Having been falsely accused in the 90s by the SA Department of Foreign Affairs and some of the “intelligence fabricators” of Military Intelligence as well as the media reporting on Executive Outcomes’ alleged involvement in the Great Lakes area – and in particular in Rwanda and Burundi – it is only natural that I take a good, hard look at what is unfolding in that area. (In case ex-Director-General Rusty Evans and his merry MI and media friends wish to deny or dispute this, I shall gladly post their false and fabricated “secret” and not-so-secret reports on the internet).
Africa’s Great Lakes area’s riches are also its curse. This area consists of eleven countries but it is generally considered to comprise Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and is rich in natural resources such as gold, copper, oil, coltran, diamonds, water, uranium, cobalt and more. Many of the resources in this area are considered to be strategic in nature. However, the area is also characterised by acute shortages of power, widespread poverty, corruption, poorly maintained infrastructure – and political power struggles, tribal antagonism and corruption.
The DRC, the largest owner of these resources, is the stage that is being used to play out the catastrophe the world is currently witnessing – a catastrophe brought about by an abundance of resources instead of a shortage of them – and a desire by outside parties to gain control over the resources. Added to this mix is the clandestine foreign aid, mainly from the US and the UK, being channelled through Rwanda to the rebel CNDP of Laurent Nkunda.
The wars that are currently raging in that area are not focussed on gaining military victories but rather in wresting control over resources. This is in part because in Africa – unlike as in the West - politics drive the economies and not visa versa.
Stability in the Great Lakes region is hampered by numerous factors, many if not all of them, being driven by outside forces. In essence, these factors are mainly greed and power and these two factors are being used to fuel the tribal and ethnic tensions in the region. The resultant spill-over effect is bound to have serious repercussions on all neighbouring states and even beyond, and is likely to plunge the area into even deeper chaos and poverty. The migration of huge numbers of refugees will add additional financial and social strains on the states neighbouring the conflict area.
But, when looking (simplistically) at what is happening, the following can be noted:
1. The US Special Forces are actively involved in training the Rwandan armed forces.
2. The Rwandan army is accused of aiding and abetting the rebels of Nkunda’s CNDP. There are also allegations that serving Rwandan soldiers are fighting alongside the CNDP in the DRC. (Were they trained by the US army?)
3. Rwanda is additionally supplying child-soldiers to the rebels in DRC.
4. In violation of the UN arms embargo, Rwanda is also supplying arms and ammunition to the rebel forces of the CNDP.
5. The United Kingdom is pumping a huge amount of money in the direction of Rwanda. Much of this is being used for actions in the DRC to support Nkunda’s rebels. Perhaps President Kagame’s recent, under-the-radar visit to the UK was to get more money for his actions in the DRC?
6. The head of Anglo American’s Brenthurst Foundation, Dr Greg Mills, was appointed as “Special Advisor to the President” and is part of the Strategy and Policy Unit of the Rwandan President. The official announcement was made on 31 October 2007. Mills was also an advisor to General Richards and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
7. Barely a year after Mills was appointed, heavy fighting resumed between the FARDC (DRC armed forces) and the CNDP. One wonders what advice was given.
8. The CNDP has called for a condition of any ceasefire the review of all resource mining and exploration contracts awarded to the Chinese - so that they can go to…who knows?
9. South Africa supplies weapons to Rwanda.
10. South African weapons are also being used by the CNDP.
I wonder if all of this is pure coincidence. I also wonder why the UN, with its many thousands of men on the ground, are unable to figure this out?
Given the apathy of the West and in particular the UN, who have for a long time stood idly by and watched the civilians in that region to suffer the horrors they are faced with, their reason for being there needs to be seriously questioned. With the UN’s superior firepower they remain ineffectual and unable or unwilling to stop the fighting. (See http://www.africancrisis.co.za/Article.php?ID=39573&) With a peacekeeping force of 17 000 men and approval for an additional 3 000 men, they are surely the most useless peacekeeping force the world has ever known.
Many of the failed states in Africa are the result of overt and covert interference by foreign governments and companies. This interference takes the form of poor advice, misguided policies and giving credibility and empowerment to those that abuse their powers – all aimed at gaining control over resources and influence over the governments. Yes, there is tribalism, power struggles and corruption at work as well but there is corruption all over the world. The recent economic meltdown in the West was surely not caused by honest and responsible business practices.
However in Africa, the fuelling of corruption leads to an escalation in power-grabbing and the resultant ethnic and tribal strife we witness. African governments at war mean large profits, regardless of the collateral fall-out. I suspect that the parties involved in fuelling the conflict have caused more harm to the local population than the warring parties have caused to the opposing sides.
The benefits that many foreign governments, the UN, several NGOs, as well as numerous multi-nationals derive from the Great Lakes conflict are astronomical. Yet the great irony remains – one of the most resource-rich areas in the world is also one of the poorest. Thousands of people have been killed in this conflict and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Yet, the catastrophe does not feature high on anyone’s agenda. Had this situation occurred anywhere in the West, the great powers would have stepped in and put a stop to it. But this is Africa. Here deaths, white or black, don’t matter.
Perhaps the time has come that the situation in the Great Lakes area is exposed for what it is - an attempt by Rwanda and its foreign allies to grab the resources in the DRC.
Added on 13 December: Here is an interesting follow-on article on the DRC:
Added on 14 December: This article from the New York Times is indicative of the utter uselessness of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the DRC. The excuses offered as to why and how the massacre happened defy belief. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/world/africa/11congo.html?_r=1
Added on 16 December 2008: Another interesting article on the massive wastage and incompetence that reigns supreme in the UN. To think that they can even point a finger at corrupt governments…It is about time that this organisation is exposed for what it is. http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htun/articles/20081214.aspx