Daniel Halliday
Oct 9 · Last update 10 mo. ago.
What can we learn from the Second Congo War?
The Great African War is known as the bloodiest war since the World War Two. Unresolved regional conflicts have continued in the Democratic Republic of the Congo until present. What can we learn from this continuing humanitarian disaster?
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Aid is not simply a force for good
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The danger of a proxy war descending into uncontrollable violence
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Conflict resources can help fuel conflicts indefinitely
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Ethnic tensions call for drastic solutions
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Aid is not simply a force for good

One contributing factor to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the mismanagement and misuse of aid. Giving large amounts of aid to countries can take the form of payments to the country's government or distribution of aid by an independent organisation. When Joseph Kabila took power following the assassination of his father, the United States and Britain gave aid to the new president to give his government legitimacy internationally, and as an effort to stabilise the tense situation in the country. However this aid package proved more divisive, in an already sharply divided country, opponents seeing it as a move by the West to prop up a fraudulent regime.

Laurent Kabila took control of the capital of Zaire in 1997, and declared the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but due to assuming the presidency without an election he was compared to Sese Mobotu, the former dictator of Zaire. Furthermore, due to receiving international aid Laurent Kabila was accused of being a foreign stooge, leading to a reluctance of the Rwandan and Ugandan forces to leave the DRC following the First Congo War. Consequently Kabila ordered these Rwandan and Ugandan forces out of the country, and amidst rebel threats to the government Kabila used Hutu/Tutsi tensions to try and deter Tutsi rebel groups, but caused the outbreak of the Second Congo War. Even before the outbreak of the Second Congo War it is clear to see the divisive effects foreign forces have had in this region.

In this environment of long standing political corruption instead of aid representing a force for good it has made the situation worse, not just fuelling corruption but widening political and social divides. However the continued supply of aid to the government of Rwanda by the United States and United Kingdom has continued these divides and helps to continue conflict in the DRC. Many western states have supported the government of Paul Kagame of Rwanda, despite Rwanda and Uganda’s continued supply of weapons to militias in Eastern Congo and a history of profiteering from Congo’s conflict resource trade. Aid has directly and IS indirectly destabilising the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

theguardian.com/world/2012/nov/27/congo-british-aid-failure dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2441580/Wasted-millions-Britain-poured-aid-Congo-Damning-report-reveals-EU-projects-failed-deliver-results.html

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 9
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DH edited this paragraph
Laurent Kabila took control of the capital of Zaire in 1997, and declared the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but due to assuming the presidency without an election he was compared to Sese Mobotu, the former dictator of Zaire. Furthermore, due to receiving international aid Laurent Kabila was accused of being a foreign stooge, leading to a reluctance of the Rwandan and Ugandan forces to leave the DRC following the First Congo War. Consequently Kabila ordered these Rwandan and Ugandan forces out of the country, and amidst rebel threats to the government Kabila used Hutu/Tutsi tensions to try and deter Tutsi rebel groups, but caused the outbreak of the Second Congo War. Even before the outbreak of the Second Congo War it is clear to see the divisive effects foreign forces have had in this region.
The danger of a proxy war descending into uncontrollable violence

Although this war started because of president Laurent Désiré-Kabila's sudden break of ties with Rwanda, leading to a Rwandan invasion to end Tutsi persecution in Eastern Congo, it quickly became more complicated. Through the backing of various opposing rebel groups by the Kabila government and both Rwanda and Uganda, and the backing of the Kabila government by Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Sudan, Chad and Libya, the situation quickly descended into that of a proxy war. Such a state of warfare, with so many sides and complex factors simply complicates and prolongs war, bringing warfare closer to attrition.

A month into the war a stalemate had already arisen, and while military combat continued the Kabila government also back Hutu militias, while Rwanda and Uganda supported Congolese Tutsi militias. Soon significant battles for resource rich areas such as Kisangani took place and the war had begun to prove profitable to whichever group or militia had influence over a certain region. The whole war soon descended into profiteering and this just helped to prolong violence, leading to millions of deaths of predominantly women and children, as starvation, rape and torture became commonplace.

Taking lessons from this conflict should start with attempts to end proxy warfare and make the financial support or supply of arms to a country in conflict, especially that of a civil war, heavily restricted by a unified multinational organisation such as the UN. Making proxy wars less easy to extend and profit from would go a long way to minimising such long standing, complex and bloody conflicts. This would benefit other countries with long standing complex conflicts, such as Israel/Palestine and Syria, and could at least help minimise casualties while speeding up diplomacy.

thoughtco.com/second-congo-war-battle-for-resources-43696 thoughtco.com/second-congo-war-43698 evnreport.com/politics/putting-an-end-to-proxy-wars theintercept.com/2015/11/19/outside-powers-must-end-proxy-wars-in-syria

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 9
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DH edited this paragraph
A month into the war a stalemate had already arisen, and while military combat continued the Kabila government also back Hutu militias, while Rwanda and Uganda supported Congolese Tutsi militias. Soon significant battles for resource rich areas such as Kisangani took place and the war had begun to prove profitable to whichever group or militia had influence over a certain region. The whole war soon descended into profiteering and this just helped to prolong violence, leading to millions of deaths of predominantly women and children, as starvation, rape and torture became commonplace.
Conflict resources can help fuel conflicts indefinitely

The purchasing of conflict resources undoubtedly fuels conflicts worldwide, the UN’s Environment Programme has found that at least 40% of all internal conflicts of the last 60 years can be linked to the misuse of natural resources. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, being a resource rich country, is an example of this, rich in diamonds, cobalt, coltan, and gold. The UN has issued reports as far back as 2001 implicating Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Zimbabwe in utilising the unrest in the DRC to illegally exploit conflict resources in the region, found to amount to billions of dollars in 2005.

The history of exploitation of resources in the Congo region goes back hundreds of years. As early as the 1480's Portuguese traders were destabilising indigenous social structures to reap the benefits of localised conflicts and the subsequent enslavement they lead to. The slave trade boomed from the mouth of the River Congo and across West Africa as the Portuguese and British established the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. This period was followed by Belgian colonialism under King Leopold II, with a brutal rubber industry dependant on slave labour that reached deeper into the Congo essentially destroying all indigenous societies in the region. Belgian trade later diversified into mining as the roots of the modern conflict resource industry took hold in the country.

This conflict resource industry boomed due mainly to the Congo’s rich coltan deposits, a mineral used to make capacitors, common in laptops, smart phones, cameras, printers, engines and many more electronic products around the world. However the supply chain isn’t limited to African countries, with many component manufacturers in the US, Germany, China and Belgium importing coltan from the DRC and directly benefiting from the situation there. These components are then used by companies like Nokia, Motorola, Compaq, IBM, Sony, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, who products are wide distributed. This situation has help to fuel unrest in the DRC until present.

un.org/en/events/environmentconflictday youtube.com/watch?v=vh8B1xbOEIA bbc.com/news/magazine-24396390 congoweek.org/en/coltan-facts.html

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 9
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DH edited this paragraph
The purchasing of conflict resources undoubtedly fuels conflicts worldwide, the UN’s Environment Programme has found that at least 40% of all internal conflicts of the last 60 years can be linked to the misuse of natural resources. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, being a resource rich country, is an example of this, rich in diamonds, cobalt, coltan, and gold. The UN has issued reports as far back as 2001 implicating Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Zimbabwe in utilising the unrest in the DRC to illegally exploit conflict resources in the region, found to amount to billions of dollars in 2005.
Ethnic tensions call for drastic solutions

This war was all part of bigger range of conflicts affecting this region of Africa, mainly centred on Tutsi and Hutu violence and the spiralling out of control of ethnic tensions. Arguably with such deep, complex and historically far-reaching ethnic issues such as these, some form of heavy handed, even authoritarian control may be the only way to control such uncontainable issues. Rwanda is a good comparison here, as it is a neighbouring state, was deeply involved in this conflict, and was home to the Tutsi Genocide, which was one of Rwanda’s main reasons for invading Eastern Congo and becoming involved in the war.

Rwanda was involved in the First Congo War following the Rwandan genocide of 1994, fighting continued through to 2002 and involved nine African countries as it spiralled out of control. Since this time, although the situation in the DRC has remained complicated, Rwanda has had a major down turn in corruption and violence, and massive economic growth under the authoritarian leadership of Paul Kagame. Although a hard lesson to take from such a situation, the argument still stands that in areas of deep ethnic divides authoritarian leadership may be the only solution to lead to greater levels of social control.

During his time in power Kagame has implemented a multitude of sweeping economic and infrastructure reforms, while using censorship and by-passing democracy to consolidate power, but both minimising tensions and uniting a sharply divided society. Kagame leads an authoritarian regime, “one where opposition is suppressed, dissenters silenced and threats disposed of with the aid of an assassin’s bullet and an elaborate spy network” [1]. He has made the country less democratic, may have funded war crimes and crimes against humanity but may also be responsible for the end of genocide and bitter ethnic tensions. The situation remains a complex one, but Rwanda’s current period of growth and stability is arguably a lot more stable than the situation in the DRC, and is largely due to Kagame’s policies.

youtube.com/watch?v=kuGimWnORIM africanarguments.org/2012/07/09/rwanda-in-congo-sixteen-years-of-intervention-by-william-macpherson pri.org/stories/2010-07-30/rwanda-2-sides-paul-kagame

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 9
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DH edited this paragraph
This war was all part of bigger range of conflicts affecting this region of Africa, mainly centred on Tutsi and Hutu violence and the spiralling out of control of ethnic tensions. Arguably with such deep, complex and historically far-reaching ethnic issues such as these, some form of heavy handed, even authoritarian control may be the only way to control such uncontainable issues. Rwanda is a good comparison here, as it is a neighbouring state, was deeply involved in this conflict, and was home to the Tutsi Genocide, which was one of Rwanda’s main reasons for invading Eastern Congo and becoming involved in the war.
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