[dehai-news] The conflict in the Congo is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies

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From: wolda002@umn.edu
Date: Mon Feb 23 2009 - 01:25:16 EST

The conflict in the Congo is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies

By Kambale Musavuli

Global Research, February 22, 2009
Online Journal - 2009-02-19

Since Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Congo in 1996, they have pursued a plan
to appropriate the wealth of Eastern Congo either directly or through proxy
forces. The December 2008 United Nations report is the latest in a series
of U.N. reports dating from 2001 that clearly documents the systematic
looting and appropriation of Congolese resources by Rwanda and Uganda, two
of Washington and London's staunchest allies in Africa.

However, in the wake of the December 2008 report, which clearly documents
Rwanda's support of destabilizing proxy forces inside the Congo, a series
of stunning proposals and actions have been presented which all appear to
be an attempt to cover up or bury the damning U.N. report on the latest
expression of Rwanda's aggression against the Congolese people.

The earliest proposal came from Herman Cohen, former assistant secretary of
state for African affairs under George Herbert Walker Bush. He proposed
that Rwanda be rewarded for its well documented looting of Congo's wealth
by being a part of a Central and/or East African free trade zone whereby
Rwanda would keep its ill-gotten gains.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy would not be outdone; he also brought his
proposal off the shelf, which argues for essentially the same scheme of
rewarding Rwanda for its 12-year war booty from the Congo. Two elements are
at the core of both proposals.

One is the legitimization of the economic annexation of the Congo by
Rwanda, which for all intents and purposes represents the status quo. And
two is basically the laying of the foundation for the balkanization of the
Congo or the outright political annexation of Eastern Congo by Rwanda. Both
Sarkozy and Cohen have moved with lightning speed past the Dec. 12, 2008,
United Nations report to make proposals that avoid the core issues revealed
in the report.

The U.N. report reaffirms what Congolese intellectuals, scholars and
victims have been saying for over a decade in regard to Rwanda's role as
the main catalyst for the biblical scale death and misery in the Congo. The
Ugandan and Rwandan invasions of 1996 and 1998 have triggered the deaths of
nearly 6 million Congolese. The United Nations says it is the deadliest
conflict in the world since World War II.

The report "found evidence that the Rwandan authorities have been complicit
in the recruitment of soldiers, including children, have facilitated the
supply of military equipment, and have sent officers and units from the
Rwandan Defense Forces" to the DRC. The support is for the National
Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP, formerly led by
self-proclaimed Gen. Laurent Nkunda.

The report also shows that the CNDP is sheltering a war criminal wanted by
the International Criminal Court, Gen. Jean Bosco Ntaganda. The CNDP has
used Rwanda as a rear base for fundraising meetings and bank accounts, and
Uganda is once more implicated as Nkunda has met regularly with embassies
in both Kigali and Kampala.

Also, Uganda is accepting illegal CNDP immigration papers. Earlier U.N.
reports said that Kagame and Museveni are the mafia dons of Congo's
exploitation. This has not changed in any substantive way.

The report implicates Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, a close advisor to Paul
Kagame, president of Rwanda. Rujugiro is the founder of the Rwandan
Investment Group. This is not the first time he has been named by the
United Nations as one of the individuals contributing to the conflict in
the Congo.

In April 2001, he was identified as Tibere Rujigiro in the U.N. Panel of
Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of
Wealth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of the figures
illegally exploiting Congo's wealth. His implication this time comes in
financial contributions to CNDP and appropriation of land.

This brings to light the organizations he is a part of, which include but
are not limited to the Rwanda Development Board, the Rwandan Investment
Group, of which he is the founder, and Kagame's Presidential Advisory
Council. They have members as notable as Rev. Rick Warren, business tycoon
Joe Ritchie, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Scott Ford of
Alltell, Dr. Clet Niyikiza of GlaxoSmithKline, former U.S. President Bill
Clinton and many more.

These connections provide some insight into why Rwanda has been able to
commit and support remarkable atrocities in the Congo without receiving
even a reprimand in spite of the fact that two European courts have charged
their top leadership with war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is
only recently that two European nations, Sweden and the Netherlands, have
decided to withhold aid from Rwanda as a result of its aggression against
the Congolese people.

The report shows that the Congolese soldiers have also given support to the
FDLR and other armed groups to fight against the aggression of Rwanda's
CNDP proxy. One important distinction must be made in this regard. It
appears that the FDLR support comes more from individual Congolese soldiers
as opposed to overall government support.

The Congolese government is not supporting the FDLR in incursions into
Rwanda; however, the Rwandan government is in fact supporting rebel groups
inside Congo. The Congolese population is the victim of the CNDP, FDLR and
the Congolese military.

The United Nations report is a predictable outgrowth of previous reports
produced by the U.N. since 2001. It reflects the continued appropriation of
the land, theft of Congo's resources, and continuous human rights abuses
caused by Rwanda and Uganda. An apparent aim of these spasms is to create
facts on the ground -- land expropriation, theft of cattle and other assets
-- to consolidate CNDP/Rwandan economic integration into Rwanda.

Herman Cohen's "Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?" in the New York Times
reflects the disastrous policies that favor profits over people. In his
article, the former lobbyist for Mobutu and Kabila's government in the
United States and former assistant secretary of state for Africa from 1989
to 1993 argues, "Having controlled the Kivu provinces for 12 years, Rwanda
will not relinquish access to resources that constitute a significant
percentage of its gross national product."

He adds, "The normal flow of trade from eastern Congo is to Indian Ocean
ports rather than the Atlantic Ocean, which is more than a thousand miles
away." Continuing his argument, he believes that "the free movement of
people would empty the refugee camps and would allow the densely populated
countries of Rwanda and Burundi to supply needed labor to Congo and

Cohen's first mistake in providing solutions to the conflict is to look at
the conflict as a humanitarian crisis that can be solved by economic means.
Uganda and Rwanda are the aggressors. Aggressors should not define for the
Congo what is best, but rather it is for the Congo to define what it has to
offer to its neighbor.

A lasting solution is to stop the silent annexation of Eastern Congo. The
International Court of Justice has already weighed in on this matter when
it ruled in 2005 that Congo is entitled to $10 billion in reparations due
to Uganda's looting of Congo's natural resources and the commission of
human rights abuses in the Congo. It would have in all likelihood ruled in
the same fashion against Rwanda; however, Rwanda claimed to be outside the
jurisdiction of the court.

The United States and Great Britain's implication is becoming very clear.
These two great powers consider Rwanda and Uganda their staunch allies and,
some would argue, client states. These two countries have received millions
of dollars of military aid, which, in turn, they use in Congo to cause
destruction and death.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame is a former student at the U.S. military
training base Fort Leavenworth and Yoweri Museveni's son, Lt. Gen. Yoweri
Kaguta Museveni, graduated from the same U.S. military college in the
summer of 2008. Both the United States and Great Britain should follow the
lead of the Dutch and Swedish governments, which have suspended their
financial support to Rwanda.

With U.S. and British taxpayers' support, we now see an estimated 6 million
people dead in Congo, hundreds of thousands of women systematically raped
as an instrument of war and millions displaced.

A political solution will resolve the crisis, and part of that requires
pressure on Rwanda in spite of Rwanda's recent so-called "house arrest" of
Laurent Nkunda. African institutions such as the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) and the African Union are primed to be more
engaged in the Congo issue. Considering Congo's importance to Africa, it is
remarkable that they have been so anemic in regard to the Congo crisis for
so long.

Rwanda's leader, Paul Kagame, cannot feel as secure or be as arrogant as he
has been in the past. One of his top aides was arrested in Germany as a
result of warrants issued by a French court and there is almost global
consensus that pressure must be put on him to cease his support of the
destabilization of the Congo and its resultant humanitarian catastrophe.

In addition to pressure on Kagame, the global community should support the
following policies:

1. Initiate an international tribunal on the Congo.

2. Work with the Congolese to implement a national reconciliation process;
this could be a part of the international tribunal.

3. Work with the Congolese to assure that those who have committed war
crimes or crimes against humanity are brought to justice.

4. Hold accountable corporations that are benefiting from the suffering and
deaths in the Congo.

5. Make the resolution of the Congo crisis a top international priority.

Living is a right, not a privilege, and Congolese deaths must be honored by
due process of the law. As the implication of the many parties in this
conflict becomes clear, we should start firmly acknowledging that the
conflict is a resource war waged by U.S. and British allies.

We call upon people of good will once again to advocate for the Congolese
by following the prescriptions we have been outlining to end the conflict
and start the new path to peace, harmony and an end to the exploitation of
Congo's wealth and devastation of its peoples.

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