Thursday, 22 November 2012

DR-CONGO: '' The Fall of Goma'': Why Rwanda-backed M23 captured Goma?

Goma has fallen. This is the first time that the city of Goma has fallen to Rwanda-backed rebels since foreign occupying armies officially pulled out under peace deals at the end of the most recent 1998-2003 war.

A confidential report by the UN Security Council's Group of Experts, says Rwanda's defence minister, James Kabarere, is personally running the M23 rebellion. After wars in 1990's, Rwanda withdrew troops from Dr-Congo in 2002. But Rwanda's security apparatus has continued to project its military, political and economic interests across the border, using armed groups as proxies, such as M23.

There is a complex stew of economic, nationalistic and ethnic drivers as to why Rwanda has been trying very hard to invade and remain in eastern Dr-Congo. The fall of Goma is clear example of that.

Ethnic reasons

Rwanda has invaded Dr-Congo three times in a decade. The first time was shortly after the 1994 Rwandan-genocide, which led to the fall of  Mobutu, then two more times between 1998-2003. In all these occasions Rwanda has argued that it was chasing out the Hutus in Dr-Congo.

All these conflicts were broadly linked to 1994 Rwandan genocide that saw Hutu soldiers and militia kill around 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis in 100 days. After the genocide, many of the Hutu militia fighters fled to camps in Dr-Congo.

Rwanda, now led by President Paul Kagame's Tutsi-dominated government, claims the Hutu fighters sheltering in Congo remain a threat and it has a right to focus on security, especially as the Congolese state has failed to pacify the border area.

The United Nations reports that the Hutu rebel FDLR force hiding in eastern Congo, believed to number as many as 15,000 a decade ago, has been reduced to less than 2,000 fighters. From January to April 2012, the FDLR Hutu fighters were no longer in eastern of Dr-Congo. That's the reason why Rwanda has changed its strategy in invading Dr-Congo.

A brand new rebellion needed to take place in order to pursue Rwanda's economic and political interests in  eastern Dr-Congo. In April this year, the M23 was born with new ideology to maintain Rwanda's presence in Dr-Congo, since the ethnic-reasons were out-dated.

Economic reasons

Rwanda, whose army first entered Congo in 1996 and fought in two wars there, claims it is being made a scapegoat for the Congo government's and wider world's failures to bring peace to the vast, mineral-rich former Belgian colony at the heart of Africa. Since then, Rwanda has maintained covert capacity to shape events in the eastern Dr -Congo.They never let go. Festering eastern Dr-Congo conflicts, subsequently the fall of Goma, is eroding of Rwanda's biggest assets: its status as model of post-conflict development lauded by world leaders and business executives.

Dr-Congo's geography of vast, impenetrable rainforest has long steered its eastern trade away from its own distant capital Kinshasa and towards Rwanda's much closer capital Kigali. Dr-Congo's boderlands are separated from Kinshasa by more than 1,500 km. There are no year-round roads and a decrepit aviation sector.

By contrast, traders in Goma, lakeside capital of Congo's North Kivu province, can cross the Rwandan border and drive just a few hours on gleaming highways to its capital Kigali, where a modern airport boast flights to far-flung hubs like Dubai and Singapore.

Rwanda's President, Paul Kagamé, sees the chaotic Dr-Congo's infrastructure as a getaway to ecoonomic expansion for his small country. Most of the Rwanda's booming economic depend largely by the smuggling of Goma's natural resources, enough reasons to back the M23 in eastern Dr-Congo.

Political and Military reasons

Rwanda now has one of the best armies in Africa, and has not suffered an attack from Hutu rebels in Dr-Congo for about a decade. Rwandan President, Paul kagame, is determined to sustain the loyalty of his powerful military, which sees opportunities in Dr-Congo's eastern riches.

The fall of Goma laid bare the weakness of the Dr-Congo's government army, despite millions of dollars in foreign aid. Ultimately the success of Rwandan-rebellion of M23 in eastern Dr-Congo has at least as much to do with Dr-Congo's weakness as Rwanda's strength.

The M23's rapid expansion is a clear sign it must be helped from abroad, It's no longer a sceret that M23 is just another finger of Rwandan army but there is more to it. The M23 rebels numbered just a few hundred in April 2012 and were surrounded by the Dr-Congo's government forces.
Since then, their ranks have swelled to 1,500. They were wearing crisp camouflage uniforms and brandish gleaming new guns and grenades which they claim they captured from fleeing Dr-Congo's government troops.

UN reports have documented lucrative smuggling rackets ferrying coltan, tin, gold and tungsten ferried across to Rwanda. At the height of Dr-Congo's last war in 1999, profits from eastern Congo's mineral fields contributed some $320 million to Rwanda's defence budget.

The inactivity and failure of UN peacekeepers in Dr-Congo (MONUSCO) to protect the civilian and Goma are clear signs that Dr-Congo is victim of the International Community's sinister plan to balkanize the eastern Dr-Congo's region.

During the Rwandan's 1994 genocide, the UN peacekeepers in Rwanda, then, played the same game as more than 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu perished. The French government expressed frustration with the UN peacekeepers, who gave up defending the city after Congo's army retreated. Paris called it ''absurd'' that the UN force did not protect Goma. Indeed, the UN peacekeepers failed to implement cease-fire, failed to stop mineral smuggling, in some cases, they were themselves involved in smuggling weapons and mineral, mostly failed to protect civilian.

Now that Goma has finally fallen to Rwanda-backed rebellion, the withdrawal of Dr-Congo civilian officials and troops left the void behind that could not be filled alone. There are unconfirmed reports that M23 are to remain in Goma for the next 4 to 5 years, controlling all the city natural resources.

It is indeed sad to admit it, the fall of Goma is a step closer to the accomplishment of the International Community's sinister plan to balkanizing the eastern Dr-Congo.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist
Author of : The Political Game of the Weakest Link

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