Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kony deja-vu?

It's been quiet on the Kony front, but not completely.

A couple of weeks ago, the Ugandan army revealed that it was investigating a couple of Belgian citizens who had been stopped in South Sudan for supposedly trying to re-arm and re-supply Kony.


Little is known about these Belgians, who they are, or what they were doing as part of a convoy of supplies traveling from Yambio, South Sudan, deep into the jungles where Kony is supposedly still licking his wounds.

When contacted, the Belgian embassy said that it didn't know anything about the arrest or that it has been splashed across the daily newspapers in Kampala.

A couple of days later, the military attache in the Belgian embassy admitted that the embassy was cooperating with the Ugandans.

Then, just a few days ago, the Ugandan government, on a Ugandan website called quoted a government official as saying that the Ugandan military suspected that Kony might launch an attack on northern Uganda.

Whether this is serious or nonsense is hard to determine. But the lack of news about Kony or his whereabouts makes one wonder. Kony's return to northern Uganda is very unlikely, however.

He has been severely hurt by the December-March military action against him in northeastern DR Congo. What made it possible for him to escape the assault on his camps last year was the remoteness of his location. Returning to northern Uganda would be like sticking his head in the jaws of the lion.

That being said, however, we can't forget that the Ugandan army could not kill or capture Kony who operated there from 1986 to 2006.

Those who follow the seemingly endless story of Joseph Kony should note a very detailed story in Newsweek magazine this week about Kony, titled "Hard Target: The Hunt for Africa's Last Warlord."


While the story is largely a "catch-up" on Kony since the magazine's last article about him a LONG time ago, it has a couple of interesting quotes from U.S. military advisers.

"We have some hints where he might be now, but nothing like we had before the strike," says a senior U.S. military-intelligence official who was intimately involved with the operation's planning and execution, but is not authorized to speak on the record about it. "Kony has virtually disappeared from the face of the earth."

While Kony has obviously not disappeared, many are wondering what is going on. I suspect Kony is wondering the same thing, because he has few options and is in desperate need of supplies and arms, which might explain the still mysterious attempt to re-supply him.

Then, later in the story, we read:

Kony has been lying low since then, but U.S. officials believe he's preparing his next move. Ugandan forces have mostly pulled back from their forward operating bases in Congo, leaving their pathetically underequipped, ill-trained Congolese colleagues to continue the hunt. "I'm sure Kony is seeing an opportunity to pull his operation back together," says one AfriCom official who can't speak on the record about the ongoing military situation.

If there is anything positive to be taken from these remarks, it is that finally, after 23 years, the world, and in particular the U.S. and its African Command (AfriCom) is finally watching Kony closely.

I apologize for the one-month absence from my blog, but I've been on the road now for more than three months promoting my book, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army.

On April 25, I participated in the Los Angeles event organized by the filmmakers of "Invisible Children," a documentary that exposed the horrible realities of Kony and his army of child soldiers for what is probably millions of young college students and what appears to be a new generation of social activists.

I addressed the event briefly, which was in conjunction with the release of a new documentary on Kony called "The Rescue," in which the film makers joined with several hundred people who went to the jungle last year to witness Kony signing a final peace deal that would have ended his war.

Rather than signing and releasing the hundreds of child soldiers he still has, Kony disappeared, and we all know about Kony's bloody rampage against some 1,000 Congolese after he was attacked last December 14.

Earlier this month, I was in Cape Town, South Africa, for a conference on international justice and the rule of law sponsored by the American Bar Association.

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