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A War against Alshahab Militants will not make Ugandans safer

By Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

Dear people,
I'm not in agreement with those who are supporting the government's position to wage a full scale war on Alshabab Militants because history has shown that the war on terror, if it is the one we intend to fight, is not won that way. The attack on Al-shabab Militants is a very small, almost incidental part of the War on Terror, certainly not the heart of the matter.

Therefore, I disagree with president Museveni's war drums since I believe he is not focusing on the problem of terrorism as in terrorism. It seems he has an agenda that has not been presented to the citizens succinctly. I suspect one of the reasons why the government is war mongering is to get people to think of war instead of domestic issues. Most leaders do so to deflect attention from their inadequacies and I simply think that president Museveni is petty.At this time, I really don't understand our need to go to war with Alshabab despite the recent bombs in Kampala, because we simply don't have resources to fight such wars. Perhaps some Ugandans are content with his reasons but I'm not impressed with what he has put on the table.

President Museveni should not fall into the traps of the former US president, George Bush, who after Sep 11th attacks on New York, kept telling Americans and the world that the war on terror will be worn, but later to backtrack on this statement some years later, in an interview broadcast by the 'Today' show, where he told host Matt Lauer that he doesn't think his 'War on Terror' is winnable. "I don't think you can win it," said Bush. "But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world."

Of course some of us had already seen it that a war against terror cannot be won by bombing and waging several wars. Terrorism is a weapon. How do you wage war against a weapon?

It's also so unfair and wrong when some people generalise that all Muslims are terrorists because they are quite wrong. While there are some scriptures in the Koran which encourages violence ,it is quite pale compared to the bible and that's a fact. Secondly, some of these verses were revealed to the prophet depending on the circumstances at the time but some writers manipulate them to fit in today's surroundings.

I know the Koran has a lot to do with the Old Testament and some Christianity because whatever is in it does not really conflict so much with the original books of earlier prophets. But many historians are frustrated the earliest texts are locked away and have been allowed to rot rather than be examined and copied. Few early copies of Koran have been examined and most findings never publish widely. Much of history is threatened or political correctness forces it off shelves.

There are over a billion Muslims in the world and about 9 millions in Uganda. If they all supported Kampala's 711th bombings ,we would already have a hell of a problem on our hands. It is therefore wrong to call Somali alshab militants ''Muslim combatants'' and ''Jihadists'' instead of simply "the terrorists" and the "evil doers”. It is simply an insult to the rest of the peaceful Muslims in Uganda or the rest of the world.

Terrorism is simply a tactic of war and in the past has been used even by the Western democracies, e.g. the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fire bombings of Hamburg and Dresden Germany. So it is simply wrong to call the warriors of al Qaeda, Hezbelloh, Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, etc, ''Muslim'' terrorists.So I have a better idea: Hold individuals accountable for their acts, don't collectivize and group based on alleged beliefs, and have a counter-terrorism policy that does not play into the hands of extremists who say we are true to our evil core of conquest and killing for the sake of wealth and power.

I must also point out that Islam has no central religious authority like the Vatican in Catholicism. So there is conflict over interpretation of some verses and sayings of the prophet, as some claim Koran calls for slavery to god, others say servant, some obedience, some say it is presented in strict format. So we have Sunni and Shi'te and other splinters all over the place though personally, im just a Muslim without any alliance to any sect.

Some people say that Islam was forcibly exported to other regions but this was also the case for christianity in parts such as Spain and America. Spanish colonialists forcibly exported Christianity and they were after gold, not souls, while the people that conquered what is now Saudi Arabia were unambiguously after souls.I don't have enough information to measure Saudi religious oppression against, say, that of Spain on its own territory , but there were certainly periods of forcible Christian expansion.

Old pagan religions, Mithraism, Gnosticism, Arianism, and non-Christian Judaism all just didn't disappear out of Europe because the Catholics employed sweet reason on infidels and heretics. Christianity also came to Europe wading in blood.Besides the Spaniards in the new world, most of European colonialism had a religious component. Europe conquered the world and religion was a part of that.

IPC and terrorism
Now that we already know NRM position on fighting terrorism, we would like to know FDC's stand on this since we have been reading conflicting reports from the party officials ever since the bombings on 11th July. Is it really asking so much for the second largest political party in Uganda to put forth some official statement of position on terrorism and how to deal with it? It shouldn't have to be an election trick.IPC should also have an official position on this instead of newspapers quoting Besigye and Lukyamuzi as having different views on the issue.

I think the perception among some Ugandans is that the FDC and the rest of the opposition would simply shut down the war on terror and commit to a policy of appeasement and apologism. So I call upon the opposition to break that perception and show us that there's other people besides president Museveni committed to addressing the problem of terrorism in Uganda and Africa in general.

Solution to terrorism
I consider terrorists to be like criminals as like any other. As such, the way to get rid of (we'll never get rid of evil) is to simply limit them through detective work. We can use the military for crushing pesky folks, but the way to limit these folks is through detective work, infiltration, Intel, seizure of money, but military muscle should be a last resort.

One defeats terrorism by undermining the conditions which breed terrorists. Economic inequality, crushing poverty, shattered educational infrastructures, rampant violence and a total lack of hope are the soil in which suicide bombers germinate. Until one get rid of those, there will always be terrorism. Period. Somalia is fertile with such conditions such that a simple act of war will never make Ugandans safer in any way.We should do more assessment before we think of a war with Alshahab militants because i believe it may breed more problems for our people.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba