Over 2013 the Rwandan Government was increasingly isolated by many Western governments and African leaders over its role in perpetuating insecurity in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. 10 Years Later, the history appears to repeat itself. The question now is: are we ready for the dire dynamics in the region?
What Happened 10 Years Ago, when Rwandan Troops under the Cover of M23 Rebels Invaded DRC.
On Friday November 1, 2013, US Secretary of State, John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary called General Paul Kagame to warn him, of dire consequences if he did not stay out of the conflict in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It was the second time, in a year, that US and British leaders had personally warned the Rwandan dictator to keep off the conflict in the DRC. In December 2012, US President Obama had called General Paul Kagame, to give similar warnings.(See here S Secretary of State, John Kerry’s and British Foreign Secretary Minister William Hague’s Warnings to Paul Kagame As M23 Rebels Disintegrate of November 1, 2013).
On two occasions, over a year, the United States cut military aid to Rwanda, as a sign of discontent towards the Rwandan dictator (see US Cuts Military Aid to Rwandan Government for Supporting Congolese Militia of July 21, 2012 and US Government Suspends Military Aid to Rwandan Government Over Recruitment of Child Soldiers of October 3, 2013).
Meanwhile, the Belgian Government had officially authorized the deployment of paratroopers from a Brigade specialized in counterinsurgency and guerrilla warfare. The advanced team of Belgian military officers trained FARDC troops, in an undisclosed locations, close to the North-Kivu, where the M23 rebels and FARDC were facing off.
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Rwandan Troops, Under the Cover of M23 Rebels, Defeated and M23 Rebels Decimated.
The Rwandan troops, under the cover of M23 rebels were defeated and almost decimated, and threw in the towel. Most of M23 fighters abandoned weapons and fled to Rwanda.
This happened after a couple of hundred hardline fighters, mostly from the Rwandan Defense Forces, withdrew from Bunagana to the forest and hills of Tshanzu and Runyonyi, where they had previously stashed a large quantity of weapons and ammunitions and built fortifications and trenches. FARDC, with the help of UN Intervention Brigade Forces composed of Tanzanian, Malawian and South African forces, pounded them for almost four days. The remaining fighters fled early in the morning of November 5, 2013 to Rwanda and Uganda. Faced with this humiliating defeat, M23 rebels top leader had no other option, than offering the surrender.
It was more than a defeat for M23 rebels. In fact, it became a humiliating setback for Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame. He had personally founded, funded, and provided support in equipment and troops, including his Special Forces, to the M23 rebels. Now, these rebels were defeated and surrendered in a shameful outcome.
The surrender coincided with a joint summit of Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), held in Pretoria, South Africa, since Monday, November 4, 2013.
As the M23 rebels were being crushed and surrendering, a string of African regional leaders advised General Paul Kagame to talk to the leaders of the armed opposition in order to bring peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. These African leaders included Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete and Ugandan President and Yoweri Museveni (see AfroAmerica Network..).
Instead of listening, Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame threatened to kill the Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete (see Tanzanian Jakaya Kikwete’s Negotiation Proposal: Yoweri Museveni Willing, Joseph Kabila Fighting, and Paul Kagame Still Insulting).
Is the History Repeating Itself?
Despite the defeat, the warnings, the failures, and the appalling consequences on the security in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Rwandan troops, under the cover of M23 rebels, invaded DRC once again, 10 years later.
Now, the dynamics that preceded the defeat of M23 rebels in 2013 seem to be repeating: the widespread condemnation by the international community, countries in the region joining their forces to fight off the Rwandan forces under the cover of M23 rebels, and the threat of sanctions against M23 rebels leaders and their sponsors within the Rwandan military.
On November 30, 2022, the Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame, in his address to the nation during a swearing ceremony of newly appointed government ministers, claimed that although "the whole world" has been blaming the Rwandan government and military for the wars and crises in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Congolese president Felix Tshisekedi was seeking to leverage M23 attacks to postpone, to control, and ultimately benefit from the presidential election scheduled for December 20, 2023.
In a press statement published on February 22, 2023, the United States government sent out an unequivocal warning message to the Rwandan government condemning the invasion of DRC by Rwandan troops under the coverr of M23 rebels and called on the Rwandan government to "cease the support for M23" and "withdraw its troops from the DRC" (see here DR Congo - Rwanda: US Government Finally Confirms that Rwandan Troops Have Invaded DR Congo, Under the Cover of M23 Rebels )
The United Nations, although having been hesitating to firmly condemn the invasion, has acknowledged the invasion and confirmed that the Rwandan government and military have been providing support to M23 rebels, instead of confirming that M23 Rebels are just Rwandan Troops.
Then, the South African Development Community (SADC) confirmed the decision to send troops to the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to fight against the M23 rebels. The decision was made following a summit held in Windhoek, Namibia on Monday, May 8, 2023 (see here). During the summit, SADC’s security organ, along with the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) troop contributing countries to MONUC approved the deployment of a SADC Force within the framework of the SADC Standby Force to support of the DRC to restore peace and security in Eastern DRC.
On May 16, 2023, Lucy Tamlyn, the US Ambassador in the DRC, following a meeting with Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense, reinforced the position of the USA regarding the Rwandan invasion. “We ask all stakeholders to respect the roadmap. The Rwandan forces must leave the country and the M23 must withdraw to the point indicated in the Luanda agreement,” she said, while also welcoming the SADC forces, ready to support the FARDC.
According AfroAmerica Network sources close to the Rwandan Defence Forces and Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) some African leaders have started to urge Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame to face the reality and be ready for negotiations with the leaders of the Rwandan opposition, especially those from FDLR and RUD-Urunana, associated with refugees based in Eastern DRC.
The sources also confirmed that, recently, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni sent his controversial son and designated heir to the throne, Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to convince Paul Kagame to get ready for negotiations with DRC leaders, the UN, SADC, and the Rwandan opposition leaders.
According to the sources, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba travelled to Kigali, Rwanda, under the cover of "celebrating his 49th birthday on April 24, 2023 with Uncle Kagame, family and a few friends," as he said on social media, while the real reason behind the scene was to discuss the negotiation advice from his father Yoweri Museveni.
What is Next?
As the odds of the defeat of M23 rebels are increasing, General Paul Kagame recently held an urgent meeting. According to AfroAmerica Network sources, in the meeting, attended by the Rwandan Minister of Defense General Albert Murasira, the Chief of Defense Staff General Jean Bosco Kazura, the Army Commander, the Air Force Commander, and the Head of Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), and commanders of Western, Northern and Southern Military Regions led by General Jean Bosco Kazura and General Mubaraka Muganga.
During the meeting General Paul Kagame reminded the military leaders what he said 10 years ago in a similar meeting: “We would not feel discouraged. This is our cause. While other people sleep or take a rest, we need to work even harder. We need to work 24/7. Unlike 2013, we now have more experience, drive, and power to defeat the FARDC and their SADC masters... Some of those masters have already asked me to talk to FDLR, RUD-Urunana, and whatever... Let me be clear again, I will never talk to the genocidaires of the FDLR. Never, … , ever. I will not talk to criminals. But I am open to talking to those willing to return home without conditions.″
He also repeated the controversial statements made during a recent visit to Cotonou Benin, that Eastern DRC belongs to Rwanda, when he said that "colonial powers gave parts of Rwanda to the DRC and Uganda, and that the M23 rebellion was a matter of Congolese claiming their Rwandan heritage."
Paul Kagame's statement in Cotonou, Benin has raised outrage in the DRC and pushed Felix Tshisekedi to say that he is looking forward to speaking to the Rwandan president who would come after Paul Kagame.
This statement by DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, along with the previous qualification of the current Rwandan regime as "demonic" (see DR Congo: President Felix Tshisekedi Urges Congolese to Have Empathy for Rwandans, and Rather Target Rwandan Dictator Paul Kagame and His Diabolic Oligarchy) has raised several red flags, with some political analysts and news and social media suggesting that the FARDC are getting ready to invade Rwanda and overthrow the Rwandan regime led by Paul Kagame.
Meanwhile, unexpectedly, on May 15, 2023, the governments of DRC and Rwanda agreed to initiate a dialogue in order to create favorable conditions for the sustainable return of Congolese and Rwandan refugees to their respective countries. The agreement was reached when delegations from two countries and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) met Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the arrangements for this repatriation. The delegations were led by Christophe Lutundula, DRC Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs and Francophonie of the DRC, Marie Kayisire Solange, Rwandan Minister in charge of Emergency Management and the UNHCR High Commissioner, Fillippo Grandi.
However, most analysts have questonned the rationality of the meeting, especially that the reprersentative of the Rwandan government has not actual power or influence on the military or foreign affairs.
The questions now are:
- What is next for M23 rebels?
- Will FARDC invade Rwanda to overthrow Paul Kagame's regime?
- Will Rwanda military leaders be sanctioned by the international community for invading and commiting crimes in the DRC, under the cover of M23 rebels?
AfroAmerica Network is still following the dynamics and getting more information from several sources close to leaders of DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, and SADC.
@AfroAmerica Network 2023
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