Escalation in Central Africa: Will it be Resolved?
There are times when Politics resembles both a Drama and a Comedy. Events will occur or even be manipulated to ensure an outcome for one group or faction so they can either gain or retain power. Sometimes some of these events will resemble a Punchline.
Although it is difficult to determine whether or not it is a Drama, a comedy or both the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo falls into this unique situation. Events have been occurring at a rapid rate and some of them are not just in Africa. Some have occurred in other locations in the world.
This situation started to form when the UN Security Council announced that it was reducing the number of personnel involved with MONUC (United Nations Mission in the Congo) by 2,000 by the End of June 2010. This is the initial step in the UN exiting the country amid a controversial mission that has seen little accomplished. The removal of the UN Mission is a plank in the reelection campaign of President Joseph Kabila.
Another factor that influences this situation is the recent passage by the United States Senate of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Act. This bill has generated some controversy as it is seen by many people as giving the US Military a greater role in the Mission to rein in the LRA. The Acholi People of Uganda are concerned that this Legislation Places more Confidence in the abilities of President Museveni of Uganda.
Another Piece of Legislation that could influence US Policy the Congo Conflict Minerals Act still is in Committee in the Senate. A similar version in the House of Representatives has had 4 new co-sponsors sign on recently. This Bill seeks to promote Peace within the DRC and to monitor the traffic of Gold, Coltan, cassiterite and wolframite.
While these actions were taking place in Washington and in other locations reports of violence were sporadic. It seems that every couple of weeks that there were attacks along the DRC-Sudanese Border. Then there were raids in the Central African Republic. Then it would be Southern Sudan. While this was going on the UN backed Operation Amani Leo was releasing Body Counts in such a manner that one could have been reminded of the Five O'Clock Follies in Saigon and Riyadh in previous conflicts.
Then came what some could be the game changer. Human Rights Watch released a report last week which stated that in December 2009 the LRA launched a campaign that killed over 321 people in the Congo. An effort to defeat the LRA Operation Lightning Thunder which was launched with some support from the United States was not successful. The release of the report has caused some interesting events to occur.
It has been announced that the UN Security Council will soon travel to the DRC and assess the situation first hand. There now are calls for MONUC to stay in the country now. Some people have argued that the much maligned mission needs to remain in the Congo. But there is an interesting caveat that could occur as well.
Currently there is a US Military and Private Security Mission in Kisangani working to train a FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) Battalion about how to respect Human Rights. There is also a liaison team with the Ugandan Military as well. So if the House passes the LRA Bill the US has Military Assets already in position to conduct Operations if the President deems them to be necessary.
The LRA Bill has revealed a schism in some of the Grassroots movements here in the US. There are elements that do not want to see any American Troops in the Congo under any circumstance. There are also others who are demanding that the Obama Administration take a more decisive role in this rapidly changing climate. These groups have been able to motivate people to raise funds and contact their Members of Congress to demand some form of action.
Adding the sum of this information together is not hard. The Problem is whether or not it's a Drama or a very warped Black Comedy worthy of Dr. Strangelove.
The Author Comments on US Policy towards Africa and publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet. Confused Eagle can be found at confusedeagle.livejournal.com
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Scott A Morgan and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana.