Monday, July 21, 2014

DR Congo: " Forever kissing frogs that think they're princes "

All Africa reports

Africa: Sustained Engagement a 'Paradigm Shift' Boosting Peace Prospects for Great Lakes and Congo

                                                                        Russ Feingold visits the DRC

Washington, DC — I walked into the State Department just over a year ago to take on my new role of U.S. Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Part of my eagerness in accepting the job came from the recognition that we were entering a period of unprecedented international commitment to and partnership with Africa, including the Great Lakes Region.
Lets remember that Feingold does seem to view the Great Lakes Region with rose coloured spectacles. 

Russell Feingold, US special envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa, said the deal needed to raise the issue of amnesty and reintegration of rebels ( M23 ) into the army to ensure its durability."
Now you could argue that with regard to amnesty and M23's reintegration into the Congolese Army ( FARDC ) that America if not the international community with demands such as that was very much advocating for a continuation of the statuesque. It was a bloody stupid statement and given how things played out, a statement I suspect he regrets making. American exploitation of Congolese resources through the offices of Rwandan President Paul Kagame is not partnership.

Having worked on Africa for over 18 years in the U.S. Senate, on too many occasions I watched the international community swoop into parts of Africa in times of dire crisis, only to swoop back out after the first sign of progress or failure. Today, I believe we are witnessing a paradigm shift in how the international community, and the United States in particular, engages with Africa.
Really. A paradigm shift ? The Intervention ( Africa ) Brigade was an initiative of The International Conference for the Great Lakes Region ( ICGLR ) and specifically ironically proposed by Rwanda and Uganda both nations were some what horrified to discover that there was no room for their troops in the brigade. The Intervention Brigade has been one of the game changers for the region and the US and the International Community had bugger all to do with it.

" It takes a lot for a Kiwi to feel sorry for France but I must say I am starting to think they are getting an unjustifiably hard time. Let us remember the Intervention Brigade concept grew out of a meeting of the ICGLR ( International Conference Great Lakes Region ) and was put forward by Rwanda and Uganda under the Africa Brigade monicker. The ICGLR loved the idea and then decided that the Brigade would be more effective as part of MONUSCO much to Rwanda's horror, how fucking ironic is that. Rwanda was given enough rope and promptly hung themselves. "

The increased commitment of the United States and the international community is already bearing fruit in the Great Lakes. When I was appointed, Secretary Kerry's marching orders were to do everything I could to help the region end the armed rebellion by the M23 rebel group. The tide had begun to turn against the M23 in early to mid-2013, after the international community and the region increased the military and diplomatic pressure on all parties. A key element of that push was the establishment of the UN's intervention brigade within the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC and the negotiation of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework, signed by 13 African countries.
Historical revisionism ? The US and the International Community ( excluding African Nations ) had very little to do with the " ..tide turning..." As I point out above Feingold was initially so out of touch with reality he suggested M23 should be reintegrated into FARDC.

These steps helped pave the way for a resolution to the rebellion. In addition to military pressure, the end to the rebellion was achieved via the Kampala Dialogue, facilitated by Uganda, with the active participation of a team of international envoys that included the outgoing UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, Mary Robinson, and me. In December, the Nairobi Declarations were finally signed by the DRC and the M23, representing the political resolution to a long-running rebellion.
And so we descend into farce. The Kampala talks were a joke, in the end the DRC Government and M23 signed different documents and it occurred in Nairobi ( these were Kampala talks ) after the military defeat of M23. Lets not pretend that the Rwandan backed M23 reached a political agreement with the DR Congo Government.
I am of the opinion that Kinshasa are just going through the motions at the Kampala peace talks and so it would now seem are M23. The real issue is that there is nothing for either side to talk about. This much vaunted political solution has failed yet again, neither side is participating in good faith that leaves a military solution on the table. " 
At that point, we could have declared victory and gone home. Instead, we increased our efforts to help the region fully implement the Nairobi Declarations and the Framework, with the vital goal of achieving sustainable peace and prosperity in the region.
Who could have declared victory ? The US, the International Community ? Lets not bloody well lie to ourselves, we had very little to do with it. The progress that has been made has been made by African Nations not by the West or the US. Is this another colonialism ? Yes. Have we gone home ? I suspect we have.

One of the Framework's core objectives is to eradicate all armed groups. The international community and the region, including the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, currently under the effective chairmanship of Angola, are now demonstrating unprecedented commitment to once and for all neutralize the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a rebel group whose members include individuals responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
" ...all armed groups " That is how we will be judged.

The FDLR has been active in eastern DRC for years, destroying communities, committing heinous abuses, including sexual violence and the illegal recruitment and use of child soldiers, and causing mass-displacement – without any accountability.
It would seem that like M23 the FDLR will not face any accountability. That is a political reality I hate but the alternatives are worse.

" When it come to crimes against humanity I am very much in the " never forgive , never forget " school. However much this goes against the grain it is probably the only workable solution and the alternatives are far worse."

Again, we are seeing progress, although with much work still to be done. Earlier this year, the FDLR committed to voluntarily demobilize, in part to avoid military action by the DRC military and the UN. Regional governments have since announced a six-month timeline for the FDLR to fully demobilize. This process must be credible and irreversible, and the timeline cannot be an excuse for six more months of predatory behavior or false promises to demobilize by the FDLR.
I think the FDLR will demobilise. It boils down to death or surrender. Let's not forget though, that we in the West had fuck all to do with it.

It's up to all of us in the international community to remain engaged and to help the region ensure that the Nairobi Declarations are implemented and the M23 is permanently demobilized, and that the FDLR is finally and fully neutralized and its leadership held accountable.
Just how are you going to hold the FDLR accountable ? The M23 leadership has not been held to account. They are in Rwanda and Uganda. Feingold would do better to stop talking shit designed for Western consumption. The best we can do at the moment is to stop the killing and yes that is far more important than locking up the genociders in the Hague. The dead will wait for the living.  
Mary Robinson made an enormous commitment to progress in the Great Lakes. While the world will welcome and greatly benefit from her leadership in her new role as UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, she will be missed in Africa.
A separate blog. No she did not and neither have you. She will achieve nothing in her new role. She will not be missed. She did very little and has moved on to a job in which she will achieve less. I am very disappointed with the former Irish politician. We can handle global warming, you had a job to do and you fucked up, you left before you had done it. Mary Robinson you are a lite weight.

To continue building on her work, the UN Secretary General recently announced the appointment of Said Djinnit, former Special Representative of the Secretary General for West Africa, to succeed Robinson. Ambassador Djinnit's appointment is a reassuring and welcomed sign of the UN's sustained commitment to the Great Lakes.
He couldn't be worse.

When President Obama welcomes African heads of state to Washington on August 6, it will represent more than a one-off meeting. It will affirm deepened and sustained U.S.-Africa economic, democratic and security cooperation. It is this type of expanded commitment and cooperation which has allowed us to support marked progress in addressing the conflict in the Great Lakes region.

Russell D. Feingold became U.S. Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes Region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on July 18, 2013. Throughout his 18 years in the United States Senate (1993 to 2011), he served on and led the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa.
He is starting to understand the job. I would leave him and hope.

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