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Deja Vu All Over Again

A rebel group advancing on the main eastern Congolese city of Gomo is showing no signs of slowing down. Their provenance has yet to be determined. The Congolese government, as well as the UN, says the rebels are backed by Rwanda; Kigali denies the charge. What is clear is that the fighting has displaced at least 200,000 people, and the predominantly Tutsi force is within striking distance of Goma, the BBC reports:

BBC international development correspondent Mark Doyle says it is not clear if the rebels intend to attack the city.

If they do, there will be a new and massive humanitarian crisis, he says.

However, the rebels may only be flexing their muscles to strengthen their negotiating position with the government, our correspondent adds.

The rebels—who took up arms in April—named themselves the M23 after a failed peace agreement signed on 23 March three years ago.

They are supporters of renegade Gen Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ongoing chaos in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo exemplifies two of the three main forces pushing Africa toward a widespread crisis: Ethnic conflict (in this case genocidal in nature, with decades of bitterness behind it) and the competition to control valuable natural resources, particularly DR Congo’s vast mineral wealth.

Thankfully, DR Congo lacks the intensity of religious violence seen elsewhere in Africa. But despite international mediation and subsequent elections, fighting around major cities continues, and doesn’t look likely to cease any time soon.

Interestingly, this violence comes directly on the heels of the ICC’s strenuous efforts to prosecute and punish DR Congo’s war criminals. We don’t wish to presume too much, but this may not be the effect the ICC had in mind.

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  • Anthony

    WRM, knowing very little about DR Congo I read your Quick Take as identifying an anocratic country (anocracies are about six times more likely than democracies and two and one-half times as likely as autocracies to experience new outbreaks of societal wars – Global Report on Conflict, Governance, and State Fragility).

    “The vulnerability to civil war of countries in which control of the government is a winner-take-all jackpot is multiplied when the government controls windfalls like oil, gold, diamonds, and strategic minerals” – does DR Congo fit description…

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