Saturday, December 13, 2008

U.S. & British Ally Fuels Conflict in the Congo

The United Nations published a report by its expert panel that supports what the Congolese people have known and been saying for the longest. Now that the world has acknowledged the nature of the 12 year conflict in the Congo, we may finally start to see policy prescriptions that reflect the truth and include what the Congolese have argued for some time now.

The U.N. panel of experts was lead by Jason Stearns and consisted of Dinesh Mahtani, a British finance expert; Mouctar Kokouma Diallo, a Guinea customs experts; Peter Danssaert, a weapons trafficking expert; and Sergio Finardi, a military logistics expert for a nonprofit group in Italy and the U.S. that monitors arms deals.

Some of the highlights from the report include the following:
1. Extensive evidence of high-level communication between the government of Rwanda and the Tutsi rebel group known as the Congress for the Defense of the People.

2. Rwandan soldiers helped bring recruits, some of them children, to Congo’s border to fight in General Nkunda’s rebellion.

3. Congo's military is collaborating with the FDLR

4. Rwanda has facilitated the supply of military equipment and has sent officers and units

5. Laurent Nkunda's CNDP has used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts

Click here to download (PDF) the entire UN report.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Major General Patrick Cammaert Explains Why the Military Approach is Not the Solution in the Congo

Friday, December 05, 2008

New York Times Getting Closer to the Truth on the Resource War in the Congo

Although the New York Times did not reveal the whole truth in Jeffrey Gettleman’s piece, Rwanda Stirs Deadly Brew of Trouble in the Congo, it no doubt laid the foundation for a more honest dialogue about the resource war in the Congo, which has resulted in dying and suffering of holocaust proportions.

It is only a matter of time before the New York Times and other mainstream media get to the root of the matter that both French and Spanish Courts have already broached regarding Paul Kagame and Rwanda’s destructive actions in the Central African region. Even the International Court of Justice has weighed in on Rwanda’s partner in Crime in the Congo; Uganda and its leader Yoweri Museveni, another staunch British and U.S. ally. In 2005, the court ruled that the Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations from Uganda because of the human rights abuses it committed in the Congo and the looting of Congo’s resources. There is very little doubt that the court would have issued a similar ruling against Rwanda, especially considering that Rwanda is even more implicated in the Congo but the court lacked jurisdiction in the case brought to it by the Congo against Rwanda.

The New York Times and other media should consider asking people such as Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Rick Warren, Bill Gates, Howard Schultz, Andrew Young, Cindy McCain and others why they have been silent about the atrocities in the Congo, when they are known to have the ear of Rwanda's leader Paul Kagame.

All of these individuals have an historic opportunity to use their notoriety, access and standing in the world to play a key role in ending what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon calls one of the worst tragedies of our time or what former UN Official Jan Egeland calls "the killing fields of our generation." Can they really continue to remain silent about the Congo and travel the world as paragons of morality and human decency when they have the ear of someone who unleashed what the United Nations says is the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II?

Considering how vital Congo is to modern society and the world’s fight against climate change - Congo is a part of the second largest rainforest in the world - Congo's issues are not just Congolese or African issues but are world issues and they demand frank and honest engagement and responses from world leaders.

The best way the West ( view Congolese leaders' and society's role and responsibility here) can contribute to bringing an end to the conflict is not an intervention force but rather real intervention diplomacy. Western nations can take their cue from The Economist when it notes “Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is best placed to rein in General Nkunda’s men, and must be pressed to do so, with the threat of aid withheld if he does not. In the long run, he must also make political space in Rwanda for the Hutu rebel forces who maraud through eastern Congo and give General Nkunda a pretext for his depredations.”

The former Fort Leavenworth, Kansas military student, Paul Kagame is not destabilizing the Congo on his own. He certainly has the backing of the United States and British tax payers as Timothy Reid laid out while at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University when he published "Killing Them Softly: Has Foreign Aid to Rwanda and Uganda Contributed to the Humanitarian Tragedy in the DRC" in the Africa Policy Journal, Spring 2006, Vol. 1.

Maybe, just maybe, finally, we can have frank and honest talks about the Congo, put an end to the tremendous suffering and set my country on a path to peace and stability. We are hopeful that the Obama administration, if it will not listen to what Friends of Congo have been articulating for the longest, will at least in this case listen to the New York Times or the Economist and craft policies based on a sound assessment of the situation.

I have articulated our policy prescriptions in an article published by entitled “Congo in Crisis: What President Obama Can Do To Right Past Wrongs In US Policy.”

Kambale Musavuli
Spokesperson and Student Coordinator
Friends of the Congo

Related links:
Let the new administration know that Congo should be a top foreign policy priority.
Join the global campaign to Break the Silence on the situation in the Congo.

Rapper and Spoken Word Artist Omekongo's "Welcome to the Congo"
Powerpoint Primer on the History of the Congo (PPT)
Dan Rather All Mines Report on I-Tunes
FAIR on media coverage of Congo