Friday, March 6, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy

On the heels of this generally hopeful account in the New York Times, The Economist makes the best case yet for the Umoja Wetu operation. My response is here:
I wish I were as optimistic. In return for eliminating a potential rival, Kabila has in effect handed the Kivus over to the tender mercies of Rwanda. What Rwanda plans to do with them is anyone's guess. The people of Kivu fear the worst: that they have been placed under the control of a foreign power with a long history of coveting their land and exploiting their resources. The mood in Kivu is one of frustration and anger. So is it in Kinshasa, where Kabila stands accused by most of the political class of unilaterally relinquishing a portion of the country’s patrimony.

The dangers are many. Few of the FDRL militia have been repatriated. The CNDP militia, now under the control of a man wanted by the ICC, Jean Bosco Ntaganda, aka The Terminator, are supposed to be integrating into Congo’s army. That process is going poorly. Indigenous Congolese militia such as the Mai Mai are reacting unfavorably to the new dispensation and are ready to take up arms against their new “overlords.” The US-sponsored joint Congo-Uganda attack on the LRA resulted in the deaths of 1,000 Congolese civilians and continuing confusion in Ituri. Last week Angolan troops occupied portions of Bas Congo. With neighbors nibbling at the edges of his kingdom, Kabila’s throne is less stable than ever. It is often said that Mobutu’s one gift to the Congolese people was a sense of nationhood. That is a weak glue to rely on if a power vacuum opens up in Kinshasa.

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