DRC and M23 Crisis: Rwanda Dismayed by US Statement (China)

DRC and M23 Crisis: Rwanda Dismayed by US Statement (China)

Kanako Mita and Noriko Watanabe

Modern Tokyo Times

The Tutsi-led M23 insurgents continue to put pressure on the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and their allies. This concerns the eastern parts of the DRC.

Indeed, the provinces of Ituri, North Kivi, and South Kivu feel the countless convulsions of so many ethnic, religious, and political militias and terrorist groups. For example, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is an Islamist terrorist group that formed in Uganda – but the ADF mainly butcher Christians in the DRC.

The government of Rwanda supports the M23 despite repeated denials. However, given the role of Hutu forces (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda – FDLR) against the Tutsi – along with the increasing role of China in supporting the government of the DRC in the military realm, it is natural that Rwanda utilizes the M23 given the prevailing conditions.

Accordingly, M23 insurgents primarily protect the Tutsi ethnic group from Hutu militias. Also, M23 insurgents protect Kinyarwanda-speaking minorities in eastern DRC.

Lee Jay Walker (Modern Tokyo Times analyst) recently said, “Massacres against the Tutsi have undoubtedly happened based on ethnic tensions – and in the other direction. Meanwhile, other ethnic conflicts blight the DRC. Equally, the Islamist nature of the ADF entails the butchering of Christians by the ADF. Therefore, with so many insurgent groups – including the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) and the Hutu forces of the FDLR – countless different groups have committed massacres against ordinary civilians.”

In Rwanda, they deem the FDLR to be a terrorist group – and the remnants of the ideology behind the deplorable events of 1994 (The Genocide Against the Tutsi) when vast numbers of Tutsis were killed in Rwanda.

The U.S Department of State said, “The United States condemns Rwanda’s support for the M23 armed group and calls on Rwanda to immediately withdraw all Rwanda Defense Force personnel from the DRC and remove its surface-to-air missile systems, which threaten the lives of civilians, UN and other regional peacekeepers, humanitarian actors, and commercial flights in eastern DRC.”

U.S Department of State continued, “We call on the government of the DRC to continue to support confidence building measures, including ceasing cooperation with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed group named as a “negative force” by regional bodies and the government of the DRC, and which exposes the civilian population to risk...”

Rwanda condemned the wording by America. Hence, the Foreign Ministry of Rwanda said, “To characterize this genocidal and terrorist outfit merely as an armed group… is a shocking and cynical act of realpolitik which calls into question the ability of the United States to serve as a credible mediator in the Great Lakes region.”

The Foreign Ministry of Rwanda also highlighted the role of China in supporting the DRC. Accordingly, the ministry said, the government of Rwanda is taking “…measures to ensure the complete air defense of Rwandan territory and to degrade offensive air capabilities following the introduction of advanced Chinese CH-4 attack drones by the DRC in 2023 and repeated violations of Rwandan airspace by Congolese fighter jets.”

Rwanda seeks the complete demobilization of the FDLR in eastern DRC. Also, Rwanda requests the DRC to repatriate all leading members of the FDLR to Rwanda. If this happens – then Rwanda and the DRC can reset ties.

Naturally, the DRC wants to crush the M23, ADF, and other forces in the eastern parts of the country. However, the armed forces of the DRC are currently unable to do so – thus, the FDLR is supporting central forces against the M23.

The Council on Foreign Relations reports, “The abundance of natural resources—especially precious minerals—found in Congolese soil has globalized the conflict in eastern DRC. While U.S. companies once owned vast cobalt mines in the Congo, most were sold to Chinese companies during the Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations. Chinese companies connected to Beijing now control the majority of foreign-owned cobalt, uranium, and copper mines in DRC, and the Congolese army has been repeatedly deployed to mining sites in eastern DRC to protect Chinese assets.”

China sent 9 Caihong 4 (CH-4) attack drones to the government of the DRC. These are now being used against the M23.

Honest brokers are needed to stem the crisis between the DRC and Rwanda. After all, unlike the threat of ADF Islamic terrorists and others, the M23 and FDLR issues can be solved by national governments if compromises are made.

Approximately 7 million people are internally displaced in the DRC.

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