Last week fighting broke out again in eastern DR Congo and all indications are that the government army (FARDC) has got a real bloody nose. As has now become customary, the FARDC has fled in some disarray. All the talk we have been hearing from Mr Julien Paluku, Governor of North Kivu Province and Mr Lambert Mende, minister of information in the Kinshasa government, about crushing the M23 rebels has evaporated.
It is not the first time such talk has been heard. Saddam Hussein threatened the mother of all battles when President George Bush Senior attacked Iraq. He was beaten back to the gates of Baghdad. The younger George Bush eventually finished him off. The mother of all battles gained popular currency, but that was all.
Only two years ago, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened to crush the rats of Benghazi when that city rose up against his four-decade rule. His ignominious ending was as bad as he had vowed against his own people.
Then there was Saddam Hussein’s colourful, clownish minister of information giving out all those stories about giving the invaders a lesson they would not forget even as they were metres away.
Some things never change, and some people never learn.
Predictably, Rwanda has been dragged into the recent fighting in the DR Congo, even when it has been shown it has no hand in it. And in an attempt to create a link between the two, there have been curious coincidences that are not accidental, but point to a pattern, nay, a plot against Rwanda.
Let us illustrate with a few of these contrived coincidences that continue to appear even when they become obvious to most keen observers that they are just that.
The latest fighting in eastern D R Congo broke out just when the United Nations Security Council was discussing the report of the so-called Group of Experts alleging Rwanda’s support for M23. Indeed it was reported that the “experts” were pushing for UN sanctions against some senior Rwandan officials. If their recommendations had been adopted, that would have paved the way for sanctions against Rwanda.
The outbreak of the current fighting was therefore probably meant to influence the decisions of the Security Council.
Predictable, too, have been the actions of some of the permanent members of the Security Council. France was quick to call for a meeting of the council apparently to authorise MONUSCO to get more directly involved in the fighting on the government side. The diplomatic cover for taking sides in the fighting is the much-abused protection of civilians. Note: the meeting was not called to find ways to end the fighting, but actually to escalate it.
This also has happened before in this region. Some members of the Security Council blocked the UN force in Rwanda in 1994 getting the capacity it needed to prevent the Genocide. France actually went ahead to press for an exclusively French force that not only abetted the genocide, but also shepherded the genocidaires into D R Congo (then Zaire) where they were able to regroup and rearm.
Part of what is happening in DRC originates from those actions.
The other arranged coincidence was the leaking of the Group of Experts report to the media at the time Rwanda was in the running for election to the Security Council. The intention was clear – to influence the vote against Rwanda. In the event, accusations in the report had little impact. Rwanda won the vote handsomely.
In 2010 another UN Report, the so-called Mapping Report on DRC in which Rwanda was painted as the very devil, was released to coincide with the presidential election. Again, the intention was unmistakable – discredit President Paul Kagame and the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), influence the result of the election and erode Rwanda’s international standing.
What is not a coincidence is the similarity of the reports and other accusations against Rwanda. They use the same methodology and have similar flaws. – not surprising since they are done by the same people and based on information from the same sources.
It is obvious, however, that it is not the government of the DRC alone doing all this. They are so inept they cannot even tell a simple lie. So who is doing it?
There is a convergence of interests here. The D R Congo government wants to divert attention from its inability to establish effective authority over its territory and denial of its citizens’ rights.
A small, former colonial power which built itself on the plunder of Congo’s wealth, but whose fortunes have been steadily declining and now risks becoming completely irrelevant, sees in the crisis an opportunity to resurrect them and make it a significant global player again.
Then there is the evil alliance between NGOs still smarting from their inability to establish a presence and relevance in Rwanda, a media that feeds off tales of destruction and contempt for truth where Africa is concerned, and a motley collection of genocide apologists and remnants of an imperialist-bashing ideology of yore. Imagine a combination of Lambert Mende, Steve Hege, Jason Stearns and some editors at international news agencies and media. They will cook up something utterly unpalatable. That is what they have succeeded in doing in D R Congo.