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Behind the Scenes: Warlords’ Deadly Battle in Congo

by Keith Harmon Snow

Towards Freedom, Thursday, 09 August 2007

[excerpts on Congo and Angola,
underlines added by Radio Islam for sake of emphasis]

 

 

The "four-day war" that rocked Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo from March 22-26, 2007 was called a "cleaning" by insiders. Everyone knew it was going to happen, the United Nations Observers Mission in Congo (MONUC) did nothing to stop it and the death count was significantly under-reported. The realities behind the scenes remain cloaked by the international media and world institutions, and the big losers, yet again, are the Congolese people. This is the inside story.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is today both the richest and poorest country in the world. First robbed of its rubber and ivory (1890-1908) by Belgium’s King Leopold—whose enterprise of slavery claimed ten million Congolese lives but was masked by a humanitarian "anti-slavery" propaganda campaign—the plunder of the Congo was advanced by Belgian colonial interests from 1908 to "independence" on June 30, 1960.

Following a coup d’etat orchestrated in part by Israeli American Maurice Tempelsman and his corporate allies, the country emerged from the first Congo crises (1960-1967) with U.S.-backed Colonel Joseph Mobutu installed as President.(1) Mobutu and his corporate partners plundered Congo from 1965 to 1996, and many of the same "untouchables" of the Mobutu era—Maurice Tempelsman, Etienne Davignon, George Forrest, the Blattners—are plundering Congo today.(2)

The Pentagon backed the overthrow of Mobutu in 1996-1997. This invasion was led by Rwanda and Uganda, backed by the U.S., Canada, U.K., Belgium and Israel. Washington’s support of the overthrow had to do with corporate interests in the region. International businesses wanted to reorganize the power structure in the region to better exploit the Congo's riches and displace deeply entrenched competitors. By July 1996, Mobutu was negotiating with George H.W. Bush over Barrick Gold interests in Zaire's Kilo Moto goldfields and for Adolph Lundin interests in copper/cobalt in Katanga. The invasion of Zaire swung into action after Paul Kagame visited the Pentagon in August 1996.(3)

Congolese "rebel" warlords like Jean-Pierre Bemba, Azarias Ruberwa, Arthur Zahidi Ngoma, and Mbusa Nyamwisi fought against the seat of power in Kinshasa held by Laurent Kabila (1998-2001) and then Joseph Kabila, his purported son. Multinational corporations, criminal networks and regional governments backed "rebel" and "government" forces—often both—and all sides committed massive atrocities. Billions of dollars in plantation commodities, minerals and timber exited Congo during the war were shipped to Western markets.

As the Congo "peace process" unfolded, Jean-Pierre Bemba became one of four warlords rewarded with a vice-presidency in DRC’s transitional government (2003-2006); sworn in on July 17, 2003, he held the Finance and Economic portfolio. Bemba was one of five significant challengers to the transitional president, Joseph Kabila, in the 2006 elections, which fielded 33 presidential candidates. Bemba believes himself Congo’s savior and rightful leader, and he provoked hostilities, riots and parliamentary chaos throughout the transition, elections and post-elections periods.

Behind the machinations of power in Congo lie hundreds of billions of dollars to be made in exploiting Congo’s riches in the next decade alone. From 1996-2007, despite multiple peace accords, some six to ten million people died in Congo’s wars.

[...]

 

THE SAVIMBI SOLUTION

Among the dead bodies that turned up in the morgue after the "short but brutal war" in March 2007 were battle-hardened soldiers who once fought alongside Jonas Savimbi. Hundreds of bodies filled the morgue but many were not claimed, indicating that the dead were outsiders whose families would not be coming. Some 20 troops who surrendered were also reported to be former UNITA.

South African special forces were in Kinshasa at the time, and South Africa negotiated with DRC for Bemba’s safe departure from Congo; Bemba’s ties to South Africa run deep and silent.

To understand why MONUC and the "international community" did not take action to prevent the March war in Kinshasa—even after the history of belligerence and atrocities by both Bemba and Kabila’s forces—we can find some clues in the example of Jonas Savimbi in Angola.

Savimbi was the leader of the União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA), a Reagan–era rebel front that fought against "communist" Angola with U.S., U.K. and Israeli backing. By the late 1990’s UNITA was out of favor: new oil and diamond deals, increasing U.S. investments in Angola, mercenary friends of Bill Clinton, all played a role.(22)

After Savimbi refused the vice-presidency in President Dos Santos’ government in Angola the order went out to assassinate him. Israeli Special Forces, with Pentagon support, flew to Angola to track and kill Savimbi. They reportedly pinpointed Savimbi’s position with satellite technology, and he was reportedly assassinated soon after the Clinton Administration and its partners gave the orders.(23)

"They got tired of Savimbi, and they find him and kill him," said one Kabila insider. "When the international powers want Savimbi killed—it’s easy. This is what finally happened with Bemba. They were tired of him interfering in their plans. Mining in this country is an international scandal, and Bemba was disturbing the new democracy and getting in the way of exploitation and profits."

"I would never believe that Kabila would take such action if he did not have the green light from important people outside," said one insider close to Kabila and the secrets of the Kabila Government. "It is clear that this was a "cleaning" of Bemba’s men by Kabila’s forces and that some powerful people from the U.S. and U.K., Israel, Belgium and Australia—Kabila’s supporters—wanted it to happen." One government parliamentarian close to Bemba agreed.
[...]

 

Notes

1. See Dr. David Gibbs, The Political Economy of Third World Intervention: Mines, Money and U.S. Policy in the Congo Crises, University of Chicago Press, 1991.

2. See: Keith Harmon Snow and Rick Hines, "Blood Diamond: Doublethink and Deception Over Those Worthless Little Rocks of Desire," Z Magazine, June 1 and July 1, 2007.

3. See: Keith Harmon Snow and David Barouski: "Behind the Numbers: Untold Suffering in Congo," Z MAgazine July 2006.

[...]

22. "The Bashing of Bemba," Africa Confidential, Vol. 48, No. 8, 13 April 2007.

23. Wayne Madsen, Genocide and Covert Operations in Africa, 1993-1999, Edwin Mellen Press, 1999: p. 64.

 

 




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