A quarter century of a Western-backed war of aggression against the Congolese people


Uganda president Yoweri Museveni (wearing hat) and Rwanda president Paul Kagame PHOTO/Reuters/Noor Khamis

Rwanda and Uganda have carried out attacks against the Democratic Republic of Congo for the past 25 years. Their aggressions are carried out with the backing of the U.S. and European nations who aid their theft of Congo’s resources. 

The recent outbreak of military confrontation on May 22nd between the Congolese military and the Rwanda-backed M23 rebel group represents the latest episode in Paul Kagame’s 25-year war of aggression and pillage against the Congolese people. The Congolese military in coordination with a United Nations authorized international force made up of South African, Malawian and Tanzanian soldiers defeated the Rwanda-backed M23 in 2013. A lot of the leadership fled back into Rwanda and Uganda where they evidently have been incubated and reconstituted to launch yet another attack on the Congolese people. The stark reality is that there is no M23 without Rwanda. The Congolese military captured two Rwandan soldiers among the M23 rebels in the latest incursions. Tensions have risen between the two nations and is escalating. According to the Congolese military, Rwanda has recently dispatched 500 soldiers in the east of Congo alongside the M23 rebels.

Paul Kagame’s Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni’s Uganda have both invaded the Congo (1996 & 1998), occupied large swaths of the country, and backed and sponsored militia groups such as the M23 in order to sew mayhem and destruction as both nations profit from Congo’s riches. In a 2001 report , the United Nations noted “Presidents Kagame and Museveni are on the verge of becoming the godfathers of the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the continuation of the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Both leaders are able to have their way in the Congo in large part due to the backing they receive from the United States, Great Britain and a number of other Western states. They are authoritarian figures who have been in power for decades – over two decades for Kagame and over three decades for Museveni. They have benefited from U.S. tax payer dollars to the tune of billions in donor aid, military equipment, intelligence, training, etc. In addition, they take full advantage of the diplomatic and political cover provided by the United States in particular, in order to skirt international justice for the mass crimes they have committed in the Great Lakes region of Africa. They are part of a collective of African neo-colonial agents that date back to Bill Clinton’s administration of the 1990s. Madeleine Albright then Secretary of State, Susan Rice then Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and Bill Clinton dubbed this new group of proxies “Renaissance Leaders” or the “New Breed” of African leaders. The Clinton Administration put its stamp of approval on these leaders which provided them cover for the crimes that they have committed against their fellow Africans. Some of these leaders included Meles Zenawi of Ethiopian and Kagame and Museveni of Rwanda and Uganda respectively. The policy was enshrined in the so-called Entebbe principles , which enrolled these leaders in advancing U.S. security, strategic interests and neoliberal economic policies in Africa.

Paul Kagame has apparently risen to be the chief beneficiary of Washington’s protection. The cover and protection that Rwanda has experienced has its origins in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda where the United States shielded Paul Kagame and his military from prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity that they committed during the Rwandan genocide. The crimes that both Kagame and Museveni have committed in the region have resulted in what the United Nations has called the deadliest conflict in the world since WWII and the greatest humanitarian crisis at the dawn of the 21st Century. An estimated six million Congolese perished between 1996 – 2007 due to the conflict and conflict related causes. The United Nations stated in its 2010 Mapping Exercise Report that if the acts committed by Kagame’s military in the Congo were to be “proven before a competent court, could be characterized as crimes of genocide.” The Congolese have had minimal success in holding Museveni to account. The International Court of Justice found the Ugandan government culpable for war crimes and plunder in the Congo and order it to pay $325 million in reparations to the Congo Rwanda would have likely befallen the same fate if not worse but it is not party to the International Court of Justice and hence outside of its jurisdiction.

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