Monday, January 19, 2009

Who Wants What?

Because so many of the actors in the DRC's conflicts are themselves obscure and evanescent, or proxies operating on behalf of veiled interests, or simply incompetent, it can be difficult to disentangle who wants what in the Congo and who might be capable of delivering it. Is Rwanda in Congo to hunt down the ex-genocidaires, or is it there to exploit the Congo's resources? Is Nkunda a legitimate defender of the Rwandan immigrant communities in eastern Congo, or an opportunistic politician seeking a platform for his own grandiose ambitions? Are the Mai Mai loyal nationalists fighting off foreign invaders, or deluded thugs looking to make a quick buck? Why has the DRC's army proven not merely incompetent, but one of the major abusers of its own citizens' human rights--even in areas where they might be welcomed as liberators?

Marijan Zumbulev of the International Crisis Group attempted to shed some light on these questions in a review of recent developments in the DRC, where he shared a panel with Autesserre at the Wilson Center. I've written earlier that he believes that Bosco Ntaganda has formed an alliance with both Rwanda and DRC governments to topple Nkunda's CNDP and help round up the FDLR. One potentially serious consequence of that is that Nkunda may have no option but to move his remaining forces southward, toward Goma. Zumbulev also indicated that the Rwandan government will say, off the record, that all they really want in the Congo are about a dozen or so of the ex-genocidaires who took refuge there after 1994. (In other words, that they don't really feel the need to hunt down the entire FDLR militia, most of whom had little to do with the 94 genocide.) He was hopeful--more hopeful than I am--that Mkapa and Obasanjo can make significant progress in the region, but he cautioned that there was no military solution to the violence and that peace wouldn't come without persistent cajoling from the international community.

I remain less convinced than many observers of the benefits of ongoing diplomacy. As I've often said in the past, it seems to me that most of the fighting in the region is the result of opportunistic resource grabs. And what we need, in this chaotic environment, where life is indeed nasty, brutish, and short, is a State, properly constituted--and in its absence, a MONUC force capable of acting in loco status until an adequate state and military can be nurtured into existence.

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