by Antoine Roger Lokongo
It’s now an “open secret” that the U.S. is plotting the dismemberment of the Democratic Republic of Congo, through Washington’s proxies Uganda and Rwanda. “This is not a Congolese civil war, but a continuation of a 16-year aggression by its two neighbors, financed and directed by the United States and Britain.”
Britain and America Target DR Congo
by Antoine Roger Lokongo
This article previously appeared in Pambazuka News.
“Western liberals, reactionary evangelicals, and capitalist carpetbaggers alike tout Paul Kagame as the herald of a new, self-reliant African prosperity.”
All the signs are written on the wall that after the split of Sudan, the United States of America is targeting the Democratic Republic of Congo to re-enact the same scenario: arming the Tutsi regime of Rwanda and Uganda to the teeth to occupy eastern Congo for some time, first of all to extract its strategic minerals which the Western economies in crisis desperately need, and then annex it to Rwanda and Uganda. This conspiracy against the Democratic Republic of Congo is now an open secret. The stakes are therefore both economic and geostrategic but they have been uncovered, including by the latest United Nations report which accused Ugandan and Rwandan officials of supporting M23, the so-called rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and recommended to the United Nations that it sanctions Kampala and Kigali. Although there are doubts that such recommended sanctions will be implemented, nevertheless this represents a moral victory for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo which could not have been won with a Mobutu-like president.
Rebellion? What Rebellion?
First of all, there is no rebellion in eastern Congo. After Laurent Kabila was assassinated, the whole international community imposed what was called the “brassage” or integration of the army; all the rebel groups had unconditionally to be incorporated into the army. Then came the 2004 Gen. Nkunda war backed by Rwanda and Uganda still, Kinshasa having had no respite to re-organize its army. That was an open infiltration for which Congo is paying a heavy price today. All the media that refer to Tutsi insurgents as rebels are wrong! Rwanda and Uganda, both staunch allies of the United States and Great Britain, continue to support Tutsi insurgents - led by General Bosco Ntaganda, a Tutsi warlord wanted by the International Criminal Court for recruiting child soldiers in 2006 and who was also placed under Security Council sanctions. For America, which is waging a war against global terrorists, paying some lip service to punish Tutsi terrorists is a bluff! We are therefore not surprised that America worked with al-Qaeda members to overthrow Gaddafi (Gardham, Swami and Squires 2011).
“Rwanda and Uganda, both staunch allies of the United States and Great Britain, continue to support Tutsi insurgents.”
On 26 October 2012, President Joseph Kabila of the DRC dispatched a special envoy to President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda to request him to authorize the closure of the Bunagana border post because Kinshasa had concerns that, “M23 rebels” were taking advantage of the open border point at Bunagana to collect revenues from cargo vehicles and other goods. Museveni acquiesced but warned that the DRC must “take responsibility for any negative impact on the humanitarian situation” as result of closing the border (...) in the end (Akugizibwe 2012). Museveni knew what he was talking about because immediately after the closure, the M23 attacked the Congolese army in Kibumba. Les Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC), as the Congolese army is known, responded and killed more than 150 Tutsi insurgents out of 900 and wounded approximately 300 to 450 (evacuated to Rwanda). Some of them were wearing Rwandan military uniforms; in fact six Rwandan high ranked officials were also killed. Congo lost two army officers.
A furious Kagame immediately deployed several battalions of fighters, well-equipped with night-vision equipment allowing them to fight at night, including goggles as well as 120 mm mortars (some say American made) who captured Goma and dislodged the Congolese army after a stiff resistance, pursued them up to Sake 30km from Goma. The Congolese army pushed them back and inflicted heavy losses on them but the Rwandans re-captured the town later. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in Congo, known by its French acronym as MONUSCO, even filmed three Rwandan tanks being driven from a Rwandan military base across the border to the headquarters of Congo’s M23 rebel militia. The Congolese army is now concentrated in Minova and preparing a counter-offensive after General Olenga, the new army chief of staff, was appointed following the suspension by President Joseph Kabila of General Gabriel Amisi, the chief of land forces, over UN accusations he ran a huge arms smuggling network supplying Congolese rebels and other groups. A report by the UN Group of Experts on the DRC accuses Amisi of overseeing a network that provides arms and ammunitions to poachers and armed groups, including some with links to the M23.
“Tutsi insurgents will face stronger firepower.”
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community and since it has been ascertained that Congo has once been attacked by Rwanda (a SADC delegation visited Goma recently), we do not think SADC will remain indifferent to Congo being re-invaded, with hundreds of people killed, maimed, women raped, children forcefully enrolled in the rebel armies and abused. According to reliable sources, SADC countries might already have deployed troops in eastern Congo.
According to the plan made by regional leaders (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Congo) a joint force would be deployed at Goma airport comprising of a company of neutral African troops, a company of the Congolese army (FARDC) and a company of the M23. The leaders told M23 to withdraw from current positions to not less than 20 km (12 miles) from Goma town within two days, but did not say what the consequences would be if the rebels did not comply.
But the Congolese are determined to avert any balkanization of their country. With the support of its allies, Tutsi insurgents will face stronger firepower. Rwanda will not be able to intervene because the border will now be well monitored.
In fact, China Great Wall Industry Corp will launch Democratic Republic of Congo's first satellite, which will also be developed by China, before the end of 2015, according to a contract signed recently. The contract for CongoSat 1, a communications satellite to be developed and manufactured by the China Academy of Space Technology for the National Network of Satellite Telecommunications of the African country, was inked in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.
The signing was on the sidelines of the Ninth China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as the Zhuhai Airshow. The contract shows the CongoSat 1 design will be based on the DFH 4 satellite platform, capable of covering the Democratic Republic of the Congo and all the central and southern parts of the African continent through the advanced transponders installed on the satellite. China will build ground control and training facilities and will train satellite-control personnel for the client. China Telecom, one of the country's biggest telecommunications companies, will also play an active role in the project by upgrading the operation system and providing management services to the network. The deal marks the second time that China has exported a satellite to African nations, following the NigComSat 1, another communications satellite that was launched for Nigeria in May 2007 by Great Wall.
At the same time, the UN is said to have contacted Britain and France asking them to supply drones that can be very useful in monitoring Congo’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda. This could be another Trojan horse!
Despite the Goma airport still being controlled by MONUSCO, the latter could not hide its complicity with Tutsi insurgents. MONUSCO did not engage M23 in battle in Goma, according to a South African soldier who did not give his name. ‘We [MONUSCO] have had no trouble with M23, to be honest,’ he said.
That tells it all and justifies current protests throughout Congo against MONUSCO’s presence.
Washington, embarrassed by the leaked UN Panel report which showed clearly that its Rwandan and Ugandan lackeys are arming Congo rebels and providing troops and whose final publication it was trying to block, is attempting to cover up the real culprits, Museveni and Kagame, who act as mercenaries for American and European interests in Africa and whose regimes are armed to the teeth, generously supported by foreign aid, and allowed free rein to plunder their Congolese neighbors. Just a day after the UN Panel report was leaked, Rwanda was accepted as “non-permanent member of the UN security Council.” Which world do we live in?
Uganda for its part pitched a kind of puppet tantrum, threatening to pull its troops out of so-called peace-keeping duties in Somalia, as Glen Ford reported:
“Museveni’s government is angry, because yet another United Nations report has been leaked, showing that Ugandan and Rwandan military officers are directly in charge of the so-called rebels that are wreaking havoc in Congo. This is not a Congolese civil war, but a continuation of a 16-year aggression by its two neighbors, financed and directed by the United States and Britain.
“Uganda’s threat to pull out of Somalia has proven to be empty. After all, what is a samurai without a lord and master? Uganda’s value to the United States lies in its willingness to kill other Africans on orders from Washington. A Uganda withdrawal from Somalia would amount to going on strike against its employer, the United States – a very dangerous thing to do. Besides, who else is going to employ the Ugandan and Rwandan mercenaries?
“By the time the Uganda delegation got to New York, there was no more mention of leaving Somalia, much less a Ugandan disengagement from the US Special Forces units that President Obama sent into the Great Lakes region, last year. Uganda had temporarily forgotten its place as a servant in the neocolonial scheme of things. But, in truth, the Ugandans and Rwandans need not worry about the US cracking down on their genocidal activities in Congo, because that, too, serves America’s purpose: to control Africa by drowning it in chaos and blood.”
Kagame, the Spoilt Child of Anglo-Saxons
In fact, Stephen Rapp, the head of the US war crimes office has warned Rwanda’s leaders, including President Paul Kagame, that they could face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for arming groups responsible for atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, adding that they may be open to charges of “aiding and abetting” crimes against humanity in a neighboring country – actions similar to those for which the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, was jailed for 50 years by an international court in May 2012 (McGreal 2012).
Three days later, the US Embassy in Kigali issued a statement in which it said that the media reports suggesting that senior Rwandan officials faced possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged support to DRC’s M23 rebels were inaccurate.
“Ambassador (Stephen) Rapp was not calling for any specific prosecution in this case,” Susan Falatko, the Public Affairs Officer, at the American Embassy in Kigali told The New Times, saying the official was misquoted by the newspaper. “He sought to underscore the importance of holding to account those responsible for crimes against humanity, noting as a general principle that neighboring countries have been held responsible in the past for cross-border support to armed groups,” she added. A senior ICC official is said to have said that the Hague-based court was not investigating any Rwandan leader.
The Obama administration even pompously announced that it was withholding a paltry $200,000 in fiscal year 2012 foreign military financing funds that were intended to support a Rwandan academy for non-commissioned officers, adding that these funds will be reallocated for programming in another country.
Another Obama’s War
Another glaring contradiction which does not bother America’s conscience (if it has any) is that American trained and paid Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers have been deployed as “peacekeepers” in Darfur and Somalia while at the same time they are making the blood of millions of Congolese flow into the ground, while billions of dollars in minerals are extracted from the earth and delivered to their corporate customers – with Rwandan and Ugandan middlemen pocketing their cut. America is also trying to sweep under the carpet the genocide that Rwanda and Uganda have committed in Congo since 1996. As we know, Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996, ostensibly to hunt down Hutu fighters among millions of refugees from ethnic violence in Rwanda. But the invasion became an occupation that has killed six million Congolese – the world’s greatest holocaust since World War Two. The genocide has been very profitable for Uganda and Rwanda, who have plundered eastern Congo’s mineral resources for sale to multinational corporations, most of them based in the United States and Europe.
According to a report published in his blog, Jason Stearns of the International Crisis Group, who also has been a member of the UN Panel of Experts, US ambassador to the US Susan Rice delayed the publication of UN Group of Experts' interim report, insisting that Rwanda be given a chance to see the report first and respond. While these UN investigations are supposed to give the accused the opportunity to respond and explain –– the Group says it was refused meetings by the Rwandan government, which Kigali denies –– they rarely allow them to see the entire report before publication. In any case, the Group finally did brief a Rwandan delegation in New York in June in New York (unsurprisingly, the Rwandan rejected the report as flawed) and the report was released.
“America is trying to sweep under the carpet the genocide that Rwanda and Uganda have committed in Congo since 1996.”
Stearns says that Rice emerged as a skeptic within a State Department that had largely accepted Rwanda's role in backing the M23. Both Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson and Special Envoy Barry Walkley have told Kigali explicitly to stop supporting M23. According to sources within the Obama administration, Rice has weighed in during these conversations, even when they do not directly relate to the United Nations.
According to an international NGO that follows Security Council politics closely, “Rice isn't convinced that support is ongoing––maybe [there was some] in the past, but not now.” Others point to her skepticism at the UN Group of Experts reports and their methodology.
Her latest controversial step was to block the explicit naming of Rwanda and Uganda in a UN Security Council resolution condemning the M23 occupation of Goma. As in previous statements, the body demanded that “any and all outside support to the M23 cease immediately.” Other Council members had wanted to name Rwanda explicitly, but Rice demurred, arguing that this would not be constructive in a process in which Rwanda must be part of the solution. Rice's supporters say that this was simply the official US position, and she was following orders from Washington .
Susan Rice, a key player in Obama’s administration (now tipped to become the next US Secretary of State) was then Bill Clinton’s Under-Secretary of State for African Affairs who could not hide her government’s satisfaction with Rwanda’s and Uganda’s felony in Congo. Had her then boss, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, not said that “Rwanda is to the US what the pupil is to the eye?”
As the Ugandan and Rwandan armies occupied Eastern Congo and engaged in open warfare with the new DRC government, Rice continued to support their efforts and offered US diplomatic and barely-cloaked military support. Her arrogance was unbounded. She was sent on a mission in 1999 to visit Kinshasa to discuss the US position on the war with Kabila. On her way to Kinshasa she stopped first at Kigali to meet Kagame and then in Entebbe to meet Museveni. She then cabled Laurent Kabila that she was ready to be received in the DRC. Kabila went to N’Djili Airport to meet Susan Rice in person. Kabila, to everyone’s amusement, greeted Rice as she descended from the plane saying, “I greet you Madame Rice, as the ambassador from Uganda”; for that was in effect what she was. Rice spent her time lecturing Kabila about how awkward it made US foreign policy when Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe troops assisted the DRC in repelling the Ugandan and Rwandan invasion of the DRC and the rape and plunder they were causing in the Kivus and Kasai. Rice was happy to see the war against the DRC as US African policy had always shunned Angola and Zimbabwe because they were not allied inflexibly to the US in their Cold War struggle with Russia and China.
“Kabila, to everyone’s amusement, greeted Rice as she descended from the plane saying, “I greet you Madame Rice, as the ambassador from Uganda.”
This predilection for Uganda and Rwanda and contempt and hostility toward Zimbabwe continues to this day. The fact that both Uganda and Rwanda still occupy parts of the DRC and pillage its resources and massacre its citizens – through M23 – does not seem to bother her as US ambassador to the UN, let alone if she becomes Secretary of State. These two nations now are part of the US proxy army in Africa and receive her full support at the United Nations.
The US is firmly behind Kagame and Museveni. In fact, Rwanda has now become the “CIA listening post” in the region from a station built on top of Mount Karisimbi. That is why a new international airport is soon to be built in the Bugesera area of Rwanda, in order to decongest the current Kanombe international airport near the capital, Kigali, which will soon become a military airport, as Colette Braeckman of the Belgian daily Le Soir revealed on 20 February 2008.
Uganda for its part runs the Singo Training School, in Kakola, 75 miles north of Kampala. It is a training camp operated by the Ugandan military, but the instruction is overseen by the Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), a subsidiary of L-3 Communications, based in the U.S. It is one of four State Department contractors that are training African troops for Somalia (and Congo). US contractors are hired by the State Department and American military trainers are playing a supporting role, offering specialized instruction in combat medicine and bomb detection, among other subjects.
Moreover the Uganda government has since 2003 splashed an annual retainer of $300,000 on the Washington DC-based Whitaker Group, which is owned by the US former Assistant Trade Representative for Africa, Rosa Whitaker, for lobbying in the US. Dr. Jendayi E. Frazer, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (a successor to Susan Rice in that post) is now working as a lobbyist on behalf of the Ugandan government as part of the Whitaker Group (TWG) as a strategic advisor. The Washington D.C.-based firm has a long-standing relationship with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and is currently under a million dollar a year contract with the Ugandan government.
After Obama came to power, his administration’s policy on the “Congo question” did not change. In fact, one of Obama’s advisers was embarrassingly caught red-handed while attempting to smuggle minerals from Eastern Congo and his jet was impounded. Kase Lawal, 57, is a Nigerian-born American who propelled CAMAC International Corporation’s rise to a $2.4 billion private company — said to be the second-largest African-American-owned business in the US – was appointed to a trade advisory post by the Obama administration, and has held similar positions in Republican administrations. He lost $30 million after financing a botched deal to buy 1,000 pounds (475 kg) of smuggled gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a report by United Nations investigators.
“Dr. Jendayi E. Frazer, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (a successor to Susan Rice in that post) is now working as a lobbyist on behalf of the Ugandan government.”
The transaction ultimately profited General Bosco Ntangada. The investigation was mandated by the UN Security Council to probe links between mineral trading and illegal armed groups in eastern DRC (Fitzgerald 2012).
Washington’s double game playing in the Great Lakes Region came to light in 2008, following the breakdown of peace talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which the United States, after the September 11 attacks, declared a terrorist group and Joseph Kony its leader a terrorist. In late 2008, the National Security Council authorized AFRICOM to support a military operation (one of the first publicly-acknowledged AFRICOM operations) against the LRA, which was believed to be in the Congo at the time. AFRICOM provided training and US$1 million in financial support for “Operation Lightning Thunder” – a joint endeavor of the Ugandan, Congolese and South Sudan forces in Congolese territory launched in December 2008 to “eliminate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)” and never the threat posed by Rwandans and Ugandans in eastern Congo, as if some terrorists are better then the others. According to the United Nations, the offensive “never consulted with partners on the ground on the requirements of civilian protection. Stretching over a three-month period, it failed in its mission and the LRA scattered and retaliated against the Congolese population; over 1,000 people were killed and up to 200,000 displaced.”
This battle against the LRA has to be seen as a continuation of the battles in Eastern Congo. In October 2011, US President Obama authorized the deployment of approximately 100 combat-equipped U.S. troops to central Africa. They will help regional forces “remove from the battlefield” Joseph Kony and senior LRA leaders. “Although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense,” Obama said in a letter to Congress.
Enter the British
Britain has been blocking European sanctions against Rwanda – in fact shamelessly went back on its word. The former British Secretary for International Development Andrew Mitchell told MPs that he had decided to resume Britain’s £16m aid package to Rwanda after two out of three conditions set by the UK – a ceasefire in the Kivus region and an end to practical support from Rwanda to militias – were met. The Congolese people, in fact the whole world, aren’t aware of such a ceasefire as the unfolding situation on the ground shows.
Feeling isolated and under pressure after all major European countries suspended their aid support to Kagame, Prime Minister David Cameron finally acknowledged that “the international community could not ignore evidence of Rwandan involvement with the M23” and called on Kagame to “show the government of Rwanda had no links to the M23.”
When Joseph Kabila made a deal with Paul Kagame in 2009 to allow the Rwandan army to enter Congo and hunt Hutu militia, he did not know that on the Rwandan side scheming British were being associated to “the project.” It is for that matter that the Chief of General Staff (CGS) of the British Army, Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt travelled to Kigali specifically to be briefed by his Rwandan counterpart James Kabarebe about the operation on “how their two armies could work together.” He also met President Kagame. Rwanda boasts the Gabiro School of Infantry where a commander’s course, the first of its kind, is jointly conducted by Rwandan, British and American instructors (under Africom, the Africa Military Command).
It was only later that the people of Congo realized that the Tutsi continued to use the war against Hutu “genocidists” as a pretext for occupying mining concessions and systematically exploiting them. In fact the 4,000 thousand Rwandan troops did not really leave as such and have turned into what they call M23 today.
The discovery of oil has sharpened the appetites: the British company SOCO (which has offices in Kigali) began oil exploration in Virunga National Park in North Kivu. As for the oil field discovered in Lake Albert, operations should be shared between Uganda (which will develop a refinery) and Congo. But for the ground extending into Rutshuru, Rwanda via its M23 allies could claim to take its share of the loot.
“The Tutsi continued to use the war against Hutu ‘genocidists’ as a pretext for occupying mining concessions and systematically exploiting them.”
During his tenure, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was very much Rwanda and Uganda’s partner in crime in Congo. James Astill, writing in the British daily, The Guardian, on 10 April 2003, said it all: “While Rwanda and Uganda remain in Congo, peace will be impossible. Yet both continue to receive more than half their budgets in Western aid, and only an occasional chiding for their role in the slaughter. How do they get away with it?”
The biggest donors to both Rwanda and Uganda are Britain and America. Britain contributes over £30 million a year to Rwanda's budget. Clare Short, then British minister for international development, flew in and out of Uganda, Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region several times a year. So, she must have known what was going on.
In his Guardian article, Astill wrote that when he returned from a reporting trip to Congo in the middle of 2002 and put his findings to British and American diplomats, “virtually all – off the record, of course – corroborated them.”
“I put them to Clare Short, and she refused to comment,” said Astill, who went on to quote Richard Dowden, the former Africa editor of the British weekly The Economist as saying that when he asked Glare Short why, in 2002, Rwanda “needed to occupy [Kisangani] a diamond-rich town 700 miles into Congo to protect its border,” Ms Short hit the roof.
Tony Blair now acts as personal adviser to Mr. Kagame, while one of his charities, the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), employs about 10 people inside the Rwandan government, helping it to run more effectively (Mendick 2011). However Tony Blair, who claims success in reconciling the Catholics and the Protestants, hitherto enemies in Northern Ireland, is backing away from encouraging Kagame to initiate a inter-Rwandan dialogue susceptible to reconcile Hutu and Tutsi so that they can share power, live in peace. The Ugandan government must also dialogue with people from the North and their Lord Resistance Army (LRA) movement. This is the only way that will bring peace to eastern Congo.
As Jacqueline Umurungi writes, some of Kagame’s greatest admirers are Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Starbucks magnate Howard Schultz. American evangelist Rick Warren considers him something of an inspiration and even Bill Gates has invested in what has been called Africa’s success story. Yes, Western liberals, reactionary evangelicals, and capitalist carpetbaggers alike tout Paul Kagame as the herald of a new, self-reliant African prosperity. Britain annually subsidizes 50 percent of Rwanda’s national budget (Umurungi 2012). Now you understand why the war in mineral-rich eastern Congo never ends and why, mockingly according to the BCC, “there is no end to the tears in the DRC.”
This is what Obama must tell his American electorate in case he promised them a big chunk of Congo: The Democratic Republic of Congo’s territorial integrity is non-negotiable.
Antoine Roger Lokongo is a journalist and Beijing University PhD candidate from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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