By David Himbara
President Paul Kagame’s foreign policy is most unusual.
When the US and the UK led the downfall of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Kagame was the only African ruler who supported the overthrow. Kagame called Gaddafi “a monster.” Now, Kagame has made U-Turn on Syria’s dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad. This is shown by Kagame’s loudspeaker, the state newspaper, The New Times, which, on April 15, 2018, had an aggressive editorial about Syria.
The editorial categorically denounced the US, UK, and France for bombing Syria’s chemical facilities. The editorial decried the fact that while Rwanda was wrapping its memorial of the 1994 genocide, the US, Britain, and France were unleashing “a rain of missiles over Syria.” The editorial rejects the selective use of force “by the self-imposed world policemen.” Finally, the editorial proclaims that Rwanda cannot keep silent “in the face of persecution, wherever it may be” including Syria.
The editorial in Kagame’s New Times is reproduced here:
“As Rwandans were wrapping up the official mourning period for victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the US, Britain and France were about to unleash a rain of missiles over Syria…
It is not the first time that “weapons of mass destruction” have been the catalyst of merciless bombardment under the pretext of defending civilians; the disastrous aftermath is well too familiar in Iraq.
It is not the morale authority to punish someone exterminating a portion of their population that is questionable, it is the selective use of force by the self-imposed world policemen. Why isn’t the same force being used against Boku Haram, Al Shabab or some other “despot” other than the oil-rich Middle East?
Why was not even a fraction of that force used to avert or put an end to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi if saving innocent lives is what fuels the missile attacks?
The selective punishment should be our constant reminder, that as long as we have nothing of value to those who pull the missile trigger, we will always have to depend on ourselves, the same way RPF did in 1994.
Responsibility for our security begins and ends with us, and as we continue to mourn our own in silence, the same silence should not be part of our culture in the face of persecution, wherever it may be. And nothing can be more appropriate than the famous quote by Martin Niemöller can:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.
What are we to make of Kagame’s denunciation of the Americans and the British?
The US and the UK are the top two financiers of the Kagame’s regime. Besides their combined aid that runs into US$300 million annually, the US and Britain are leading funders of the World Bank that provides Rwanda with a significant amount of development aid. Perhaps, being the chairman of the African Union has gone to Kagame’s head. This “power” has given Rwanda’s strongman a measure of confidence to denounce the US and the UK over Syria. This twist brings in another confusion. Lately, Kagame became a friend of Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How will this work out with Kagame’s pro-Assad stance?