Friday, March 29, 2013

Cool Graphics We Don't Want to Start Assembling for Africa

I'm going to keep harping on this until I see a good reason to desist. US policy toward Africa is becoming heavily militarized. If current trends continue, we'll soon be making cool graphics like these ones below--illustrating US attacks in Pakistan--about Somalia, Mali, Eritrea, and perhaps even northern Nigeria. Do not underestimate the sheer momentum of the US military, once the money starts flowing its way. The resources available to it dwarf by two full orders of magnitude anything available to State or USAID. Very soon the military could own US Africa policy, and people like this charmer will be deciding what Africa needs of us.

This graphic, created in October, 2012, depicts US drone strikes in Pakistan under Obama.

And this graphic, though it might have some questionable labeling, depicts US military strikes in Pakistan since 2004.

Round Up in Brief

Sorry for the brief hiatus. Been traveling.

Africa Confidential briefs on the remaining M23 rebels, some 1300 troops under the command of Sultani Makenga. For a round-up of tweets about Sultani from June 2012, see here. He's fortifying his positions around Goma and recruiting heavily, reports The Guardian. According to a UN official: "Makenga has been digging in, consolidating and going after new recruits. Everything feels very jittery right now. It's an unstable moment." Makenga is apparently demanding full reintegration of his force into the DRC army and a senior position for himself that would give him control of the mineral-rich North and South Kivu provinces. So, good luck with that.

The toll for last weekend's Katangan dust-up: 35 killed and 53 wounded, including 15 seriously. Not clear: whether all or nearly all of the dead and wounded were rebels and bystanders, or whether some were FARDC soldiers. In other words: was this a battle or a massacre? Also still not clear: whether the "rebels" started the violence or more or less peacefully arrived en masse at the city center to hoist the flag of Katangan independence.

Memo to Colonel Bristol: This skinny Chinese guy,
he's whipping your ass.
Every once in a while, it's worth remembering that the Congo could be a dynamo for the entire continent. It's not too late for the DRC to be catching a continental wave, says mine-owner Robert Friedland. The DRC is laying an fiber optic cable between Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, with the help of the US military snipers--ha, ha--I mean with the Chinese, of course. But the challenges of re-igniting the Congolese economy remain enormous, as this article about the difficulties of relaunching a sugar cane processing plant in South Kivu makes plain.

Incidentally, this is precisely why the wars in the Congo--which generally feature so few actual battles--have nevertheless proven so deadly. In places like eastern Congo war is, in effect, development in reverse. It takes away the few economic opportunities people have; The sugar cane plant gets ransacked and the owners decide it isn't worth re-opening, given the ongoing insecurity; but with the sugar cane plant gone there's no longer any income to keep the town clinic open; and that means that when your kid falls sick with malaria you can't afford the fifty-cent fansidar tablets; and that means the death toll keeps climbing upward.

Some kind of weird shit's going down between filmmaker Thiery Michel and Katangan governor Moise Katumbi over the (from what I can tell of the preview largely positive) film Michel made of him. My best guess is that Katumbi's not as upset about the few criticisms Michel included as he is pissed off the filmmaker put him in Kabila's crosshairs.

More tk soon on the proposed Monusco strike force. Promise.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In the Sahel, a Better Way to Nip anti-US Sentiment

There are better ways to fight anti-US extremism in the Sahel than by pursuing policies that fan those exact sentiments. For example, instead of stomping on them, how about we subsidize a hundred thousand flights a year to the Hajj? The vast majority of the men of the region are too poor to undertake the pilgrimage. Yet for many it's one of the most important and meaningful things they could ever do. The cost, at I'm guesstimating $200 a pop, would be minimal in the military's scheme of things. But the amount of gratitude and good will we'd engender would be priceless.

Why Everyone Who Cares about Africa Should Worry about Obama's Militarization of the Continent

Today's article in The Guardian about the US deployment of drones in Niger is the umpteenth bit of evidence that US policy toward Africa is becoming heavily militarized. Sometimes I try to make the argument that this gun-first policy is dangerous and short-sighted. Sometimes I argue that it's bound to leave us poorer and less influential--especially compared to China. But who am I fooling? What I really hate about the policy is that it kills people.

The statement below, which I just came across, seems to me as powerful as any I've seen of the sheer inhumanity of our policies, as they are experienced by ordinary people in the "ungoverned spaces" of the Arab world. (It was published by those bomb-throwing radicals at the Brookings Institution, in case you need a little centrist credibility sugar to take along with the medicine.) Any one who cares about Africa should be worried that we're about to do to it what we have been doing there.

By Akbar Ahmed
The Thistle and the Drone: The United States, Islam, and the War on Terror
As the debate about the drone and the war on terror in America emerges, these are the voices that are not heard—those of the victims and the targeted communities. They are lost in the din of the war on terror and the 24 hour media cycle in the United States. The debate is in fact no debate at all: only one position, that of America, is represented. The arguments swirl around the precision of drone technology, keeping American boots off the ground, and the legality of the strikes. Few are concerned with the moral implications of the drone’s use and the social and historical reasons why certain members of the targeted communities have resorted to violence, being merely cast aside as “Islamic terrorists,” “Islamists,” or “jihadists.”
My latest study . . . The Thistle and the Drone explains an important correlation: the United States uses drones almost exclusively against Muslim tribes with strong codes of honor and revenge living on the borders between nations—the tribes on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in Yemen, Somalia, the southern Philippines, Turkey, and Mali. For these communities, the deadly drone is a symbol for America’s war on terror. It is constantly hovering above unseen, operated by Americans on the other side of the world, and with the ability to strike at will. ...
Many of these tribal communities had been fighting for decades in order to defend their identity, culture, and independence in the chaotic and often brutal modern states created after the departure of the European colonial powers. After the tragic events of 9/11, it was to the “ungoverned spaces” of these peripheral communities that the United States looked to in their hunt for al Qaeda. Many of their central governments found it convenient to ally themselves with the United States and become integrated in the globalized financial, military, information, and communication networks. The United States, dominated by ideas of a “clash of civilizations” between the West and Islam, were quick to ascribe the retaliatory actions of the tribes as the work of al Qaeda or al Qaeda-linked militants as part of a “global jihad.” Once the specter of al Qaeda was invoked, the United States’ was fully committed to bolstering the military capabilities of its allies. U.S. involvement, especially the use of the drone, proved to exacerbate and expand these conflicts, each with their own social and historical context. The war on terror had thus become a global war on tribal Islam.
Amidst the anarchic violence, it is, however, the innocent men, women, and children of the periphery who suffer the most—children in a school, poverty-ridden families standing in line for food, or congregations at worship in a house of prayer. These communities are facing a massive humanitarian crisis yet their plight goes unrecognized under the din of America’s war on terror and the heavy fog of war. Pounded by drones and military strikes one day, suicide bombers the next, the people of the periphery cry out, “Everyday is like 9/11 for us.”

She'd have to be really, really, really Special

Enough is on a tear to have Obama appoint a special envoy to the Great Lakes.

I can't see that it would do much harm, unlike some of their other ideas.  In principle, at least, an envoy could raise the Great Lakes' profile within the administration; help secure for it additional funding and resources; coordinate the USG's response across the multitude of concerned embassies and agencies; and, not least, provide some much-needed direction to a region that's suffered from more than a little policy drift.

En principe. The reality, I suspect, is that the appointment of one more mid-level official just won't make that much of a difference. The reason that central Africa has been such a low priority for the Obama administration--despite it being the subject of Senator Obama's sole legislative accomplishment--is that it's in central Africa. Short of naming Bill Clinton special envoy no staffing decision will change the Congo's underlying (lack of) significance to US policymakers.[1]

The small poli-sci literature on the topic says that envoys tend to be a mixed lot, but are never game changers. Sometimes they piss off the ambassadors and assistant secretaries and whoever else's turf they step on. And sometimes they help grease solutions along. Rebecca Hamilton, who studied envoys' record for her book on advocacy for Sudan, writes:
Another repeated achievement of advocates, the appointment of special envoys, did not have such a positive impact. The appointment of a special envoy was a relatively low-cost way for the administration to show it was listening to advocates and advocates repeatedly understood the appointment of an envoy as a signal that Sudan was being treated as a foreign policy priority. But contrary to advocates hopes and expectations, the appointment of special envoys generally increased bureaucratic infighting with the Department of State and sent mixed messages to Khartoum. 
If nothing else, then, the appointment of an envoy will give Obama a quick way to mollify his critics and give those critics a cheap victory to crow about. It might not change anything on the ground, but it probably won't do much harm.

On the other hand, the last time Enough called for a special envoy, to Sudan, they got Scott Gration. That didn't work out too well. Gration, to be sure, said some impolitic things. But the underlying policy decisions that so infuriated Enough (and other advocacy groups) were Obama's. That put it in an awkward position: Enough is a human rights advocacy group, but it's also a creature of the Democratic party, part and parcel of the Center for American Progress, John Podesta's outfit. Enough couldn't go after Obama with the same abandon they attacked Bush. So Gration became their whipping boy; the scapegoat for President Obama's betrayal of Candidate Obama's promises to get tough on Sudan.

And on the topic of envoys past, a few of us remember that we had a special envoy to the Great Lakes once before, during the Clinton years. Howard Wolpe served first as Burundi then as GL envoy from 1996 to 2000. Wolpe was a decent guy, had a good track record on South Africa, and enjoyed some modest prominence as a former congressman. But is there anyone who would say that US policy toward central Africa distinguished itself during that era? Howard French, who covered the region for the New York Times, says that "these disasters [the genocide in Rwanda and the wars in the Congo] were arguably Bill Clinton's most important foreign policy legacy." I think that's putting it mildly.

Instead of lobbying for the appointmet of a special envoy, here are four ideas off the top of my head that would help the Congo a lot more:
  1. We should be pushing the Obama administration to support the initiative to equip Monusco with an intervention brigade capable of searching and destroying insurgent militia. This is especially important because a decision about this is being made at the UN RIGHT NOW
  2. We should have our diplomats on the ground instruct Kabila in no uncertain terms that we will not let him steal another election, and we should be working now on building the infrastructure and mechanisms to support legislative and national elections.  
  3. We should re-energize the effort to establish a mixed court to pursue the findings of the mapping report, one of the most harrowing and important documents of our time.
  4. We should ratchet up by an order of magnitude the amount of money we disburse to Congolese civil society organizations that are working, often in terrible penury and at great personal risk, on behalf of women rights, democratization, human rights, and so on. We should provide them with the technical training and assistance so that they can most effectively hod their own governments' feet to the fire.
Look, I'm not opposed to the US appointing a special envoy to the Great Lakes. I just wish the leading US Africa advocacy group--a group with the closest of ties to the current administration--were capable of a little more imagination. The Congo has been the world's greatest humanitarian disaster for the past fifteen years. It would be nice to see Enough promoting solutions modestly commensurate to the scale of the region's losses.

[1] And even then--what's been Envoy Clinton's record on Haiti exactly?

Graphic: Why Ntaganda's Surrender Isn't the End of the Story

Jeune Afrique is out today with an interactive, expandable map of other armed groups operating in eastern DRC. It was created by Kisangani journalist Trésor Kibangula, and based on a study of armed groups conducted in 2010--so it's already somewhat dated. It's still a great piece of work and an excellent example of what can be done. Now we just need someone prominent who can raise this sort of mapping project up a notch or three. Nudge, hint, Affleck

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tis the Season

Auto Proclamé no more
For militia leaders to hang up their Kalashnikovs, apparently. Last week it was Ntaganda, of course, but before that Kava Seli, the self-proclaimed general of the Ecumenical Forces for the Liberation of the Congo; then on Saturday the Kata Katanga handed themselves over to Monusco; they're en route to a detention center in Kinshasa. Now it's the turn of militia leader William Amuri, of the Yakutumba mai mai. He surrendered with his wife and 60 armed men to FARDC, Sunday, March 24, in the town of Sebele, in Fizi (South Kivu).

OSISA has a slightly dated backgrounder on the Kata Katanga from January 2012, which argued that the recent return of Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga - a convicted criminal and former self-proclaimed rebel leader, was even more worrying than developments in eastern DRC.

Kabila, Kagame and Museveni met in Oyo, in the RoC, to discuss implementation of the peace framework. The communique of their meeting follows the fold after the press review.

Major props to Paul Mulond at CongoNews, who has the details about how it all started falling apart for Ntaganda.

The kind of thing stomping doesn't much help with: RAWBANK, the DRC's largest bank, is now offering a full range of banking services in yuan.

Last week it was Rwanda's turn, this week it's Uganda's. Researchers with the UNDP say that Uganda was one of the six fastest growing economies in the world last year.

And here it is, your Revue de la Presse, for Monday, March 25, 2013:

« Grands Lacs : quadripartite à Oyo sans Dos Santos », titre à la Une LE POTENTIEL qui annonce que la médiation de Sassou Nguesso est en marche. En effet, rapporte ce journal, quatre chefs d’Etat se sont donné rendez-vous dimanche 24 mars à Oyo, village natal du président Denis Sassou Nguesso du Congo-Brazzaville. Joseph Kabila, Paul Kagame, Yoweri Museveni et Denis Sassou Ngueso, tous signataires de l’accord-cadre du 24 février dernier, ont conféré sur « la paix dans la région des Grands Lacs, notamment dans l’Est de la RDC à la suite des accords conclus dernièrement sur la RDC à Addis-Abeba ».

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hint: Not Us

Jinping wants to sell them boots
If our focus in Africa is on who to stomp on, and theirs is on who to trade with, who do you think will have more power and influence in the continent in 20 years?

More on Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Africa here and here and here.

Water, Water Everywhere and not a Drop . . .

More plentiful than potable
Major kudos to Syfia Grands Lacs, which features an excellent series of articles about drinking water in the Great Lakes. Only 13 percent of urban dwellers in the DRC have a tap in their home that functions at least part-time. Three quarters of Congo's population drink untreated water--tho' it's not clear what percentage of that water is potentially toxic. In Matadi, the state's failure to provide running water has created economic opportunities for some, including lucky well owners and bikers able to transport the stuff. Also in Matadi, people live off bags of water that sell for $0.50 per "canadian," which I'm guessing is about a liter. In Kikwit, women and girls rise well before dawn to begin their treck to one of the city's rare public water taps. Electoral promises to improve the situation have led nowhere. In Beni, in northeast Congo, taps built by the European Union are treated as precious community property. In Bas Congo, deforestation is threatening to destroy or pollute existing water sources.

Shoddy and illegal construction in Bukavu have blocked traditional waterways, causing floods and landslides.

A "ville morte" operation in Goma from March 11 to March 13 is said to have successfully shamed city authorities to relaunch road work. Hey, it's a start. If I were a Soros-type billionaire trying to help Congo, I'd spend a lot to help civil society groups do more stuff like this to pressure the government to do its job.

More on yesterday's fracas in Katanga: Some 250 rebels are now ensconced inside Monusco's compound in Lubumbashi. About 50 of them are wounded; 15 seriously. Estimates are that 15 rebels died in the fighting yesterday and that another 20 civilians were killed. It's not clear whether the "rebels" actually instigated the fighting or not: Braeckman says they were simply marching downtown together with their women and children.The rebels are Kata Katanga, a mai mai group from Mbjui Mayi. They are angry, apparently, at being cut off from the income of southern Katanga and worried that they've lost influence in the government, thanks to the recent demotions of co-ethnics ex-police chief John Numbi (suspected of having killed Chebeya) and Mulunda Ngoy (widely criticized for his handling of the elections), and the death of Kaumba Mwanke in an airplane crash.

No Revue de la Presse on Sundays.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Just another Day at the Office

I'm pretty sure this wasn't the revolution Marley had in mind
Press accounts about the fracas in Lubumbashi that took approximately 15 lives earlier this morning remain confused. According to Reuters, hundreds of rebels armed with bows and arrows and machetes attacked a military camp and the provincial governor's office before being repelled by soldiers. They then rampaged through town, before either seizing or surrendering to the local Monusco camp. See this Youtube clip for the scenes.

The Congolese government announced that last month it arrested two people it claims were planning to assassinate President Joseph Kabila. Reuters reports that one of the suspects is a medical doctor and former member of the Belgian parliament.

Oh, and accused warlord Bosco Ntaganda arrived in The Hague and was placed in a cell at the ICC shortly before midnight on Friday.

Other than that, how was your day, dear?

Your astonishing fact of the day, courtesy of twitterer @pakokoya:

And here it is, your Revue de la Press for Saturday, March 23, 2013:

Bosco Ntaganda hume désormais l’air infeste de la prison dorée de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), constate LE POTENTIEL qui soutient, par ailleurs, que l’heure du déballage a sonné.

Friday, March 22, 2013

On a Street named Lumumba

Still standing, at least...
Radio Okapi reports that work on Kinshasa's Lumumba Boulevard--the road to the airport--has all but ceased. It had been a showcase project for Kabila prior to the 2011 national election: But today, says RO, it"ressemble aujourd’hui à un chantier abandonné. Ni les équipes de travail ni les engins ne sont plus visible..." (nb., the use of the word "chantier.")

Which reminds me to plug Guy Tillim's 2009 book of photographs on Lumumba avenues/streets/boulevards/roads etc. in Angola, Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Madagascar and Mozambique. Patrice would have wept.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch . . .

Fears that Rwanda might prevent Bosco Ntaganda's extradition to the ICC are dissipating. Paul Kagame has promised Rwanda's cooperation with the American embassy to ensure his transfer to The Hague. At a press briefing in Paris on Tuesday, the prosecutor of the court, Gambian Fatou Bensouda (or is it The Gambian--what is the demonym for people from The Gambia, The Hague, etc?), said Bosco's transfer should take place within two days--which is today, come to think of it. Neverthess, his transfer does appear to be proceeding apace. [UPDATE: AS OF 11 AM EASTERN TIME 3/22, BOSCO REPORTED TO BE EN ROUTE]

US Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson says Bosco Ntaganda’s removal is "important, essential, but not sufficient."  In a telephone media conference--to which I was not invited, thank you very much, State Department--Carson said, "The core issues must be dealt with, and there must be an ongoing commitment on the part of the leaders in the region, the countries in the region, to help in this cycle of violence and bloodshed that impacts not only the eastern Congo, but undermines the security and stability of neighboring states as well." A transcript of the entire conference is available below the fold.

Bosco's troops are said to be in utter disarray, with some 700 of them having fled the border into Rwanda at tk on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, North Kivu remains insecure and volatile, says Monusco, with the number of displaced rising to 810,000. In particular, a skirmish on March 15 and 16 between the army and Raïa Mutomboki  forces caused displacements in Rutshuru et Walikale.

The Council on Foreign Relations held a meeting yesterday on Congo, featuring Mvembe Dizolele, Tony Gambino, and--for a little variety--Ben Rawlence, author of the recently published Radio Congo.

The quick and dirty: Dizolele points out that the Kivus are less than 10 percent of the Congo, that the Ntaganda story is therefore a bit of a sideshow, and that the fundamental problem for the country as a whole remains one of bad and illegitimate governance. If you focus only on the narrative drawn from the problems in the east, he says, "You will never see the Congolese as capable, as people who have a sense of what they want and where they're going." Gambino says the US and the international community dropped the ball after 2006, when successful presidential elections provided the international community with an excuse to exit the place. Since then our policy has been one of benign neglect. We looked the other way as Kabila botched and possibly stole the 2011 election, he says, with the result now that the country works neither as a democracy nor "in a nuts and bolts" service-delivery way. And Rawlence says policymakers and the media are ignoring widespread insecurity elsewhere in the country, eg., Gideon's massacres in Katanga. "People want a story that they already understand," he says, and what's taking place elsewhere in Congo doesn't fit any pre-established narrative.

At one point, an audience member asked why international attention has been so intermittent and why so many people have been left to die. The panelists wrestled with the question, no doubt because they were trying to formulate a nice way of putting it. I'm not bound by similar constraints, so allow me to answer: Because no one in a position of power gives a damn.

FWIW: Introducing the panel was Mora McLean, ex-chief of the Africa-America Institute and Rutgers scholar, whose capsule history of the Congo included this aneurysm-inducing gem: "In 1965, with backing from Western powers including the US, Mobutu seized power from what had been an independent government led by Lumumba and Kasavubu and turned the country into a springboard for operations against Soviet-backed Angola and retained his position for 30 years …. "

The World Bank and the African Development Bank have promised $3.8 billion to finance development projects in DRC this year. The WB country leader, Eustache Ouayoro, says he's pleased by the country's recent economic progress, and that the Bank views the Congolese state's acknowledged weaknesses as a reason to do work with the state, rather than sidestep it.

Gecamines will be reviving a coal mine in Luena, in southern Katanga, between Lubumbashi and Mbuji Mayi. The mine has about 50 million tons reserves and had a peak production of 88,000 tons in 1990, before things fell apart.

Congo's Great Lakes cooordinator, Baudouin Hamuli, says the government is working hard to restart the mining industry in North Kivu, shut down since the de facto embargo imposed on the region's minerals since April 1, 2011. «Ce qui doit être fait maintenant c’est la réouverture des comptoirs d’achat parce que l’exploitation n’est pas interdite au Nord-Kivu. Mais, les comptoirs d’achat, pour des questions de conformité au processus de traçabilité avaient été fermés. Il faut immédiatement préparer la mission d’évaluation du site minier de Bisié », he said.

And here it is, your Revue de la Presse for Thursday, March 21, 2013:

Le feuilleton Ntaganda continue de défrayer la chronique à Kinshasa, raison pour laquelle le dénouement de ce dossier ne cesse d’être suivi à la lettre par les quotidiens paraissant dans la capitale Rd-congolaise.

« Transfèrement de Bosco à la CPI : les premières complications sont là ! », telle se trouve être la manchette du jour du quotidien LE PALMARES.

Pour assurer le transfert de Bosco  Ntaganda, Washington dit attendre que le gouvernement rwandais coopère et facilite l’opération conformément à ses engagements.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Will He or Won't He?

Maybe he'll just hang with his cows
Although it's a ways off, people are beginning to wonder whether Rwanda's Paul Kagame will again run for the presidency after his term is up in 2017. Kris Berwouts has a thumbsucker on the topic. Although barred from a third term by the Constitution, Kagame says he won't "exclude the possibility of bowing to the will of the people if they want him to stay on."

If he does decide to run again--and really, does the name Bloomberg ring a bell?--he'll have an astonishing accomplishment to run on, say two Oxford University researchers.  Dr Sabina Alkire and Dr Jose Manuel Roche project that on current trends, Rwanda will have eliminated poverty by 2033. More on that study here. In 2011, these researchers wrote about DR Congo's poverty levels here. And now, apparently, Kagame won't have to worry about those pesky (but always improbable sounding) accusations his troops fired the missile that launched the genocide.

A considerable amount of Rwanda's new-found wealth is coming from the mining sector these days. Only tourism brings in more foreign exchange. This despite the fact that Rwanda has little in the way of actual mineral reserves. Evode Imena, Rwanda's mines minister, explains to Rwanda's Business Times how the government plans to grow the sector from $136 million today to $407 million by 2017. Hint: It's got nothing to do with plundering the Congo' resources and relabeling the product as Rwandan. Nothing at all.

More on the Terminator
Mike Pflanz with the Christian Science Monitor asks whether Bosco's surrender will boost the standing of the ICC. He points out that so far, "the court has indicted 30 people – all Africans – but has convicted and sentenced just one, Ntaganda’s co-accused, Thomas Lubanga."

Armin Rosen over at the Atlantic echoes many others pointing out that Ntaganda's surrender doesn't mean the DRC conflict is over: "The ex-warlord is safely behind bars. But the chaos and suffering that he epitomized are as present and as challenging as ever."

I missed mentioning this Rift Valley backgrounder yesterday: Written before the events of the past fortnight, it's still the best brief bio of Ntaganda.

Updates on Sexual Violence
Denis "give this guy a Nobel already" Mukwege has launched a new campaign against rape in Congo. Uganda's Daily Monitor gives the details.

Al Jazera says that the UN is warning of rising rates of rape in eastern DRC. They say UN investigators have proof of at least 126 rapes carried out by soldiers fleeing a rebel offensive.

Maria Eriksson Baaz, Maria Stern, Judith Verweijen warn that much more needs to be done to bring perpetrators to justice: "We have found that when there is pressure to apprehend suspects, whether from the commandment, politicians, or international actors, a number of scapegoats are often selected from amongst the most marginalized of the lower ranks, or from those soldiers who (for various reasons) are disliked by their commanders."

Other News

At the boy's club, Joseph and Moise stood far apart
Moise "The Congolese Moses" Katumbi says he has no plans to run for higher office at this time.

Kabila travelled to Kananga to open the third session of the nation's governors' conference, the theme of which appears to National Unity and the Need Thereof.

Jeune Afrique has a nice feature on Tshisekedi, titled "A King without a Kingdom." It's a title that would have served at any time over the past 20 years.

Anjan Sundaram has a piece over at Foreign Policy arguing that foreign aid is at the heart of civil war in Congo. I may get around to reviewing it, but for now it reminds me of the quip that there's nothing some English prof won't sooner or later come along to declare Moby Dick a symbol of.

Desertification is threatening southern Katanga, warns the Congo's environment minister.

Another sad reminder on the plight of elephants in central Africa.

The World Wildlife Fund has accused Uganda of helping to plunder of Congo's timber wealth.

And here it is, your Revue de la Presse for Wednesday, March 20, 2013:

La reddition de Ntaganda à l’Ambassade des Etats-Unis à Kigali, la clôture de la conférence des gouverneurs à Kananga, l’ouverture du Forum économique national édition 2013, sont là les trois principaux sujets d’actualité abordés dans cette présente revue de presse.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Bosco and son in happier times,
behind the walls of the Bosco compound in Goma,
Ntaganda's surrender to the US embassy in Kigali dominates headlines.

The London Evening Post provides a good backgrounder on Bosco and recent developments. The AFP's shorter backgrounder is here.

An American diplomat assures Katrina Manson at the FT that the US will get Ntaganda to The Hague: “There’s going to be a way to do this [but] I don’t know what it is [yet].”

Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo says the GoR won't interfere in Ntaganda's extradition to the ICC and that the details of Ntaganda's transfer to the Hague will be up to the USA, the DR Congo, and the ICC.

Monusco hopes to see Ntaganda dispatched to the ICC as rapidly as possible, says its spokesperson, Carlos Araujo.

There is plenty of speculation about why he chose to hand himself. Gettleman at The New York Times floats two theories: one, that like a mafioso being hunted by his own side, Ntaganda decided that the safest place for himself was inside a jail cell. The paper quotes Barnabé Kikaya bin Karubi, Congo’s ambassador to Britain: “He knew too much. The Rwandans would have killed him.”

The other theory is that Rwanda itself secretly arranged Ntaganda's surrender. Fueling that speculation are two facts: it would have been difficult for someone as notorious as Bosco to travel undetected through Rwanda, and the person to break news of his arrival at the embassy was none other than Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo.

Max Fischer at the Washington Post adds two more theories: One, pique: Perhaps Bosco, having lost Rwanda's backing, decided to get even by spilling the beans on Rwanda's role in the DRC. Two, a plea: Knowing he was about to be arrested, Ntaganda arranged his surrender with the ICC to improve his odds at sentencing.

Despite the significance of his arrest, observers doubt much will change for ordinary Congolese. Angelo Izama says that Bosco was always more of a symptom than the disease and that going after the Ntagandas of the world fails to address the core problems: "As agents they can be replaced and they have been." Ethuin agrees: "However joyful human rights advocates and his victims may be today, it is important to bear in mind that his surrender and potential extradition to the ICC does not mean unrest in eastern Congo will end." And Stearns says his arrest may even undermine the recently signed peace agreement: "Kabila thought it was necessary to sign up to a relatively intrusive deal in order to bring an end to the M23 threat. Without the M23, Kabila no longer needs the Framework Agreement."

Ntaganda Link Library
The ICC's original arrest warrant for Ntaganda is here. Updated ICC paperwork is here.
Back in 2011 Mac MacClelland at Mother Jones wondered why, if she could find Ntaganda, the ICC wasn't able to bring him in.
Amnesty urges the US and Rwanda to transfer him to the ICC as rapidly as possible.
Katrina Manson's 2010 Reuters piece features Bosco responding to allegations of rape: "Look at me -- you think I'm a man who can't get a woman without raping? Lots of women want me." Armin Rosen in The Atlantic does her one better. In his piece about Bosco pulling a 419 on NBA all-star Dikembe Mutombo, he quotes Bosco responding to the question of why anyone should trust him: "We didn't kill you this morning."

Non-Bosco news tk, possibly tomorrow.

And here it is, your Revue de la presse Tuesday, March 19, 2013:

La présence depuis lundi de Bosco Ntangada, patron de l’ex-mouvement rebelle recherché par la Cpi pour crimes, à l’Ambassade américaine à Kigali, est à la vitrine de la plupart des journaux parus ce matin, qui parlent également des travaux de la 3ème Conférence des gouverneurs qui se tiennent à Kananga.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Quote of the Day II

“When people ask me about Africa, my answer is simple. Africa is a very violent place. It is a very poor place. It’s a place where many nations and entities are vying for its vast store of natural resources. It is a vast region of ungoverned space with harsh terrain."
                               --Col. George Bristol, yeah, the stomp guy.

Quote of the Day

“There’s going to be a way to do this I don’t know what it is [yet],” said the US official, about arranging Gen Ntaganda’s transfer to The Hague.
--the Financial Times

Bosco's Surrender at US Embassy Raises all Kinds of Questions

So if you're reading this, you know that Bosco "We didn't kill you this morning" Ntaganda surrendered to the US embassy in Kigali today. This raises a few questions.

1) How was this the best remaining alternative to him? Did he fear for his life? Was he being hunted--if so, by whom? And what's the background to this story? How did he so burn his bridges--if indeed he has--that there was no place else for him to go? And of all the embassies in Kigali, why'd he walk into ours?

2) What is the process, technically speaking, by which the US would dispatch Bosco to the Hague? Does the US need some sort of extradition request from the ICC? (I assume we don't just fly people to the Hague when they ask us to.) Does someone have to serve a warrant on the guy? Legally speaking, what has to happen? And what happens after that? How long do these processes typically take?--acknowledging, of course, that there's nothing typical about this situation.

3) Will the Rwandans object? If the GoR asks the embassy to relinquish Bosco to them, what will be the US response? How would the US adjudicate those competing demands (between the GoR and the ICC)?

4) Finally, bonus points for the reporter who nails details about Bosco's actual surrender. Did he arrive at the embassy alone or with others? At what time? Who greeted him? What did he ask for? Did he immediately propose being transferred to the Hague, or was that a suggestion from US officials? How did he appear--what was his affect? Where is he staying now? Is he available? Will he be giving interviews or speaking at some point?

US Says it Will Facilitate Bosco Transfer to the Hague

At today's State Department news briefing, Victoria Nuland, State Department spokesperson, said:
I can confirm that Bosco Ntaganda, ICC indictee and the leader of one of the factions of the M23 rebel group and the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant, walked into the U.S. Embassy in Kigali this morning. He specifically asked to be transferred to the ICC in The Hague.
We are consulting with a number of individuals and governments, including the government of Rwanda, in facilitating his request.
She also said:
I am not in a position to speak for him why he asked us to make his transfer to the Hague. We are working to facilitate his request to be transferred to the Hague. We strongly support the ICC and their investigation on the atrocities committed in the DRC.

Twilight of the Terminator?

Terminator terminator?
M-23 rebel leader Bertrand Bisiimwa says he is fighting for a peaceful DRC
New Vision snagged an interview with M23 rebel leader Goodluck Musinguzi. Excerpt:

What do you think went wrong with the peace talks in Kampala?If we do not have agreement from Kampala our people will not agree with us, they do not want war. We are still waiting for a word from the Kinshasa government. We hope they will accept to negotiate and reach an agreement.
What do you say about the use of drones in Congo?They want to make another mistake in Congo. Our people do not want war. If the UN brings drones and soldiers to fight, we shall not accept. War is not a solution, but dialogue for peace. The UN should support the Kampala talks, so that we have a peace agreement soon.
End Times for the Terminator?

The RNA says Gen. Ntaganda is on the run in the Virunga forests in eastern DRC after more than 200 combatants allied to him fled to Rwanda on Saturday with several top commanders. Congolese press accounts put him in Rwanda; they say a Rwandan army officer helped smuggle him across the border.

The New Times reports that a new wave of Congolese refugees including combatants fleeing recent fighting between two factions of M23 rebels have crossed into northwestern Rwanda overnight.

Radio Okapi says that calm returned to Kibumba in North Kivu by Sunday, following what might have been a decisive battle between rival M23 factions that appear to have sidelined Bosco Ntaganda and Jean Marie Runiga. However, not all is at peace in the Kivus. Bukavu Online says that a firefight broke out in Walikali Sunday evening between Raia Mutomboki and the government forces. Hundreds fled; no word on casualties.

Bukavu Online features some lovely shots of daily life in Ibanda and Kadutu:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Weekend Round Up

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he plans to appoint former Irish President Mary Robinson as his envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa to oversee a UN-mediated peace deal meant to end the interminable cycles of violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

A small girl washes her hands in a puddle near a Monusco base
in Kitshanga. Among the photos by Silvain Liechti depicting the
aftermath of the battle for Kitshanga in early March. 
Le Monde reports that the DRC remains at the very bottom of world rankings in the latest UNDP human development report:

According to the UNDP, 87.7% of the population living in the DRC is below the poverty line, set at $ 1.25 per day. Nearly three-quarters of the 68 million Congolese live below a "multidimensional poverty index" that takes into account access to health care and food.

The report did note improvements in life expectancy and schooling. 

Prison deaths doubled in 2012 in the DRC, according to a joint report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights and MONUSCO highlighting the deterioration in Congolese prisons. Inmate deaths doubled in 2012 compared to the previous year, bringing to 101 the number of people dead in the country's prisons.

The Kivus
Bosco Ntaganda fled the DRC and is currently hiding in Rwanda, says DRC spokesman Lambert Mende. He fled over the weekend with his top lieutenants and several hundred troops. (The Rwandan government, however, emphatically denies that he is in their country.) Meanwhile, Jean Marie Runiga, the former president of the M23, also fled to Rwanda, where he was arrested by the GoR. AFP reports the Ntaganda/Runiga faction was routed in a battle late last week when they ran out of ammunition.

Quote of the Day

“Yes, you have to do this.”
--Ewald von Kleist, when his son, Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, told him that he planned to assassinate Hitler by wearing a suicide vest to a meeting with the Nazi dictator. 
Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist died Friday at age 90 at his home in Munich.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dangerous and Misguided: Notes on the Militarization of US Africa Policy under Obama

Donald Rumsfeld famously asked whether our wars were creating more enemies than they were destroying.  A similar question could be asked about our drone bombing/assassination/armed intervention/faction-taking policies in much of the Arab world and now, increasingly, Africa. Except that to ask the question is to answer it. Yes, of course they're creating more enemies than they're destroying--and more implacable ones at that. The rest of the world is not Nazi-occupied Europe. We can't just go in and stomp on stuff and hope they'll understand. Every time we kill someone minding their own business on their own turf we make an enemy of their families, their friends and their neighbors. Kill enough of them and we make enemies of entire nations.

So why, then, do we continue to use lethal force so frequently and indiscriminately? And why are we extending these belligerent policies to Africa, when they've demonstrably failed in the places they've already been tried? One answer I used to entertain is that we don't have a theory of mind.[1] We can't imagine, that is, that they think any differently about us than we think about ourselves. We know we didn't deliberately kill those kids, target that wedding party, take sides in their version of Hatfield-McCoy. We assume they understand that about us, and never ask how we'd react were the situation reversed. This is more than not being able to put ourselves in other people's shoes. This is not being able to imagine that other people, in other shoes, can have thoughts other than our own.

Another answer is that the war faction[2] knows perfectly well what it's doing. Creating enemies is what it wants. More enemies justify ever more belligerent policies, which generate ever more enemies, which justify ever more belligerence, and on and on. For the war faction, this works out great: The more enemies we have abroad, the more leverage it has at home.  Conflict internationally creates the conditions most propitious for its triumph in the domestic competition for political power. There's nothing about this dynamic that Euripedes didn't warn us about, but steroidal warriors like Bristol seem determined to bring us closer to it.

In the end, however, these answers strike me as too cynical. Violence professionals aren't stupid and political entrepreneurs aren't traitorous. The reality, I think, is that everyone is just doing their job. There's just no percentage in not killing that suspected terrorist. If you let him live and he kills someone, that's your career--or your administration. If he turns out to have been an innocent mechanic--well, by the time his son grows up and becomes America's sworn enemy, it'll be the turn of your successor's successor to worry about. And who knows what will have happened in the meantime? Call it the fierce urgency of now. From the president down to the SoF colonel, all the incentives line up one way: stomp first, ask questions later. And the logic that applies to individuals goes for regions: Africa in general and the Sahel in particular may have been among the last strategically unimportant places on earth, but now that there's money involved and careers to be made who, really, wants to risk letting something slip through?

America is powerful enough that we usually only feel the consequences of these misguided policies at the margins of our imperium;  in Benghazi, say, or the Amenas gas plant in southern Algeria. Even with the latest estimate for the Iraq war running north of $2 trillion, it's possible for most citizens to remain blissfully ignorant of the policies our government is pursuing. They might be short-sighted but they have, by design, zero tangible impact on our lives. So long as that remains true, the militarization of US power projection seems likely to continue--particularly in places like Africa, where the stakes are so low and the rewards so high. You can bet your career on it.

[1] And by "we," I don't mean any particular official or policymaker, though someone like Bristol makes it easy to imagine the trait personified. Rather, I mean the collectivity, the group out of which policy decisions emerge. Somewhere there must be a literature about how group dynamics slant decision making under conditions of conflict. 
[2] I'm going to leave the phrase undefined.... Y'all know what I mean, and I'm done today pretending I'm a political scientist.

Quote of the Day

Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, 
urging a boot-based policy

Marine Corps Col. George Bristol, a trained sniper and martial arts master who for the past year has overseen a U.S. special operations task force in Africa, had a message for his troops before heading off to retirement.
“An evil” has descended on Africa, Bristol said. “It is on us to stomp it out.”   
--Stars and Stripes

And how many Africans along with it, colonel?

For more Bristol, see here; on the militarization of US Africa policy, see here.

h/t Gourevitch

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rosenblum's Cant and Stearns' Guild

Republishing FROM JANUARY 11, 2012 

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to Peter Rosenblum’s latest broadside, a letter he addressed to the SEC excoriating my New York Times’ op-ed. The note she attached to the link said, “What did you do, run over his dog?!”

Now that I’ve read the letter, I can understand the impetus behind her question. It’s an odd piece of writing for a law professor to dispatch to a body like the SEC, and not just because it contains a startling number of grammatical errors (see over the fold for the [sic]s).  In it, Rosenblum argues that the evidence I provide of the harm caused by the law is impressionistic and selective.  He has heard “similar claims over the course of more than 20 years,” he tells the SEC, and he assures them that my comments provide no basis on which to judge even the short-term impacts of the law. 

I wasn't surprised that Rosenblum would take issue with my op-ed. He thought highly enough of the conflict minerals campaign to have issued a press release commending it back in March. But I am a little surprised at how he's gone about disagreeing with me. In fact, this letter to the SEC is the third time Rosenblum has taken to keyboard in opposition to the editorial. After it appeared, he published a letter in the New York Times stating that while DF-1502 wouldn’t solve the problem, it did constitute a small but vital step in the right direction. My claim that it was hurting the very people it was meant to help was "impressionistic," he wrote--there's that word again--and and my assertion that the Chinese would eventually step in to pick up the slack in the mineral trade was “vague.”

He next left a comment on Stearns’ blog suggesting that I had become mentally incapacitated during my trip to the Congo. I wish I was kidding, but here--judge for yourself: “Many of us have struggled during field research, when the most recent grievance overwhelms all others. It makes sense for the people we encounter, but long-time Congo watchers presumably have a sense of context. David Aronson seems to have lost all perspective.”

After he published those notes, but before I’d seen his letter to the SEC, I sent Rosenblum an email pointing out that we had met on several occasions, including in Kinshasa in 1997, and I told him that I hoped we’d have the chance to debate the issue more thoughtfully. As I wrote on my blog, “I know Peter. I respect Peter. He seems to have responded more to the editor-chosen title of my op-ed than to anything I wrote. I hope he'll provide a more thoughtful critique in the future.” A couple of weeks later, I was delighted when the New York Bar Association invited us to have that very debate at their headquarters in Manhattan. Unfortunately, Rosenblum backed out at the last moment, citing prior commitments, and the debate went ahead without him. I then invited him to elaborate on his criticism here, in my blog; I even promised to let him have the last word. Rosenblum failed to respond to that invitation or to several follow-up emails and telephone calls. (See after the fold for the sequence.) It’s because of his silence that I am writing now.

Part of the difficulty of responding to Rosenblum's criticism is that its intensity isn't matched by a corresponding clarity. For example, his main criticism is that the evidence I provide is "impressionistic." I assume he means that it's sufficiently uninformed and selective as to be unreliable. But I'm left wondering why he would think that to be the case, and what evidence he has that contradicts mine. I reported what I had seen and heard over the course of four weeks, visits to seven mining sites, and discussions with dozens of Congolese stakeholders and experts. What, precisely, does Rosenblum think I got wrong? The advocates themselves have stipulated that the law caused a precipitous drop in mineral exports. What does Rosenblum think happened to the million or so people in the region who depended on that trade for their livelihood? What does he think of the increasing number of journalists and human rights groups who have corroborated my reporting, such as the Economist, Reuters, the UN Group of Experts, and  tk? And what does he think of the many Congolese who have testified to the law's deleterious consequences? If he has ideas on the subject, he isn't saying.[1]

Unfortunately, labeling my piece "impressionistic" is about as substantive as Rosenblum gets. His letter to the SEC, for example, reiterates the "impressionistic" criticism in half a paragraph; the rest is concerned with setting forth his own credentials as an expert on the Congo. Indeed, it reads as if Rosenblum believes that the SEC ought to believe him because of his impressive-sounding credentials--even in the absence of any argument!  If I didn't know him, I'd think this the work of a crank, albeit of the tufted, tenured variety. But I do know Rosenblum, and I know that he is capable of writing concise and effective take-downs; see here for an example [link tk]. Blithely asserting that I’ve lost my marbles, or that I’m not as credentialed as he is, doesn’t do much to advance the substance or the tenor of the debate.

I happened to mention these frustrations to the friend who originally sent me the link to Rosenblum’s SEC letter. She told me I over-thinking things: “You’ve reduced an Ivy League law professor to several iterations of name calling and rank pulling. Now, apparently, you've forced him into an embarrassed silence. It’s not you who has anything to worry about.”

In the meantime, Stearns seems to be pulling back on his initial criticism of my piece. In a Wall Street Journal book review, he admits that the law has put tens of thousands of people out of work. He has also refused opportunities to defend his own account of how the law might work. You’ll remember that he suggested that the law would work by encouraging the main mineral exporters, the comptoir owners, to pressure the central government to provide better security throughout the region. I doubted from the outset that comptoir owners had that kind of pull and wondered, if they did, why they hadn't used that power to put an end to the conflicts a long time earlier. I haven't seen Stearns make any subsequent defense of his argument, but I haven't heard him repudiate it either.

Stearns is a generally reliable guy; I've expressed my admiration for him before. But I’ve also had to call him out once or twice in the past for fence sitting. Back in 2003 (or so), he wrote a piece for the International Crisis Group in which he alternately called the continued presence of the FDLR/ex-genocidaires in the Kivus a “pretext” and the “explanation” for Rwanda’s incursions into the Congo. "Well, which is it?" I wrote to him. If it’s the former, I argued, we need to pressure Rwanda to back off. If the latter, we need to work harder on repatriating the FDLR. I suggested an analysis of how Rwanda had behaved inside the Congo would go far toward telling us where the truth lay. And I told him that my own reading was that the FDLR’s presence was largely pretextual, and that Rwanda’s main business in Congo since 1999 has been plunder on the one hand and territorial control on the other.

I no longer have access to that email account, but if memory serves, I wasn’t able to elicit much of a response from Stearns at that time either. Look, I respect Stearns enough to believe he isn’t fence sitting to retain his viability on the issues, but there are times, too, that I want to remind him of what Dante thought of neutrality.

[1] It's a little hard to determine, but at one or two points Rosenblum appears to suggest that my informants can't be speaking accurately or truthfully about the law's impacts because he has heard Congolese voice similar complaints about their lives in other contexts. It's true that Congolese have complained, for a very long time, about their inability to pay school fees, afford health care, and even buy food. But does the fact that Congolese are desperately poor--and have been for ages--mean that the miners haven't been impacted by the mining embargo? Would Rosenblum have been more convinced if they'd come up with different and more original sounding complaints? It's a silly question, I know, but I'm grasping at straws: I really can't imagine what Rosenblum is getting at, otherwise.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Role for Affleck

 He Dreamed a Dream Worth Dreaming

Monday, March 11, 2013

Katumbi, the next Moses?

I'm normally a fan of Thierry Michel's, but this preview of his new film on Moise Katumbi seems oddly  hagiographic:

Despite its tone, I'm pretty sure it's not something Katumbi is going to like, since it all but appoints him Kabila's most powerful adversary. Can you spell Khodorkovsky? (If so, you're a way better speller than me. I had to google it.)

For Michel's channel on Youtube, check here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Muriel Spark's Africa Poem

Aidan Hartley, author of the excellent Zanzibar Chest, tweets a stanza from Muriel Spark's poem, Like Africa, and inspires me to find the rest.

Here is the poem in its entirety:

Like Africa
He is like Africa in whose
White flame the brilliant acres lie
And all his nature's latitude
Gives measure of the simile.

His light, his stars, his hemisphere
Blaze like a tropic, and immense
The moon and leopard stride his blood
And mark in him their opulence

In him the muffled drums of forests
Inform like dreams, and manifold
Lynx, eagle, thorn, effect about him
Their very night and emerald.

And like a river his Zambesi
Gathers the swell of seasons' rains,
The islands rocking on his breast,
The orchid opens in his loins.

He is like Africa and even
The dangerous chances of his mind
Resemble the precipice whereover
Perpetual waterfalls descend.

You'll know you did something right in your life if a girl ever writes you a love poem half this good.

The (other) Group of Experts' Amicus

Three Africanists, Marcia Narine,  Jendayi Frazer and J. Peter Pham[1], have filed an Amicus brief on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce motion seeking to bar implementation of the conflict minerals regulation.While none of the three, pace the brief's description, is what I would deem a Congo expert (in the sense that Rene Lemarchand or Crawford Young or Georges Nzongola are), they are well established figures in the American administration of Africa's political affairs. Narine is a visiting assistant law professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City; Frazer is a former assistant secretary of state for the continent under Bush fils, and Phan is the director of the Ansari Africa Center at the Atlantic Council. The group insists that they are not writing to support the petitioners' commercial interests but to emphasize the "unfortunate impact of the SEC’s rule for the people of the DRC." Make of that what you will.

Briefly put, the experts argue that the SEC failed to consider whether its final rules would advance Section 1502’s stated objective of weakening armed groups in the DRC; they claim that this failure constitutes a fatal violation of the agency's obligations. (Specifically, of the Administrative Procedure Act and the agency’s heightened obligation under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to analyze the economic impact of its rules --I am cribbing here from the WSJ).  They further argue that the SEC compounded its error by ruling in a way that is particularly likely to harm legitimate economic activity in the region and exacerbate the very conflict the law is meant to attenuate.

Although the experts summarize other researchers' findings on the SEC ruling's impact on eastern Congo, the preponderance of their brief is taken up with the question of whether the SEC considered the rule's impacts sufficiently to meet the obligations both statute and prior precedent impose on it.  I find this surprising, given that the scholars were presumably brought in for their expertise on the situation in Africa rather than for their knowledge of the arcana of securities law.

Nor, ultimately did I find their legal arguments compelling. I'm not a lawyer, of course, so take this for what it's worth: a big fat ZERO. But it seems odd to me to blame the de facto embargo of the minerals on the SEC ruling, given that the former preceded the latter.  What brought the embargo about was the publicity campaign waged by Enough and Global Witness, not anticipation of the SEC regulations. Furthermore, I get the impression that the petitioners would ask the SEC to issue findings that would require it to effectively ignore the plain intent of the statute it is obligated to implement. Congress issued a finding that the minerals were fuelling the war in the preamble to 1502. Much as every intelligent observer knows the situation is more complicated than that, and much as every intelligent observer knows that DF-1502 is likely to do (and has already done) far more harm than good, it is the law of the land. You and me and the fishes in the deep blue sea may believe it to be bad law, but the SEC can't  ignore Congress' intent, no matter how stupid or mistaken Congress was. Cops don't get to pick and chose what laws they get to enforce. Or so this non-lawyer thinks.

WRT the situation on the ground, the experts make the following points:

1) Caused Irremediable harm to miners
For thousands of Congolese whose livelihoods depend on mining, these developments have added a terrible new dimension to the existing crisis. Many miners are out of work; some mine sites appear to have been abandoned. Miners are often the sole breadwinners for entire families, and no other careers are available. Their already-impoverished families have slipped further below subsistence levels. Numerous legitimate local exporters have shut their doors as they cannot find buyers. Of the 29 provincial exporters in business in 2010, only five are still in business.

2) Interrupted ongoing traceability schemes
The decimation of the legitimate market for Congolese minerals has also upended existing methods intended to prevent armed groups from benefiting from mining. ... 
Before 2010, Congolese miners, government officials, non-governmental organizations, and industry groups were collectively developing measures to increase the traceability of tin, tantalum, and tungsten. One project to implement tracing had started in North and South Kivu. Those measures included “tagging” minerals from legitimate mines not controlled by armed groups as a means of certification. More recently, however, these traceability programs have met with skepticism from stakeholders and have been undermined by corruption. Stakeholders have been reluctant to invest in transparency measures that take time to implement when the legal market for minerals from the DRC is collapsing.
As a result, there are only a handful of mines in the DRC with traceability schemes underway, and the prospect of expanding those programs to other mines is doubtful.
The collapse of the market for anything but verifiably “conflict-free” minerals has also had the perverse effect of further undercutting traceability programs and encouraging smuggling. Pressure to produce certifiably “conflictfree” minerals has created more incentives to corrupt traceability initiatives, for instance by using stolen “conflict-free” tags. And the less reliable traceability programs become, the less companies may invest in them, shrinking the legitimate market yet further.

3) Benefited the very groups the law was meant to sanction
The FDLR, Mai-Mai, and dozens of smaller, splintered-off armed groups have instead thrived, not least because of the ease with which many of them can exploit the underground market. The eastern provinces are still strongholds for dozens of armed groups. Many have “continue[d] and even expand[ed] their mining operations” by relying on smuggling networks to sell those minerals on the black market or to “launder” them into purportedly “conflict-free” minerals.

The Experts summarize their case thus:
In sum, since 2010, the legal market for tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold from the DRC has shriveled, and the eastern provinces hardest-hit by conflict have been disproportionately harmed. Miners and their families are more susceptible than ever to the predations of armed groups. There is little market for minerals whose origins cannot be verified, and companies have voiced wariness about the investments and effort required to make verification processes work. The conflict rages on, and armed groups have taken advantage of opportunities to smuggle or launder minerals at the expense of independent mines and exporters. And infighting among armed groups, offensives by the Congolese army, and deals to consolidate armed groups into the Congolese army have produced bewildering changes in control over individual mining sites and surrounding trade routes.
All of which seems to me to constitute a much more powerful case against Dodd-Frank 1502 than the legal arguments the experts put forth in the preponderance of the brief. (And I note, as I get ready to close this blog entry up, that the SEC more or less maintains what I suggested above, that it simply isn't authorized to second guess and recalibrate policy decisions made by Congress.)

Link Library:

For the NAM/Chamber opening brief calling for a review of the SEC's final order, see here. For quick reviews of the NAM/Chamber challenge to the SEC ruling, see here, and here and here.
For the Congo experts' amicus brief, see here. For Amnesty International's motion to be allowed to intervene, see here. I hope that at some point AI gets into the substance of the Experts' claims about the negative impacts of the law on the people of eastern Congo. It would be useful if one or another of the advocates finally set forth their defense of the law in the face of the mounting criticism against it. (And can someone tell me why AI is the lead intervenor for the SEC as respondent, rather than the Enough Project or Global Witness, whose baby the law actually was?) For a review and summary of the experts' brief by Ning Chiu of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, see here. For a review of the law's impact on the DRC by Celia Taylor of, see here, and for a similar analysis from Dynda Thomas of Squire Sanders, see here.

[1] Author of this unfortunate op-ed: To Save Congo, Let it Fall apart.