| Jan-Mar 09 | Apr-Jun 09 | Jul-Sept 09 | Oct-Dec 09 | Jan-May 10 | Jun-Dec 10 | Jan-May 11 | Jun-Dec 11 |

[Dehai-WN] Pambazuka.org: The Congo conundrum: Truth catches up with Obama

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2012 00:02:15 +0100

The Congo conundrum: Truth catches up with Obama

Antoine Roger Lokongo

2012-03-15, Issue <http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/576> 576


http://www.pambazuka.org/images/articles/574/bullets_tmb.jpgAfrica is being
recolonised. American interventionist activities in the continent’s Great
Lakes region provide a perfect example. African peoples must rise up to
protect their own interests by demanding a new relationship with the West.

As US President Barack Obama’s re-election bid approaches, his supporters
are making sure that ‘the wretched of the earth’, the Africans, accustomed
to unending plights (HIV/Aids, ‘civil wars’, poverty, resource curses,
corruption, militias…) in their ‘hopeless continent’, as Western media
depicts it, boost the chances of the ‘first African president in the White
House’ to secure a second term. The supporters are exploiting Obama’s
‘militarisation policy’ of expanding America’s role in Africa not only to
secure Africa’s abundant natural resources needed to revive the American
economy hit by the global financial crisis caused by the corruption within
the Anglo-Saxon financial system, and for which the whole world is paying a
price; but also in order to monitor ‘aggressive’ China in Africa, as secret
US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks in December 2010 confirmed. [1]

President Obama announced on 14 October 2011 that 100 troops would help
Uganda track down the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel chief Joseph Kony and
other senior LRA leaders. The fight against the LRA has brought together in
the US Congress a consensus from all wings of the political process – from
one extreme to the other. The legislation was sponsored by Senators John
McCain and Russ Feingold and involved almost every humanitarian NGO and
outraged citizen groups arrayed against the depredations of the LRA. [2]

This prompted African analyst Dr Gary Bush to raise legitimate questions
regarding the new US deployment in Africa: Why now? Why is the US suddenly
interested in being militarily involved in the pursuit of the LRA’s Joseph
Kony, when in fact the most vicious period of the LRA rampage is years
behind? Why now when in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) worst
atrocities occur daily, committed by militias far more brutal than the LRA,
which were created and sustained by Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s
Paul Kagame? These two US-backed dictators have been able to siphon billions
of dollars of Congo’s wealth by sponsoring mayhem — massacres, mass rapes
and mutilations – in the vast country through their allied militias. Rwanda
still harbours one of the most sadistic of these killers, Laurent Nkunda.
Long considered one of Africa's most brutal rebel groups, the Lord's
Resistance Army began its attacks in Uganda more than 20 years ago. But the
rebels are at their weakest point in 15 years. Their forces are fractured
and scattered and the Ugandan military estimated earlier in 2011 that only
200 to 400 fighters remain. In 2003 the LRA had 3,000 armed troops and 2,000
people in support roles. Their history is brutish, violent and criminal. [3]

In fact, it is Congo now that is teaching America a lesson. In late 2008,
the National Security Council authorised African Military Command (AFRICOM)
– or rather Africoma, because it puts African people into a coma; if your
only weapon is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail, they say – to
support a military operation (one of the first publicly-acknowledged AFRICOM
operations) against the LRA, which was believed to be in Congo at the time.
AFRICOM provided training and $1 million in financial support for ‘Operation
Lightning Thunder’ – a joint endeavour 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)’. 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. [4] After this disastrous failure, which led to
additional massacres of Congolese civilians, the Congolese army on its own
managed to chase the LRA out of Democratic Republic of Congo to the
neighboring Central African Republic; so much so that the LRA no longer
poses a threat in Congo.

‘We have reduced the capacity of the LRA. For us it’s no longer an issue of
defense. It’s a public order issue. The Americans are supporting the
Ugandans (against the LRA) and the Ugandans want to benefit from that
support,’ General Jean Claude Kifwa, who is in charge of fighting the LRA in
Congo, told journalists in the capital Kinshasa. [5] The comment followed a
complaint by nearby Uganda that Congo was obstructing its US-backed hunt for
Kony. [6]

Despite the many civilian casualties and the Ugandan government’s poor human
rights record, NGOs such as Resolve Uganda, the Enough Project and Invisible
Children have been lobbying Congress for a renewed military operation to
help the Ugandan government ‘finish the job.’ ‘Given the close US
relationship with key actors in ‘Operation Lightning Thunder’ — in
particular Ugandan President Museveni and Southern Sudanese President Salva
Kiir — the United States is uniquely placed to support better targeted
military efforts’, wrote Enough and Resolve Uganda in a joint policy brief
in January 2009. [7]

And while the above-named US lobby groups characterise LRA leader Joseph
Kony as the spoiler who refused to sign a final peace deal, they fail to
acknowledge that the Ugandan government itself has not yet signed the
agreement. President Museveni has consistently thwarted peace efforts (1985,
1994, 2003) when he sensed that they did not serve his interests, which
centre primarily on maintaining power. He has used his close ties to
Washington to build and maintain a favourable image, hiring the DC lobby
firm The Whitaker Group (TWG) to do his bidding. Between November 2006 and
June 2007, Museveni paid the firm $75,000 to publicise the government's
commitment to peace. Jendayi E. Frazer, former US Assistant Secretary of
State for African Affairs under Bush, now works for TWG under a $1 million
contract with the Ugandan Ministry of Finance. In an August 2009 Wall Street
Journal editorial entitled ‘Four Ways to Help Africa’, she called on
President Obama to ‘galvanise US efforts to end the militia violence of
Rwandan and Ugandan rebel groups still operating in the Congo.’ As a paid
consultant for the Ugandan government, Ms Frazer is clearly suggesting
Museveni’s preference for a military solution. [8]

As the US presidential election campaign is approaching, San Diego-based
‘not-for-profit group’ Invisible Children does not want to miss a share of
the cake out of the billions of dollars American billionaires are pouring
into the Obama campaign to support his re-election bid. Invisible Children
has just re-ignited a new ‘Stop Kony’ campaign, under the pretext of
bringing awareness about the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony by uploading a
30-minute documentary called ‘KONY 2012’ to the YouTube website on 5 March
2012. Celebrities such as actor George Clooney and comedian Chelsea Handler
were quick to chime in and voice their support on Twitter using the hashtag

But the reality behind this ‘raging inferno or firestorm spread across the
Internet’ as Invisible Children puts it, [10] is that the US wants to have a
share in the newly-discovered abundant oil reserves in Uganda, in the Lake
Albert fields. Dr Gary Busch suggests that ‘despite being a ruthless and
corrupt dictator the US has decided to anoint Museveni’s head with oil;
perhaps hoping that he will share the oil with the United States of
America’. [11] Yes, Kony is killing in Congo, but so are Museveni and Kagame
and as a Congolese, my aim in writing this article is to denounce in the
strongest terms possible the United States of America’s selective
‘humanitarian justice’, not just in the Democratic Republic of Congo but
also all over the world.

The US-backed National Transitional Council (NTC) is now ethic-cleansing
Libya of black Africans; yes, in Libya where Obama has deployed 12,000
troops to safeguards the United States of America’s oil interests. [12]
Those black Africans whom the NTC goes so far as caging in a zoo, force
feeding them flags, [13] are not the concern of the ‘first black African
president in the White House’. Only oil is.

More than 5 million Congolese have been killed as a result of Rwanda and
Uganda’s invasion and aggression against Congo. In fact several UN reports
have used the word ‘genocide’ in Congo. Why is Barack Obama not lifting a
finger to back a special criminal tribunal for Congo to try and punish those
responsible for crimes against humanity in Congo? Isn’t it because he is
shielding Museveni and Kagame from accountability?

Moreover, we are still waiting for a congressional inquiry following an
incident in Congo where Kase Lawal, an Obama-appointed US trade adviser, was
linked to an illegal deal in Congolese gold. Lawal, a Nigerian-born US oil
tycoon, orchestrated a deal to buy gold worth millions of dollars from the
notorious rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda and transferred millions of dollars to
him between December 2010 and February 2011 as part of the deal, as a report
by the UN’s Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
states. If true, this would be a contravention of UN resolutions banning
individuals or organisations from financing illegal armed groups in the
war-torn eastern DRC. [14]

Coincidence? A Manhattan federal jury on 2 November 2011 convicted Russian
arms trader Viktor Bout of four counts of conspiracy to sell antiaircraft
weapons and other arms to purported Colombian rebels to kill Americans. [15]
Bout was also involved in many wars in Africa, including in Sierra Leone and
Congo but that is Africa, not the US. Moreover, Ukraine is now supplying the
UN Mission in Congo with strategic helicopters, but that mission is also
involved in the trafficking of minerals and abuses of Congolese women.

Ironically, to safeguard its interests in Congo, the United States has not
hesitated to use warlords, terrorists, mercenaries and dogs of war to
safeguard those interests. There has been a massive US air presence in
Africa, especially in the Congo. After the fall of Stanleyville (now
Kisangani) in the hands of Lumumbist forces, the US was prompted to expand
it capabilities. This included the delivery of four C-130, a group of B-26
bombers (totaling seven or eight by January 1965), and arms and equipment
for Mobutu’s ground troops. Fast patrol boats were provided to intercept
arms shipments (and personnel movement) across Lake Tanganyika. Even
maintenance was provided, with a staff of 50 to 100 Europeans employed by
another CIA proprietary, the Liechtenstein-registered company WIGMO (Western
International Ground Maintenance Organization).

The US air power and weaponry supported a force of some seven hundred
mercenaries (Europeans, South Africans, and Rhodesians) assembled by
Katangan secessionist leader Moise Tshombe, the CIA and the Belgians. Some
of the better-known of the Congo mercenaries, like the former French NCO Bob
Denard, who took over command of the French-speaking Six Commando that had
fought for the Katangans in the war of secession, were later recruited by
the United States to work in Angola. The exiled Cuban pilots (anti-Castro)
based at WIGMO flew regular bombing runs in B-26 bombers across the Congo
and later against regular Cuban forces in Angola. This militarisation
extended to the anti-MPLA fortresses in the Caprivi Strip. [16]

Africa is being recolonised under the cloak of humanitarianism in the
broad-day light and Africans do not even see it! An exceptional insight
about this tragedy came from Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda who raised
this issue with former South African President Thabo Mbeki following his
address at the Makerere University, Uganda in January 2012. He asked:

‘Whether it is in literature, philosophy, politics, economy or art, there is
very little output about Africa by Africans themselves. Our ‘freedom’ today
is fought for by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International; our ‘press
freedom’ is fought for by the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters
without Borders; our ‘civil wars’ are ended by UN peacekeepers; our
‘refugees’ are fed by UNHCR; our ‘economic policies’ are determined by the
World Bank and IMF; our ‘poverty’ is fought by Bill Gates, Bono and Jeffery
Sachs; our ‘crimes’ are adjudicated upon by the ICC; our ‘liberation’ is
achieved through NATO war planes [our ‘elections are monitored by Europe and
America’ and they are the judges]’. [17]

Where is the change after all? Who are the drivers of the ‘African
stability’ fought for on our behalf? Are Africans themselves the drivers of
that stability? And if they are not, whose interests is that stability
safeguarding? $50 billions is siphoned out of Africa every year. Do we have
to believe that that money is stolen by ‘African corrupt governments’ alone
without Western accomplices? No! Isn’t it like a person who steals the food,
eats it to his satisfaction and then rubs the oil around the mouth of a
hungry person whom he accuses of having stolen the food?

After Libya and Ivory Coast, we have to change the nature of our relations
with our former colonial powers before it is too late and regain our place
in the world. We have got to work with China (China has already stood up). I
believe we can do it because during this global financial crisis it is China
and Africa who are saving the world. China with its huge foreign reserves
and natural resources like rare earth and Africa with its abundant natural
and energy resources. China is now the second most powerful economy in the
world and Brazil has just kicked out Britain to become the world’s sixth
largest economy. The Chinese have succeeded because they had to face the
pains of relying on themselves after independence (1949). Unless Africa goes
through the same pain China went through to determine our own future, we
will remain forever last on the queue.

China invests its own money in Africa. I am not sure where the money of
Western investors comes from. I am convinced that Western powers who looted
Africa for centuries and are still looting the wealth of Congo and other
African countries, got very rich out of Africa’s wealth, and now are coming
back to Africa with money generated in Africa to 'invest' in Africa. We have
to live with these contradictions as if there is nothing we can do about it!
And what investment are we talking about? They just have to bribe African
elites and they get what they want.

We have to speak with one voice and refuse to be used one against the other
– divide and rule - as Rwanda and Uganda backed by US and Britain have just
invaded Congo, killing 5 million people, looting Congo’s wealth and raping
women; and that war was aimed also at kicking China out of Congo; we have to
reject the Washington consensus, rely on ourselves in cooperation with our
true friends, China, South America…) in order to bust those mechanisms
(Churches, IMF, World Bank structural adjustment mechanism, Africom - again,
I call it Africoma because it puts Africa into a coma - civil societies and
NGOs both local and international all financed from outside , aid
agencies...) which have been put in place to keep Africa always down and
last on the queue. And as the financial crisis bites, cunning Western powers
are adding new mechanisms such as telling African countries ‘to ensure a
better environment for business’. That is a ploy, because they want to
revive their economies, and as Libya and Ivory Coast demonstrate, they will
not hesitate to use military power to grab African resources in order to
revive their economies hit by the global financial crisis.

We have to go the South America way. South American countries are succeeding
exactly because they have reached their own consensus instead of trusting
the Washington Consensus. As Noam Chomsky puts it, in the past decade, for
the first time in 500 years, South America has taken successful steps to
free itself from western domination, another serious loss for America. The
region has moved towards integration, and has begun to address some of the
terrible internal problems of societies ruled by mostly Europeanized elites,
tiny islands of extreme wealth in a sea of misery. They have also rid
themselves of all U.S. military bases and of IMF controls. A newly formed
organization, CELAC, includes all countries of the hemisphere apart from the
U.S. and Canada. If it actually functions, that would be another step in
American decline, in this case in what has always been regarded as ‘the
backyard’. [18]

Where are the African Krumahist, Lumumbist, Laurent Kabilist, Mondlaneist,
Gaddafist, Sankarist … progressives?


[1] BBC. 2010.Wikileaks: US monitors “aggressive’ China in Africa.
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-11955516> BBC World-Africa news.
[2] Al-Bulush Samar. 2011. US legislation authorises military action against
the LRA in Uganda. Pambazuka News.
<http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/63283> Pambazuka News.
[3] Busch Gary. 2011. The United States and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
-Lord-s-Resistance-Army.shtml> Ocnus.net.
[4] Ibid.,
[5] Hogg Johnny. 2012. Kony’s LRA rebels mostly out of Congo, general says.
html> Reuters.
[6] Biryabarema Elias. 2012. In spotlight, Uganda says Congo slows hunt for
.html> Reuters.
[7] Busch Gary, Op. Cit.,
[8] Ibid.,
[9] Santiago, Brandon. 2012. ‘Stop Kony’ campaign ignites
e6c.html> .
[10] Ibid.,
[11] Busch Gary, Op. Cit.,
[12] Algeria-ISP.com. Libye – 12.000 soldats Américains en attente à Malte
pour rentrer en Libye.
[13] RT.com. 2012. Libyan rebels cage black Africans in zoo, force feed them
flags (SHOCK VIDEO).
<http://rt.com/news/libya-rebels-torture-africans-679/> RT.com.
[14] Jones Pete. 2012. Obama-appointed US trade adviser linked to illegal
deal in Congolese gold. 5 February.The Guardian. World. News. UK Edition.
[15] Lynch Colum. 2012. Arms dealer Viktor Bout convicted. 3 March. The
Washington Post. Word News. Home Edition.
[16] Busch Gary 2012. Uncivil Aviation in Africa.
a.html> Nigeriavillagesquare.com.
[17] Gyezaho Emmanuel. 2012. Africa: Thabo Mbeki Speaks On African
Problems... <http://allafrica.com/stories/201201240117.html> The Monitor.
[18] Chomsky, Noam. 2012. The Imperial Way: American Decline in Perspective.
hegemony_and_its_discontents/> .



      ------------[ Sent via the dehai-wn mailing list by dehai.org]--------------

(image/jpeg attachment: image001.jpg)

Received on Fri Mar 16 2012 - 19:02:30 EDT
Dehai Admin
© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 1993-2012
All rights reserved