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Thread: Gazing in the Congo (DRC): the dark heart of Africa (2006-2017)

  1. #41
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default More pressure is needed to flush out FRDL and ex-FAR insurgents

    Rwanda's News Agency covers the abysmal results of talks held in April, where Rwandan officials thought they managed to get an agreement - telling the DRC to crack down on FDLR forces in hiding.

    As Tripartite Plus army chiefs map out strategies to do away with Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) guerrillas in D R Congo, political opposition parties in Europe have announced a plan to cooperate with the rebels, RNA reports.

    Brussels based Paternariat Intwari of CNA-Ubumwe, FDRL-CMC and PDN of former Rwandan Defense Minister Gen. Ben Habyalimana and journalist Deo Mushayidi say they want to merge with the guerrillas to oust the Kigali government.

    "Those people (FDLR) are fighting because they have a reason. So because we all have the same case we want to come together to solve the same cause", Mushayidi said yesterday on a BBC great lakes program.

    The FDLR are Rwandans, the RPF are also Rwandans and all the parties you hear about are Rwandans as well - so all we are saying is that we have the right to meet, he said.

    Army chiefs from the four-member countries under the tripartite plus commission framework are in Kigali for a two-day meet. The countries are Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and DR Congo.
    More at the link and also at Allafrica.com

  2. #42
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Nkunda Hands Over FDLR Rebels to UN

    From All Africa via Kigali's New Times, "Congolese rebel leader General Laurent Nkunda has handed over 50 war captives of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to the UN Mission in DR Congo, Monuc."

    We handed them over to MONUC because we want to prove to the UN that we are fighting FDLR who are being supported by DR Congo Government," Nkunda's spokesman Rene Munyarugerero said by telephone from North Kivu yesterday.
    The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monuc) urged "renegade troops fighting in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo to integrate into the country's regular army. The call on Saturday came as the UN humanitarian chief told Al Jazeera that the Nord-Kivu province is suffering from a level of violence and brutality not seen anywhere else in the world".

  3. #43
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Prevalence of rape in East Congo described as worst in the world - Washington Post, 9 Sep.

    The prevalence and intensity of sexual violence against women in eastern Congo are "almost unimaginable," the top U.N. humanitarian official said Saturday after visiting the country's most fragile region, where militia groups have preyed on the civilian population for years.

    John Holmes, who coordinates U.N. emergency relief operations, said 4,500 cases of sexual violence have been reported in just one eastern province since January, though the actual number is surely much higher. Rape has become "almost a cultural phenomenon," he said.

    "Violence and rape at the hands of these armed groups has become all too common," said Holmes, who spent four days in eastern Congo. "The intensity and frequency is worse than anywhere else in the world."

    The chronic sexual violence is just one facet of a broader environment of insecurity that still defines eastern Congo after a decade-long war that killed an estimated 4 million people, mostly from hunger and other effects of being driven from their homes ...

  4. #44
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Even as far back as 1994, sexual violence in the eastern province was seen as an integral part of the war. The military forces involved in these acts were often rewarded by their leaders, government officials or powerful patrons.

    In Rwanda, soldiers raped women as part of a general attack, while they killed and injured civilians and pillaged and destroyed property.

    As long as such a sick climate exists with no form of punishment, females will continue to be targeted.

  5. #45
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Echoing Stan....

    The only woman ever tried for crimes against humanity was the former Rwandan government's Minister for Women and Family Affairs Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. She organized rape gangs as part of the genocide and led them in the field. Some 250,000 women were raped and those that survived the genocide are still dying from AIDS.

    All of this has particular import in a societal structure that has been stood on its head; Rwanda today is a society dominated by women because of the losses in males suffered in the genocide.

    What got me the most in Goma was that this behavior continued in the camps against Hutu women; rapes were common and we saw the evidence as the refugees crossed the border.

    Tom

  6. #46
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Glad you posted that, Tom

    I read most of the articles in sincere disbelief...Yes, they were mostly bleeds, copy and paste.

    Somewhere along all this Investigative Reporting, even the UN neglects to mention that a Minister's Wife (then) in her late 40's - That is a Female for the uninitiated - orchestrated global rape and death.

    Granted, it was taking place well before her involvement, but certainly not at the alarming rate of today. It's as if two or even three generations of Hutu will have to die before Pauline's inexplicable actions will finally end.

    Moreover, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, a former Rwandan Minister for Women and Family Affairs, is also the first woman ever charged with encouraging rape as an instrument of genocide. She is accused of being one of the most zealous organisers of the 1994 genocide. Her trial at the International Tribunal for Rwanda resumes this month in the Tanzanian city of Arusha. She had been a minister for two years when the killings started. Given the charges against her, and the ferocity with which she allegedly
    urged the Interahamwe militia to slaughter Tutsi "cockroaches" - old
    women and unborn babies included - she stands accused of working to eliminate part of the very section of society she was duty-bound to protect and help.

  7. #47
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default DR Congo SITREP and 850 more Peacekeepers on the way

    OCHA North Kivu Humanitarian Situation Report - 12 Sep 2007

    CONTEXT

    The Congolese army, Laurent Nkunda’s troops and FDLR/Mayi-Mayi remain on their positions in and around Sake and following the cessation of hostilities agreed on September 6th, despite some breaches reported in Ngungu and Rubaya, in Masisi district.

    A UN vehicle (MONUC) was stoned on September 11th in Nyamilima, in Ruthsuru district. No one was injured, but this incident keeps increasing insecurity on all UN staff as there is a risk of confusion among the population between MONUC and UN agencies.

    MONUC has appealed to all parties in conflict to respect the cessation of hostilities and find a peaceful solution to the situation.

    POPULATION MOVEMENTS

    In the past days, most of the population from Sake and Ufumandu (Masisi territory) has moved east towards Mugunga, and south along the Kivu Lake shore and Minova in South Kivu. Access to these areas is less restricted than in areas north or west of Sake.
    India to send 850 peacekeepers to Congo

    NEW DELHI: India is sending a fresh contingent of 850 military personnel to Congo to bolster its UN peacekeeping troops presence in that country to over 4,666 personnel.

    A battalion of the 6th Sikh Light Infantry would leave here on September 16 to take up peacekeeping responsibility in the Southern Katanga region of the strife-torn country.

    The Sikh troops, who would replace those of the Rajputana Rifles, were today given a farewell by the Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen Susheel Gupta.

  8. #48
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default More Displaced in North Kivu As Fighting Resumes

    A two-week peace treaty, nearly a world record was almost too hard to take.

    AllAfrica via UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 25 September 2007

    Military dissidents loyal to renegade army general Laurent Nkunda have resumed fighting in the eastern province of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, two weeks after a ceasefire was negotiated by the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC).

    "The insurgents launched attacks against three of our positions in the morning, in Ngungu where the clashes had ceased, in Karuba and in Kichanga [in Masisi territory, northeast of Goma, the provincial capital]," Colonel Delphin Kahindi, the deputy commander of the Congolese army in the province, said on 24 September.

    "The number of people forced to flee violence this year in the DRC's North Kivu province has passed the 300,000 mark, the highest level in over three years," said UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Jens Hesemann.

  9. #49
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    Default more on Congo violence

    From the NYT, 7 October 2007:

    Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country.

    “The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” said John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. “The sheer numbers, the wholesale brutality, the culture of impunity — it’s appalling.”
    I found this particularly striking (and reminiscent in its way of the "night commuters" of northern Uganda sleeping in the bush to avoid LRA abduction and abuse):

    The United Nations peacekeepers here seem to be stepping up efforts to protect women.

    Recently, they initiated what they call “night flashes,” in which three truckloads of peacekeepers drive into the bush and keep their headlights on all night as a signal to both civilians and armed groups that the peacekeepers are there. Sometimes, when morning comes, 3,000 villagers are curled up on the ground around them.

  10. #50
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Rex, thanks for the post !

    Recently, they initiated what they call “night flashes,” in which three truckloads of peacekeepers drive into the bush and keep their headlights on all night as a signal to both civilians and armed groups that the peacekeepers are there. Sometimes, when morning comes, 3,000 villagers are curled up on the ground around them.
    I recall other NGOs doing this even as early as 1991 following civil war and unrest. As I recall, it worked just long enough for the (then) Zairois to 'catch up with the program', and the UN workers became the meal of the day.

    I previously posted my thoughts on this apalling lack of humanity in Congo and Rwanda, and felt we should also keep in mind that members of the UN's peacekeeping forces have been equally stellar in teaching the Congolese and other Africans morals.

    10 FEB 05: U.N. Sex Crimes in Congo Prostitution, Rapes Run Rampant

    Widespread allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of Congolese women, boys and girls have been made against U.N. personnel who were sent to help and protect them -- despite a so-called zero tolerance policy touted by the United Nations toward such behavior.

    The range of sexual abuse includes reported rapes of young Congolese girls by U.N. troops; an Internet pedophile ring run from Congo by Didier Bourguet, a senior U.N. official from France; a colonel from South Africa accused of molesting his teenage male translators; and estimates of hundreds of underage girls having babies fathered by U.N. soldiers who have been able to simply leave their children and their crimes behind.
    21 JUL 07:
    UN probes alleged sex crimes by Moroccan peacekeepers in Ivory Coast

    A United Nations delegation was en route to Ivory Coast Tuesday to probe allegations that Moroccan peacekeepers have sexually exploited girls under the age of 18, an organization official said.

    A 730-member battalion of Moroccan troops has been confined to barracks in the northern Ivory Coast city of Bouake for more than a week after a preliminary UN investigation "revealed serious allegations of widespread sexual exploitation and abuse," according to a UN statement last week.
    Seems we have a long road ahead of us and perhaps AFRICOM will be better able to address this and fund a solution.

  11. #51
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Seems we have a long road ahead of us and perhaps AFRICOM will be better able to address this and fund a solution.
    If AFRICOM were to get some funding for a solution, what would it look like, in the eastern Congo at least?

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    One of the reasons I regret leaving Congo in March, is that I won't be on the spot to see how all this is going to work out. Especially given the attitude of the people I was able to talk to.

    They were very optimistic about the process, not about the individuals, but about the political structure, idealistic even. One guy told me, "We'll see how Kabila does. If we don't like it, in 5 years we'll vote him out". I hope it works out that way.

  13. #53
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Congo-Kinshasa: New Democracy Must Build on Local Leaders
    The premise and flaw is in the title of the article.

    Local leaders are determined by whom? The locals correct? The problem in apllying that to the DRC is that Kinshasa is an abberation in the "Congo" as the locals are a melange. The provinces when it is all said and done remain tribal and tribal alliance-based.

    The DRC is not a country and this article just trots out the same old tired phrases to describe but at the sametime camouflage that reality. the authors writing safely from the UK and Canada for AllAfrica are not going to cross the PC line by stating such realities.

    Best
    Tom

  14. #54
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey Carl !
    As always, Tom's got this one - dead wringer.

    I never had this feeling I needed to go back as if I was missing something. Then, after 10 years, I was fairly sick of the joint and it's endless routine.

    Don't know if you recall the -ahem- great 1990's opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi from Mobutu's days. Basically, a real sour puss around the embassy (when he came out of hiding long enough to hound the Zairian government and ask the Americans for help). He also promised (among other great things) democracy once Mo was gone. "You folks get rid of Mo, and I'll fix this dump"!

    You can't run Zaire from K-town without a big stick, and that has never changed.

    Even when the Embassy's 'source' (somebody's cook) managed to turn Tom's ground-zero reports ass-backwards, the country was on a downward spiral and most had completely disregarded events in Goma, which would ultimately collapse the country.

    15 years later, the fate of the DRC appears to still reside in the east.

    Enter Kabila (or better said, Bemba's arch rival). Bemba was my neighbor for years (most impressive having your own .50 nest if front of your main gate).

    With his death and his son Joseph now in the hot seat trying to once again run the DRC from K-town, it appears little more than a glimmer of hope, which the naive Congolese thrive on.

    Sorry, I believe in Santa, but not democracy in the Congo
    Last edited by Stan; 10-11-2007 at 02:05 PM.

  15. #55
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey Carl !
    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    If AFRICOM were to get some funding for a solution, what would it look like, in the eastern Congo at least?
    I enjoyed your e-mails and I'm thinking along the very same lines (not exactly U.S. SWC strategy, but Sub-Sahara doesn't always play by the rules ...so why should we ?).

    Quote Originally Posted by carl
    Stan: You mentioned in the post regarding the NYT story about rape in the east of the DRC that perhaps AFRICOM could fund a solution. I wonder what the solution would be. The only thing I could think of that would work would be talking Kabila into putting a brigade of the FARDC in the hands of some A-teams and allowing them to train and lead it. Then, sending them forth to do the Lord's work. Carl
    Before I start, I'd like to share what a 'retired' SNCO wrote me after crossing back into Uganda on the 'slide' (timeframe intentionally omitted): "Dude ! I really needed your Frog and Lingala today. Nearly a brigade of armed UN soldiers came through - Indians are fun to watch -, moving on foot from street to street and every corner in between protecting something strategic (I have no clue). With nothing better to do, I tried to strike a conversation with one. ####, you should have seen this boy, he was weighed down with belted ammo and some RPG-kinda-lookin-weapon on his shoulder (wished I paid more attention at Bragg's anti-terrorist school instead of drinkin with you Stan !). I greeted him in English out of the blue, and he replied with a facial expression as if he had just been spoken to by a talking goat...Hey Dude ! LOLOLOL

    I've known this SF NCO for better than 28 years. However, I have no idea what he was there for. He likes this Sierra and keeps inviting me to join a beltway bandit company and, run with him.

    That said, Carl, I think some folks are already 'forward in the foxhole'. AFRICOM ? Nope, I think folks like BW are spooling up. If I was intent on bartering for contracts, I'd put my money on eastern Congo too. Just seems to fit together with AFRICOM opening her doors. Even with 800 folks, they can't and won't slip into Goma for a 'look see'.

    Your suggestion: A brigade of FARDC (Forces Armées de la Republic Democratic du Congo) under the leadership of an 'A-team'.

    I don't like that idea for many reasons because I can't trust the Zairian mentality two inches from my nose.

    If we look at what happened after a 10-day course with MONUC (Mission des Nations Unies en République Démocratique du Congo) in July 2005 (a mini Officer Basic Course), one should quickly realize just what happens when the 'Patron' goes home - back to basic survival. MONUC came back in late 2006 only to discover that these "professionally trained soldiers and leaders" were the root of the problem, only smarter and better equipped. One DRC Officer recently promoted to 0-6 used his rank to extort money from local business people in the Ituri district.

    We won't win at this rate, and the training is only making them professional thieves.

    My answer (and I have some SF buds previously in Zaire who agree). Dump mucho BS on the AP wires of imminent paratroopers into Goma from France, Belgium and the USA. Allow said BS to marinade for a week or so and really send two supported-infantry battalions and flank Goma from the east and west simultaneously destroying everything in their path. There will be no airlift of humanitarian supplies like water or rice (or baby clothes - ask Tom).

    Exit Strategy. Dig mass grave, lime to taste, remain on full-boil for one month, destroy all weapons and ammo, take no prisoners and pull plug.

    Jungle Rules Apply !
    Last edited by Stan; 10-11-2007 at 06:28 PM.

  16. #56
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Stan:

    I guess what I meant was A-Teams the way I understood them to work in Vietnam, not only training the people but staying with them and leading them in the field.

    That is probably not politically feasible, but something along those lines or perhaps like the British officered Arab Legion from the old days is what I was thinking of. The leadership would have to be other than Congolese for the reasons you state.

    This all pie in the sky most probably but if you could talk everybody into it, I don't think the force would have to do much fighting. Once the force was trained well, BS on the AP would get the rapists thinking about it, and then one real battle to prove the force was serious might cause everybody else to melt into the bush.

    My basic idea is get a force of Congolese privates with trustworthy commisioned and non-commisioned officers who would probably have to be ex-pats.

  17. #57
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Stan:

    I guess what I meant was A-Teams the way I understood them to work in Vietnam, not only training the people but staying with them and leading them in the field.

    That is probably not politically feasible, but something along those lines or perhaps like the British officered Arab Legion from the old days is what I was thinking of. The leadership would have to be other than Congolese for the reasons you state.

    This all pie in the sky most probably but if you could talk everybody into it, I don't think the force would have to do much fighting. Once the force was trained well, BS on the AP would get the rapists thinking about it, and then one real battle to prove the force was serious might cause everybody else to melt into the bush.

    My basic idea is get a force of Congolese privates with trustworthy commisioned and non-commisioned officers who would probably have to be ex-pats.
    Carl,

    What you are describing happened in 1964-1965. I just don't think anyone has the stomach for it anymore.

    The world's solution to this now is the same as it was in 1994-1996 when I wrote report after report warning it was coming. That is to say, make clucking noises over the 94 genocide and say, "never again" looking sternly at the camera until the lights go off. Then ignore it until it comes up again and repeat with variations authorized.

    The reality is that if the Congolese (a term used most loosely) do not fix it, it will not be fixed. That is why I liked the RPA--they did something on their own and they stuck with it.

    Best

    Tom

  18. #58
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Tom:

    I am going to have to read up on the events of 64-65 since my ignorance is showing.

    Could you say the problem in the eastern DRC are large groups of militarized bandits? So the solution wouldn't so much involve a FM 3-24 type counterinsurgency operations as much as punitive expeditions where you would kill a bunch and hopefully frighten the rest into good behavior.

    I am asking this because I talked to a Pakistani officer in Kisangani once and he told me how much more sophisticated their operations in Congo were compared to American operations in Vietnam. I remember thinking to myself that if these guys were essentially bandits how sophisticated do you have to be.

  19. #59
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Hey Carl !

    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Stan:

    I guess what I meant was A-Teams the way I understood them to work in Vietnam, not only training the people but staying with them and leading them in the field.

    That is probably not politically feasible, but something along those lines or perhaps like the British officered Arab Legion from the old days is what I was thinking of. The leadership would have to be other than Congolese for the reasons you state.

    This all pie in the sky most probably but if you could talk everybody into it, I don't think the force would have to do much fighting. Once the force was trained well, BS on the AP would get the rapists thinking about it, and then one real battle to prove the force was serious might cause everybody else to melt into the bush.

    My basic idea is get a force of Congolese privates with trustworthy commisioned and non-commisioned officers who would probably have to be ex-pats.
    I'd be more concerned about those that 'melted into the bush', as historically, they often come back for incomprehensable reasons that usually result in trouble. Probably why the former pres Mo put all his enemies in the river. There's no exile, no coming back, no funeral...just fish food.

    Even with the large numbers of Indian peacekeepers there, performing basically peace enforcement, they've accomplished little. I also feel those in charge did not assume just how much risk is acceptable risk. It reminds me of what happened to Canadian General Dallaire's UNAMIR with 5,000 troops. They fought off small military excursions and slowed the killings, but it didn't take long to realize he went there literally unarmed for a bout in the bush.

    In order to do this job, we'll need good ol' western leadership combined with ruthless professionals like the RPA.

    Here's the link to Tom's Dragon Operations: hostage rescues in the Congo, 1964-1965. If the PDF doesn't open (I had to try 3 times) you can just go here (which is actually a little easier on the eyes).

    Regards, Stan

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    In order to do this job, we'll need good ol' western leadership combined with ruthless professionals like the RPA.
    I wonder if Bono would partially finance the effort? He could have a concert in a big stadium and everything. Nah, probably not.

    I have a copy of Dragon Operations at home but haven't read it yet. I can do that now by computer. That should complete Tom's trilogy, unless there a fourth I don't know about.

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