killed, maimed and much property lost in the recent past.

Apart from being the gateway to an area of South Sudan rich in unexpected oil reserves, Elemi is only significant for its dry season pastures that support the Turkana, Didinga, Toposa, Inyangatom and Dassanech (Mericlle) communities, largely known as the Karamoja cluster groups of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia.

Deadly clashes between the Turkana and the Merille communities in the past were mainly related to cross border cattle raids.

Despite the animosity generated by cattle rustling, the two communities had until the latest attack engaged in barter trade and purchasing of food from markets on both sides of the border.

Livestock herding is the main livelihood and source of income in northern and some parts of eastern Kenya, and the hike in cattle thefts threatens to ignite cross-community reprisals and raids that could set the stage for a surge in ethnic fighting in the region.

Armed cattle rustling conflicts between the Turkana of Kenya and Ethiopia's Merille have dominated headlines of the Elmi Triangle. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ethiopian gunmen attack Sudanese governor - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan

April 9, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – A convoy carrying the governor of Sudan’s eastern state of Al-Qadarif across the shared borders with Ethiopia on Sunday was attacked by suspected members of the Ethiopian gang known as Shifta, Sudan Tribune has learned.
Karam Allah Abbas, governor of Sudan's eastern state of Al-QadarifThe attack took place as the convoy of the governor, Karam Allah Abbas, was crossing Um Dabalo area in Abu Sanda Sudanese locality bordering Ethiopia. Abbas was on his way to the neighboring Amhara Region of Ethiopia for a meeting with its governor when he stopped in Um Dabalo after spotting an Ethiopian farmer working in the area.
The governor started an argument with the Ethiopian farmer and told him that the land belongs to Sudan, at which point a group of armed Ethiopian men arrived at the scene and opened fire on the governor’s convoy.
Although no one was harmed in the fire, Abbas immediately cancelled his trip to the Amhara region and called in security reinforcements to escort his convoy back to Al-Qadarif.
Sources told Sudan Tribune that the incident had infuriated the governor who later threatened to sever his state’s ties with Ethiopia without referring to the central government in Khartoum.
The sources added that the governor had also threatened to lead a military campaign against the Shifta gangs and arm Sudanese tribes to fight them.
Sudan and Ethiopia agreed to demarcate their border, signed a number security agreements and also implementing a number of joint development projects for the population on the border zones.
However, Ethiopian opoosition groups criticized the demarcation saying that Prime Minister Zenawi conceded Ethiopian territory to the Sudan to compensate Khartoum for arresting rebels and banning their activities in the neighbouring country.
The governor of the Amhara Region Ato Ayalew Gobeze officially apologized to Abbas for the attack by the Shifta and promised to cooperate with Sudanese authorities in hunting down the perpetrators.
Meanwhile, local security authorities in Al-Qadarif announced on Monday that 12 suspects had been arrested in relation with the attack.
Al-Qadarif state government also announced that it intends to lodge an official complaint to the Ethiopian government against the attack.