View Full Version : Gazing in the Congo (DRC): the dark heart of Africa (2006-2017)

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04-22-2013, 06:29 PM
@Stan and M-A Lagrange, you do very well indeed to point out the situation on the ground as you witnessed it. I just try to frame the whole a bit mostly for my personal understanding.

Stan, I think your point about the lack of even relative weak political 'unit of action' shows the root cause of such surprising events like the takeover of an important city by a bunch of guys with AKs and machetes. As I said a small Greek polis would have been able to put, over 2500 years ago enough manpower into the field or on the walls to handle such an situation with great ease. In relative terms their capital spending on defense in general and equipment specifically would have been rather high but most important was the political will and (relative) unity.

Lagrange, if the political systems 'worked' in the way you described it the whole event is far easier to explain and fits well into the framework. In this case not only there seems to have been internal political disagreement but outright conflict with the infusion of (enemy) military means.

Nice catch about the copper ban. In our macro textbooks we have long discussion about efficient taxes with in modern market economies. In this case it seems more like an effort of the state to greatly weaken economically and politically the cobalt and copper reagion while getting some revenue in the short run. Moise Katumbi does certainly not want that and can support his refusal with obvious and sound economic thinking.

M-A Lagrange
05-09-2013, 06:31 AM
From Stars and Stripes

Officers in Congo benefitting from mineral trade
Armed groups and high-ranking officers in the Congolese and Burundian armies are continuing to benefit from the illegal mineral trade in eastern Congo, despite international efforts to clean up the supply chain, according to a report published Tuesday by an environmental watchdog group.

Although there are signs of improvement in Congo's tin and tantalum sectors, the "progress remains localized," said the report by London-based Global Witness.

The gold trade in particular remains a problem. Because gold is easily smuggled across borders and proper checks are not carried out by local buyers in the Great Lakes region or by international traders, tons of the mineral mined in eastern Congo are smuggled to neighboring Burundi every year. Laundered through the Burundian local gold trade, the mineral is then exported to Dubai where it is bought by international traders, said the report.\
http://ap.stripes.com/dynamic/stories/A/AF_CONGO_CONFLICT_MINERALS?SITE=DCSAS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2013-05-07-12-22-00&utm_source=Copy+of+Africa+Center+for+Strategic+Stu dies+-+Media+Review+for+May+7%2C+2013&utm_campaign=5%2F08%2F2013&utm_medium=email

05-09-2013, 07:43 PM
Manus manum lavat et aurum non olet. Some things will never disappear entirely from the face of this world.

Without knowing the situation on the ground I think that the chances to exclude especially gold from the supply chains running from eastern Kongo to Burundi are pretty slim. Demand and supply, easily ex- and interchangeable good. Kongolose gold once intermixed with one from Burundi won't smell much more differently and quite a few mine owners in Burundi might have found a quite distant gold mine on their own claim. :D

Lots of contacts and movement across the border which is certainly not under the central control of the gov. which should also have no power over the mines. Aren't they also rather closer to relative well internationally integrated market of Burundi? The infrastructure should be rather shabby and insecure in any direction raising transport costs a great deal.

M-A Lagrange
05-13-2013, 12:35 PM
Without knowing the situation on the ground I think that the chances to exclude especially gold from the supply chains running from eastern Kongo to Burundi are pretty slim.

The funniest in that story is the fact that it is in Uganda that the real gold business is taking place. Gold in Uganda is supposed to come from Uganda and South Sudan, officially. They could also mention the moon, it would be as true.;)

Sad but true: training by the best of the best does not change anything in the field

US-trained Congolese battalion among units accused of rape

For U.S. diplomats and military officials who were involved in training a Congolese army unit, a troubling question loomed: Would the 391st Commando Battalion serve as protectors of the population or would they revert to acts of sexual violence once on the battlefield?

A United Nations report released this week indicates that their worst fears have been realized and that efforts at building up a Congolese unit of benevolent soldiers has failed.

The report, issued Wednesday by the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office, accused members of the 391st Commando Battalion — which was trained by special forces troops assigned to U.S. Africa Command — and other Democratic Republic of Congo troops of engaging in a range of atrocities, including the mass rape of women and young girls in eastern Congo.
http://www.stripes.com/news/africa/us-trained-congolese-battalion-among-units-accused-of-rape-1.220357?utm_source=Africa+Center+for+Strategic+St udies+-+Media+Review+for+May+13%2C+2013&utm_campaign=5%2F13%2F2013&utm_medium=email

M-A Lagrange
05-20-2013, 11:57 AM
Or at least an end of the tunnel if no light.

Pressure Mounting on U.S. over Congo Violence

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently preparing to consider a bipartisan bill, unanimously passed by a subcommittee Wednesday, aimed at supporting international efforts to forge a peace deal in the long-running crisis in Congo.

The bill is an “important step forward in raising awareness within the U.S. Congress and among all Americans of this horrific and tragic crisis in the DRC,” Representative Karen Bass, one of the bill’s lead authors, told IPS.

“To date, this legislation has the support of nearly 60 Democrats and Republicans in the House and efforts are currently underway to introduce a similar piece of legislation in the Senate. It has also received significant support from the NGO community.”

Supporters say they expect that number to increase.

Recent months have also seen a strengthening of advocacy on the part of the Congolese diaspora here in Washington, as well as from the rest of the country and Canada. Legislators say this support has been key in helping the House bill gain the legislative backing it has.

One element of the new bill would respond to a longstanding key demand, urging the creation of a special envoy from the president to the DRC and the surrounding Great Lakes region.

“This legislation calls for such an envoy, and Secretary [John] Kerry, in testimony before both the House and the Senate, has indicated his plan to make an appointment,” Bass said.

“I am pleased that this effort is making progress and urge the secretary to move swiftly to make his decision and develop a comprehensive strategy that relies on diplomacy and engagement to address the complex set of issues that stand as barriers to peace and stability in the DRC and the region.”http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/05/pressure-mounting-on-u-s-over-congo-violence/

05-21-2013, 01:27 AM
Pressure Mounting on U.S. over Congo Violence

We will pass something that will make everybody feel very good about themselves, allow people to fly over and stay at that beautiful hotel on the lake in Bukavu (the name of which I forget) for weeks at a time and other than that nothing at all will change.

05-21-2013, 01:38 AM
Sad but true: training by the best of the best does not change anything in the field

US-trained Congolese battalion among units accused of rape

The problem is that training can't do it by itself if the leadership and entire ethos of the force remains the same. Stan mentioned an incident that illustrated this sometime back. It dealt with a guy who went to the States for training, did well and when he got back to Congo, he went back to being a Congolese soldier.

I flew some people into fairly remote spot once. They were going to conduct conflict resolution courses. I shook my head then and I had only been there a few months. But we continue to do the same. This quote from the Stars and Stripes story M-A cited:
As part of the training effort, a sexual violence prevention program was created by a team of U.S. trainers that included AFRICOM experts.

We aren't really serious about doing something about the problem. We are serious about looking like we are doing something and feeling good about that. And careers. Somebody or several somebodys got promoted for creating and implementing that sexual violence prevention program.

05-21-2013, 07:23 PM
We aren't really serious about doing something about the problem. We are serious about looking like we are doing something and feeling good about that. And careers. Somebody or several somebodys got promoted for creating and implementing that sexual violence prevention program.

Couldn't agree more. What are we doing there ? For that matter, if 20,000 peacekeepers can't do anything, what are (ahem) a few AFRICOM experts and 60 democrats and republicans going to accomplish :D

M-A Lagrange
07-02-2013, 08:06 AM
The last Group of Experts report on DRC has been leaked... Once again.

I let you make your personal opinion on this document.
To me it looks like a good compilation of HRW, Enough, Global Witness and ICG reports published last year.
Nothing new except on the quality of the censorship by the UN machinary...
Too bad but it is worst reading it. Just to make an opinion.

Here is a link to the Afrikarabia blog where you can find the report (In english) with a presentation of the main points.
Afrikarabia is one of the very rare quality blog on DRC (in French only but the report is in English)

M-A Lagrange
08-08-2013, 01:22 PM
ICG released its last report on DRC. This piece looks in depth into local conflict in South Kivu.
Through the exemple of the Ruzizi plain conflict, ICG tries to expose the complexity of the ultra local conflicts driving the grand regional conflicts.
Idealy that is the level which peacekeeping and stabilization mission should address...
Understanding Conflict in Eastern Congo (I): The Ruzizi Plain

Africa Report N°20623 Jul 2013
The February 2013 framework agreement signed by the UN, African organisations and eleven regional countries, as well as the deployment of an intervention brigade, represent yet another of many attempts to end the crisis in the Kivus. Conflicts in this region, however, stem mainly from competition between communities for land and economic opportunities and require tailored, grassroots solutions that should go beyond a military response and promote local conflict resolution. Those seeking to secure peace in the Kivus should gain sound knowledge of local dynamics and design strategies to tackle the root causes of violence and improve relations between communities.

The imperative of pursuing local responses to the crisis is illustrated by the longstanding conflict in the Ruzizi plain, located in Uvira territory at the border of South Kivu and Burundi. In a context of impunity and distrust, the assassination on 25 April 2012 of the Ruzizi plain traditional leader, who belongs to the Barundi community, sparked renewed violence between it and a rival community, the Bafuliro. Despite several reconciliation attempts by the central government and the UN Stabilisation Mission in Congo (MONUSCO), tensions persist in 2013.

The Bafuliro and Barundi have fought over land and traditional leadership in the Ruzizi plain since colonial times. Tensions remain high because of socio-economic underdevelopment, the mismanagement of land affairs and poor local governance due to weaknesses in provincial and central administration. Instead of acting as secondary figures, traditional chiefs play a leading role in Congo’s politics and administration. Perceived as influential during elections, they are part of political patronage networks and have support in national and provincial institutions.

Despite a decade of efforts to rebuild the Congolese state, the government remains ineffective in rural areas, leaving customary chiefs, whose role is recognised by the constitution but not fully defined, virtually in charge. They use their key position between the state and communities to benefit from any state and international investments and to protect their own interests. This fuels conflict, with intercommunal rivalries playing out in state institutions and among local and national politicians.

In 2012, aware of the hostility between the Bafuliro and Barundi, MONUSCO and local, provincial and national authorities attempted to mediate between the two communities. But although the leaders of both signed in September 2012 a code of conduct, fighting resumed shortly afterwards. The natural death of the Bafuliro traditional chief in December 2012 has led to a lull in violence, but the conflict, although, dormant, could easily flare up again.

The failure of mediation shows that local conflicts need local resolution strategies. These include controlling customary powers, setting up impartial and effective institutions to regulate and administer land, reducing armed violence and initiating intercommunal dialogue. Some of these measures will, admittedly, be more difficult to implement than others. But without an understanding of local issues, the peace process initiated by the UN, African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community (SADC), International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and regional countries risks addressing symptoms rather than causes of conflict in the Kivus. Stabilisation initiatives in eastern Congo have so far been limited to military action against armed groups and top-down state building. This report, the first in a series that focuses on the local politics of conflicts in eastern Congo, recommends a complementary bottom-up approach aimed at improving intercommunal relations and restoring peace at the local level.


To enhance control of customary powers

To the DRC government and local authorities:

1. Disseminate the laws on customary powers to the population and customary authorities, and train customary chiefs so they can assume their functions in accordance with the law.

To improve land management

To the DRC government and local authorities:

2. Develop a land management code for traditional leaders in Uvira territory until more complete land reform that redefines the role of traditional authorities in land management is in place.

3. Provide land management institutions (the local courts and land administration) with human and financial resources; ensure all ethnic groups in Uvira territory are adequately represented in these institutions; and set up a district court in Uvira to bring land justice closer to claimants and speed up procedures.

To the UN and donors:

4. Establish, under the auspices of UN-Habitat, a land committee in Uvira territory that will identify the sources of land disputes and define a local land dispute resolution strategy.

5. Increase UN presence and coordination in Uvira by deploying staff of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN-Habitat who will bring expertise in land dispute resolution and agricultural development to MONUSCO’s office in Uvira.

To restore dialogue between communities

To the UN and donors:

6. Commission a study on the local non-governmental organisations involved in conflict resolution in order to identify impartial local partners and strengthen their capacity to mediate disputes.

7. Commission a study to identify all parties to the conflict in order to organise truly inclusive activities to promote peace and intercommunal dialogue.

8. Disseminate, through the consultative local forum, the agreement signed by the Barundi and Bafuliro leaders, organise intercommunal meetings and promote joint development projects.

To reduce armed violence

To the DRC government and local authorities:

9. Launch investigations to identify the leaders of the main armed groups, arrest and try them, as well as those responsible for intercommunal clashes, outside South Kivu province.

To the DRC government, the UN and donors:

10. Produce a detailed intelligence report about the economic and logistical networks of armed groups that would inform a strategy to cut off their resources. The report should be a joint work of the UN group of experts and the officers of the joint border verification mechanism deployed by the ICGLR.

11. Implement a disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration program (DDR) that prioritises the communities of Uvira territory and the socio-economic reintegration of a majority of former Congolese combatants.

12. Deploy Congolese security forces that are not from South Kivu, increase the number of UN peacekeepers, and ensure both forces prioritise the fight against smuggling.

13. Formalise the mineral trade and use a share of the mining revenues to fund development programs targeting former combatants and the local population.

Nairobi/Brussels, 23 July 2013


M-A Lagrange
08-26-2013, 02:07 PM
The situation is getting bad in Goma after the International Brigade deployed.
Since mid july, 2 offensives have taken place. During the first one, from 14 to 17 Jully, M23 rebels pulled back from their positions 7 km from Goma up to Kibati, 14 km from Goma. This is still not the 20km far from Goma stated in 24 November 2012 Kampala ICGLR statement that M23 keeps on refering to.

What is more worrying are the crossborder shelling between DRC and Rwanda. According to US State Department, there are credible reports that M23 fired into Rwanda territory in order to create an international incident.
Below the US State Department communique:

Statement on Situation in Eastern Congo
Press Statement
Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
August 25, 2013

The United States is alarmed by the escalating fighting between the M23 armed group and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in eastern Congo. We condemn the actions of the M23, which have resulted in civilian casualties, attacks on the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), and significant population displacements. We are also concerned by reports of shelling across the Rwandan border, including credible UN reports that the M23 has fired into Rwandan territory. We call on the M23 to immediately end the hostilities, lay down their arms, and disband, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

We commend the actions of MONUSCO to protect civilians in and around Goma. Attacks against UN installations and personnel are unacceptable. We are deeply concerned about evidence of increasing ethnic tensions in Goma and call on all parties to avoid any actions that could exacerbate such tensions.

We urgently call on the DRC and Rwandan governments to exercise restraint to prevent military escalation of the conflict or any action that puts civilians at risk. We reiterate our call for Rwanda to cease any and all support to the M23 and to respect DRC's territorial integrity, consistent with U.N. Security Council resolutions and its commitments under the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework. We also call on the DRC to take all prudent steps to protect civilians and to take precautions that FARDC shells do not inadvertently land in Rwandan territory. We urge MONUSCO and the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism to promptly and thoroughly investigate charges of cross-border shelling. We urge all parties to facilitate access for humanitarian organizations assisting populations in need.

The United States fully supports the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework signed by the DRC, Rwandan, and neighboring governments in February 2013 as the basis for a political dialogue to resolve the longstanding conflict in the region. We also believe any political settlement of the conflict must include accountability for human rights atrocities committed by leaders of the M23 and other armed groups, including the FDLR. The United States stands ready to consider further targeted sanctions against the leaders of the M23 and other armed groups and those who support them.

M-A Lagrange
08-29-2013, 12:53 PM
While Rwanda is blocking sanctions against M23 rebel military leaders Kazarama and Mbonezi, the battle is raging on around Goma.

SA snipers wreak havoc
A second South African soldier has been injured in heavy fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and South African Special Forces snipers have killed at least six senior rebel officers.
A South African soldier said yesterday that teams of Special Forces members had been engaging the rebels.
"The engagements occurred as helicopters attacked M23 supply lines between Goma and Rwanda. Our snipers were specifically targeting rebel command-and-control posts. It appears from information coming from the front that the officers were busy planning attacks on DRC and UN bases," he said.
The national secretary of the SA National Defence Union, Pikkie Greeff, confirmed the involvement of snipers: "Our sources in Goma have revealed that at the time of attacks [on M23 supply lines] by UN Ukranian Mi24 attack helicopters, snipers from our Special Forces were engaging the rebels. They have killed a number of rebels, with reports of one being shot from a distance of 2.2km."
He said at least one South African soldier was shot in the leg.
"[Our information is] that within the next two weeks SA Air Force Rooivalk attack helicopters are to be deployed to join the clashes . they will provide much-needed fire power to be used to drive the rebels from their positions," he said.
M23 president Bertrand Bisimwa said yesterday: "There was a big offensive this morning . It was the UN that was shooting at us, from their helicopters. It's the Tanzanian and South African troops that are on the frontline. It's them we see first."

At the same time, RWanda and DRC keep on shelling each other, "by mistake"...

08-29-2013, 04:04 PM
sounds like a negative thing for at least some rebel groups. Whether that score is material would, I suppose, depend on how many rebel groups there are - a circumstance best known to those on the ground there and not to me.

In any event, the result, due to the use of aimed fires, inspired this piece of doggerel:

Snipers rule;
Air shooters drool.

Fifty years ago, the Congo saw a number of South Africans who could shoot straight - as opposed to popping off AKs into the air. Times have changed - or have they ?

It all seems to boil down to another piece of doggerel - oui, Belloc said it more elegantly, but I like this version:

The Maxim Gun -
Wot we haz got,
And they haz not.

So, Marc-Andre, thank you for keeping us updated on this continuing mess.

Your post contained this quote, which initially struck me odd:

The national secretary of the SA National Defence Union, Pikkie Greeff, confirmed the involvement of snipers: "Our sources in Goma have revealed that at the time of attacks [on M23 supply lines] by UN Ukranian Mi24 attack helicopters, snipers from our Special Forces were engaging the rebels. They have killed a number of rebels, with reports of one being shot from a distance of 2.2km."

This compelled me to find Pikkie (apparently a goto guy for media asking about SADF) - and lo, twitter link (https://twitter.com/PikkieGreeff):

National Secretary of the South African National Defence Union ( SANDU) the largest military trade union in the SANDF. AS ALLOWED BY THE CONCOURT!

OK, so Pikkie is, in effect, the Super Shop Steward for the SADF; but what the hell is the CONCOURT. I learned that is South Africa's Constitutional Court, which held in its 1999 decision (http://www.saflii.org/za/cases/ZACC/1999/7.pdf) that SADF members had a constitutional right to trade union membership.

Thus, one learns something new every day.



09-03-2013, 06:39 PM
Primus, the most ubiquitous and popular beer in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is more than just a sought-after brand of brew -- it's a "source of national pride." The Congo-based company and subsidiary of Heineken that produces Primus, Bralima, has been around since the Belgian colonial period, and Primus has reigned supreme since Congo's independence in 1960. "Primus played a central role in the new country, even basing its logo off the national flag," write Jason Miklian and Peer Schouten in their article for Foreign Policy, "Fluid Markets."

But as Miklian and Schouten detail, beer trade in the DRC can be a complicated business. In a country wracked with violence and warfare, neither Primus's popularity or the Congolese culture of celebrities who drink (and promote) the beer have kept it far from turmoil. Indeed violence escalated once again as recently as late August after U.N. troops and the Congolese Army launched an attack, attempting to drive M23 rebels from Goma, a city of about one million people in eastern Congo on the volatile border with Rwanda.

Whether it's outsourced distributors paying off armed men at road blockades in order to ensure safe passage for Primus's yellow-and-blue trucks or Bralima having to operate its breweries and business in and around rebel-controlled cities, Primus, like most other things in Congo, exists within a world of conflict.


09-03-2013, 08:10 PM
Nice catch, Adam. Sadly, the authors have never "been there and done that", or that article would have been slightly different.

Primus, as a pale lager, was and still is the lowest on the popularity scale. It is also the cheapest and is far from what the Belgians would ever consider a beer to be. Even back in the 80s formaldehyde was used to accelerate the brewing and fermenting process :eek: Imagine the headache that produced.

Every business in then Zaire owned a private military unit to protect their warehouses and transportation and still carry on that tradition be it diamonds or beer !

This BTW is what most of us drank (http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/bracongo-doppel-munich/73066/) and is still ranked number 1 in the DRC.

09-04-2013, 05:20 AM
Nice catch, Adam. Sadly, the authors have never "been there and done that", or that article would have been slightly different.

Primus, as a pale lager, was and still is the lowest on the popularity scale. It is also the cheapest and is far from what the Belgians would ever consider a beer to be. Even back in the 80s formaldehyde was used to accelerate the brewing and fermenting process :eek: Imagine the headache that produced.

Every business in then Zaire owned a private military unit to protect their warehouses and transportation and still carry on that tradition be it diamonds or beer !

This BTW is what most of us drank (http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/bracongo-doppel-munich/73066/) and is still ranked number 1 in the DRC.

Is the Guinness sold in Africa actually a different formula than the Guinness sold in the U.S.? I was told this for years by a Kenyan friend and wanted to see for myself when I was in Burkina Faso, but every time I had it there it was served to me mixed 50/50 with soft drink.

09-04-2013, 10:52 AM
ganulv asked:
Is the Guinness sold in Africa actually a different formula than the Guinness sold in the U.S.?

I don't know about the USA. Only recently there was a press story about the difference between home-brewed Guinness, in Dublin and that brewed elsewhere. The difference was the water, nothing else.:wry:

Ah, the Irish.:D

09-04-2013, 02:14 PM
In an attempt to respond to Matt, David managed to point out a significant error in producing anything in Africa.

The difference was the water, nothing else.:wry:

Our Guinness with the widget in the cans came straight from Ireland. I did hear stories about a Namibian based production but not good reviews.

In Zaire if one wanted good lager, you would visit the customs terminal every Tuesday when the Sabena 747 flight landed. As the mass amount of cargo was sent to customs for (ahem) inspection one could land a case of Heineken, Guinness or Stella Artois for 20 bucks :D

Those were the days !

09-04-2013, 05:53 PM
In Zaire if one wanted good lager, you would visit the customs terminal every Tuesday when the Sabena 747 flight landed. As the mass amount of cargo was sent to customs for (ahem) inspection one could land a case of Heineken, Guinness or Stella Artois for 20 bucks :D

Those were the days !

One of my linguistics professors told our class once about his Chinese store owner friend in Kano who could always be counted on to have a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black in the back he was willing to sell to foreigners a shot at a time. For the right price, of course!

My professor had been back to Nigeria the summer before I took the course with him and had looked up his old friend. He asked the store owner how he had always managed to have a bottle of Johnnie Walker on hand all those years, even during the Civil War. His friend laughed and told him there had always been a Johnnie Walker Black bottle on hand, but very rarely a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black. :D

09-06-2013, 06:04 PM
Snipers rule;
Air shooters drool.

Fifty years ago, the Congo saw a number of South Africans who could shoot straight - as opposed to popping off AKs into the air. Times have changed - or have they ?



Mike, the weapon used was the NTW-20, 14,5mm

See article here (in Afrikaans):


And search google images for NTW-20

M-A Lagrange
09-16-2013, 10:25 AM
While negotiations in Kampala are stuck, despite the call from ICGLR member states to find a solution within the coming 14 days, Rwanda has more and more difficulties to hide its "go to war" agenda. Some might say this is just another show of force demonstration by Kigali regime who faces more and more difficulties domestically.
Let's hope it is so:

Regional powers fear Rwandan invasion of DR Congo

Southern African nations Saturday, September 14, expressed concern at the growing number of Rwandan troops on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo and said it hoped an invasion was not imminent.

A statement from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional body said it was concerned "at the deployment of Rwandan troops along the common border" and "expressed the hope that Rwanda is not contemplating to invade."

Issued from a summit in Namibia attended by Congolese President Joseph Kabila, the statement called on the country's neighbors to "contribute to peace, security and stability of the DRC."

Congolese troops backed by a special United Nations force launched a fresh assault against M23 rebels late last month in DR Congo's north east.


Rwanda is facing elections this month (September) and the regime has to demonstrates that FDLR threat is still present. So several grenades also blew up in Kigali... The worst of us would even go as far as saying that several in RPF are trying to clear huge populous areas in Kigali to build malls are the ones behind those attacks...
Make up your mind.

Police: 2 Killed in Grenade Attacks in Rwanda
Police spokesman Damas Gatare said Saturday that a grenade exploded Friday night at a busy market place in the Kigali suburb of Kicukiro, killing one person and wounded 14.

Another grenade was detonated on Saturday in the same area, killing one person and wounding eight, he said.

M-A Lagrange
09-18-2013, 12:24 PM
Rwanda held very successful elections as they were quiet. But this does not diminish the fact that despite being peaceful, their might have been massive frauds.
According to journalist in Rwanda, numerous non distributed electors’ cards were kept in the voting posts. Not really a problem according to the Rwanda national election commission which stated that electors came to collect their elector cards the same day as the vote.
Once again, figures are what they are in Rwanda. I let you make your opinion:
Participation: 98.8%
Votes in favor of RPF: 76.22%
3 parties have been able to access the national assembly.
Here 2 links on the Rwanda elections (in French)

The main result of those elections without any challenge is the liberation of the FARDC soldier arrested by Rwandan policemen in Goma, DRC, the day of the vote. This after he was accused of conducting threatening activities in Rwanda but cleared by the border joint verification mechanism from ICGLR.

In the mean time, negotiations in Kampala are stuck in the sand and it is not the behind doors facilitation by Uganda that will manage to get an agreement between Kinshasa and M23 before the UN general assembly and the signature of the Addis-Ababa peace agreement framework.

10-24-2013, 04:25 AM
The FIB was authorized by Resolution 2098 (http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/2098(2013)) (2013); Adopted by the Security Council at its 6943rd meeting, on 28 March 2013 - S.C. Res. 2098, U.N. Doc. S/RES/2013 (28 Mar. 2013). Its most pertinent provisions (besides its basis in Chapter VII "Peace Enforcement", whose first major use was the Korean Police Action of 1950) appear to be in paras 9-12 dealing with the FIB, esp. para 12:

12 ... (a) Protection of civilians

(i) Ensure, within its area of operations, effective protection of civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, including civilians gathered in displaced and refugee camps, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders, in the context of violence emerging from any of the parties engaged in the conflict, and mitigate the risk to civilians before, during and after any military operation;
(b) Neutralizing armed groups through the Intervention Brigade

In support of the authorities of the DRC, on the basis of information collation and analysis, and taking full account of the need to protect civilians and mitigate risk before, during and after any military operation, carry out targeted offensive operations through the Intervention Brigade referred to in paragraph 9 and paragraph 10 above, either unilaterally or jointly with the FARDC, in a robust, highly mobile and versatile manner and in strict compliance with international law, including international humanitarian law and with the human rights due diligence policy on UN-support to non-UN forces (HRDDP), to prevent the expansion of all armed groups, neutralize these groups, and to disarm them in order to contribute to the objective of reducing the threat posed by armed groups on state authority and civilian security in eastern DRC and to make space for stabilization activities; ...

The bolded items delineate some policy issues. First off, how will the UN define "civilians" (which require "effective protection") ? What does "strict compliance" with IHL mean ? What does "neutralize" mean - kill, capture or convert as in the Phoenix Program of Vietnam; or something quite different in the contemplated "targeted offensive operations"?

Within three months of the resolution, a similar set of questions was asked by Bruce 'Ossie' Oswald, The Security Council and the Intervention Brigade: Some Legal Issues (http://www.asil.org/sites/default/files/insight130606_0.pdf) (June 6, 2013):

The key provisions concerning the Brigade are found in the operative paragraphs 9, 10 and 12(b) of UNSC resolution 2098. The UNSC mandated the Brigade "to carry out targeted offensive operations . . . with the responsibility of neutralizing armed groups."

The role of the Brigade is also to "prevent the expansion of all armed groups . . . and to disarm them in order to contribute to the objective of reducing the threat posed by armed groups on state authority and civilian security in eastern DRC and to make space for stabilization activities."

Based on the references to the armed groups made elsewhere in the resolution, it is reasonable to assume that the Brigade is mandated to undertake offensive operations against, for example, the M23, the Democratic Liberation Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the Lord's Resistance Army, and various Mayi Mayi groups.
The UNSC stipulated that the legal framework applicable to the Brigade in carrying out its functions and tasks is international law, including international humanitarian law.
Key Legal Issues

The UNSC's innovation in establishing an offensive military force to "neutralize" non-state armed actors in the DRC raises two broad and important legal questions. The first is whether the Brigade, as a matter of law, should legally be considered a party to the conflict in the Congo. The second question concerns the verb "neutralize" and the powers that the Brigade might imply from it.

Oswald is a professor at the Melbourne Law School; and was one of the primary draftsmen of the Copenhagen Process on the Handling of Detainees in International Military Operations (http://um.dk/en/~/media/UM/English-site/Documents/Politics-and-diplomacy/Copenhangen%20Process%20Principles%20and%20Guideli nes.pdf) (The Copenhagen Process was launched on 11 October 2007 and was concluded in Copenhagen on 19 October 2012).

As to "neutralization", Oswald finds a number of open policy questions:

A further question regarding the establishment of the Brigade is why the UNSC thought it necessary to stipulate that the Brigade is mandated to 'neutralize' the armed groups. Did the UNSC use that word as a term of art to mean that the Brigade should "render [the armed groups] ineffective or unusable"? If yes, did the UNSC intend to distinguish the Brigade's mandate from other operational terms such as "contain," "defeat," "destroy," "disrupt," or "exploit"? If the term is being used in a specific way, what ramifications does that have for the Brigade's functions and tasks? Might "neutralize" mean that targeting or capture of the rebel forces is limited to making the rebels ineffective? Furthermore, it is not clear why the UNSC felt it had to add "neutralize" to the Brigade's mandate when the Brigade, as a subordinate component of MONUSCO, would have the ability to "take all necessary measures" to complete its mandate. Is the Brigade to interpret "take all necessary measures" more narrowly because of the word "neutralize"?

If the term "neutralize" is read broadly, it is reasonable to assume that the Brigade is mandated to target armed groups with lethal force. In line with the usual concept of offensive operations, the Brigade would be able to conduct ambushes, deliberate attacks and hold ground against any armed group. It therefore follows that the Brigade's rules of engagement would be amended to take into account the offensive nature of the operations, and that the international humanitarian law principles of necessity, proportionality, humanity and distinction would be considered accordingly - that is, from a different perspective to how those terms would be applied when self-defense is the justification for the use of force. The rules of engagement presumably would also have to deal with whether the basis for targeting is that a rebel is a member of an organized armed group, or whether he or she is taking an active part in hostilities.

Thus, Oswald and I seem to take a similar broad definition of "neutralize"; however, he would (based on the Copenhagen Process) probably take a more restrictive definition of "combatant", and a more expansive definition of "civilian" than I.

- to be cont. -

10-24-2013, 05:03 AM
The questions raised by Oswald still seem to be open; see Ashley Deeks, How Does the UN Define “Direct Participation in Hostilities”? (http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/10/how-does-the-un-define-direct-participation-in-hostilities/#more-27680) (October 21, 2013):

One theme of Ben Emmerson’s interim report on remotely piloted aircraft and targeted killings is that governments must be more transparent with regard to any civilian deaths they cause. It’s easy to find lots of other calls for greater transparency on related issues. For instance, many have urged the United States to be more transparent with regard to who the United States believes it can target as a matter of international law, where geographically it believes it may use lethal force, which forces count as “associated forces” for purposes of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, and so on.
In March 2013, the Security Council authorized a “Force Intervention Brigade” (FIB) as a military unit within MONUSCO, the UN stabilization mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The FIB was established to perform (and continues to undertake) offensive actions against rebel groups that were fighting the Congolese army, including the M23 group.
(One difference between the FIB and a future offensive force in Somalia is that the FIB falls squarely within a UN-led mission, while AMISOM in Somalia is AU-led, though the UN provides it with logistical support.)
... First, there are targeting questions. In the Congolese context, how does the FIB decide when some set of actors becomes a rebel group covered by the Resolution? (The Resolution authorizes force against “all armed groups” without providing any additional guidance.) How does the UN (or the troop-contributing countries) interpret the concept of “direct participation in hostilities”? Who count as “members” of organized armed groups? Which members perform “continuous combat functions”? By what metric do the UN forces contemplate and calculate permissible levels of civilian deaths when conducting proportionality analyses?

Second, there are likely to be detention questions. ...
What if the person detained poses a security threat to the UN forces but it is not clear that his action is criminal under Congolese law? On the flip side, what if the FIB worried that the DRC would mistreat a particular detainee if it transferred him to Congolese forces? Must it nevertheless surrender custody to the host government? Must the UN forces take into account Congolese law, and how do they educate themselves about that law? How has this all played out in practice? How might it play out in the Somalia context?

In a useful ASIL Insight (http://www.asil.org/insights/volume/17/issue/15/security-council-and-intervention-brigade-some-legal-issues-0), Professor Bruce Oswald wrote:

As a starting point, it is reasonable to assume that the [FIB] will apply the UN “Interim Standard Operating Procedures: Detention in United Nations Peace Operations” when dealing with detainees. As these Procedures are over two years old, they may be updated to reflect more recent detention principles and guidelines such as found in the “Copenhagen Process: Principles and Guidelines concerning detention in non-international armed conflict and peace operations.” Furthermore, it is also reasonable to assume that, consistent with the UN’s past practice, the Brigade will transfer the armed group members that they have captured to the DRC authorities.

As far as I know, the Interim SOPs are not publicly available. If they are, I would welcome a link to them. A UN publication reported that the Interim SOPs were to be reviewed after 12 months and finalized, but that seems not to have happened.

Based on second-hand reporting, the SOPs apparently do not contemplate non-criminal detention by UN forces for more than 72 hours, except in rare circumstances. One can easily imagine cases in which that rule would prove problematic for the self-protection of FIB forces.

If the UN is consistent with the policies it "recommends" for others (mostly invoked in criticism of the US "war paradigm"), one would predict that the UN would follow its own guidance, as in Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (http://www.lawfareblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Emmerson-Report.pdf) (by Ben Emmerson, 18 Sep 2013), which calls for "strict compliance" with IHL; and adopts the ICRC "direct participation" standard:

Differences of view about the forms of activity that amount to direct participation in hostilities under international humanitarian law will almost inevitably result in different assessments of civilian casualty levels. The Special Rapporteur adopts herein the interpretative guidance on direct participation in hostilities promulgated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Nils Melzer, Interpretive Guidance on the Notion of Direct Participation in Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law (http://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/icrc-002-0990.pdf) (Geneva, ICRC, 2009); see paras. 69-72.

Melzer's "Interpretive Guidance" adopted the most restrictive test for "combatants" (and, conversely, the most expansive test for "civilians"). The 2009 ICRC's "Interpretive Guidance" was and still is controversial; e.g., as per these snips from pp. 65, 67:

Measures preparatory to the execution of a specific act of direct participation in hostilities, as well as the deployment to and the return from the location of its execution, constitute an integral part of that act.
A deployment amounting to direct participation in hostilities begins only once the deploying individual undertakes a physical displacement with a view to carrying out a specific operation. The return from the execution of a specific hostile act ends once the individual in question has physically separated from the operation, for example by laying down, storing or hiding the weapons or other equipment used and resuming activities distinct from that operation.

The ICRC wholeheartedly endorses the concept of the "transitory guerrilla" (aka "freedom fighter"), which has morphed the Laws of War since the 1977 APs to the GCs.

The second major point made by Ben Emmerson is this:

24. The Special Rapporteur does not use the expression “targeted killing” herein because its meaning and significance differ according to the legal regime applicable in specific factual circumstances. In a situation qualifying as an armed conflict, the adoption of a pre-identified list of individual military targets is not unlawful; if based upon reliable intelligence it is a paradigm application of the principle of distinction. Conversely, outside situations of armed conflict, international human rights law prohibits almost any counter-terrorism operation that has the infliction of deadly force as its sole or main purpose (A/HRC/14/24/Add.6, paras. 28 and 32-33). The threshold question therefore is not whether a killing is targeted, but whether it takes place within or outside a situation of armed conflict (see paras. 62-68 below).

Here, there is added UN guidance in Philip Alston, Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, with Addendum: Study on targeted killings (http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/HRC/14/24/Add.6) (A/HRC/14/24/Add.6):


In recent years, a few States have adopted policies that permit the use of targeted killings, including in the territories of other States. Such policies are often justified as a necessary and legitimate response to “terrorism” and “asymmetric warfare”, but have had the very problematic effect of blurring and expanding the boundaries of the applicable legal frameworks. This report describes the new targeted killing policies and addresses the main legal issues that have arisen.
28. Whether or not a specific targeted killing is legal depends on the context in which it is conducted: whether in armed conflict, outside armed conflict, or in relation to the interstate use of force. The basic legal rules applicable to targeted killings in each of these contexts are laid out briefly below.

Drawing "a line" between what is and what is not an "armed conflict" (aka "war") has its restrictive proponents and its expansive proponents. The logic tends to be a priori - which some admit, and others do not.

Finally, these recent NGO reports follow the Alston-Emmerson construct based on Melzer's "direct participation" argument: Amnesty International’s “Will I Be Next?” - US Drone Strikes in Pakistan (http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/asa330132013en.pdf); investigates nine drone strikes in North Waziristan between January 2012 and August 2013; and Human Rights Watch’s “Between a Drone and Al Qaeda” - The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen (http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/yemen1013_ForUpload.pdf); examines six drone strikes in Yemen, one from 2009 and the remaining five from 2012 and 2013.

So, what policy will the UN adopt for its FIB ? What ROEs will that force likely follow in the real operational world ?



M-A Lagrange
10-24-2013, 07:29 AM
Hello Mike,

All the questions you raise were raised when it came to set that FIB. But the main question was: how would Russia and China react and would that mean a new approach for Syria... (new is beautiful cause it is what we need but also scary...;-))

Basically, the FIB already has been engaged against one armed group: the M23.
They were in support to the FARDC and brought professional planing, operations and modern warfare to the Kivu. The results were not long to come: the FARDC and FIB just kicked M23 over 20 km away from Goma.
The question of legal ground has not really been an issue as ToE and RoE already existed. What was new with that FIB is the ToE. What has been lacking in DRC since ages is a will from peacekeepers to actually do the job. The FIB component came with the straight intention to use lethal force to impose the UNSC decisions to armed non state actors.

The Force commander gave a pretty raw but effective definition of civilian when he arrived and set the green zone in and around Goma: all those who carry weapons (AK, RPG...) are not civilians. Civilians do not carry weapons.

Est de la RDC : Tout civil portant une arme sera assimil un combattant, selon la Monusco
(All civilian carrying a weapon will be assimilated to a combatant. In French unfortunately)

He basically said: if you are not a police or military staff then you are not allowed to carry weapons in the area I control. Which is the basic of the Congolese law and makes the distingo between combatants and civilians quite easy.

That said, the FIB is a political tool in the first place. Its purpose is to reverse the military dynamic to allow a political dialog to take place. So far, they have been good at fighting but political dialog is stuck in the sand and goes nowhere. So military solution prevail for the moment.

Talks suspended after M23, DRC disagree
Now the questions are: will M23 external supporters take the risk to get at war with the UN? And what will happen if UN are defeated?

10-24-2013, 03:22 PM
sera assimil un combatant" is clear enough for that moment in time; except for one argument that has been thrown at the US re: its actions in Iraq, Astan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia - and probably elsewhere.

That argument very simply is that carrying firearms in those countries is not at all uncommon among civilians. Therefore, carrying firearms is not sufficient (in and of itself) to make positive ID of combatants. In fact, the US has been consistently criticized by the UN-ICRC, as to its matrices for signature strikes, for too heavily relying on two factors, military age males + carrying firearms, as proving positive ID of combatants.

Even where carrying firearms is made absolutely illegal (except for soldiers and police), that makes gun-carrying civilians criminals, not combatants. As criminals, those gun-carrying civilians are under the protection of Article 6(1) of the ICCPR, which the UN certainly has to admit is a binding international treaty, stating that “every human being has the inherent right to life. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” In the US, that rule is known to every cop as Tennessee v Garner (http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/471/1/case.html), which restricts the instances in which even a gun-carrying civilian felon may be shot.

General Cruz' statement in Digital Congo doesn't evidence what other UN-ICRC rules he is not following by omission, or what rules he is even breaking by commission. I see no evidence in the statement that Cruz has taken Nels Melzer's "direct participation in hostilities" as the rule governing FIB's offensive targeting operations.

If, pursuant to General Cruz's apparent ROE, gun-carrying civilians are actually being shot as "combatants", at least some of those killings would most likely constitute, under the consistent UN-ICRC proclamations that have filled the past decade, either extrajudicial executions or war crimes.

No doubt that General Cruz is faced with a difficult situation; that recourse to more "direct action" is often effective; and that pragmatism may justify the COA elected. Last nite, I watched La Bataille d'Alger (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-7j4WVTgWc); effective methods (in the short run, of course).

My own "feeling" is that, if FIB actually engages in "effective offensive targeting", it will end up actually employing as harsh or harsher ROEs than the US has employed since 9/11; but that the US will remain the UN-ICRC whipping post.



10-24-2013, 03:53 PM
The only thing I could add to this is that the vast majority of civilians in the DRC do not actually possess firearms (at least not this past April).

With some very limited examples such as politicians and military family members, you would be hard pressed to find a common civilian with a firearm (and the ability to employ said).

Regards, Stan

10-24-2013, 06:01 PM
The FIB rules of engagement as stated remind me of what Tom Odom advised the US to use as rules of engagement when we first went to Somalia long ago. If I remember what I read correctly, he advised this-Anybody who is carrying a weapon is to be shot and if anybody picks up that weapon, he is to be shot too.


10-24-2013, 06:10 PM
Because of Marc-Andre having long ago provided me with the links to the UN reports on gun-control and gun ownership in Central Africa (esp. Rwanda, which has its own set of lengthy and dreary reports), I'm aware of the classism inherent in Central African gun ownership. So, as I said, there is a certain pragmatism in General Cruz' approach; which, from a utilitarian approach justifies the "raw" rule of thumb - gun in hand = combatant.

I suspect, however, that this rule does not apply across the board; and that we really have three categories of gun toters:

1. The "good" politicians and their military family members who are not going to be shot because of their status as gun toters.

2. The "bad" politicians and their military family members who might be shot because of their gun toter status, but more likely would be "neutralized" by capture - we don't want the UN FIB to be killing African elites, do we ?

3. The common rabble, who aren't supposed to have guns anyway; and will be shot if they are gun toters.

Now, all of this makes practical sense in context. But, it is a far cry from the rules propounded by Messrs Ban, Emmerson, Alston and Melzer; and endorsed by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch - and all of the other critics of the US over the past decade.



M-A Lagrange
10-24-2013, 06:38 PM
Hello every body, Mike, Stan, Carl

What stan pointed is very true in DRC: average people do not possess firearms and even less know how to use it. In addition, combats are mainly armed guys against against unarmed civilians.

It is also clear that General Cruz statement is not based on legal grounds but on practical considerations. It was also and first of all a political statement to win the Congolese hearts and minds to the cause of the FIB.

In addition, the FIB is mainly composed of SANDF and Tanzanian forces which are quite well trained. M23 is composed, allegedly, of former FARDC/CNDP/PARECO and RDF, and RDF are well trained.
Nothing comparable to Astan or Irak or even Somalia.

But the point you raise is right on the spot of the arguments used by troops contributing countries to not engage their soldiers in combat, in addition to the usual political argument: we are here for vacation not for war, it is a foreign country issue we cannot afford to have even 1 casualty. Something that changed with the FIB as at least 2 Tanzanian soldiers died during combats with M23.

What is also a concern for the FIB is the basic M23 combatants who are for most of them forced combatants recruited on a false promise of a job in DRC or kidnapped children. During the last combats, FARDC and FIB fired more than 1000 round of artillery on M23 positions and approximately 300 M23 combatants were killed (Some say up to 450).
M23 officers are trained, they prepare defenses, foxholes, protected artillery positions... But average combatants have at best 2 weeks of training and barely know how to load their gun.

Against the other armed groups (which are more than 200 on DRC soil according to my last mapping 3 years ago and they keep on proliferating) the situation might be different. So on a legal ground, M23 is a soft target as they wear uniform, have an identified chain of command and carry weapons. With other groups it will be more blurred as their is no real chain of command, no uniform and not necessarily more than 3 AK for 10 "combatants".

General Cruz combat experience is mainly Haiti and the Cite Soleil gangs. So for the moment he does what he knows: anti gang. When it will come to disarm by force local ethnic militias it will be another story but Congolese legal system is exotic enough to allow almost anything.

10-24-2013, 06:40 PM
My quick search didn't turn up Tom's "ROE for Somalian pirates"; I'd be very interested in exactly what he said if someone can find it.

However, I did find Tom's post from this thread in 2007 (#101 (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=34448&postcount=103)), which bears on the subject:

Well they [the DRC Army] always made our job easier when it came to predicting what they would do:

Unarmed civilians as opposition: attack, rape, steal, kill

Armed opposition: remove mirror shades, look real mean, put shades back on, then run

Looks to me, from that comment, that a good argument can be made that a lot more armed common rabble, of the right character and attitude, would be a positive thing.

But, that is neither African elite nor UN-think; the common rabble must be unarmed - sound familiar ?



10-24-2013, 07:08 PM
I'm sure that the "Congolese legal system is exotic enough to allow almost anything." I could also say that the US legal system is exotic enough to allow almost everything that Presidents Bush and Obama ordered since 9/11. Whether those orders were wise policies is another issue.

Personally, I've less objection than most to reliance on domestic law (including its Laws of War) over what passes for international law today. IHL and IHRL are anachronistic because they are based on a less complex context (a clear division between Peace and War; e.g., Lasse Oppenheim) than present-day reality (War in Peacetime; e.g., Andre Beaufre); and incorporate some of the worst Cold War innovations (e.g., "freedom fighters"). So, if the whole edifice is to scuppered, so be it.

But, that is certainly not the position taken by the UN-ICRC and the "international legal community", and generally supported by the international political elite; especially, where opportunity exists to bash the US. Of course, the UN is much more "flexible" when it comes to itself - it doesn't have to practice what it otherwise preaches.



10-24-2013, 07:28 PM
My quick search didn't turn up Tom's "ROE for Somalian pirates"; I'd be very interested in exactly what he said if someone can find it.

However, I did find Tom's post from this thread in 2007 (#101 (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=34448&postcount=103)), which bears on the subject:

Looks to me, from that comment, that a good argument can be made that a lot more armed common rabble, of the right character and attitude, would be a positive thing.

But, that is neither African elite nor UN-think; the common rabble must be unarmed - sound familiar ?



I think that comes from his book, Journey Into Darkness, I think. It had to do with our original effort in Somalia. The main point is if you are trying to restore some semblance of order in that part of the world by suppressing organized (sort of) armed groups, you don't fool around. You tell them they will die if they don't comply and then back it up.

Right on, arm the common rabble. But in the glorious DRC, the common rabble is pretty darn poor and a rifle, ammunition and things to keep it going aren't so cheap. You get a few guys together who can work a scam to pay for weapons or get somebody else to pay then, those guys have a huge advantage over the common rabble. So in this case, Tom's rules may be good.

Stan would know better than I if the right character and attitude is common in the DRC.

10-24-2013, 10:02 PM
The statement was actually made by a Lt. Gen. (relaying a remark he heard), with Tom affirmatively replying (from Journey into Darkness, p.52):

LG Owens: If they have a gun, shoot 'em. If someone picks up the gun, shoot him too. Keep shooting until no one picks up the gun.

Tom: Sir, that is exactly what needs to happen.

So, let's adopt that ROE "exactly" (literally) for use worldwide. One result would be the likely deaths of Tom and me; each of us owns guns, and based on perceived character wouldn't comply with a mandate to give them up.

Or, are we "good guys", who for some reason are exempted from the literal rule ? Or, do we live in a "good" country, which for some reason is exempted from the rule ? Or, is there something missing from what should be called "Owens' Rule" ?



10-24-2013, 10:47 PM
The statement was actually made by a Lt. Gen. (relaying a remark he heard), with Tom affirmatively replying (from Journey into Darkness, p.52):

So, let's adopt that ROE "exactly" (literally) for use worldwide. One result would be the likely deaths of Tom and me; each of us owns guns, and based on perceived character wouldn't comply with a mandate to give them up.

Or, are we "good guys", who for some reason are exempted from the literal rule ? Or, do we live in a "good" country, which for some reason is exempted from the rule ? Or, is there something missing from what should be called "Owens' Rule" ?



I'm glad you found the quote, and I'm glad I wasn't completely wrong about it, only mostly wrong.

As for the rest, different histories, different cultures, different religions, different climates, different diseases, different crops, different livestock, really bad snakes, different character of bodies of fresh water, different everything. Mostly though-TIA.

So let's not adopt that ROE exactly for use worldwide. Because, IAA, it ain't Africa. Now that is not to say that things can't get to a place where arming the flyover people isn't a very good thing, like it is here. But in the DRC, north of Goma (or if they ever decide to go where the FDLR is), right now, that particular rule of engagement is the best way to go about it.

10-25-2013, 02:01 AM
I'd say you got the quote mostly right. :)

My questions go to the reasoning behind the rule.

My first thought was that the rule ("shoot anyone with a gun") is a "status" rule, which follows this kind of sequence:

1. Define your enemy.

2. Identify your enemy.

3. Kill your enemy.

The US normally defines its enemies in terms of states or groups - in fact, I can't think of an example, as a matter of national policy, where the US has deviated from states or groups.

However, nothing in the logic of the status sequence requires using states or groups to define our enemies. It would be perfectly logical to define a killable enemy as anyone we see who is taller than the level of a truck axle. That in fact was a very common Mongol rule for prisoner "handling".

So, defining our enemy as "anyone with a gun" is perfectly logical as a status rule. The rules we have on the floor (the Cruz and Owens rules) are more restricted: Cruz "any Congolese with a gun"; Owens "any Somalian with a gun". Note that those rules combine statuses, a gun toter + an ethnic.

Again, there is nothing illogical in combining two statuses; but what is the general standard behind selecting one ethnic group to be killed if gun-toting and another ethnic group to be given a pass. Or, is the rule simply to be developed on the spot based on the best judgment of the unit commander (and, if so, at what level of command).

My second thought was to look at the rule as a conduct rule. In the US SROE, unit self-defense is always in effect; but that requires a threat to "life or limb". The arguments usually involve the degree of threat. The logical sequence is:

1. Identify threat.

2. Neutralize threat.

Neither the Cruz nor Owens rules, as stated, have a threat element; unless one contends that anyone having a gun, and by that alone, is a deadly threat worthy of killing. Perhaps, that was and is the case in the Congo and Somalia.

Apparently, everyone who's spoken here on the issue seems to think that Cruz and Owens have/had the right idea.



M-A Lagrange
10-25-2013, 03:17 PM
Since this morning FARDC and M23 resumed fightings. The FIB is stuck between its 2 mandates of Protection of Civilians and active force operations... So they do nothing for now.

M23 rebels clash with army in eastern Congo

General Sultani Makenga, M23's military commander, told Reuters its forces were attacked at 4 a.m. local time (0200 GMT) at Kanyamohoro, around 15 km (10 miles) north of Goma, the largest city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

"They attacked us," Makenga told Reuters by telephone. "We are going to defend our positions."

An army spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

A Reuters reporter in Goma said the fighting was intense and on-going.

The resumption of hostilities comes days after peace negotiations broke down in the Ugandan capital Kampala, triggering a military build-up on both sides.


10-25-2013, 04:44 PM
no, it's not too late to discuss the real issues - which are underlying policy issues, primarily driven by different a priori logics, for military and political strategies and their consequent "rules of engagement". The bases ("reasonings") for those a priori logics may be rational or irrational, but they do exist.

Briefly, on my two points above:

1. There can't be a legal debate because, in effect, there is no international law (simply a flock of legal opinions, many of which are totally or partially anachronistic); and there is no court to enforce whatever "international law" one may assert - unless you happen to be one of the strong, where "might makes right" will prevail. I'm not knocking the conviction of Chuckie Taylor Sr; but the same result was reached (and more quickly) against his son, Chuckie Jr, in a US District Court sitting in southern Florida.

2. It's not too late because the issue of who is killed, and for what, will keep on recurring in Africa and elsewhere. In fact, if Andy Basevich is correct in his article, Bashing ‘Isolationists’ While at War in the World (http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2013/10/24/bashing-isolationists-while-at-war-in-the-world/) (by Andrew J. Bacevich and Tom Engelhardt, October 25, 2013), we are about to see a movement to push a US pivot toward Africa:

Hey, Private First Class Dorothy: when that next tornado hits Kansas, it’s slated to transport you not to Oz, but to somewhere in Africa, maybe Chad or Niger or Mauritania. And that’s war, American-style, for you, or so reports the New York Times’s Eric Schmitt from Fort Riley, Kansas (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/19/world/africa/us-prepares-to-train-african-forces-to-fight-terror.html), where an Army brigade is gearing up for a series of complex future deployments to Africa. Here is the money paragraph of his report, if you want to understand Washington’s present orientation toward perpetual war: “But with the United States military out of Iraq and pulling out of Afghanistan, the Army is looking for new missions around the world. ‘As we reduce the rotational requirement to combat areas, we can use these forces to great effect in Africa,’ Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the head of the Africa Command, told Congress this year.”

In the view of our leaders these days, having extra troops on hand and keeping them in cold storage in this country is like having extra money around and stuffing it under your mattress or parking it in a local bank at next to no interest. Why would you do that when you could go out and play the market – or, in the case of the U.S. military, pivot toward Africa? So many “partnerships” to forge as you lend a helping hand to the counterterrorism struggle on – and the destabilization of – that continent using that brigade in Kansas, Special Operations forces like the ones recently sent on raids into Libya and Somalia, and the drones whose bases are spreading in the region.

In Washington, war and preparations for war remain the options of choice, no matter the traffic jam of U.S. military disasters in this century. Despite all the recent talk about pivoting to Asia, preparations of every sort, not just at Ft. Riley, suggest that Africa may prove the actual pivot point for this country’s endless war policies in the coming decade, as TomDispatch has been reporting now for the last year or more. In the meantime, Andrew Bacevich, author most recently of Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country, offers a little primer on just how to cut any critics of the relentless American global mission impossible off at the knees. Just call them “isolationists” and go right on with your next operation. It works like a dream. ~ Tom ...

Of course, Roger Cohen of the NYT is calling for a re-pivot toward Europe in his op-ed, The Handyuberwachung Disaster (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/opinion/international/the-handyuberwachung-disaster.html?_r=0) (October 24, 2013).

So, with the pivot toward the Pacific, and the pivot toward Africa, and the re-pivot toward Europe, President Obama will have to learn some very fancy dance moves - on a limited budget to boot. But, wait; he also may have to learn how to say Handyuberwachung in 35 languages, if this Guardian article is accurate: NSA monitored calls of 35 world leaders after US official handed over contacts (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/24/nsa-surveillance-world-leaders-calls) (by James Ball, 24 October 2013).

So, I think it's a fair inference that we are not going to see consensus within the "international community" in the near future; and that will be reflected in variations (and not some little hypocrisies) in respective "rules of engagement".

Let's contemplate the fun and games, if the US pivots toward Africa. The World could see forces operating under UN, US, Cruz, Owens, and exotic Congolese "rules of engagement", with a German court in Hamburg deciding whether extrajudicial executions occurred and who committed war crimes. :D



M-A Lagrange
10-28-2013, 03:30 PM
Third time in a row:

DR Congo troops seize military base from M23 rebels

Kinshasa (AFP) - The army in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo gained ground from M23 rebels in fighting on Monday, seizing back control of a major military base as the UN Security Council prepared to hold emergency talks on the crisis.

"We have taken the military base at Rumangabo," which lies about 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Goma, the strategic capital of embattled North Kivu province, Lieutenant-Colonel Olivier Hamuli told AFP.

"We fought, but not for very long - the enemy is demoralised by the strength of (our) firepower," Hamuli said on the fourth day of an offensive against the M23, following the suspension of peace talks in Uganda.

A good old Mama giving a high 5 to a UN Force commander after FARDC + FIB entered her village:https://twitter.com/KoblerSrsg/status/394586013676228608/photo/1

M-A Lagrange
10-29-2013, 11:44 AM
M23 rebels are trapped and they know it. So they make desperate moves:

DRC's M23 call for Zuma's help

We're requesting Zuma to speak to Kabila to stop the fatalities," said M23 spokesperson Lawrence Kingston in an interview with the Mail & Guardian.

"South Africa should stop sending military to Congo. He's got to help the Congolese people live side by side in peace instead of helping Kabila kill them."

South Africa sent troops to the DRC earlier in the year as part of the United Nations mission to neutralise armed groups in the country.

they accuse Zuma to have business perspectives and interests in DRC... But so do they, as well as in Rwanda, and so do a lot of Rwandan.

US also published a statement:

Press Releases: Renewed Fighting in Eastern DRC
The United States is deeply concerned by reports of renewed fighting between the M23 armed group and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in eastern Congo, with reports of casualties and of hundreds of families forced to flee the area of the fighting. We are also troubled by reports that at least one round landed across the border in Rwanda. This fighting puts at risk the fragile peace negotiations in Kampala and risks undermining the concerted efforts earlier this week to reach a final agreement and peacefully resolve the conflict. We commend the actions of the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to protect civilians and urgently call on all parties to exercise restraint to prevent military escalation of the conflict.

We specifically call on the M23 to commit to peacefully resolving the conflict by promptly signing a final agreement that provides for the disarmament and demobilization of the armed group and accountability for those responsible for the most serious human rights abuses. We commend the good faith efforts of the DRC government to negotiate a principled agreement and continue to call on all signatories of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework to support such an agreement and to end all support to armed groups.

We continue to believe that the best way forward for the Great Lakes region is to conclude the Kampala Talks in a manner that does not grant amnesty to the worst offenders and to utilize the Framework peace process to focus on the root causes of the crisis in the DRC, including through expanded dialogue among signatory states.

http://www.newsroomamerica.com/story/392212/press_releases_renewed_fighting_in_eastern_drc.htm l

But this will not work neither because calling rebels to sit at negotiation table to surrender and be accountable for the war crimes (at best, possible crimes against humanity after 2 mass graves have been found) they committed is not really an exit door option.

10-29-2013, 12:09 PM
Hey M-A,
Indeed correct my friend. Without a means of escape and also save face, they will never reach the negotiation table. There is a reason that the DRC does not have a lot of prisoners. They generally don't make it (there) :rolleyes:

Uncle Mo also tried to fly the 31st para from Goma to an unknown destination. They took over the aircraft and went directly to Kinshasa :o

Regards, Stan

But this will not work neither because calling rebels to sit at negotiation table to surrender and be accountable for the war crimes (at best, possible crimes against humanity after 2 mass graves have been found) they committed is not really an exit door option.

10-29-2013, 04:07 PM
was such a great example of our State Department learning to use UN speak - "deeply concerned", "also troubled by", "commend", "urgently call on", "specifically call on", "commend", "continue to believe" ...

and so much angst - that this "peacekeeping" mission (I thought it was now a Chapter VII mission) has been marred by this wretched excess:

... at least one round landed across the border in Rwanda.

that I had to look up Jen Peski (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jen_Psaki), who obviously has some sort of talent for this sort of thing.


Her hiring at the Department of State has fueled speculation that she is likely to replace White House Press Secretary Jay Carney when he leaves the White House.

So, our little weasel may be replaced by our little chipmunk - perhaps, an improvement amongst the denizens of the Animal Kingdom.

To continue with our zoological excursion, I offer for your viewing enjoyment the adventures of Big Buck Bunny on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSGBVzeBUbk):


which comes closest of all visuals in illustrating how JMM would handle foreign policy - best of friends, worst of enemies - and never "urgently calling" ...

... but finding retribution, expressing reprobation and specifically deterring (as at 9:40 in the video clip).





10-31-2013, 02:33 AM
What has been lacking in DRC since ages is a will from peacekeepers to actually do the job. The FIB component came with the straight intention to use lethal force to impose the UNSC decisions to armed non state actors.

That is the interesting question. What was it that motivated the UN to make the decision actually really and truly use lethal in a serious way? For years and years they mostly hung around and occasionally got shot up. Why did they change their minds?

M-A or Stan or anybody, if you've heard any scuttlebutt about why it would be interesting to know.

10-31-2013, 02:57 PM
Actually, although use of lethal force is very new to blue helmets, their mandate and a UN-brokered accord supported by 11 nations and 4 international organizations were key.

11-01-2013, 12:16 PM
Carl & Stan,

What is remarkable is that the UN has again used force in the Congo, as it did in the sixties (1960-64); when their enemies were a mix of Congo military, mercenaries, separatists - notably in Katanga - and others:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Operation_in_the_Congo

M-A Lagrange
11-01-2013, 02:29 PM
As Stan said, it is the 11+4 peace framework signed in Addis Abeba that facilitated the involvement of FIB.
But what Stan forgot is the nomination of a UN Special envoy for the Great Lakes + a US Special Envoy for the Great lakes, and the fact that Addis Abeba framework was signed with US, EU, Belgium and France as witness.

In addition, this has sparked a very interresting reorganisation of power in Central and Southern Africa between EAC and SADC.

I put here the link on an interesting article on the M23 ideology:

M23's Congo Cadres: The Rebel Movement with a Taste for Local Politics

During the leadership portion of the training, examples of an eclectic mix of revolutionary heroes are taught. This includes figures ranging from Nelson Mandela to Abraham Lincoln to Che Guevara. (Che Guevara once fought in South Kivu for Laurent Kabila, the late father of the DRC’s current President Joseph Kabila, but this detail is apparently overlooked.)

Training also includes some religious elements, in particular an extensive course on ‘Christian leadership’. “Though M23 is a secular group, we hold up the example of Jesus as a model of leadership and service to a revolutionary cause,” explains one M23 cadre. The head of M23’s armed wing, General Sultani Makenga, is an avowed Seventh Day Adventist and the group’s former leader, Jean-Marie Runiga, styled himself as a bishop.

However, examples from other faith traditions are also drawn upon. Mahatma Gandhi’s Seven Blunders of the World is taught to all cadres, and the example of Gandhi has clearly rubbed off on some M23 members. Political chief Bisimwa currently uses an image of Ghandi on his Twitter profile.

Chris Shambala, a member of M23’s public works department, recalls his experience in the leadership courses. “My favourite figure they told us about in the trainings was Abraham Lincoln,” he says. “That man was a prophet. His vision of America was fulfilled when Obama became president. Like Lincoln, we know that sometimes to fix wrongs in your country, you need a civil war.

At the momment US and Eu are calling for a quick peace agreement in Kampala but I really doubt it will ever happen.

DR Congo army in 'last phase' push against M23 rebels after seizing guerrilla stronghold

A source in the UN mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO), which is helping the army, said the offensive against the M23 was in ‘the last phase’, after the army captured the main rebel base at Bunagana on Wednesday.

Diehard M23 fighters, estimated at just a few hundred men, were dug in on three hills in farming territory about 50 miles north of Goma, the capital of strife-torn North Kivu province.

You need to be 2 to negotiate. And at least 1 is not really willing to talk. :rolleyes:

11-03-2013, 07:58 AM
Negotiations with M23, sigh...

What's the point of negotiating with supposed M23 leaders, when the body actually controlling them is the Rwandan reg....ho-hum, 'government'?

http://turtlebay.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/06/26/exclusive_un_panel_says_rwanda_behind_congolese_mu tiny

...and when they are supported by (US-trained) Rwandan special forces?

One can only hope that Kigali was speaking truth at least that one time, when it announced these special forces were back inside Rwanda, last year:

- Back in period 1998-2003 (and after), such announcements/promises were not worth the paper on which they were issued...

Even if, the 'core' of the M23 was initially of Rwandan origin too (of course, Kigali would say the people in question are all 'Congolese Tutsi/Banyamulenge', 'fighting against genocidary government and for their right to exist'), and I doubt this has changed very much ever since:

11-10-2013, 05:34 PM
An assessment from an IISS analyst:
A revolutionary new UN combat brigade may have helped the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) army to defeat a rebellion in the country’s troubled east. The rebel group M23 (March 23) declared this week that it was laying down its arms, bringing to an end an 18-month insurgency in which 80,000 have been displaced and thousands killed or injured.

However, there are dozens of armed groups in mineral-rich eastern DRC besides the Tutsi-led M23, and the Congolese government has now said that it will pursue others. A government spokesman pointed to the Rwandan-Hutu FDLR as a top priority.


Sounds like a perpetual intervention, assuming the contributors remain committed, my emphasis:
It consists of 3,069 personnel from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi, with two infantry battalions, one artillery company, and one special forces company. The brigade is also believed to have added two attack helicopters and four utility helicopters to MONUSCO’s existing aerial capabilities.

01-27-2014, 06:44 PM
The death of Col. Mamadou Ndala comes barely two months after he led the Congolese army to a historic victory against the country's most serious rebels, with the help of a United Nations brigade. It is another blow to a devastated country where an untold number have died in nearly two decades of conflict. It also hurts efforts to make Congo responsible for its own security; the turbulent nation is now host to the largest United Nations peacekeeping mission in the world.


01-27-2014, 08:39 PM
Adam G:

That is remarkable, a good Congolese officer who got something good out of his men. What isn't so remarkable is the suspicion that some on his own side killed him.

03-02-2014, 04:29 PM
Thanks to John Beretto's Tweet:
Hover over a name to see a brief bio, or a line to see the connection between two names. Darker lines indicate stronger connections.

The eastern DRC remains plagued by dozens of foreign and regional armed groups. The M23 rebel group emerged in 2012 as one of the most formidable armed groups in DRC, carrying out brutal attacks, executing prisoners of war, and recruiting child soldiers. The group collapsed in November 2013 following a military campaign by the Congolese armed forces, backed by the UN Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO). Even so, the UN Group of Experts reported in December 2013 that a number of sanctioned M23 leaders continue to move freely in Uganda and that M23 members continue to openly recruit members in Rwanda despite declaring an end to their rebellion on 5 November 2013. Also, numerous armed groups in the DRC continue to pose security threats, such as the FDLR and ADF, who are responsible for grave human rights violations and massive displacement.

The interactive graphic shown on the left visualizes the complex M23 support networks documented in UN report S/2012/843, pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004).

03-27-2014, 04:59 PM
A long article, by National Geographic, complete with a short history back to the 1960's, with some stunning photos of beauty and the invariably grim human terrain. It has some pungent phrases too. Best of all it has a current map, hence below. Sorry it is so large, yet to discover the art of shrinking.



One has to ask if the UN can ever be successful in Eastern Congo (DRC). Is there an exit plan, I think not.

01-06-2015, 03:55 PM
An update on the situation in the east, where the UN has to make up its mind whether to coerce the FDLR - or more accurately will the Intervention Brigade's main contributors do the hard work (South Africa & Tanzania). Not to exclude Rwanda, which can complicate matters when it wants to.

Written from a South African angle, hence the questions whether the SANDF should act:www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-01-05-will-south-africa-really-go-to-war-in-the-drc-again/? (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-01-05-will-south-africa-really-go-to-war-in-the-drc-again/?)

Our regular correspondent and SME on the Great Lakes region M-A Lagrange alas no longer posts, IIRC he still works in the area, but for a different agency.

03-27-2017, 02:59 PM
No pre-existing live thread on this locality, so let's kick it off with this happy news.

"Militia fighters in the central Democratic Republic of Congo reportedly decapitated 40 police officers in the deadliest attack on authorities since an insurrection began in the region in August.

Speaker of the Kasai provincial assembly, Francois Kalamba, told Reuters the ambush took place on Friday as police officers drove from the city of Tshikapa in the Kasa District to Kananga, capital of the Lulua province."https://www.rt.com/news/382291-drc-police-attack-decpitated/

SWJ Blog
04-08-2017, 12:27 PM
The Best Defense Is No Offense: Why Cuts to UN Troops in Congo Could Be a Good Thing (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-best-defense-is-no-offense-why-cuts-to-un-troops-in-congo-could-be-a-good-thing)

Mod's Note

An update on the mission and a very different recommendation, get rid of the expensive ineffective Force Intervention Brigade and worth copying here as the author is an "insider":
Adam Day is the former senior political adviser to the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Congo (MONUSCO) and was directly involved in issues discussed in the op-ed.

04-24-2017, 07:32 AM
There is little hope here:
A new conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen hundreds killed, a million displaced and the reported recruitment of thousands of child soldiers. The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga has gained rare access to central Kasai region to report on the crisis, sparked by the killing of a rebel leader last year.Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-39587896

04-25-2017, 02:20 AM
There is little hope here:Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-39587896

At least 3 million civilians in the D.R. Congo have been killed since 1996. This death toll is (to date):

30X the civilian death toll in Syria

7.5X the rate of civilian deaths per year in Syria

49X the civilian death toll in Yugoslavia

25X the rate of civilian deaths per year in Yugoslavia

Yet which great powers are vying to intervene and stop this mass murder?

SWJ Blog
07-19-2017, 12:44 AM
Democratic Republic of Congo: A Case of Recurring Obstacles (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/democratic-republic-of-congo-a-case-of-recurring-obstacles)

Entry Excerpt:

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/democratic-republic-of-congo-a-case-of-recurring-obstacles) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

12-09-2017, 06:27 PM
From the BBC a reasonably lengthy report on what the UN calls a 'war crime' after:
The UN's Monusco mission said the peacekeepers were attacked by suspected rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in North Kivu province.Five Congolese soldiers also died.Background:
Monusco is the UN's largest and most expensive peacekeeping operation and has been in operation since 2010. However, earlier this year the UN revealed a plan to cut the number of peacekeepers (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-39456884) there from about 19,000 to 3,000.Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-42285871

A useful map of the armed actors in the Eastern DRC, October 2017:https://kivusecurity.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/reports/3/Armed%20Actor%20Area%20of%20Control%20Map%20Eng%20 Dec%202017.pdf

Background to the organization:https://kivusecurity.org/about/project

I am sure those dead are from Tanzania, which contributed to the 'intervention brigade' and the linked article states:
Nearly 300 peacekeepers have been killed since the UN mission arrived in 1999, according to UN peacekeeping data.Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/08/least-14-peacekeepers-killed-40-hurt-congo-attack/

Added as it has more details:https://suluhu.org/2017/12/08/monusco-mourns-most-deadly-attack-in-recent-peacekeeping-history/