We need regional action on Somalia

LITTLE did I know that as Andres Iniesta was scoring his winning goal in what had been an average game of football, the world of Ugandans was being shattered in an unimaginable way. 74 Ugandans are confirmed dead and more are expected to perish, the victims were the young, the vibrant, the future and few even knew who Al-Shabab were.

LITTLE did I know that as Andres Iniesta was scoring his winning goal in what had been an average game of football, the world of Ugandans was being shattered in an unimaginable way.

74 Ugandans are confirmed dead and more are expected to perish, the victims were the young, the vibrant, the future and few even knew who Al-Shabab were.

Looking at some of the names of the victims they are Rwandan- this is inevitable given the large Rwandan population in Uganda. So this is something that affects us deeply.  

Our president Paul Kagame has long called for regional intervention in Somalia but the fact that we are heavily committed in Darfur means we cannot overstretch. It was left to Uganda and Burundi to intervene, despite frequent promises from other regional countries there has been little support offered in terms of troops.

This attack now highlights the need for regional intervention. We have waited for the UN and the AU to handle this but now we see the effects of delay.  

When Afghanistan was invaded by NATO forces, Al-Qaeda sought a new haven, another failed state where they could use to incubate their virulent strain of Islamic extremism.

We Africans have long seen the war on terror as something distant, something to do with Europeans but now we see it is about us as well. The terrorists hate our way of life, not our skin-tone or our nationality, and they are willing to kill anyone who disagrees with them.

It doesn’t matter if you are Muslim or Buddhist or Christian, as long as you do not subscribe to their precise interpretation of Islam, then you are a target.     

When Somalia imploded into clan warfare in the post-Siad Barre era, we sat back and did nothing. The Americans intervened briefly and suffered heavy losses, the main reason USA refused to intervene in the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 is because they feared “another Somalia.”

So we left it to fester, we welcomed refugees from Somalia other than pacify their home state. Now Al-Shabab is exporting their brand of terror regionally. If the West can give East Africa the money and the means, we will gladly pursue these thugs, if only for our own safety. It is our problem now, we cannot deny it anymore.  

All our dreams for the East African community are pointless if we have a lawless state on our borders that can act as a haven for terrorists and pirates that hold our exports to ransom. We are creating an East African army.

Their first assignment should be to move into Somalia and help pacify that nation. It will probably mean more attacks but backing down will only embolden the terrorists. We in Rwanda commiserate with the victims of these attacks, and send our condolences to all those hurt in this attack.

This attack shows the deep links and social responsibility that we have as a region to act together when one nation is in need.  

ramaisibo@hotmail.com

Rama Isibo is a social commentator 

 

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