Cautious Hope: A Moment of Dialogue in the Chaos of Congo

Published on Spiegel Online International, by Thilo Thielke, Dec. 7, 2012 (Photo Gallery – Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein).

After withdrawing from the provincial capital of Goma on Monday, the rebel group M23 was scheduled to meet for talks with Congolese officials in Uganda on Friday. Although they have enjoyed a rare week of peace, residents of eastern Congo are fearful of what failed negotiations might bring.  

Sitting in the well-tended garden of the Caritas Hotel, rebel officer Amani Kabasha was in a good mood, enjoying his victory over the Congolese army. “In the port of Goma alone, 500 tons of military equipment are now in our hands,” boasted the man from the rebel group known as the M23. “Now we have missiles, lots of ammunition, even a tank.” Kabasha allowed his gaze to sweep over the hotel grounds, which his men commandeered after taking the city of Goma, then out toward Lake Kivu and the Virunga Mountains … //

… A Confusing Nightmare:

  • “More than 200,000 Tutsis have had to flee the violence in Congo and are now living in camps in Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania,” Kabasha claimed. No one can verify that number. The officer maintained that the camps exist and that the Tutsis there “want to return to Congo — that’s what we’re fighting for.” The goal is to gain more land to the west, mainly for the benefit of the Tutsis currently living in densely populated Rwanda.
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo covers an enormous area compared to its tiny eastern neighbor, Rwanda, which has been under the firm-handed control of Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, since 1994. War has raged in the eastern part of Congo for some 15 years. Tutsi militias roam the area, looking for natural resources and enemy Hutu militias. The Tutsi militias’ enemies also include members of the government’s demoralized army and various Mai-Mai militia groups.
  • Congo can be a confusing nightmare of a place. The country is as big as Western Europe but home to just 70 million people, who in turn belong to 400 ethnic groups and speak nearly as many different languages. People here are fighting for their lives, and alliances shift as quickly as the names of the militias. The M23, for example, previously belonged to a rebel group run by Gen. Laurent Nkunda, then became part of the Congolese army, but is now once again fighting against the army.
  • In most cases, though, the dividing lines pit Hutus against Tutsis. And, in all of this, there is one constant: The people to suffer most are civilians, who often don’t even know who is currently attacking whom.

Child Soldiers: … //

… (full text).


Drugs and the National Security State, on TomDispatch, by Lewis Lapham, Dec. 9, 2012;

The Continuing Global Slump, on newSocialist, by David McNally, Nov. 24, 2012;

Solidarity or Exclusion? British Columbia Unions and Chinese Mineworkers, on newSocialist, by David Camfield, Nov. 23, 2012;

State Subsidies to Attract Corporate Investment Should be Banned, several videos on The Real News Network TRNN.

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