August 17, 2003, 2003
The Independent (UK)

How Israel Helped Amin to Take Power

by Richard Dowden

When Radio Uganda announced at dawn on 25 January 1971 that Idi Amin was Uganda's new ruler, many people suspected that Britain had a hand in the coup. However, Foreign Office papers released last year point to a different conspirator: Israel.

. . . But why was Israel so interested in a landlocked country in Central Africa? The reason is spelt out by Slater in a later telegram. Israel was backing rebellion in southern Sudan to punish Sudan for supporting the Arab cause in the Six-Day War. "They do not want the rebels to win. They want to keep them fighting."

The Israelis had helped train the new Uganda army in the 1960s. Shortly after independence Amin was sent to Israel on a training course. When he became chief of staff of the new army Amin also ran a sideline operation for the Israelis, supplying arms and ammunition to the rebels in southern Sudan. Amin had his own motive for helping them: many of his own people, the Kakwa, live in southern Sudan. Obote, however, wanted peace in southern Sudan. That worried the Israelis and they were even more worried when, in November 1970 Obote sacked Amin. Their stick for beating Sudan was suddenly taken away.


Richard Dowden, "The lapdog turned butcher who destroyed Uganda," Independent, August 16, 2003

back button