YLF Post No. 1 for Regional Young Leaders Forum


This is the first pre-conference post before our Regional Young Leaders Forum on Regional Security and Local Grievances. Every few days we will post a text asking you for comments on its theses or recommendation. It will about the kind of issues you will be dealing with in your presentations. Today, we have compiled three columns of the Ugandan Journalist Onyango Obbo on armies and rebels read more.

  • In his first column the author is arguing that West-African armies (Nigeria, Mali) „are running away from barefooted rebels not because they are cowards but because their relationship with the state is changing“. In short, the ruling elites is stealing even the money destined for the upkeep of the army
  • In the second piece he is arguing that the well stocked East African armies don’t flee, because „they have a lot of practice fighting at home and in neighboring countries“. In a way, he writes,  these capable armies „are creating a political federation“.
  • And finally he suggests that the recent success of extremist groups has changed the frontline and that in the international fight against terrorism „the most critical point defence line is in central Africa.“ With consequences for some rebel groups. „In this new reality“, he writes, „Machar and the FDLR are flies in the soup“. And are loosing in support.

Do you agree with Onyango-Obbo’s arguments? And how does this analysis – or your objections to it – relate to the conflicts in your countries? Will it change policies and alliances? Can we already talk about a „Return to Realpolitik“ where the propagators of a new war on terror are going to look for reliable rather than democratic regimes?



  1. Comrade Amon, if you went back to the blog on Bokoharam, Onyango’s article just agreed with my position there in; There could be a likelyhood of an internal sabotage in the military ranks of those countries. I then went a head and took a radical departure from other bloggers views suggesting dialogue and socio economic emanicipation of the northern Nigeria and thus suggested that a fully fledged military campaign should be the option against such heinous group.And indeed going by the recent event down there, the military other than dialogue is bearing fruits. Dialogue can not work with such groups harbouring wrong ideology. Africa has historical lessons to draw from this: Firstly, Jona Savimbi and his group was extinguished not through dialogue but vide military campaign. Secondly, Joseph Kony’s LRA were not chased out of Uganda through dialogue but through the might of the Ugandan armed forces. Since 2007 Uganda took a Pan African initiative to fight Alshabab terrorism primarily in Somalia but also across the region. As we reflect, Burundi and a host of other African countries have joined in to fight that wrong ideological group in the horn of Africa. I am sure, dialogue has never even been the second option to dealing with Alshabab. I don’t even,think it will even be the third, fourth… options. Arguing to dialogue with such a group is to think that God can dialogue with satan!Military is the first and second last option.

    This issue as advanced by Onyango Obbo can indeed forge a way forward for integration of African states. Integrating either through the block system or through the “an all get together at once”, the Museveni’s-Gadafi’s approach respectively.

    While I foresee that it will take more than a generation to make EAC to politically integrate, its militaries and entreprenuers will have been integrated. EAC’s armies can now be said to be highly professional, Ideologically conscious and also know the social, political and economic needs of the people.

    Finally, I do think that policies of immigration is going to change with time. New alliances will be forged and added.
    The armies fighting abroad is good for capacity enhancement. This prepares our military for real and apparent domestic needs. Whereas East Africa cannot expand its boarders it should have straregic mechanisms of expanding her strategic selfish infuence beyond her frontiers. Our armies are better positioned to do that.

    Mr. Amon, I think there is already real politik at play in East Africa. In any case there has never been absolute real democracy without guidance. Read Scottland quests for independence.

    The Commentator is a Pan African

    • Salim, I agree with you that internal sabotage within Nigerian Army is a another predictable reason for the failure of Nigerian Army to fight against Bokoharam militancy. But another thing which is realistic is dialogue since the Ideology of Bokoharam towards Western Education is contrary with that of Islam and its debatable and its better to involve Muslim Scholars to challenge Bokoharam leaders on their ideology, this can prevent manipulation of youth who think that they on the right way on their critics and assumptions in Western Education.

  2. I agree with Charles assertions in his first column on West Africa. Though, I do not follow on a day to day basis the happenings in West Africa. I am very much aware that the army in some parts of West Africa did play a crucial role in politics through intervention. As such, the civilian administration in place today may be stifling the resources which ought to go to the armed forces.

    In his second column I partly disagree with his opinion. Political federation is not the call or prerogative of the armed forces to decide on. Although, I am well aware the regional forces have been doing much more than highlighted in the article such as the EAC games – http://nairobinow.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/eac-military-games-cultural-week-aug-5-17-2013-various-venues-in-nairobi/

    What indeed differentiates the regional armies is their professionalism, part of which is ingrained by the civilian administrators and their exposure internationally either through peace keeping or opportunities that they have in US military schools. However, as much as Obbo heaps praise on the regional armies. I am yet to see their fruits in securing Somalia

    In his final piece – it is not time to be a rebel or backer for that matter in East Africa. I agree with him on that front but I do think thinks might change pretty soon for rebels if we are to go by the current situations i.e. EU, US Vs Russia. Perhaps, on this front rebels might get some backing from Moscow to fight proxy wars.

    Those are my submissions on the above matter.

  3. I do agree with Onyango Obbop’s assertion that the relationship with state and that of the army are changing on the ongoing security matters, may I point Ugandan Security Officers who were accused of providing logistic support to the Al-Shaabaab Activists in Somalia. I want to suggest that the ongoing war on terrorism has opened a new door for the security officials to benefit from funds allocated by their government to fight against the so called terrorist groups. Another vivid example is form Kenya authority the Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATPU) seems to fall on Onyango’s arguments on the changing relationship between the actors who are responsible fighting the rsing terrorist gorups. The ATPU first are accused of targeting some ethnic gorups like that of Somalis in Nairobi and hence provoking further security dilemma in the region. This consequently will change the game and turn it upside down where some local peoples will react against their government instead of joining their efforts with their government to revamp the situation.

    In case of Bokoharam fighters in Nigeria its still leave some questions in vacuum of whether the Nigerian government are seriously addressing the issues or rather they are playing dangerous politics on Bokoharama Saga. The issue of girls kidnapping is still a drama to the ordinary people and some analysts of how could a gang of Boko haram kidnapping many girls while the security forces is fully of potentials?

    If our government are serious in their course of fighting with extremists and terrorist groups the actions should merely left from security forces but the local people should be involved.

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