Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Has Kabila Been Chastened and China Thwarted?

When rebel leader Laurent Nkunda launched his offensive against the people of the Congo in the Fall of 2008, one of his demands was that the Congolese government renegotiates its $9 billion deal with the Chinese. We reasoned on these pages that the root of Nkunda's demand had two possible sources: 1. He was trying to curry favor with the West because he knew the West was against the deal or 2. He was in fact being backed by the West via Rwanda to send a message to President Kabila that he needs to get back on the plantation for he had strayed too far in signing such a far-reaching deal with the Chinese.

Now that President Kabila has been apparently chastened (he has allowed Rwandan troops on Congolese soil due to Western pressure, mainly the US), we learn via the Financial Times that the West has ratcheted up its pressure for Congo to renegotiate its deal with the Chinese. Led by the Paris Club, International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the West is unleashing its multi-lateral institutions on the people of the Congo.

One would have to have his/her head in the sand not to see the geo-strategic game being played out on the backs of the Congolese people. Nearly six-million dead, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped as a weapon of war, and crushing poverty are not sufficient for the vampires sucking the blood of the people of Congo. People of conscience and good will throughout the globe must come to the side of the Congolese people as they weather the onslaught from an international cabal crushing them like grapes. We can no longer be silent in the face of such depredation. Break the Silence and take action now>>>

Monday, February 09, 2009

Message to the US Administration: Militarization is NOT The Answer

Americans and others in the West often ask what does the conflict in Congo have to do with us? Well, our governments continue to finance, train and arm destructive forces in Congo. Both the New York Times and Washington Post have reported US backing of military operations by Rwanda and Uganda, the United States staunchest allies in Central Africa. Both governments are responsible for gross human rights abuses, crimes against humanity and according to the United Nations maybe even genocide. In addition, both governments and their business elites have systematically looted the Congo.

Let your governments know that the militarization of the Congo in particular and Africa in general is not the answer and certainly NOT the change the people of Africa is looking for from a new U.S. Administration. Take Action Now>>

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Congolese Would Have to be Insane ...

Congolese would have to be insane if they believe that the aggressor nations of Rwanda and Uganda are now agents of peace. The game has not changed, the recent developments reflect the latest attempt of Europe and America to control Congo's wealth via its pre-eminent proxy forces (Rwanda & Uganda) in Central Africa. We cannot overstate the fact that Congo's president Joseph Kabila was with Rwanda and Uganda in their 1996 invasion of the Congo. Jospeh Kabila was under the tutelage and guidance of James Kabarebe, the current aide-de camp of Paul Kagame. Hence, he is fulfilling is role as expected by the West.

The Sarkozy and Cohen Plans and most recently the Museveni proposal are all a part of the persistent effort to balkanize the Congo and place large swaths of Congo's wealth in the hands of America and British allies Rwanda and Uganda ostensibly to benefit Western corporate interests. Both Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda are firmly ensconced in the Corporate and Military complexes of America and Britain. The fact of the matter is that Rwanda and Uganda can no more relinquish its foothold in Eastern Congo than America can relinquish its foothold in Central Africa through its proxies Rwanda and Uganda. Unfortunately, its the people of the Congo who bear the brunt of the suffering of US foreign policy.

The key is for friends of the Congo on the outside of the country to continue to expose the underlying forces that produce the war, rapes and biblical scale suffering of the people of Congo. In addition, external friends of Congo need to step up its support of Congolese grassroots institutions and keep the pressure on the West's proxies in Central Africa in spite of the attempts of western intellectuals and humanitarian institutions to muddy the waters by pushing a genocide narrative and industry.

The Congolese people are obviously resolute in keeping their country in tact and securing their wealth. This will require the establishment of strong Congolese institutions to defend the interests of the people. The optimum way to be in solidarity with the people of the Congo is to provide support to Congolese institutions working to defend the interests of the people.

Take action now in solidarity with the people of the Congo.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Laurent Nkunda's "Arrest:" Rwanda's Latest Shell Game in Response to International Pressure

Over the past week, events have unfolded at a dizzying pace in the Central Africa region; hence Friends of Congo thought it would be useful to add some context to the situation based on questions posed to us.

Is Laurent Nkunda’s arrest a positive development?

We have reasons to doubt that Laurent Nkunda has been arrested. Rwandan Maj. Jill Rutaremara said that Nkunda was in Rwanda but "not in jail." If Nkunda has in fact been arrested it would be a positive development but not a massive change as some analysts would like you to believe. A true marker of the veracity of Rwanda’s claims of arresting Nkunda will be the extradition of Nkunda to the Congo where he committed the crimes against the Congolese people. If Nkunda is not extradited to Congo in short order then that will be a clear sign that this is part of the shell game that Rwanda has been playing for the past 12 years, a period during which they replaced one proxy leader with another while they continued to occupy Eastern Congo. Even if Nkunda were to be arrested, it would be a fundamental flaw in one’s reasoning to believe that Nkunda was the primary cause of the conflict in the east. In essence, what has happened is that Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defense of the People has been replaced by thousands of Rwandan troops. The problem is Rwanda’s and Uganda’s aggression against the Congo backed primarily by the United States and British governments and corporate interests since 1996.

If Rwanda did in fact arrest Nkunda, doesn’t this mean that they never supported him as the December 12th UN Report documented?

No, to the contrary, over the past twelve years Rwanda has shuffled different rebel leaders according to its interests. It is in part for this reason there were so many versions of the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD, former rebel militia backed by Rwanda), which Nkunda was a part of in 1998 – 2002 war. Nkunda’s apparent replacement, Jean-Bosco Ntaganda, also has an arrest warrant out for him issued by the International Criminal Court; one human rights offender has been replaced by another as Bosco now proclaims to head the CNDP.

A systemic and historical analysis is warranted in order to demystify current events in the Congo and arrive at prescriptions that will lead to lasting peace and stability. Unfortunately, the majority of Great Lakes analysts offer Rwanda-friendly analysis and prescriptions as Rwanda represents the US and British foreign policy interests in Central Africa. These analysts’ job is to provide intellectual and advocacy cover for an otherwise disastrous policy across now two US and British administrations that have led to the deaths of millions of Congolese and the systematic looting of Congo’s wealth to the benefit of U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda as well as Western corporations.

Isn’t the new collaboration between Congo and Rwanda a good sign on the road to peace and stability in the region?

On December 5th, Rwanda and Congo signed a secret pact in Goma that the Congolese people know nothing about (President Kabila is scheduled to speak to his nation on this issue on Saturday, January 31, 2009). James Kabarebe, Chief of General Staff of the Rwandan Defense Forces and former private secretary and aide-de-camp of Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame was later dispatched to Kinshasa to consummate a deal with President Kabila. Thus, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, James Kabarebe, and President Kabila worked out a deal that resulted in over 5,000 Rwandan soldiers entering Congo. These are the same characters that collaborated in 1996 when Congo was first invaded by Rwanda during the Clinton administration. During that period they traversed the Congo slaughtering Hutu man, woman and child and anyone else who was in the way. The United Nations says that the killings were so massive and systematic that they can be considered crimes against humanity and possibly genocide. The United Nations investigation into these crimes against humanity by the Rwandan army, Kabarebe and Kabila was blocked and still remains to be resolved (see the UN investigations: http://www.inshuti.org/onua.htm). Once a responsible and credible government is in place in Congo all these crimes must be investigated and justice must be delivered so that the Congolese people can be made whole. Find out more about the Kagame, Kabarebe, Kabila connection in our January 20th Blog. In the final analysis, more troops and further militarization of the region is not the answer. A robust political path must be established in order to lead to peace and stability in the Great Lakes region.

So are you saying that President Kabila allowing Rwandan troops on Congolese soil to hunt down those responsible for the 1994 genocide is not a good thing?

The logic that allowing Rwandan soldiers on Congolese territory to hunt down Hutu rebels will bring about peace is fundamentally flawed. Below are some factors to consider:

1. The deal allowing Rwandan soldiers on Congolese soil was not between the Congolese government and the Rwandan government. It was between the Congolese president Joseph Kabila, whom many suspect is not even Congolese and the Kagame regime in Kigali. Neither the Congolese parliament nor the Congolese people were either consulted or addressed regarding Rwandan troops entering Congolese territory. In fact some Congolese are calling for the impeachment of Kabila. When it comes to matters in Africa, we tend to drop all critical faculties and common sense. Can you imagine troops entering US territory without the US Congress knowing about it and the president not even addressing the population to explain why? What is even more farcical is that some Congolese government officials are trying to convince the world that thousands of Rwandan soldiers are coming into the Congo as advisers to the Congolese troops. It has even been stated that the Rwandan troops will be under Congolese command. Will they be under the same compromised command that Nkunda chased out of North Kivu?

2. It is beyond imagination that Rwanda is going to do in a few weeks what it was not able to do or interested in doing when it occupied the Congo from 1996 – 2002. During this period of the occupation of eastern Congo they did not wipe out the so-called Hutu militia. In fact, the biggest battle they had was with their ally Uganda over mining concessions. Also, during this time they systematically looted Congo of its wealth. (See UN Reports from 2001 – 2003). It is this looting of Congo’s wealth that spurred the economic miracle that President Clinton and other Western officials wax eloquently about in Rwanda. You will notice that they never mention the degree to which ill-gotten wealth from the Congo contributed to Rwanda’s “economic miracle”. Former Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman Cohen says it best when he notes “Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant percentage of its gross national product”.

3. What is almost certain is that Rwandan troops on Congolese soil will lead to more suffering of the people of the Congo. Analysts in the West have not fully appreciated the enmity that the average Congolese holds toward Rwanda. Remember, it was the US and British backed Rwandan and Ugandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 that unleashed the deaths of estimated millions of Congolese. So, for one to say that Rwandan soldiers are now going to make things better for the people of the Congo does not take history into account. One merely has to look at the Congo-Ugandan action against Ugandan rebels inside Congolese territory to see where this latest action is heading. Over 600 Congolese civilians lost their lives as a result of military action against the Lord’s Resistance Army in Congo, which began over a month ago. Moreover, that operation was supposed to take a few weeks and now Uganda is requesting more time on Congo’s soil, while Congo’s gold and timber continue to find its way into Uganda.

What role are great powers playing in what is unfolding in the Congo?

It is key to understand how the game is played to keep Africa dependent and impoverished. Because the West is more powerful than the divided and weak African nations, they have been able to assassinate or systematically sideline leaders who truly serve the interest of the people. They facilitate the ascension to power of those who demonstrate a proclivity for killing their fellow Africans. Once these feckless leaders are in power and predictably incapable of governing, western diplomats condescendingly intervene on the premise that those they have assisted in acquiring power either through elections or otherwise cannot in fact justly govern. This narrative is buttressed by superficial media coverage of African society, intellectuals for hire by Western powers and the humanitarian industry. It is in this context that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman Cohen, have proposed the balkanization and economic neutering of the Congo. They have made proposals to reward Rwanda and their Western support structure for the systematic looting of Congo, which has resulted in unmatched death and terror for the Congolese people. Nearly 125 years since Europe gave Congo to King Leopold II of Belgium as his own personal property, the situation is fundamentally the same whereby the affairs of the Congolese people are not determined by themselves; but rather by external forces.

So what can be positively drawn from recent events?

Several things can be looked at positively:

1. It is clear that international pressure works. It has moved Rwanda to at least announce the arrest of Nkunda. As was said, the litmus test for whether Nkunda has actually been arrested is his extradition to Kinshasa, otherwise for all intents and purposes he is vacationing in Rwanda at the behest of Kagame while Rwandan troops roam the hillsides of Eastern Congo with the blessing of Joseph Kabila. The U.S. is finding it increasingly difficult to defend its proxy, Rwanda, as both French and Spanish courts (the same Spanish court that ruled against Pinochet of Chile ) have arrest warrants out on President Kagame’s top officials for commission of war crimes, one of whom, Rose Kabuye, was arrested in Germany in November 2008. Despite such repeated damning evidence against the Kagame regime, under the auspices of Donald Rumsfeld’s AFRICOM program, the US sent a shipment of military equipment to Rwanda for peace keeping purposes in Western Sudan in early January 2009, coinciding with Rwandan troops intervention in Congo. The military shipment is supposed to be used for peace keeping in Western Sudan. Both Sweden and the Netherlands suspended aid to Rwanda and of course the damning December 12th UN Report have made it difficult for anyone to defend Rwanda except for some ideologically-driven humanitarian institutions. Even the New York Times editorial board continues to call for international pressure on Rwanda.

2. Kagame felt a necessity to adjust to the new realities in Washington. He could not necessarily count on President Obama to give him carte blanche as he has received from Presidents Clinton and Bush. Rwanda is certainly still a staunch ally of the U.S. However, Kagame cannot be certain that President Obama will fully support him in spite of some of the old guards (Susan Rice at the UN and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State) being in the administration. The Obama administration can hardly present itself as an administration of change with an old policy for the Great Lakes in particular and Africa in general. The new administration would be best served to implement policies that serve the people and not strongmen like Kagame and Kabila.

3. The US and British baked resource war of aggression is being disrobed on a daily basis. The hunt for the Hutu rebels is an attempt to recast the conflict in an ethnic context. The Hutu rebels, otherwise know as the Interahamwe or Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR in French) need to be dealt with, but not in the manner currently underway. Remember, it has been the Congolese people who have been the primary victims of the presence of the Hutu rebels in the Congo. Nonetheless, what is happening in Central Africa is a high stakes geo-political battle for precious and strategic resources that are vital to the world’s military, aeronautics, electronics and technology industries. This interview with British Foreign Minister David Miliband provides some insight and perspective on the vital corporate interests in Central Africa.

4. The average person is becoming better informed and more engaged about the root causes of the deadliest conflict in the world since World War Two. They are better equipped to demand action from their elected officials and challenge humanitarian institutions that come to their communities peddling warmed over ethnic explanations for the suffering of the people of Congo.

We are confident that with persistent education, organization and mobilization, the people of Congo will be free from the forces that have her sons and daughters living in absolute misery while we in the West benefit from her riches.

Join the global movement in support of the people of the Congo and strike a blow for justice and human dignity.

Produced by the FOTC Team

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