Monday, February 18, 2013

Is Kivu War Sign of Massive Strategic Failure?

September 13th 2012 BBC's Stephen Sackur asked DRC's Minister of foreign affairs, Raymond Tshibanda, whether his words at the United Nations that 'eastern Congo is back in a state of war' is a sign of 'strategic failure'. His answer was (@14:40):
 'not at all, I don't buy that, when you deal with another partner you should put some trust in the other party to some extent. Are you telling me we should not put some trust in what we are doing in the region? We did it with Rwanda, we did it with Uganda, we did it with Burundi. We don't have problems with Uganda or Burundi.'
An interesting exchange. Was the Congolese government unaware of Rwanda's effort to 'replicate the 1990 formula' as Milton Allimadi summarized RPF's strategy in his recent excellent blogpost: 'With M23 In Congo, Kagame And Museveni Duplicate Blueprint That Installed RPF In Rwanda Power'.

Michel Till of the Rift Valley Institute wrote two weeks ago that the resolution of the CNDP (problem) demonstrated that the Rwandan government can play a productive role if it brings (them) benefits

But did Rwanda play a productive role in resolving the CNDP problem in 2008/2009? When you look back it's hard to see any evidence for that claim. After exagerating the FDLR threat, supporting CNDP from it's territory & having budget aid cut by the Netherlands and Sweden, Paul Kagame still refused to outright condemn this rebellion against DRC's elected government sending, through Louis Michel, this message to Laurent Nkunda in december 2008:
"When a leader defends a just cause, that is legitimate, if he defends his own cause, he is an everyday warlord".
The visit to Kigali by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, november first 2008 marked the end of the CNDP crisis. In return for his cooperation (not taking Goma) Paul Kagame obtained joint operations against the FDLR together with the Congolese army & the march 23 2009 peace deal between CNDP & Kabila. Rwanda also succeeded in making Jendayi Frazer contradict the statement issued by the US government that it had evidence that Rwanda supports the rebel National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) of Major General Laurent Nkunda.

The deal was/is seen by Congolese as a slap in the face, a humiliation. Vital Kamerhe, president of the National Assembly, questioned president Joseph Kabila and his party PPRD over the joint operations by the Congolese army (FARDC) and the Rwandan army (RDF) that allowed deployment of several thousand Rwandan troops in the Congo without informing the parliament. Kamerhe released a statement january 21st 2009 to Radio Okapi expressing his disappointment for this joint military operation 'in violation of the Congolese constitution'. To this day the 2009 deal reinforces the idea among segments of the Congolese people that Congo's president is a weak marionette of Rwanda or the West, or of both.The Rwandan Patriotic Front had once again demonstrated the effectiveness of Mao's guerrilla warfare strategy of ta ta t'an t'an (fight fight talk talk).

This strategy was 'succesfully' employed by the Vietcong in the sixties and by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) from 1990 to 1994 as well. It is common knowledge that, just as the Chinese during the Korean war & the VietCong during the Vietnam war, the RPF used negotiations, not to work towards peace, but to gain credibility & weaken Rwanda's president Habyarimana. In january 1992 Paul Kagame (with two assistents) was received at Quai d’Orsay by Paul Dijoud, director of African affairs and by Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, advisor for African affairs at the Elysée. Thus France inadvertently helped these revolutionaries create a path to legitimacy for their 'struggle'. Bob Flatten, who was the US Ambassador to Rwanda from 1990-1993, witnessed this treacherous RPF strategy at work at the Arusha accords process. It was Bob Flatten who opened Peter Erlinder's eyes to this 'deeper story on Rwanda'.

The DRC government knows it's dealing with a very dangerous and treacherous ennemy and is doing everything it can to avoid falling into the trap of  RPF's ta ta t'an t'an strategy. What is more, a consensus in the international community has emerged: creating a path to legitimacy for m23 is extremely dangerous. The efforts by the POLE institute to create this path to legitimacy for m23 by attempting to discredit the expert report ,by opposing the neutral force (note that POLE did not oppose joint military operations against FDLR in 2008/2009), arguing in favor of a ceasefire between m23 and the Congolese government and distorting Raymond Tshibanda's crystal clear position in the Kampala negotiations, failed. With the exception of Germany's minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dirk Niebel (a small success for the institute that originated in Germany?) diplomats from the US, Europe and Africa are focused not just on finding 'a political solution' but also on fighting the effort to undermine the authority of the Congolese state.

January 24th the U.S. Treasury Department placed sanctions on Jean-Marie Runiga Rugerero, the leader of the M23 political wing explicitly condemning his demands to Kabila's resignation and dissolution of the national assembly. February 6th the UK government decided it would not resume budgetsupport to Rwanda while it had, among other things, failed to 'publicly condemn the m23 group'.

When rumours of talks between m23 representatives Roger Lumbala, Deogracias Bugera and Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi with high level officials in Pretoria emerged on january 30th, these were immediately dismissed by an anonymous Congolese official:
'I don't think South Africa is going to play like that with us'
The three Congolese m23 representatives were in fact spotted in South Africa, but talks seem not to have taken place. And sure enough, five days later South Africa arrests 19 suspected Congolese rebels 'plotting a coup'. The same day African Union's Secretary General Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma welcomed the arrest of these 19 Congo rebels in South Africa: 
 "If they are coup-plotters, its good that they are arrested"

The next day, february 6th, m23 and DRC's government sign the agreement on the point relating to the review of the 2009 agreement.

February 14th one of six DRC experts that remained in Kampala, François Mwamba, issued the following statement on behalf of the Congolese government:
'we have completed our mission and  now we expect m23 to end it's military activitities'


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