President Obama, in a letter to Congress, has authorized the deployment of about 100 U.S. combat forces to central Africa to assist in the fight against the notoriously savage Lord’s Resistance Army.
The goal: to track down LRA’s leader, Joseph Kony.
Here’s some things to know about Kony and the group:
Kony proclaims himself the “spokesperson” of God.
The group claims to be Protestant, with influences of mysticism. Kony believes he is a medium of the Holy Spirit.
Kony is on the Specially Designated Global Terrorists list
The LRA, a sectarian religious and military group that has operated in northern Uganda and Southern Sudan since 1987. They have since spread their operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The U.S. Treasury has Kony on its list of “Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”
Kony’s aunt started the predecessor to the LRA
The Post’s William Branigin writes Kony “formed his Lord’s Resistance Army from the remnants of the Holy Spirit Movement, an armed group led by his aunt that fought the Ugandan government in the late 1980s.”
Responsible for mass human rights violations
Since its creation in 1987, the group has engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government and committed an extraordinary number of human rights violations. Most notably, his troops enter a village, killing the adults and kidnapping the children. The boys are enscripted into the army and the girls are taken as ‘bush wives.’
Obama notes in his letter that the LRA has “murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa” and “continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”
Why is the US going in there?
In May of 2010, Obama signed a bill committing the United States to help arrest Kony. Kenneth Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch wrote in October of 2010 that Obama needed to put in practice what the president said during his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech: “Force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans.”
What does the LRA want?
The LRA wants to establish a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and the tradition of the Acholi people, an ethnic group in northern Uganda.
What is the political situation in Uganda?
According to the C.I.A. Factbook, Uganda suffered grave atrocities under the dictatorial regime of Idi Amin in the 1970s, but since 1986 the country has seen relative stability and economic growth under Youweri Museveni.
Here’s a link to 344 cables released by WikiLeaks that mention the LGA. Many of the cables are updates on the LRA’s movements with questions about how to end his reign of violence.
This three-minute short film was produced by the group Invisible Children, a non-profit organization working to end Kony’s rule. (Warning there are graphic images in the movie.)