What We Know:
Uganda launched operations in the Congo to fight Islamic State-aligned rebels called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). President Yoweri Museveni announced that the attacks had been successful and had killed 567 fighters and retrieved multiple pieces of equipment, including submachine guns and RPGs. Museveni claims the group is growing desperate, and the only option left to them is surrender.
Museveni urged his citizens to be vigilant, as the rebels have been known to attack schools and markets to kidnap and kill people in the vicinity. Shopkeepers have been instructed to register all their customers to prevent potential rebels from using the facilities and putting people at risk.
Ugandan Police have also had to work to protect the citizens from attacks, retrieving six improvised explosive devices, including one outside of a church the attacker was about to enter.
Why it Matters:
The rebels had found success in earlier devastating attacks in 2021. One targeted a police station in the capital, and another near the parliament building left seven dead. Earlier this year, the rebels attacked a school, killing 42 people in one of the worst terror attacks of the year.
The instability of the region began when Museveni took the presidency in 1986. The ADF has been one of the longtime enemies of Museveni and the Ugandan government. Many of the other insurgent groups were defeated through military action or peace talks that invited them into the government.
The attacks in 2021 were part of a long series of guerilla movements put on by the ADF in order to destabilize the Ugandan government. The attacks can be improvised explosives or assassinations of important government officials.
The ADF has bases all throughout the Congo and has been thriving in that region due to cultural and language similarities. The Ugandan government has partnered with many groups, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and UN peacekeepers, to try and prevent the ADF from gaining large footholds that pose a significant threat. Some believe that even with the continued attacks on ADF territory, they still pose the biggest threat to the government.
There are many arguments as to what should be done to dismantle the ADF. Some say it will take the Congolese government to go in and find their sources of income; others say continued military action will eventually wipe them out. The concern of many is the growing link between the Islamic State (IS). The ADF and IS share equipment, training resources, and attack strategies.
The likelihood of completely wiping out the ADF with major military action alone is slim. They have embedded themselves in a society of like-minded people who are likely helping them and providing them with the financial assistance needed to wage a long-term war against an established government.