Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Happens Next

For a while there, after Rwanda's officially sanctioned return, I no longer had a clear sense of what was happening in the Congo. Too many balls were up in the air. But things have settled down, so for what it's worth, here's what I think is going to happen next:

The Rwandans will stay in eastern Congo for the foreseeable future, essentially occupying it. From time to time, they'll extradite some FDLR back to Rwanda, but for the most part, they'll avoid serious confrontations that could lead to Congolese and international condemnation. They'll buy off local, indigenous opposition, and they'll deal off-camera with those they can't buy off, such as any recalcitrant Mai-Mai. Meanwhile, below the radar screen, they'll expropriate the productive mines (today it's the gold mines that are particularly valuable). Every so often, Kabila will make vague noises of one kind or another, depending on the political pressure he's under at the moment, but do nothing to undercut the Rwandans. The Congolese people will fume, but won't be able to force their government to act decisively against the occupation. (Which it couldn't do, even if it wanted to.) The international community will conclude that it might as well put a smiley face on the whole situation, since it's incapable of changing it. With Rwanda eliminating opposing militia, the incidence of bloodshed and sexual violence in the region will decrease, pleasing some of the humanitarians. MONUC will gradually stand down, its troops and funding needed for crises elsewhere on the continent. The United States will tacitly approve of these developments, since it means one less African disaster to deal with, although Obama officials will be careful to express the hope that Rwandan troops will eventually be able to return home. France, too, will support these developments, and seek to build on this budding detente with Rwanda to defuse lingering recriminations about the 1994 genocide. Belgium will utter some muted and impotent dissent. But in the end, Rwanda's long-standing ambition to annex the Kivus will become a fait accompli. The usual Rwandaphiles will applaud. Kagame will continue to take his seat at Bill Clinton's right hand during Davos and CGI meetings, and Kristof will go on inking fawning editorials about their joint efforts to improve Africa's investment climate.

1 comment:

  1. sounds feasible, but it didn't exactly work out this way last time around in '98-02. what makes you think this time will be different? will the population of the Kivus really be so acquiescent to renewed Rwandan occupation? how does Kabila maintain control if the country turns against him?