How Uganda Outsmarts the United States in South Sudan

Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni. Photo: Findlay Kember/AFP

By Duop Chak Wuol

December 30, 2016 (SSNA) — Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is the epitome of a Pan-Africanist who can praise any world leader who likes his leadership and is known for threatening Western leaders whenever his strong-man mentality comes under attack. In this article, I argue that Uganda has outsmarted the United States in South Sudan’s civil war in favor of Salva Kiir, leading the international community and the U.S. government in particular, to believe that South Sudan’s armed conflict only needs an African solution. It was shameful mistake, but a big win for Museveni.

Less than a day after the war broke out in mid-December 2013, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardiit, who ignored early warnings that the young nation could crumble unless its leaders give up their political differences, announced on government-run SSTV that his then Vice President Dr. Riek Machar attempted to overthrow his government. Machar denies the allegation. The U.S. and other countries later determined there was no coup as Kiir claimed. The people of South Sudan were also aware that Kiir planned and self-managed the coup claim in an attempt to get rid of his political rivals.

On the 30th of December 2013, Museveni unsurprisingly presented South Sudanese rebel leader Machar with two options: accept peace or defeat. On that day, the Ugandan leader assertively claimed that the whole East African region was ready to confront Machar militarily if he refused to accept peace. Museveni, who already had troops in South Sudan before war broke out, convinced the United States that it was sending Ugandan soldiers to protect South Sudan’s vital infrastructures. However, when Machar questioned his decision, Museveni changed his initial position and said he was sending troops to rescue Ugandans trapped in South Sudan. Museveni allegedly asked the U.S. government to fund his mission. However, Washington scrapped Museveni’s financial request because his military mission in South Sudan was deemed questionable.

It is also worth mentioning that Museveni’s unwavering involvement in South Sudan’s internal affairs was motivated by economic opportunities in South Sudan.

In one of his 2012 letters I obtained, Kiir talked about how his plan to purge his “visionless adversaries” will succeed. In the message, the South Sudanese leader repeatedly praised the Ugandan leader for giving him what he described as “the most life-changing piece of advice” no one had ever given him. Kiir went further, describing Museveni as “the only African stateman who truly understands how Western countries operate.”

If the United States is not hiding something, then it is reasonable to say that the U.S. was and is still confused regarding what to do about South Sudan’s crisis. For instance, weeks after the war broke out, the U.S. settle on a strong-language strategy by adopting threatening language in its policy without taking any real action. What is even more surprising is that Washington embraced the Kampala argument. Months later, U.S. officials followed Museveni’s footsteps, with its former ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice asserting that imposition of arms embargo on South Sudan would undermine a democratically elected government. She added that Kiir’s government would not be able to defend itself against Machar forces. Rice also claimed that banning weapons and ammunition sales to the South Sudanese government would not solve anything because she believed Kiir’s ally, Museveni, would not enforce it.

It was clear Rice’s statements were based on Museveni’s thinking rather than empirical evidence. Since such unsubstantiated assertions made by a senior U.S. government official could not be justified, it left many people questioning the official position of the United States in the South Sudan crisis.

It is a known fact that Museveni repeatedly claims that if the UN Security Council imposes an arms embargo on South Sudan, it will create a “vacuum and plunge” the young nation into “more chaos.” It is no secret that Yoweri Museveni is a known long-time ally of the West. After the fighting erupted in South Sudan, the West was placed in an uncomfortable situation. The Ugandan leader ceased the opportunity by threatening to abandon the West and work with Russia or China instead. The U.S. has no choice but to allow Uganda to meddle in South Sudanese internal affairs without taking any action. It is unclear whether Washington really believed Kampala was in fact working for peace in South Sudan.

In April 2016, Former South Sudanese Vice-President and rebel leader Machar was forced by IGAD-Plus to go to Juba to implement the poorly-designed deal; in July, he was almost kill by Kiir. After he survived the second assassination attempt, the same leaders who imposed the August 2015 power-sharing agreement didn’t condemn Kiir for trying to kill his arch political rival even though they were the ones who forced Machar to go to Juba. The reaction of the IGAD-Plus leaders was surprisingly mute and Kiir was pleased, whereas Machar was furious.

Kiir later replaced Machar with Taban Deng Gai, who the SPLM/A-IO accused of allegedly colluding with Juba against the rebel chief. This was the beginning of how the armed opposition (SPLM/A-IO) and its supporters began to suspect the existence of either an external plot to eliminate Machar or the peace was probably not meant to end the civil war.

It is clear the August 2015 peace deal was ill-planned. In November 2015, I warned that the IGAD-Plus’s compromise peace agreement is pregnant with a noisy baby.

The U.S. has recently launched a relentless diplomatic campaign at the UN, advocating for imposition of an arms embargo on South Sudan and targeted sanctions. But Washington finds it difficult to advance its resolution after ignoring the same proposal for more than two years. The countries that now oppose the imposition of an arms embargo are Russia, China, Egypt, Angola, Japan, Malaysia, Senegal, and Venezuela. I believe at least two of these nations would have backed the arms embargo proposal and other targeted sanctions if they were introduced in 2014 or early 2015.

On December 16, more than a month before his presidency comes to an end, U.S. President Barack Obama publicly admitted in a news conference that he feels responsible for killings in South Sudan.

The suffering people of South Sudan are not interested in the continuation of war and they are certainly not interested in countries that are more interested in doing business with Kiir’s government than bringing the conflict to an end. What they are now interested in is real peace, not games being played by world superpowers at the UN to score needless political points.

One of Museveni’s reasons for supporting Salva Kiir is that he wants South Sudan to be part of the Great Lakes Club where he runs all shows freely. He is determined to keep Kiir in power unless other East African leaders oppose his pro-Kiir stance. If the United States and other world leaders really want to end the civil war, they can do it by forcing Kampala out of South Sudan. I believe if the international community completely forced Uganda out of South Sudan today, peace would be achieved tomorrow.

I must admit that finding a peaceful solution to the ongoing civil war under President Kiir and First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai is not feasible, let alone the full implementation of the now defunct IGAD-Plus imposed power-sharing deal. For those who believe that the current First Vice President and President will magically end the conflict, the question then becomes the following: is peace attainable in South Sudan under Kiir-Taban’s leadership? If so, how? The fact is that Mr. Gai has weak support, and Kiir is merely using him to further advance his Museveni-like leadership style.

Museveni’s firm commitment to protect the South Sudanese leader was a success. It shows that the Ugandan President planned his strategy well on how he would deal with any world leader who dared to question the legitimacy of Kiir’s leadership months before the civil war began. He effectively used his diplomatic and military ties with the West against Western leaders; it was a stunning move. This was how Museveni orchestrated his plot to keep Kiir in power, knowing his threat to cut ties with the West and work with China or Russia as well as pulling his troops out of peacekeeping missions in Africa would frighten Washington more than South Sudan’s civil war. Museveni’s maneuvering worked, and he clearly outsmarted Obama. It was a decisive victory — an African one, and whether this victory is permanent or not remains to be seen.

Duop Chak Wuol is the editor-in-chief of the South Sudan News Agency. He can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are his and should not be attributed to the South Sudan News Agency.

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35 Comments. Leave new

  • Do not blame other people. Riak squandered all the opportunities given to him. He was interested in power. Secondly, your movement is againist Isreal and your connectivity to Khartoum is another concern. Riack project with Omar el Bashir since 1991 till today is another major concern. Peace is possible if Riack is ready for political dialog there will be peace and you should not play countries blame yourselve for alway beleiving in being worriors or good fighters.

    • Museveni may be clever together with gen kiir but the fact he is a shifty polician and he is more smart and intellectually better then kiir ,museveni realised he can not defeat mechar so he seeked exit strategy ,museveni has too many enemies and strong ones ,kirr lack of formal educations keep showing its self up

      • “Museveni realised he can not defeat Machar” in what way dear?

        • On the 30th of December 2013, Museveni unsurprisingly presented South Sudanese rebel leader Machar with two options: accept peace or defeat. Has Museveni defeated Macher since 2013 until today?, he sent UPDF to Greater Upper Nile , Greater Equatoria regions but failed totally, he run to Sudan which he has not visit for almost 24 years just because to negotiate with Macher through Omer Bashir, he went to to South Africa to asking the Africans leaders to ban Mcaher, has he succeed?

        • There is many way that can convince all peace makers and those guys in front line they faced many consiciquinse from nuer fighter

  • Turyasiima Elias
    December 30, 2016 3:52 am

    That’s a very well articulated information, because I had realised Salva Kir did not command any support even from the Garang family like Riek Machar, later after the war broke out, I saw Museveni struggling to Mendel between Kir and Garang family where he invited the Garang widow for talks, All that was said and done Museveni takes full responsibility for fueling conflict in that Young Sudan , If Machar had taken over or free and fair elections taken place, then there would be peace in South Sudan. to me Museveni is a loser and will forever remain a loser as long as he fronts personal interests, not even interests of Uganda or South Sudan

    December 30, 2016 5:06 am

    Those who think the war is about Dr. Riak and his love for position are decieving themselves. The war is now spreaded the Whole country and even Dr Machar is not long near South Sudan. Any reasonable person can understand that there is problem With the South Sudan system and must be right. Right now it is not longer those in the IO suffering alone. The suffering has affected the IG so much and the pain caused by the collapse of its economy is so much felt in Kampala. If we still think that there are leaders here who play smart politics, then one can simply say such leaders have shot themselves in the foot. Let us have a watch.

  • The caused of unrest choas in South Sudan is all about Riek Machar’s decisions of trying to take power by force rather than elections even during war time with Arabs.

  • Pandekbai Biar
    December 30, 2016 5:52 am

    These messages is to all southern Sudan where they are let we ask ourselves how many years we have to fighting we say was northern Sudan but it’s us now

  • It is difficult to find solutions to South Sudan problems because majority of us believe in military means. Both Riek’s and Your are not helping South Sudanese to find workable solution to the civil war. Riek’s quest for power without proper plans has put the country in a total mess. At the time Kiir and his cronies are not contributing to the stability of the country. We the followers and the innocent people will bear the consequences of our leaders’ bad judgment and power greed

  • It is difficult to find solutions to South Sudan problems because majority of us believe in military means. Both Riek’s and are not helping South Sudanese to find workable solution to the civil war. Riek’s quest for power without proper plans has put the country in a total mess. At the same time Kiir and his cronies are not contributing to the stability of the country. We the followers and the innocent people will bear the consequences of our leaders’ bad judgment and power greed.

    • @Allison, you’re absolutely correct. Had Dr. Riek Machar maintained patience, a patience man like Nhial Deng Nhial in 1991 and again in 2013, thousands upon thousands lost in vain due to his quest for power would have been here.
      Yes no one says Dr.Garang and Gen. Kiir are angels and free from failures. But a true leader can’t afford constant recklessness after another and not see his overbalanced consequences for wanting power or attempting to correct minor and nonpriority issues. If they can’t join voice of peace and an end to this unnecessary war, Riek and supporters will continue to have lion share of sufferings till time they come to senses that they’ll never win this war militarily.

  • Alex, as well remind them to refund to Uganda all they received from Uganda on account operation zero, from the days Col. Garanga RIP. True they are creepers and suffer from a miasma of loud mouth in a false cult following of assumed military skills.

  • God will bring peace

  • What African solution are you talking about? Both Museveni and Kiir are thugs. South Sudanese continue to suffer because of the deep-seated tribal differences. South Sudanese need to solve their differences and not depend on Museveni whose economic and political interests are more paramount than genuine peace restoration.

    • Vincent, mind your language, leaders are not called such obnoxious names as thugs, President Museveni is NOT a thug. Articulate your mishaps with dignity, all problems in SS need collective efforts of all stakeholders, and pse courtesy is not contract, there many SS people being hosted in Uganda and even own property in Kampala, but that’s the reception YK has extended to SS in good spirit. Never mistake his civility for a weakness and tread carefully on that lonely path, lastly do pray to GOD to salvage the suffering of people of SS as we move to new and hopefully fruitful New 2017.

  • Those who feel like will change elected government of South Sudan by force are dreaming. However rebels with weapons deserve punishment or else they laid down their men who supply weapons behind closed door are the closer. If American want to work with south Sudan, then they should come through right way ,supporting rebels will not be get way to oil field as Machar had signed with them.

  • Andabati Ahmed Titus
    December 30, 2016 1:35 pm

    Kiir is the cause of the war in south Sudan,I know it’s hard for some of you to know and understand but contact me for accurate informations about this south Sudan war even before The 2013 coup allegations. 64 children of one father have one elder(first born) but this elder has forgotten their father had produced 64 children,what do you think is likely to happen?1/64 family war. then some one who intervene must first know the reason for the war and have good ways of ending it NOT like the current African ways,where by those in power go ahead supporting their fellow men in power who even the causers of instability.LET me a sure you commenters that Dr riek Machar had no plan of forming something called IO but he was forced after all allegations and the coup allegations was on July but the war started in Dec.take a proper look at such situations then will really know a true story not Rumours

  • America will always consider their strategic interest in a Nation or region, what is America’s strategic interest in South Sudan?. In East Africa or Uganda is to fight terrorism. Countries like Norway that were instrumental in bring peace and the eventual CPA in South Sudan can still deliver peace. But this can not happen when their workers are being arrested. I guess Kiir’s gov’t is paying heavily for the protection served by Ugandan troops, it’s part of corruption that has engulfed African states. It’s a good piece

  • South sudan Will have peaceful environment if we ( southerners ) learn who to gets along with one another .

  • Mr. Riek Machar supporters, just cut the craps and move one brothers. Riek Machar inflated ego and endless ambition of wanting to rule the South Sudanese people at all costs through violence has gone too far. Riek Machar is a menace to Nuers, South Sudanese and the humanity as a whole.

    The idea that there was no coup attempted on the night of the 16/12/2013 is very laughable indeed. The US, the UK and the UN that helped nudged Riek Machar to attempt the coup, were the first ones to stick their necks out on the following day, the 16/12/2013. That there was no coup attempted as if they were in the two army barracks that the coup took in place in on the night of the 16/12/2013.

    There are many electronic records about all these and they will be unveiled out later after the whole mess die down.

    To give you fellows an hint, Why did Riek Machar, Taban Deng Gai, Riek Machar wife and several other Riek Machar’s entourage sneak out Juba immediately after the shoot out at the two army barracks? Again, if Riek Machar and his team feared for his life that he might be harmed and was not behind the coup. Then why didn’t he go to an embassy in Juba and called for calm the following morning, the 16/12/2013?

    The whole game would have ended up in the two army barracks and the blame game would have squarely been found in the two army barracks. But it was not the case. Riek Machar and his team were deep in the necks in the failed coup.

    For your record fellows, if Riek Machar and his Nuers entourage were to be targeted by Salva Kiir, a Dinka/Jieng and they have right to get out of the harms way on the night of the 15/12/2013. Then where did Alfred Lado Gore, an Equatorian who had no Dinkas/Jiengs enemies sneak out with Riek Machar and his Nuers entourage on the night of the 15/12/2013?

    And Again, why did Riek Machar owned up the armed rebellion and called for the resignation of Salva Kiir if he was not the one behind the failed coup attempt? Still, Riek Machar backers used to say that their Nuer people were killed in Juba by Salva body guards and that Salva Kiir body guards hailed from Warrap and Northern Bhar El Gazelles. The why did Riek Machar and his backers came and started their revenge killing in Bor, Akoba, Baliet, Malakal, Anasir and Bentiu and not in Warrap or Northern Bhar El Gazelles?

    Fellows, think about it. We know you fellows than you fellows think you know us. In fact, Salva Kiir is a man of peace. But you fellows have been trying to play games without first look and find out the real truth from Your Riek Machar, Taban Deng Gai, Alfred Lado Gore and others the real truth.

    As for Ugandan troops present in South Sudan and their involvement in war after the failed coup attempt, Ugandans troops were brought to South Sudan immediately after the 2005 CPA including the US special forces on the idea that were to hunt for LRA’s Joseph Konyi. There were base in Western Equatoria. I will not go into deep detail about the hunt for the LRA and the US special forces and why they didn’t get Joseph Konyi when he is just next door in our occupied Kaffa Kingi by the North Sudan?

    The involvement of Ugandan troops to help Salva Kiir after the failed coup attempt, was because the majority of the army were Nuers and almost all of them defected to and joined their leader.

    This was because of the imbalance that was done after the 2005 CPA, in which many Nuer militias who were welcomed back in 2006 and absorbed into the main SPLA. And many of the SPLA soldiers who were fighting the real enemy in many far-flung areas of South Sudan including Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile. And didn’t have time to set up their families, left the SPLA and the Nuer militias became the majority in the army by default. And Riek Machar took advantage of that imbalance.

    Besides, Riek Macahar himself was the one who signed a military co-operation between Uganda and democratic republic of Congo (DRC) and Salva Kiir has a right to call in an ally if has trouble.

    Can you fellows see why our North Sudan went fight in Yemen on behave of Saudi Arabia and other gulf Arabs states? Why the US and NATO often invade other countries whim together? And just recently, why Russia, Iran, Lebanon and of late Turkey fought the terrorists out Aleppo? Just here in our own Africa, why Nigeria, Chad and Niger ganged up together against Boko Haram terrorists?

    Fellows, Your US, the UK, their UN, their sleazy NGOs and some of their criminals in between were for the regime change. They are still looking for it. But their Riek Machar is unpalatable good.

    You fellows have seen how the US, the UK, their UN, their sleazy NGOs and some of their criminals in between often invoke their UNSC, humanitarian aid, peacekeeping, armS embargo, sanctions and all? It is partly to help you fellows and to save face.

    Fellows, don’t be petulant brats who have never been given their Christmas presents inform of Riek Machar in power in our country. Just work with Mr.Taban Deng Gai and Salva Kiir and make peace and reconcile ourselves for the good of our country and our people.

    Salva Kiir, Riek Machar and everyone is not above South Sudan and the South Sudanese people. We will all go, but our South Sudan will remain. Happy New year and peaceful 2017 for our country and our people.

  • Ocaya Peter Odoch
    December 30, 2016 9:57 pm

    Let me repeat these MAGIC words of former US President,ask yourself what have i done for south sudan but not what has south sudan done for me.its a shame to hear abuses about south sudanese around the globe.God bless us.

  • South Sudanese shud protest and overthrow the current gov’t and request fo r temporary UN takeover or Kiir gov’t shud hve a reconciliation to Riak and his people and also Riak do the same and then all rebels shud United with SpLa and then more military training to the SPLA including education,basic skills so that it is a qualified army and shud be built barracks in the outskirts and then nation building starts no more fire arms and more strict measures into gaining entry into southsudan and then unity,electricity,water be put in place and then the country moves smoothly simple if am given de chance to become president I can do better than these ignorant leaders they lack brains qualification shud be priority in south Sudan for development:::

  • Museveni is responsible for more than two millions death in Uganda , countless thousands in Congo, Rwanda and Central Africa Republic and now South Sudan . The man is a vicious killer and used by western power and Israel to destroy Africa wonder why he been in power for so long but here is a good news African Museveni will not succeed in South Sudan and sooner than later we will come for hiss sorry ass for death and destruction he brought to our country. Museveni and Uganda as people never won a single battle in its history of existence they only know how put their knes down and beg the European for their freedom and that’s how it won its independence and still to this day live on foreigner aids that is why the country is so infested with AIDS and all kind of sickness … Useless leader 30 years in power and still on foreigner aids with more than half of the population dying of AIDS fucking pathetic and we don’t need that useless mind in South Sudan and soon we get rid of this evil system of Dinka in South Sudan u can shove the rest straight up ur stinky AIDS infested sorry ass

  • Ghol chot the problem of South Sudan is not Dr. Riek machar but brainless and coward Dinka like ur self and ur misguided evil doctrine or ideology of born to rule . U can to tell ur friends in east Africa who are desperate for any money and will sell human life for a dime that u fighting a just war but u and the Nuer nation know what time it is … We will not rest till we liberate the entire South Sudan from mindless, evil cannibal and sell out coward Dinka . It’s a shame the same coward Dinka who sold South Sudan to European rules and than to Arab are now the same Dinka killing and destroying our beautiful country . U know what thou ghol the entire world witnessed how weak and coward Dinka really are — u only capable of killing innocent children and defenseless people in every inhuman ways but can’t kill a real man in front in a battlefield cause u run away like a lost dog that u really are and remember ur East African friends got the taste of real warriors, the mighty White Army… The greatest of the greatest and the braves of all braves in the history of mankind and no one want to see and face them any longer that’s why u only resort to killing defenseless people and this is all said and done the The Great and Mighty Nuer warriors will have the last laugh

  • i see this.

  • I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!

  • Tut, you’ve to understand history first and you comment. Such statements are the one of coward and un braveness.
    Who were given money to disstabilize the revolution of Mahdi against the colonizers and ‎‏ ‏also the militias paid by Arabs to disstablize the Anya nya 1 and SPLA/M struggles.

  • Comment deluded! have u lacked respect for ur leaders n saviours who
    fought m brought peace to south Sudan? they say u dont bite
    the hand that feed u…dinkas r people of people also don’t
    tolerate stupidity..when we talk of ss we’re talking about
    dinka coz it’s the image.we deserve to rule ss coz it’s our
    beautiful land for dinkas not for nuer…note nuer will neva rule ss

  • Tikmasturtion
    March 2, 2017 3:42 pm

    I am so grateful for your article post.Much thanks again. Want more.

  • Dinka only make messages that basically dinka interest. I just read the name and I guest the language before I read it.

    Jon Garang claimed that Nuer are Mjaority in army, Salva Kiir claimed again in 2013; the question is why aren’t you guys be majority in army if you are majority in population?

    How would you claim that you have liberated South Sudan when you are not majority in army?

    This is the same things that how would you think Riek Machar cause 2013 war when war broke out in Kiir guards?

    The thing is, dinka never think humanist…
    I don’t know what created this monster being, being that have thought at all.

  • It’s was Uganda that murdered John Garang in a fore text that the Uganda will embsele the health of south Sudan for Uganda wellbeing .


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