Author Archives: Mark Leon Goldberg
The Financial Times uncovers evidence that Congolese rebels loyal to Laurent Nkunda are deliberately trying to intimidate the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo and hasten its departure.
In a letter to the UN dated October 27, two days before his forces threatened to overrun the eastern city of Goma, Gen Nkunda warned he could not guarantee peacekeepers’ safety.
“In the current circumstances in which our forces are directly confronting the government coalition, we cannot be held…accountable for the security of Monuc forces present on the front,” according to the letter, which was made available to the Financial Times by another UN official who requested anonymity.
The letter followed a telephone threat by one of Gen Nkunda’s commanders to kill Indian peacekeeping troops if the force scrambled attack helicopters to support Congolese government forces.
Meanwhile, a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels earlier today reached a consensus of sorts that the EU would not send reinforcements anytime soon. It is “out of the question,” said the German Defense minister. The UK’s David Milliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner agreed. So much for a new Operation Artemis style mission. Despite the peacekeeping mission’s calls for reinforcements and international aid, nothing seems to be forthcoming. The situation continues to fester.
At about one minute in, Congo peacekeeping chief Alan Doss complains that he has no choice but to move peacekeepers out of areas where they are needed to areas where they are needed even more. Meanwhile, this video shows how the conflict is spreading to Uganda and Sudan.
Heads of State and the Secretary General are meeting in Nairobi, Kenya today to discuss the crisis in Eastern Congo. Meanwhile, the tenuous unilateral ceasefire declared by rebel commander Laurent Nkunda seems to have ended as fighting resumed in the Kivu region today.
This is one of the worst–if not the worst–humanitarian crises in the world. War crimes, massacres, and systematic rape have been reportedly committed by all sides. So what is to be done? The United Nations Peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUC, has 17,000 troops to cover an area the size of western Europe. It is over-burdened and in desperate need of reinforcement. The force commander’s plea for more troops and more equipment has apparently fallen on deaf ears at the Security Council. It’s credibility in the eyes of the local population diminishes with each passing day.
Peacekeepers need support. Desperately. European may step up as it did in 2006. But even that option is fraught with complication:
Henri Bentegeat, a French general who chairs the EU’s military committee, has suggested that an elite force or ‘battle group’ could be dispatched to Congo. Each of these 15 groups contain 1,500 soldiers from the national armies of several EU states. But Alain le Roy, the head of MONUC, has requested twice that number of troops in order to bolster his force.
Neil Campbell, a spokesman for the International Crisis Group, which monitors the causes of conflict, noted that no battle groups have yet been deployed by the EU since they reached full operational capacity last year, even though many observers believe they were set up to deal with situations such as the one in eastern Congo.
While Campbell believes that the EU should commit troops, he is adamant that they should not hail from France. According to declassified documents released by the authorities in Paris during 2007, France gave military and diplomatic support to the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, in which one million ethnic Tutsis were slaughtered. The current Rwandan government has also published reports, which allege that late French president Francois Mitterrand was complicit in the slaughter.
Meanwhile, the people of North Kivu are trapped.
Joyful scenes like this:
Are tempered with sentiments like this, found in a letter to the editor of The Guardian (Nigeria)
What has happened in United States of America is in total contrast to what continues to happen in Africa and Nigeria, the most populous black nation in the world.
The Black world still represents a place where political opportunities are not open to all; where godfatherism in politics thrives; where the people’s votes do not count; where ethnicity still defines the trends in politics; where there is no transparency and accountability in government, and where anyone who calls and crusades for change, is seen as an enemy of the State rather than a patriot…
If we must be like America, we must begin to make sacrifices for our country by putting aside mundane considerations like friendships, tribal ties, consanguinal relationships, financial inducements, and at all times be ready to fight for social justice, equality of all parts of the country, accountability and transparency in government and most importantly, free and fair elections. At the end, we may be able to say like the Americans “Yes We Can!”
I don’t think this is unique to Africa. Around the world the Obama victory is forcing people to take a hard look at their own societies. And that includes those of us in the United States.
The money quote:
“To all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.”
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.