AFRICANGLOBE – In November 2013, the army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), bolstered by United Nations forces, claimed to have defeated M-23, the most powerful supposedly rebel militia in the Eastern Congo. This was the first time that the army (known by the French acronym FARDC) was thought to have scored a major victory over a significant “rebel” group.
But in fact M-23 is not a rebel organization. It is composed of Rwandan government soldiers, and its military activities have been funded by Rwanda and Uganda, the DRC’s neighbours. M-23 members were warned in advance of the FARDC/UN offensive, and managed to escape to Rwanda and Uganda, where they are now regrouping.
About 40 other such militias remain in the Eastern Congo, making the achievement of peace there unlikely any time soon.
The United States instigated the invasion of the DRC by its proxies Rwanda and Uganda in 1996 and 1998, and the subsequent slaughter of 6.9 million Congolese has devastated the country. Washington’s goal was to plunder the enormous mineral riches of the Congo through the proxy use of Rwanda’s and Uganda’s troops. These two states formally withdrew their forces from the Congo in 2003, but continued looting its minerals through their puppet militias, including the M-23
“The U.S. has financed and given overall direction to the worst genocide since World War II,” says Glen Ford, editor of the Black Agenda Report, the leading website on U.S. policy towards Africa. “Since 1996, Washington has drenched Congo’s eastern provinces in the blood of over six million people. The governments of Rwanda and Uganda, the direct perpetrators of this holocaust, are in every sense of the word agents of U.S. foreign policy, who operate with impunity under the imperial umbrella.
“For 18 years, Uganda and Rwanda have done the bidding of their pay-masters and arms suppliers, the American and British governments. If the Nuremburg rules of international justice were in force today, the highest officials in Washington and London would face death by hanging for their monstrous crimes – and only later would Presidents Kagame of Rwanda and Museveni of Uganda take their walk with the executioner.”
The Congo War is considered the deadliest and one of the most prolonged conflicts since the Second World War, and the massive looting of its mineral resources that has accompanied the warfare has converted the DRC into the second poorest country in the world (after Niger). This is appalling, given that the Congo is probably the richest country in the world in terms of mineral resources.
Congo’s simultaneous wealth and poverty, according to Jeffrey Gettleman writing in National Geographic, “doesn’t make any sense, until you understand that militia-controlled mines in Eastern Congo have been feeding raw materials into the world’s biggest electronics and jewellery companies… Turns out your laptop — or camera or gaming system or gold necklace — may have a smidgen of Congo’s pain somewhere in it.”
The Rwandan/Ugandan invasion has opened up the DRC’s wealth to unlimited plunder by Western mining companies, including Canada’s Banro Corporation. Canadian mining investment in the Congo is estimated to be as much as $3 billion. A 2002 UN report accused eight Canadian mining companies, including Banro, of “pillaging the Congo.” As reported in Le Monde Diplomatique, Banro and Barrick Gold (the biggest Canadian mining company) have been accused of “funding military operations in exchange for lucrative contracts” in the Congo.
According to Maurice Carney, co-director of the NGO “Friends of the Congo” which is based in Washington D.C., “Banro has a sweetheart deal under which it got 100% ownership of gold concessions in the east of the country, complete with a 10-year tax holiday. Banro’s concession is estimated to be worth over $10 billion.”
“Multinational corporations operating in Eastern Congo,” says Congo expert Keith Harmon Snow, “are soaked in Congolese blood. They include Banro Gold, Casa Mining, Randgold, Mwana Africa, Loncor, Anglo-Gold Ashanti, Kilo Gold, and Moku Gold. These are U.S., Canadian, Australian, and European mining corporations. They all have deep ties to the criminal extortion, money-laundering, racketeering and theft behind the plunder and depopulation in the Great Lakes countries [the region], and ties to Kagame and Museveni and their agents.”
Anvil Mining, which was a Canadian company until 2011, with operations in the Congo, has been sued by Congolese plaintiffs in a Quebec court for contributing to the massacre of 70 civilians in the DRC by the country’s army.
The DRC is located in the heart of Africa and is the continent’s second biggest country, about the size of Western Europe. The Congo possesses an astounding $24 trillion in mineral reserves, including gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, coltan, tin, tungsten, zinc, manganese, magnesium, uranium, niobium, gold, diamonds, and silver. These minerals are needed to make jet engines, cars, missiles, computers, cell-phones, electronic components, iron and steel, as well as required in fibre optics and in other military and high-tech production. The DRC also has a “potentially vast oil industry” and large stands of timber. This enormous wealth is equal to the GDPs of the U.S. and Western Europe combined. Eastern Congo contains most of the country’s mineral riches.