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19 Oct, 2011 10:40

Strings attached: US in Uganda

The US denies an interest in Uganda’s oil, but there are many other reasons for its presence in the region. None of them altruistic, claims war correspondent Eric Margolis.

American “aid” to Uganda is being offered without any third-party help, which is a sure sign that the effort is for its own sake, rather than humanitarian reasons.The White House is deploying a hundred troops in the African country with the official aim of helping the authorities in a fight against a guerilla group that has been dragging on for two decades.But award-winning war correspondent Eric Margolis told RT that if Washington had humanitarian interests in mind it would not be going in alone.Various interests of the US are to be found in Central Africa, states Margolis. Firstly, it is the growing conflict in Somalia, with which the US is a close ally, the correspondent suggested. It may be also Kenya, another beneficiary of US military financing. Ethiopia is an ally as well. The American presence in Africa also includes its base in the tiny East African nation of Djibouti, but most troops there are not on combat missions.But an internal African problem may not be the sole attraction for the newly expanded US contingent in the region. It may be also linked to some kind of geopolitical game, Margolis continued. “The US is also concerned about Chinese penetration in the region that they are going to gobble all the economical resources and earn influence on the regional governments. So the US maybe want to stop this Chinese advancement in central Africa,” he said. Also the US defense secretary has claimed he is worried about the links between Uganda’s Lord Resistance Army and Al-Qaeda. LRA is a guerrilla group accused of widespread atrocities across several countries, which began its attacks in Uganda more than 20 years ago. In 2003, the LRA had 3,000 armed troops and 2,000 people in support roles.Many also think this is not the right time to get involved in a new foreign military expedition of a really marginal interest, because of the deep financial troubles in which the US now finds itself. However, the fact that economic turmoil does not stop the Pentagon from a new operation can only mean it is highly interested in this new game.One way or another, the US is going to aid the African country all alone, while it could be much more legitimate for them to find a third-party, uninterested ally, the correspondent suggested. “It could be more legitimate, if the US did it in conjunction with disinterested nations – Russia, for example, or South Africa and Turkey. But the fact that they’re doing it on their own means they are doing it for the interests of their own policy,” Margolis said. The first American troops already arrived in Uganda last week and will soon deploy elsewhere throughout the region once other nations in the area approve the action. Meanwhile, US military operations continue in Central Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere.In June, the Pentagon moved to send nearly $45 million in military equipment to Uganda and Burundi, another country contributing in Somalia. The aid included four small drones, body armor and night-vision and communications gear, and is being used in the fight against al-Shabab.