Daniel Halliday
Oct 9 · Last update 1 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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Conflict resources can help fuel conflicts indefinitely
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The danger of a proxy war descending into uncontrollable violence
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Aid is not simply a force for good
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Ethnic tensions call for drastic solutions
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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 issued reports as far back as 2001 implicating Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe in utilising the unrest in the DRC to illegally exploit conflict resources in the region, later 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, 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 modern conflict resource industry took hold in the country.

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Daniel Halliday
Dec 9
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DH edited this paragraph
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, 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 modern conflict resource industry took hold in the country.
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.

Taking lessons from this conflict should start with ending proxy warfare and making 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 would at least help minimise casualties if not speed up diplomacy.

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Daniel Halliday
Dec 9
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DH edited this paragraph
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.
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 the West propping 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 election he was accused of being another Sese Mobotu, the former dictator of Zaire. Furthermore, following the reluctance of Rwandan and Ugandan forces to leave the DRC after the First Congo War, Laurent Kabila was accused of being a foreign stooge. 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 conflict it is clear to see the divisive effects foreign forces have had in this region.

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Daniel Halliday
Dec 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 election he was accused of being another Sese Mobotu, the former dictator of Zaire. Furthermore, following the reluctance of Rwandan and Ugandan forces to leave the DRC after the First Congo War, Laurent Kabila was accused of being a foreign stooge. 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 conflict it is clear to see the divisive effects foreign forces have had in this region.
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 ethic tensions. Arguably such deep, complex and historically fair 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 social control.

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Daniel Halliday
Dec 8
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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 ethic tensions. Arguably such deep, complex and historically fair 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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