DRC: Will another war break out from the East?

  1. In the past, when politics were focused on the State, war was said to be the continuation of State politics by other means. War pitted one State against another. Today, when the weakness of a State is perceived as an ideal for neo-liberalist globalisation, war has hardly been declared by a State. Even the so-called preventive wars do not seem to be tied to States. Terrorism is said to be a trans-State condition of warfare and anti-terrorist war is a war pitting evil against good. Rogue States entertain terrorists. The anarchy of the criminal global economy of money laundering, drug traffic, slave traffic, violent looting of natural resources and corruption, etc. creates zones of tempest where the UN is called either to keep peace or make peace. Military servicing, in the UN, is competing with international servant activities (preaching for respect for human rights, etc.). Those zones emerge where important resources for exploitation exist in a situation of weak or inexistent States.
  2. When the world was organized by Cold War, a war opposing the “Free world” and the “Communist world,” low intensive warfare was used to weaken the adversary camp. This type of warfare seems to coincide with anti-terrorist war seeking to contain the remaining fragments of the “Communist world.” Sometimes it aims at disciplining the “bad Muslims.”
  3. In the Great Lake region, globalisation finds on the terrain ethnic differences that the colonialists had used successfully to set up discriminatory States as a way of gaining submission of the colonized peoples. Colonial States’ looting was organized through discriminatory administration of tribes—often created ex nihilo. Peoples were moved around by force, some declared lazy, others made collaborators of the Colonial State. Colonized peoples’ historical mindsets were exploited fully to advance colonialists’ interests. The growth of cities was carefully controlled and the mixing of people of different cultures was guided by the same mechanism—the trans-ethnic elite had to remain as small as possible, as domesticated as possible, as politically docile as possible and educated to ignore and hate their cultural/traditional backgrounds. Economic crises led to movements of people and these led to genuine mixing only in an industrial setting—mining for example. Ideologies to keep the groups separated, even hating each other, were also invented. The anthropological/ethnological colonial library is a testimony to this factor.
  4. Colonial States were criminal States, publicly organizing genocides sometimes without being really criticized. It is only now that it is being accepted that King Leopold II, for example, organized a holocaust (1874-1906). What about the massive killing and forced deportation of the people of the Kongo’s prophetic movement (1921-1957)? Criminal States can become genocidal States. Two of the post-colonial States have practiced genocide on part of their own people. The minority Tutsi, in Burundi, controlling the State by “owning” its repressive apparatus, and scared of losing power to the ethnic majority Hutu, tried to kill off the intellectual elements of the Hutu (1972). In Rwanda, the majority Hutu, controlling the State through a discriminatory quota system and barring Tutsi refugees from returning to the country, ended up killing internal Tutsi and Hutu opposing the system. Representation in public institutions, other than the military, was respectively 12% for Tutsi, 1% for Batwa and 87% Hutu, with the Tutsi being barred from the military. Threatened by the FPR’s (Rwandese Patriotic Front) armed struggle and Tutsi domination of the economy, among other things, the Hutu leadership unleashed the genocide.
  5. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda brought to the fore the dynamics of State-reinforced ethnic hatred, and it reinforced discriminatory mindsets in the region. Post-genocide healing has not been successful. Despite the legal effort of the creation of the International Criminal Court for Rwanda at Arusha and episodic reconciliation activities, the “never again banner” of determination has not been reached yet to transform people’s mindsets. Despite the holding of so-called democratic, free and fair elections, the Rwandese State has not gotten rid of its communitarian character of singularly defending Tutsi everywhere from being again victimized. It thus exercises some kind of regional gendarme for Tutsi protection. And Tutsi who feel threatened in the region look up to Rwanda.
  6. Since the Rwandese genocide took place, no firm statement against genocide has been made by the DRC State. The Mobutu regime supported the genocidal State of Rwanda and gave asylum to genocidaires (Interahamwe militia and the ex-FAR); with French support (Opération turquoise) it wanted to re-install the genocidal regime in power in Rwanda. This (among other things such as its support to Angola’s UNITA) prompted the governments of the region to unite and support the Congolese people to overthrow Mobutu regime. Rwandese RPA forces were the core of the forces that overthrew Mobutu. Once in power, L.D. Kabila resorted to a solitary exercise of power and felt too restricted by the control of the Rwandese on the new regime. In line with their communitarian fear of another Tutsi mistreatment, the Rwandese felt that any regime in Kinshasa should include Rwandese or pro-Rwandese people to make sure the regime won’t take any action threatening Rwanda. Eventually, conflict arose and L.D. Kabila sent off the Rwandese, after having humiliated them. Another rebellion started. L.D.Kabila had recourse to enemies of the Rwandese regime (the enemy of my enemy is my friend) and adopted their ideologies of hatred, falling back into the policy Mobutu had towards Rwanda. Very briefly, the support to the genocidaires has continued, publicly as well as secretly up to now.
  7. National reconciliation was not possible and the task of re-building the decomposed State was again put aside. The AFDL’s policy of trying to eliminate the core of ex-FAZ (Mobutu’s army), with the Kitona massacre and the ethnic recruitment for the new army could not lead to the creation of a real national army. Politico-ethnic nomination of officers tended to de-professionalize the armed forces, making them less effective. The war had once again to be fought by foreign armies principally. The main issue around which the war was focalized was the discriminatory functioning of the new regime in Kinshasa—the exclusion of the Congolese Tutsi minority and its defence by the Rwandese State. Regional alignment of forces was promoted by a project of democracy for the allies of the rebellion—at least initially—and foreseen economic profits for the allies of the Kinshasa regime. On the ground, most of the troops were motivated by the looting of resources. Two factors kept the rebellion splitting: the project of democracy and the alignment of forces in relation to the resource looting. One side believed that democracy was first of all the rule of the people by the people for the people; it is a rule of the majority and the protection and defence of the rights of the minority. The pro-Rwandese group believed that to correct the discriminatory character of the State, the victimized minority (Tutsi minority, essentially) must lead the State. Democracy is seen as the rule of the victimized minority and the protection of the majority. Any opposition to that minority was seen as a case of ethnic hatred and a possible alignment with genocidaires. Should looting of the national resources by allies be allowed, provided that they put us in power (pro-Ugandan Congolese, especially; also the Kinshasa regime willing to grant the looting, provided that the regime remains in power)? Should the looting of resources by anyone be forbidden (my rebellion group’s position)? At the end, might was right. Power was shared according to the amount of violence one could command. This opened the possibility of organizing a militia as a way to partake in power- sharing. And this still is going on, especially in the Ituri area, where militia groups are emerging to impose themselves in the power sharing process. Leaders of former militias (Peter Karim, Colonnel Jerome, etc.) have been incorporated into the FARDC, supposedly as a way of achieving peace in Ituri.
  8. The fragility of the State favours the emergence of armed banditry, and the looting of resources with the use of violence becomes within reach of whoever can organize a militia. Fast self-enrichment by many so-called leaders has been an outcome of violence or corruption. Instead of being something to get rid of, the fragility is used for such enrichment.
  9. The spiritual landscape needs to be taken into account. During the 1994 genocide, many people were being killed in churches, and some religious leaders were among the killers. A mindset of no fear of God and no respect for the human life of people of the adversary ethnic group got consolidated—to a point where even justice was subordinated to the psychological needs of revenge. A lady, in a meeting in Goma, was disturbed when I said that nobody had a right to kill anybody at any time. She said: “In the 1990s we were targeted, and I lost many relatives; now that the others are being targeted, you are saying that nobody has the right to kill anybody? Is that right?” Strong feelings of revenge remain, buried in many people’s psyches. The society seems increasingly bound to violence. In Ituri, people were being burned in their homes; villages were being wiped out. Those who survive are traumatized to a very significant level. This buried violence in the body, as Fanon would say, once in a while erupts like a volcano. Violent raping of women as a form of war has damaged humans who find it difficult to feel a sense of peace. People are militarized mentally, and the demilitarization of minds and spirits has yet to take place.
  10. Discrimination remains rampant. The Tutsi minority (Banyamulenge, especially), unable to lead the State completely, as they wanted, and having been refused a territorial division (Minembwe being said not to qualify to be one), feel somewhat excluded. They have been voicing their unhappiness; they are accused of wanting to take up arms. Cattle raisers, predominant in our Eastern part of the country, are familiar with weapons and warfare; they are feared on that ground. The new regime, dominated by people from the Eastern part of the country, discriminates against soldiers from the ex-FAZ of Mobutu, keeping them out of the FARDC or jailing them, accusing them of supporting Jean Pierre Bemba; that policy may provoke an armed conflict.
  11. n brief, conditions for the continuation of war or warlike activities are still in place. The Rwandese genocidaires remaining in the DRC, organized as Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), violently create their space for conducting their so-called liberation struggle. Congolese getting close to the area are killed or tortured and maimed. Many casualties are treated in the Bukavu hospital. Increasing military confrontations opposing the FARDC and the FDLR are taking place. Violent looting is still seen as very profitable. Even MONUC soldiers are accused of exchanging weapons for gold in Ituri. The FARDC have started having military confrontations with Banyamulenge in South Kivu. Until the State can have a real organized presence in the area, warlike activities will continue. With their accumulation, given the lack of political will on the part of the government to really organize a real national army and decide to keep out armed rebels from neighbouring countries, another major war is likely.
  12. 5th Maboke.
    Wamba dia Wamba Bazunini
    Kinshasa, August 10th 2007