The present essay follows the evolution of the conflict in Congo, from its colonial domination by the Belgian troops, through the independence insurgencies, the outbreak of the first and second Congo War, and up until today. It attempts to briefly examine the causes, the actors, and their resources, motives and goals, based on the pattern provided by the United States Institute of Peace. Without any doubt, the story of the conflict in the Congo is extremely intricate and tangled, with many overlapping goals at its foundation. DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world, regardless of the fact that it produces 80% of the world's supply of Coltan, used by multinationals in the production process of high-end technological equipment. Apart from that, the Congo is also rich in diamonds, cassiterite, tin, copper, timber and other minerals. It is primarily because of this that a great number of companies and Western government have established entire networks for exploitation. As such, instead of benefiting the DRC, these resources have become its greatest cause for violence. 1. Actors: The history of exploitation starts in the 1800's, when the Belgians started colonizing the Congo and thus preparing the present ongoing conflict. But we will later come to review this aspect. Nowadays, if we had to look closer, we could see the internal fighting divided between the government and its allies on the one hand, and the opposition rebel groups, on the other. These are the primary actors to the conflict. The Congolese government is represented by FARDC (the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo). It is mainly opposed by the M23, perhaps the biggest rebel group operating in Eastern Congo, widely believed to be sustained by Rwanda and Uganda. It is led by a local war lord, ex-military in the FARDC, also known as "the Terminator". The M23 is composed of Congolese Tutsis who abandoned the national army in 2011, after the government's failure to abide by the peace accords of 2009, according to which the government in Kinshasa was supposed to recognize the CNDP (National Congress for the Defense of the People) as a legitimate political party and absorb the former CNDP members into the national army. Apart from them, there are many armed militia groups that appear all of a sudden and disappear overnight, making the situation even more chaotic. Among the most known, the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), made of Hutu Rwandans who fled the country after the genocide in 1994 because of the threat posed by the new Tutsi leadership. They are often accused of violations of serious human rights, like using rape as a war weapon, looting, man slaughter and promoting child soldiers in their internal fights against the Tutsis. They are believed to be in cooperation with the Mai Mai, one of the most feared militias. They are nationalist Congolese people fighting against the Tutsis as well because they accuse the Rwandan government for Congo's present problems. Despite having a common enemy with the FDLR (the Rwandan government), they do not commit crimes against their own people. They may be upset with their government, but they are not irrational. Accordingly, they do have FARDC prisoners, but they will not hurt them. Secondary actors are not directly involved, but they are affected by the outcomes of the conflict. In this category, we find especially the neighboring countries Rwanda and Uganda particularly active. Starting with the 1990's, Rwanda and Uganda started to be increasingly interested in Congo's mineral resources. Uganda sent in its support during the Second Congo War under the form of the MLC (Movement for the Liberation of Congo), later to become a local political party led by Jean-Pierre Bemba. The Rwandan military troops first entered the DRC under the excuse of searching and to kill the remnants of the Hutu extremists that found refuge here. However, all this may seem just a facade, because it seems very unlikely that the Rwandan government will catch the perpetrators while in another country, if it failed to prevent them from escaping Rwandan soil in the first place. Soon, the regional interests in the Congo were revealed. Rwanda and Uganda promoted inter-ethnic conflict and mass killings as a means to secure mining zones and property rights over the exploitation of resources. Other international organizations and countries are also affected by or have an influence on the development of this conflict, like the UN, USA, France, Belgium etc. We call them third parties. For the United States, as well as for all the other countries involved, this interest translates into a chase after resources. Starting with the 1960's, USA exploited cobalt from the Congo in order to make its attack jets used during the Cold War. But their involvement did not stop here; they went even further to support Mobutu to get to power, taking advantage of a fortunate void of power. However, as Mobutu's regime became dictatorial and as he started to steal a lot of money for his own interest, USA backed Kabila to remove Mobutu from power. Nowadays, although USA and the UN have specifically asked Rwanda and Uganda had to withdraw their troops from the Congo, the countries simply deny any involvement. The situation particularly changed with Rwanda receiving a seat in the UN Security Council, which will force it to stop having ties with the Congo. There is a need for a supervising authority to make sure that all sides are playing fair. But the presence of such international organizations contributes as well to creating chaos, distrust and confusion among the locals. The UN is supposed to mediate between the different rebel groups and to help the national army end the different rebel factions. However, in many people's eyes, the UN-led operation MONUC is completely useless. Lately, the UN has issued many reports to blame Uganda and Rwanda for looting, war crimes, crimes against humanity and more recently, arrest warrants have been issued for renown war lords and perpetrators.
http://www.iccwomen.org/publications/Peace_Agreement_between_the_Government_and_the_CNDP.pdf http://projectcongo.org/images/The_20International_20Dimensions_20of_20the_20Congo_20Crisis.pdf http://books.google.ro/books?id=52xP2HJExjsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=congo+conflict&hl=ro&sa=X&ei=Hr_yUJ6II4XptQbTg4GgAg&ved=0CC4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/nov/28/congolese-people-democratic-republic-congo http://www.oecd.org/countries/congo/48887723.pdf http://www.icva.ch/doc00000937.html
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