Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Belgian Foreign Minister Suggests Joint Rwanda-Congo-Monusco Border Patrols

So what's happening in North Kivu? There have been various, isolated reports of military maneuvers on the ground, whose significance is difficult to perceive--at least from where I'm sitting, 7,500 miles away. But there have been few reports of outright clashes between FARDC and the mutineers. This suggests one of two possibilities: The first is that Kabila is going about things in a deliberate way, seeking some mutually satisfactory political accommodation with Rwanda while building up a preponderance of force in the region should he need to call on the military. If that's what he's doing, it's an impressive strategy: in the face of a provocation that would prompt almost any nation to issue an immediate declaration of war, Kabila instead chose the diplomatic route while carefully husbanding his resources in the eventuality of conflict.

The alternative is that not much appears to be happening because not much is happening. It may be that Kabila's government is simply too lethargic to meet the mutineers' threat, that the government and opposition are so preoccupied with their real job--the acquisition and disposition of the state's resources to their clientele--that they can't muster up much of a reaction to the latest incursion.

At the moment, the second possibility seems the more likely, unfortunately. The government's general indolence, coupled with the very modest attention this part of the world receives, means that the conflict is likely to go on going on, inconclusively, for months if not years ahead. That's disappointing.

I had hoped things were otherwise. I was impressed a few weeks ago by the Congo's initial reaction to the mutiny. They dispatched senior officials to North Kivu, who gave forceful speeches at towns on or near the frontline. And there were early indications were that the forces FARDC had summoned to deal with the situation were qualitatively superior to the normal run: journalists quoted locals impressed that the new troops weren't hitting them up for cash. It seemed for a while that Congo was actually behaving like a state. 

The Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, in Bujumbura to attend Burundi's 50th anniversary celebration, floated the idea of establishing some sort of joint Rwandan-Congolese-Monusco force patrolling the border. "According the the UN and other sources, Rwanda is part of the problem, which it denies. So now it's up to them to be part of the solution!" He promised to try to keep the problems of eastern Congo on the European agenda.  

Well, it's something anyway.

No comments:

Post a Comment