Profits, Propaganda and Luxury Goods for the West --
Pacification, Rape and Slavery for the Rest
by keith harmon snow
Brigitte Botsi is a seven year-old girl living in the village of Yalisenge, in Equateur province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At 4:00 PM on April 30, Brigitte was raped by a soldier. Related directly by e-mail from a humanitarian aid worker based in the area, Brigitte's rape went otherwise unreported. (The aid worker's life would be endangered if name or position were revealed.) The soldier, loyal to the DRC transitional government of President Joseph Kabila, remains unpunished.
On May 6, a girl was raped in public in Mondombe, Equateur. Villagers watched as she was stripped naked and beaten by DRC government troops. The previous day, DRC troops had abducted two young daughters of a family in Equateur--the girls were freed after a foreign aid worker complained to their commander.
Brigitte's people have seen a decade of unspeakable horror: waves of killing, indiscriminate torture, the massacre of hundreds of thousands of refugees, scorched-earth campaigns annihilating entire villages, civilians repeatedly brutalized by all sides.
Everything was destroyed by war. Families gave daughters to the military in return for their lives. Soldiers came and went, leaving girls as young as twelve alone with children of rape that are now starving, the husbands and fathers lost as adult males were conscripted or slaughtered. Teachers' salaries are 1,000 francs a month, less than three US dollars, and teachers weakened by hunger cannot last to noon. Parents in small villages cannot pay school fees of about one US dollar a month per child.
From April to June, Brigitte's village was again invaded. Rebel soldiers of the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) emptied entire villages and terrorized people already traumatized by eight years of unrelenting war. Reports from different parts of Equateur documented both RCD and government troops--officially the Democratic Republic of Congo Armed Forces (FARDC)--looting, destroying and confiscating property, homes and schools; conscripting males for forced labor; raping and abducting women and girls.
"Armed groups have been implicated in human rights abuses ranging from attacks on villages to pillaging, intimidation and harassment," reported the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs June 14, "while the systematic abduction and rape of women and girls continued, mostly with impunity, throughout the country."
While some 10,000 international "peacekeeping" forces under the United Nations Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) now occupy much of Congo to uphold recent peace accords, powerful interests continue to pillage land and people with impunity. Behind the headlines of "tribal warfare" splashed over western media are secretive intelligence operatives, private military companies, arms merchants, multinational corporations and their agents, and mining executives operating through offshore bank accounts.
CONGO DESTABILIZATION: RWANDA'S SECRET WAR?
On the recent 10th anniversary of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, few noted that Rwanda's war is still being played out on the soil of neighboring DRC. On approximately April 21, troops of the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) suffered a military defeat in eastern DRC after a failed operation against soldiers of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group seeking to overthrow the one-party regime of Paul Kagame. The Rwandan troops were in DRC in violation of the peace accords.
Observers reported that the FDLR routed the RDF, which retaliated with a scorched-earth campaign against non-combatant civilians. MONUC observers reportedly witnessed uniformed RDF officers commanding troops of the Congolese Rally for Democracy--a force now ostensibly being incorporated into the DRC army under the peace accords.
The international press attributed the retaliation to Rwandan rebel forces in DRC that are universally described as Hutu "genocidiares"--veterans of the Interahamwe militias responsible for the 1994 Rwanda genocide. However, not all Rwandan rebel groups operating in Congo are the same. The US State Department lists the Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALIR) as a terrorist group seeking "to topple Rwanda's Tutsi-dominated government, reinstate Hutu control, and, possibly, complete the genocide." But the FDLR is not listed as a terrorist group, and the State Department notes: "Though directly descended from those who organized and carried out the genocide, identified FDLR leaders are not thought to have played a role in the killing. They have worked to build bridges to other opponents of the [Rwandan] regime, including ethnic Tutsis."
In a May 5 interview with this reporter, Jean-Marie Vianney Higiro, leader of the FDLR, warned of a planned destabilization of DRC led by a new military alliance called the Front for the Liberation for Eastern Congo, or FLEC, comprised of Rwandan Defense Forces and their Congolese allies such as RCD, as well as units from Burundi.
Higiro claimed that Rwandan, Burundian and Ugandan forces amassed on the borders signal an imminent invasion of DRC under the pretense of "defending national security" against "genocidiares." Rwanda and Burundi are both currently under Tutsi-dominated regimes, and are said to be playing for loyalty of the Banyamulenge, or ethnic Tutsis of eastern Congo.
The claims were given credence by renewed fighting in DRC's North and South Kivu provinces, and especially the city of Bukavu, beginning May 26 and exploding into all-out war during early June. Fighting involved Rwandan and Burundian soldiers and allied Congolese RCD, against opposed RCD factions and FARDC forces--all in violation of international ceasefire agreements.
"The Front for the Liberation of Congo has not declared itself," said Higiro in a July 2 interview. "Publicly there is no FLEC, but most observers know that the FLEC exists." Higiro and the FDLR believe that Rwanda seeks to annex eastern DRC to create a powerful Tutsi/Banyamulenge empire, rich in natural resources.
The FDLR and local Congolese journalists claim that the Rwandan military and their criminal networks and militias continue to plunder raw materials from the DRC and ship them out through Rwanda. In turn, the Kagame government claims the FDLR seeks to destabilize Rwanda and finish what the 1994 genocide started. As violence escalated this spring, officials in Rwanda claimed "genocide against the Banyamulenge" was underway in eastern Congo.
"We would certainly not use the term genocide," said Andrew Philip, spokesman for Amnesty International's Central Africa Team, in a June 15 interview with this reporter. He dismissed claims by RCD commanders and Rwandan officials, noting that all combatants looted, raped and killed civilians of all communities. "Banyamulenge were not, according to our sources, specifically targeted as an ethnic group by pro-government [DRC] forces in Bukavu."
Philip confirmed that thousands of Banyamulenge have fled DRC citing fears of persecution. As of July 1, the UNHCR counted some 34,000 DRC refugees in Burundi and 3500 in Rwanda. But Philip said that some Banyamulenge representatives condemned claims of genocide as a ploy by forces "seeking to destabilize eastern DRC" through "the exacerbation of ethnic tensions."
He also cited multiple sources in DRC asserting that RDF soldiers were present alongside the rebel Congolese RCD forces.
The UN's IRIN news service reported Dec. 26, 2003 that MONUC commanders attempting to confirm reports of Rwandan troops in DRC were blocked by "certain military commanders" who "denied us access to certain bases and certain camps and prohibited us from speaking with their men."
William Pike of Uganda's New Vision newspaper says Rwanda's involvement "is a common supposition" in eastern Congo. "The problem is an RCD faction composed of Banyamulenge... Rwanda supports them morally, they don't deny that, but do they support them logistically or provide covert leadership? Rwanda denies that hotly."
But FDLR leader Jean-Marie Higiro has no doubts. He said on May 5: "The third DRC war is underway."
The first DRC war was the 1995-6 insurgency against longtime dictator Mobutu Sese Seko (under whom the country was called Zaire), led by the guerilla army of Laurent Kabila and massively supported by Rwanda and Uganda. The second war began in 1998, when Kabila (then president of the newly-dubbed DRC) broke with Rwanda and Uganda, throwing out their military advisors, along with US AID--and cancelled plans to have Bechtel rebuild Congo's mining sector. This was dubbed "Africa's First World War," with Angola and Zimbabwe backing Kabila against (US-backed) Rwanda and Uganda, which first supported anti-Kabila rebel groups in the east, and then intervened directly as well. The country was effectively partitioned, with the government losing control of much of the east. Laurent Kabila was assassinated in 2001, and succeeded by his son Joseph. South Africa and the UN brokered an accord, and peacekeepers moved in--although some key warring parties were excluded from the accords. Now Higiro says the peace is definitively breaking down, as Rwanda makes a play for permanent control of eastern Congo.
Higiro also claimed in his May interview that RDF and Rwandan-allied soldiers were infiltrating the DRC capital Kinshasa with the intent of removing President Joseph Kabila. Higiro's assessment was born out by an attempted coup d'etat against Kabila on June 11, which briefly made world headlines.
"REPUBLIC OF VOLCANS": BALKANIZATION OF CONGO PLANNED?
In a June 6 press release decrying ongoing atrocities committed by all sides throughout the DRC, Survivors' Rights International (SRI), based in Alexandria, VA, called "on the international community to address escalating conflict and the climate of impunity and lawlessness in the DRC, to demand governments and other warring parties to order their soldiers to stop committing acts of genocide and crimes against humanity, and to withdraw troops that remain in DRC in contravention of international peace agreements."
SRI called on the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda to immediately demand that "all military leaders order their troops to stop ongoing atrocities and sexual violence by their respective forces, to investigate abuses and suspend or arrest those responsible, and to desist from arming, or otherwise supporting, diverse factions and militias serving as their proxy armies in DRC."
SRI urged all parties to "demand the immediate release of women and girls who have been abducted and who remain captive sexual slaves to government soldiers and affiliated militias, to arrest the perpetrators, and investigate the complicity of military leaders and government officials in condoning or participating in the widespread sexual violence, including rapes, torture, disappearances and abductions of women and girls."
A Human Rights Watch statement of June 12 echoed the SRI demands. It also pointed to accounts of Rwanda grooming Congolese proxy forces. "Local sources claimed to have identified Rwandan military working with the dissident forces," HRW noted, "an accusation Rwanda has emphatically denied."
"Troops allied with Rwanda in eastern DRC are recruiting soldiers today," said FDLR's Higiro on July 2. London-based Congolese journalist Antoine Roger Lokongo reported in his on-line Congo Panorama some 8,000 Rwandan troops crossing into DRC in May and June.
"The Congolese Chief of Staff, Admiral Liwanga confirmed that Rwanda has gone too far already in creating what he called the new 'Republic of the Volcans,'" wrote Lokongo, "using Congolese insurgents fighting under the banner of the so-called 'Front for the Liberation of Eastern Congo' (FLEC). The movement has made a deal with Rwandan Chief of staff James Kabarebe to supply it with logistic support until the Republic of the Volcans becomes a reality."
"Over our dead body!" Lokongo thunders--a sentiment already true for millions of Congolese. In 2001, the International Rescue Committee cited over 3.5 million preventable deaths as a result of war in DRC since 1998: deaths due to hunger, disease and forced displacements. Recent IRC estimates are approaching 5 million.
"The RCD rebel movement in DRC was founded in 1998 by Paul Kagame," Lokongo says. "Since then Kagame has always masterminded and used RCD as a front for the Rwandan occupation of Congo."
And many see the hand of Washington behind Rwanda's perceived designs on Congolese territory. Kagame is a graduate of the US Army's Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Prior to taking power in Rwanda in 1994, Kagame was head of military intelligence for US-backed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's Internal Security Organization.
BLOOD-DRENCHED ITURI: PAWN IN THE SECRET COLTAN WARS?
DRC's Orientale province borders Uganda and Sudan, and its Ituri district is arguably the bloodiest corner of the world. From 1999 to April 2003, at least 50,000 civilians perished in the region. All parties committed summary executions, abductions, disappearances, forced labor, extortion, mass rape, sexual slavery and routine conscription of child soldiers.
Human Rights Watch reported in a 2003 paper, "Ituri: Covered in Blood": "The war in Ituri is a complex web of local, national and regional conflicts, that developed after a local dispute between Hema and Lendu ethnic groups was exacerbated by Ugandan actors and aggravated by the broader international war in DRC."
While the Ugandan army claimed to be a "peacemaker" force in Ituri, HRW said, in reality the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) "provoked political confusion and created insecurity in areas under its control, helping to launch, arm and train ethnically-based militia..." Fighting continues in the region, despite peace accords.
On February 13, 2004, William Swing, the head of MONUC and UN Special Representative to the DRC, declared from Washington that despite a UN arms embargo, "the flow of weapons into the region, purchased through the illegal harvesting of precious resources, is virtually unhindered."
MONUC forces were increased in Ituri in June 2003--but they have also been accused of atrocities. MONUC soldiers reportedly raped Congolese girls and spawned a sex-for-survival trade as women and girls impoverished by war sold sex for a pittance to feed their families. Some western media reported the MONUC sex scandal, but mass rape and prolonged sexual slavery committed by all sides against tens of thousands of Congolese women largely remains in whiteout.
Ituri is rich in petroleum, gold, ivory, diamonds, timber and columbo-tantalite (coltan)--raw materials coveted by international commodities traders. In "Blood for Mobile Phones," from his Black Book on Brand Companies, German journalist Klaus Werner tied corporations like Bayer AG to the coltan-scramble bloodbath in DRC. Coltan micro-capacitors are used in cellphones, Sony Playstations, laptop computer screens, and high-tech info-warfare gadgetry.
Observers say the UPDF and RDF have stripped coltan, gold and diamonds out of eastern DRC as rapidly as possible. Rights groups accuse UPDF and RDF troops of forcing prisoners under inhuman conditions to mine coltan later shipped out of Rwanda and Uganda. Before the UPDF and RDF themselves came to war on Congolese territory over whether Uganda or Rwanda would control eastern DRC, both were involved in directly overseeing the mining of coltan. Rwanda was even accused of shipping in Hutu prisoners charged in the 1994 genocide for coltan mining, as well as using captured Congolese.
UPDF troops that helped topple Congo's longtime dictator Mobutu and later occupied eastern DRC have also been cited for some of the most egregious atrocities by numerous rights bodies.
A 2002 UK Parliamentary report, "Cursed by Riches: Who Benefits from Resource Exploitation in the DRC?", documents massive resource plunder by both UPDF and RDF networks in Congo. Israeli military agents and businessmen have also been accused of profiteering in the region.
Belgian diamond import statistics show remarkable quantities of diamonds coming from DRC, Uganda and Rwanda. Exports from Rwanda and Uganda increased markedly during military occupation in DRC since 1998.
Cited in the UN's October 2002 "Final Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo," UPDF Gen. Salim Saleh, half-brother to Ugandan President Museveni, is accused of maintaining a network of extortion and racketeering in Ituri. The UN report estimates Rwandan forces made at least $250 million from exploiting Ituri's resources.
Other factions also got in on the coltan scramble. The government of Joseph Kabila has recently rewarded Congolese military leaders like Jean Piere Bemba, cited by rights groups for egregious atrocities, with posts in the transitional government; Bemba channeled coltan through criminal networks linked to the Central Africa Republic.
Several western corporations eye an eventual bonanza in Ituri--and many of them are conveniently linked to the international arms trade and mercenary outfits. Barrick Gold is a long-time stakeholder in Ituri's Kilo Moto gold mines. A Canadian-based multinational, Barrick's principals include former prime minister Brian Mulroney, former US president George HW Bush, former Tennessee senator Howard Baker, and Vernon Jordan, Bill Clinton's lawyer and confidant. Barrick has multiple joint ventures with the South African mining giant Anglo-American. Barrick's founder is Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi billionaire arms trafficker, famous for his illegal weapons sales to Iran in the Reagan era.
In 1997 Canadian-based Heritage Oil & Gas began petroleum explorations with the support of the Museveni government on the Uganda side of the border, and Belgium's De Standard reports they have now also secured DRC concessions through Joseph Kabila. Uganda's New Vision newspaper reports sizeable petroleum and natural gas reserves discovered in the Semiliki Basin, beneath Lake Albert which straddles the DRC-Uganda border.
Heritage Oil & Gas was founded by Tony Buckingham, an executive linked to a confusing network of front companies and offshore island holdings. De Standard reported June 19, 2003, on Heritage Oil's maneuvers in DRC and Uganda, and its links to companies like Branch Energy and Diamond Works, both exposed for operations in war-torn Angola and Sierra Leone. Buckingham is a veteran of the UK's elite SAS military corps, and played a founding role in the private military companies Executive Outcomes of South Africa and Sandline International. De Standard suggested that Buckingham seeks the pacification of Ituri to exploit minerals in the region.
Buckingham's ties to US government officials are detailed in Wayne Madsen's book Genocide And Covert Operations in Africa, 1993-1999 (Edwin Mellen Press, 1999). The mercenary soldier Simon Mann arrested this March with a posse of followers in Zimbabwe (allegedly en route to institute a coup in Equatorial Guinea) is a co-founder with Buckingham of Executive Outcomes.
"The situation in Ituri remains unstable," wrote Survivor's Rights International on June 6, "with recurring acts of genocide and crimes against humanity being perpetrated by miscellaneous forces on their opposition ethnic groups, many of which have been armed, supported and manipulated by the Ugandan People's Defense Forces. The indigenous Mbuti pygmies continue to suffer the brunt of abuses from all sides."
On July 9, Nairobi's East African Standard reported that hundreds of refugees fleeing fresh fighting in Ituri had crossed into Uganda.
THE GOAD OF SHABA: DIAMONDS, COBALT, URANIUM
Even where the government has control, things are grim in Congo. Atrocities by DRC soldiers (FARDC) are widespread throughout the country. The Congolese Union for Democracy and Social Progress, a civil opposition group, reported some 100 government Rapid Intervention Police attacking students protesting at two universities in Kinshasa in April. In both incidents hundreds of students were reportedly attacked; scores were raped and tortured.
The IMF and World Bank favored Kabila's transitional government with loans worth $ 1.2 billion in June 2002, while Sweden, Belgium, France and South Africa loaned some $522 million. In January, 2004, the Belgian government authorized the dispatch of 190 military advisers to Congo to train a new Congolese military brigade in Orientale.
South Africa and DRC recently signed a bilateral agreement on defense and security. DRC also signed a $ 8.4 million deal with South Africa to rehabilitate the state mining company GECAMINES.
Chairman of GECAMINES from 1999-2001, Belgium's George Forrest controls the most diverse private mining portfolio in the DRC. One of his partners in DRC is the OM Group of Cleveland, Ohio.
Forrest's roots in DRC predate 1945, and his companies outlasted the long Mobutu dictatorship and subsequent wars. Forrest also owns Belgium's New LachaussŽe company, a leading manufacturer of cartridge casings, grenades, light weapons and cannon launchers. His George Forest Group also has munitions plants in Kenya and Tanzania.
Forrest's mining interests include copper, cobalt and germanium concessions in Shaba, DRC's southern province, long the site of separatist movements..
Shaba's plight also revolves around factions seeking to maintain or wrest control of resources. Shaba (formerly known as Katanga) is rich in diamonds, cobalt, copper, palladium and germanium. Uranium from Shaba was used in the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Cobalt is a strategic alloy used in the aerospace and defense industries, and was stockpiled by the US Defense Logistics Agency during the Cold War. Maintaining Shaba's "cobalt connection" was paramount to the Mobutu dictatorship. Keeping the region safe for Mobutu's cobalt empire was long the purview of Lawrence Devlin, a CIA operative in Shaba later employed by diamond magnate Maurice Tempelsman.
Falling within the Kinshasa government's sphere of control, Shaba has seen its share of repression and warfare. The Kabila family is from Shaba, and Kinshasa maintained control the region in the recent years of war with the aid of troops from the allied Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF). The ZDF has officially pulled out of DRC, but unconfirmed reports suggest some ZDF troops remain.
"An elite network of Congolese and Zimbabwean political, military and commercial interests has maintained a grip on the main mineral resources of government-controlled areas," concluded the UN Panel of Experts in 2002.
The UN reported this network had transferred ownership of at least $5 billion in assets from the state mining sector to private companies from 1999-2002 with no benefit to the DRC. "The network's representatives in the Kinshasa Government and the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) have fueled instability, by supporting armed groups opposing Rwanda and Burundi," the UN report found.
A few notable businessmen said to be calling the shots in Shaba are American Maurice Tempelsman, Zimbabwean Billy Rautenbach, South African Marc Rich, British John Bredenkamp, Swede Adolph Lundin and Jean Raymond Boulle.
Tenke Mining, owned by Swedish mining magnate Lundin is one of some 15 multinational mining companies partnered with GECAMINES in Shaba. Lundin is called a longtime associate of George HW Bush; African Confidential reported in 1997 that the ex-president telephoned Mobutu on Lundin's behalf after the dictator had threatened to terminate a mining contract.
Pardoned by outgoing President Clinton for tax-evasion charges, Marc Rich operates the Swiss-based Glencore company.
Rautenbach, a former GECAMINES director, and Bredenkamp teamed up with Zimbabwe's strongman Robert Mugabe to plunder Shaba behind ZDF troops. The Bredenkamp family's Brecon Mines Ltd. is partnered with GECAMINES. Africa Confidential and independent newspapers in Zimbabwe have reported on Bredenkamp's role in shipping weapons to Zimbabwe for probable use in the Congo.
Tempelsman is affiliated with the Oppenheimer/DeBeers diamond conglomerate of South Africa. The executive privileges he enjoyed during the Clinton years were reportedly secured through a romantic interlude with Madeleine Albright. Tempelsman accompanied Clinton on his 1998 Africa tour, sailed with the Clintons off Martha's Vineyard, and met with Clinton on Air Force One. He is said to employ CIA veterans who protected the Mobutu dictatorship as his private staff for his Congo operations. Tempelsman is a trustee of the Harvard AIDS Institute and Africa-America Institute, and former chair of the Corporate Council on Africa.
The Corporate Council on Africa represents 85% of all US private-sector investment in Africa. Members include Asea Brown Baveri (whose former director is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld), Halliburton (Cheney), the Washington Post Company, Raytheon, Military Professional Resources Inc., and oil majors such as ExxonMobil, Chevron-Texaco, Conoco-Philips, Sunoco and Shell.
According to Wayne Madsen, the Virginia mercenary firm Military Professional Resources Inc. (MPRI) supported Kagame's US-backed invasions of Rwanda (from Uganda in 1994), Zaire (1996) and then Congo (1998).
The Africa-America Institute, another industry interest group, recently presented the AAI African National Achievement Award for 2002-3 to President Museveni of Uganda for "history-making advances that justify optimism for the future of the African continent."
AAI trustee Gayle Smith in 1998 was appointed special assistant to President Clinton and senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, a position where she negotiated a cease-fire between Uganda and Rwanda, after the ex-allies battled for the spoils in DRC.
U.S. SUPPORTING TERROR
On March 9, 2004, Le Monde published a report by French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who found that Paul Kagame, then commanding the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi-led guerilla group operating with the support of Museveni's Uganda, gave orders for missiles to be fired at the airplane carrying the Rwandan and Burundian presidents, both ethnic Hutu, on April 6, 1994. The assassinations provoked the Hutu-led genocide in Rwanda--which left up to 800,000 dead, overwhelmingly Tutsis. In the wake of the genocide, the RPF took power, and hundreds of thousands of Hutu fled Rwanda for Congo (then Zaire).
Critics now say Kagame is cynically using the 1994 genocide to deflect scrutiny of his own war crimes. Human rights organizations have documented RPF atrocities, with perhaps hundreds of thousands of killings from 1990 to 1996. In 1994, UN Special Rapporteur Robert Gersony documented "an unmistakable pattern of RPF killings" of Hutu refugees returning to Rwanda: the report was quickly buried. Amnesty International and other rights groups documented killings of hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees (mostly Hutu) in DRC by the UPDF/RPF-led insurgency.
Wayne Madsen reports that Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root set up a military base in southwestern Rwanda in 1995 in preparation for the US-backed invasion of Congo/Zaire to topple the abandoned Mobutu dictatorship.
Amnesty International in 2002 reported US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Special Forces' involvement in the 1996 invasion of Congo/Zaire. The report said that DIA assisted Rwandan and Ugandan forces through a program code-named "Falcon Gorilla." In 1997, the DIA held a Pentagon symposium on privatization of African security operations with Executive Outcomes, Sandline International and mineral interests.
Madsen also maintains that Carla del Ponte, special prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) was removed due to her unwanted scrutiny of RPF atrocities. In 1997 and 1998, when UN investigators turned their eyes on the RPF, the US, through then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, pressured the ICTR to halt the investigation, Madsen claims. Kagame blasted efforts to investigate RPF atrocities as "evidence of the politicization of the tribunal's functions."
The Pentagon maintains International Military Education and Training (IMET), Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET), Africa Crises Response Initiative (ACRI), and African Contingency Operations Training Assistance (ACOTA) programs with both Rwanda and Uganda. The Washington Post's Lynne Duke's reported August 16, 1997, that the RPF benefited from counterinsurgency and combat training from US Special Forces. The Falcon Gorilla operation in support of the Rwanda-Uganda intervention in DRC reportedly came under the purview of JCET.
Gen. Charles Wald, head of US operations in Africa (under the Pentagon's European Command), has substantiated direct US support for the Museveni government's fight against the Sudan-backed Uganda rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), defined as a terrorist organization by the US. The LRA are a brutal and fanatical group, but critics in the Ugandan opposition charge Museveni exploits their terror for propaganda purposes--and that some atrocities attributed to the LRA were carried out by UPDF troops.
US Ambassador to Uganda Jimmy Kolker told Voice of America April 2 that US aid has consisted mainly of trucks and radios, along with training. He said its total value was some two million dollars. He dismissed reports of greater US military assistance as "grotesquely exaggerated."
But it is clear that the US has tilted to Uganda and Rwanda in Africa's ongoing First World War. Rwanda's Paul Kagame spoke at least twice at the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard University, and has met with George HW Bush at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston, and at the Council on Foreign Relations. Kagame was a guest, with Joseph Kabila, at a Washington prayer breakfast soon after George W Bush assumed office. Ugandan's Museveni was a guest speaker at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC on June 11, 2004.
Rwanda and Uganda continue to be rewarded with World Bank and IMF loans, despite accusations that funds are diverted to purchase military equipment and prosecute war in their own and neighboring countries. One recent Rwanda grant was a $20 million aid package of June 15, 2004. According to Congolese journalist Lokongo, the UK government has given up to 60 million pounds a year in "development aid" to Rwanda and Uganda.
And US military involvement in the region is about to deepen. Preceding his trip to Africa in July 2003, President Bush announced a $100 million aid package for east African countries to fight terrorism, pointing to greater US strategic interest in the region. "We will work with Kenya and Ethiopia and Djibouti and Uganda and Tanzania to improve capabilities... We will give them the tools and the resources to win the War on Terror."
NEXT MONTH: THE FRENCH CONNECTION ____________________
PHOTOGRAPHS:Images from Central Africa
1. Supporters of Robert Mugabe gather at a pro-government rally in Harare, Zimbabwe, in June 2000. c. keith harmon snow 2000
2. Directors of Royal/Dutch Shell Hans an Luijk (3rd left) and Bernard Legrand (5th left)-- Shell General Manager for Africa -- with Paul Kagame.
3. Paul Kagame with several officers at a rally in Kigali.
5. Top Shona commanders of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces at a pro-Mugabe rally in Harare, Zimbabwe, at the height of Zimbawe's involvemen in the DRC, June 2000.
6. Family struggles to cross a bridge in Ituri in 1991, where planks had been mostly stolen as infrastructure in Zaire (now DRC) totally deteriorated under Mobutu Sese Seko's dictatorship.
7. Wreckage from the plane carrying the two presidents of Rwanda and Burundi that was shot down on approach to Kigali airport on April 6, 1994, that sparked the ongoing conflagration in the great lakes region.
8. UPDF soldiers ride aboard a troop carrier in Uganda after a UPDF celebration of their warfighting capabilities.
9. Tony Buckingham (far right), chairman of Heritage Oil and Gas exploration program in the Semiliki basin, and delegation meeting with Ugandan President Yoweiri Museveni (shaking hands) in a Kampala, July 1998, as the second war for DRC was getting underway.
10.UPDF soldiers ride on a troop carrier in Uganda after a celebration of their warfighting capabilities.
11.Congolese refugees in Zambia forced to flee Shaba during the wars for DRC work under brutal conditions (with malaria and scorching temperatures) all day long, scavenging and hauling scrap metal -- weighing hundreds of pounds -- to bring them less than $5 daily.
12. The open pit mines (background) are an environmental nightmare.