Page 1 of 2 China's US$9bn hostage in the Congo war
By F William Engdahl
Just weeks after President George W Bush signed the Order creating a new US
military command dedicated to Africa, AFRICOM, events on the mineral-rich
continent have erupted that suggest a major agenda of the incoming Barack Obama
presidency to focus US resources, military and other, on dealing with the
Democratic Republic of Congo, the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, the oil-rich Darfur
region of southern Sudan and increasingly the Somali "pirate threat" to sea
lanes in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
The legitimate question is whether it is mere coincidence that
Africa appears just at this time to become a new geopolitical "hot spot" or
whether it has a direct link to the formal creation of AFRICOM.
What is striking is the timing. No sooner had AFRICOM become operational than
major new crises broke out in both the Indian Ocean-Gulf of Aden regarding
spectacular incidents of alleged Somali piracy, as well as eruption of bloody
new wars in Kivu Province in the Republic of Congo. The common thread
connecting both is their importance, as with Darfur in southern Sudan, for
China's future strategic raw materials flow.
The latest fighting in the eastern part of the Congo (DRC) broke out in late
August when Tutsi militiamen, belonging to the Congres National pour la Defense
du Peuple (CNDP, National Congress for the Defense of the People) of General
Laurent Nkunda, forced loyalist troops of the Forces armees de la Republique
democratique du Congo (FARDC, Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo)
to retreat from their positions near Lake Kivu, sending hundreds of thousands
of displaced civilians fleeing in the process and prompting the French foreign
minister, Bernard Kouchner, to warn of the imminent risk of "huge massacres".
Nkunda, like his mentor, Rwanda's Washington-backed dictator, Paul Kagame, is
an ethnic Tutsi who says he is protecting the minority Tutsi ethnic group
against remnants of the Rwandan Hutu army that fled to Congo after the Rwandan
genocide in 1994. UN peacekeepers reported no such atrocities against the
minority Tutsi in northeast, mineral-rich Kivu region. Congolese sources report
that attacks against Congolese of all ethnic groups are a daily occurrence in
the region. Laurent Nkunda's troops are responsible for most of these attacks,
The stage for political chaos in Congo was further set in September when the
Democratic Republic of Congo's 83-year-old Prime Minister Antoine Gizenga
resigned after two years. Then at end of October, with suspicious timing, the
commander of the United Nations peacekeeping operation, the Mission de
l'Organisation des Nations-Unies au Congo (MONUC, Mission of the United Nations
Organization in the Congo), Spanish Lieutenant General Vicente Diaz de
Villegas, resigned after less than two months on the job, citing, "lack of
confidence" in the leadership of DRC President Joseph Kabila.
Kabila, the Congo's first democratically elected president, has also been
involved in negotiating a major US$9 billion trade agreement between the DRC
and China, something which Washington is clearly not happy about.
Nkunda is a long-standing henchman of Rwandan president, US-trained Kagame. All
signs point to a heavy, if covert, US role in the latest Congo killings by
Nkunda's men. Nkunda himself is a former Congolese Army officer, teacher and
Seventh Day Adventist pastor. But killing seems to be what he is best at.
Much of Nkunda's well-equipped and relatively disciplined forces are from the
bordering country of Rwanda and the rest have been recruited from the minority
Tutsi population of the Congolese province of North Kivu. Supplies, finance and
political support for this Congolese rebel army come from Rwanda. According to
the American Spectator magazine, "President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has long been
a supporter of Nkunda, who originally was an intelligence officer in the Rwanda
leader's overthrow of the Hutu despotic rule in his country."
As the Congo News Agency reported on October 30, "Some have bought into the
pretext of an endangered Tutsi minority in Congo. They never fail to mention
that Laurent Nkunda is supposedly fighting to protect 'his people'. They have
failed to question his true motives, which are to occupy the mineral-rich North
Kivu province, pillage its resources, and act as a proxy army in eastern Congo
for the Tutsi-led Rwandan government in Kigali. Kagame wants a foothold in
eastern Congo so his country can continue to benefit from the pillaging and
exporting of minerals such as Columbite-Tantalite (Coltan). Many experts on the
region agree today that resources are the true reason why Laurent Nkunda
continues to create chaos in the region with the help of Paul Kagame."
The USA role and AFRICOM
Evidence which was presented in a French court in a ruling made public in 2006
claimed that Kagame was responsible for organizing the shooting down of the
plane carrying Hutu president of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, in April 1994,
the event that set off the indiscriminate killing of hundreds of thousands of
people both Hutu and Tutsi.
The end result of the killings in which perhaps as many as a million Africans
perished was that US- and UK-backed Paul Kagame - a ruthless military dictator
trained at the US Army Command-General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas - was firmly in control as dictator of Rwanda. Since then he has
covertly backed repeated military incursions by General Nkunda into the
mineral-rich Kivu region on the pretext it was to defend a small Tutsi minority
there. Kagame had repeatedly rejected attempts to repatriate those Tutsi
refugees back to Rwanda, evidently fearing he might lose his pretext to occupy
the mineral riches of Kivu.
Since at least 2001, according to reports from Congo sources, the US military
has also had a base at Cyangugu in Rwanda, built by US Vice President Dick
Cheney's old firm, Halliburton, conveniently near the border to Congo's
mineral-rich Kivu region.
The 1994 massacre of civilians between Tutsi and Hutu was, as Canadian
researcher Michel Chossudovsky described it, "an undeclared war between France
and America. By supporting the build up of Ugandan and Rwandan forces and by
directly intervening in the Congolese civil war, Washington also bears a direct
responsibility for the ethnic massacres committed in the Eastern Congo
including several hundred thousand people who died in refugee camps". He adds,
"Major General Paul Kagame was an instrument of Washington. The loss of African
lives did not matter. The civil war in Rwanda and the ethnic massacres were an
integral part of US foreign policy, carefully staged in accordance with precise
strategic and economic objectives."
Now Kagame's former intelligence officer, Nkunda, leads his well-equipped
forces to take Goma in the eastern Congo as part of an apparent scheme to break
the richest mineral region away from Kinshasha. With the US military beefing up
its presence across Africa under AFRICOM since 2007, the stage was apparently
set for the current resources grab by the US-backed Kagame and his former
Today the target is China
If France was the covert target of US "surrogate warfare" in 1994, today it is
clearly China, which is the real threat to US control of Central Africa's vast
mineral riches. The Democratic Republic of Congo was renamed from the Republic
of Zaire in 1997 when the forces of Laurent Desire Kabila brought Mobutu's
32-year reign to an end. Locals call the country Congo-Kinshasa.
The area of Congo's Kivu region and the border straddling Rwanda and Uganda
runs on the eastern edge of the Great African Rift Valley, believed by
geologists to be one of the richest repositories of minerals on the face of the
The Democratic Republic of the Congo contains more than half the world's
cobalt. It holds one-third of its diamonds, and,