Congo: The Battle For Goma

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Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire)

September 9, 2013: The Congolese government agreed to restart peace negotiations with the M23 rebel group. This came after two weeks of on and off combat with M23. Both the Congolese Army and the UN’s new Intervention Brigade (IBDE) have fought with M23 in and around the city of Goma (North Kivu province). The IBDE serves with other UN forces in MONUSCO (UN Stabilization Mission in the Congo).

September 7, 2013: Uganda insists reports that the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group had launched an attack in western Uganda were false. The Ugandan Army investigated the incident and found that on September 6th, eleven Congolese army soldiers were fleeing attacks by rebels inside the Congo and had mistakenly crossed the Congo-Uganda border. This was misreported as a rebel attack.

Tanzanian soldiers serving with the UN IBDE in the Congo denied rumors that they had captured four Rwandan commandos.

September 6, 2013: The UN reported that investigators had found evidence supporting allegations that Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) committed widespread atrocities. The worst violations occurred in the northern CAR. The Seleka rebels now control the government. What does it mean to be the government in the CAR? In this case Seleka controls the capital, Bangui, and their leader, Michel Djotodia, has declared himself the CAR president. Outside of Bangui the country is in chaos. The UN is considering funding a new African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in the CAR.

September 5, 2013: Congolese and Rwandan leaders met in Uganda and agreed that the Congo and M23 need to begin a new round of peace negotiations.

September 1, 2013: Rwanda again called the radical Hutu militia the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) a “state within a state” inside the Congo. The FDLR was founded by Hutus belonging to the Interahamwe movement (which organized and carried out the 1994 Rwanda genocide). The main victims (the Tutsi minority) managed to defeat the Hutu killers, and since then the FDLR has operated out of the eastern Congo. Rwanda contends that that the Congolese Army cooperates with the FDLR and lets the FDLR maintain base camps in the Congo. Rwanda has very legitimate security concerns in the eastern Congo and uses that to justify occasional military intervention in the eastern Congo. The deal Rwanda intends to forge in Central Africa is one that trades the M23 rebel movement for the end of the FDLR. Rwanda denies allegations that it supports M23. However, M23 is a predominantly Congolese Tutsi. The Rwandan government is dominated by Rwandan Tutsis.

August 31, 2013: The UN confirmed that M23 rebels are responsible for shelling Rwandan territory. Rwanda had claimed that the Congolese Army had fired artillery into the Rwandan town of Gisenyi (Rwanda-North Kivu province border).

M23 rebels fought with Congolese Army units near the city of Goma. The Congolese Army forces were backed by elements of the UN Intervention Brigade (IBDE).

August 30, 2013: The Congolese Army has taken several strategic positions in the Kibati hills overlooking the city of Goma by pushing M23 rebels off the ridges. Meanwhile, Rwandan Army units moved toward the border. The Rwandan government claims that the Congolese Army has repeatedly shelled Rwandan territory.

August 29, 2013: Tanzania has asked Uganda to act as a mediator between its government and Rwanda. The Tanzanian government acknowledged that its statement earlier this summer, that all Central African nations should talk with their respective rebel groups, deeply offended Rwanda. Rwanda completely rejects negotiations with the genocidaires in the FDLR. Interhamwe Hutu radicals (who now run the FDLR) orchestrated the 1994 genocide, which left over 800,000 Rwandans dead.

Rwanda accused the Congolese Army of shelling Rwandan territory and killing a Rwandan civilian. UN observers in the Rwanda-Congo border area (near the city of Goma) claimed that M23 rebels fired mortar shells into Rwanda.

August 28, 2013: A UN peacekeeper from Tanzania was killed and three were wounded in action against the M23 rebel militia near the city of Goma. Tanzanian infantry serve with the UN’s Intervention Brigade (IBDE), which is operating outside Goma. The Congolese Army claimed that “several dozen” M23 rebels were killed in combat between Kibati and the town of Kibumba and 12 were captured. This operation began when the Congolese Army, supported by attack helicopters and artillery, attacked the M23 fighters.

Rwanda claimed that on August 27th a Congolese Army unit near the town of Mutaho (north of Goma) fired mortar shells into Rwanda.

August 26, 2013: The UN IBDE (intervention brigade) is now fighting M23 rebels near the city of Goma (North Kivu province). The IBDE was created to destroy armed rebel groups in the Congo. The IBDE is also supporting Congolese Army operations against M23. Most of the action is near the town of Kibati (ten kilometers north of Goma).

August 24, 2013: M23 militiamen fired two mortar rounds into Goma and sent some of their gunmen into the outskirts of Goma.  In late July the UN declared Goma to be within a security zone and warned M23 to stay away.

August 22, 2013: The UN IBDE saw its first military action when IBDE artillery fired on M23 rebels north of Goma. The IBDE is a special UN brigade of 3,000 soldiers, though only 2,000 are currently deployed (Tanzanian and South African infantry battalions plus artillery unit). The brigade will ultimately have three infantry battalions (the third battalion supplied by Malawi). Other UN forces from MONUSCO are also deployed in the area.

Rwanda said the Congolese Army fired a rocket into Rwandan territory.

August 18, 2013: Seleka rebel leader Michel Djotodia was sworn in as president of the CAR.

August 17, 2013: MONUSCO peacekeepers operating in the Congo province of Katanga have rescued 82 children who had been kidnapped by the Mai-Mai Bakata-Katanga militia. The operations against the militia took place between August 11 and August 15.

August 15, 2013: The Lord’s Resistance Army continues to be a major security concern in the Central African Republic (CAR). There the Seleka coalition has formed a new government and is conducting arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings. Seleka fighters are also suspected of conducting gang rapes.

August 10, 2013: The film KONY 2012 personalized the terror created by the Ugandan rebel group, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). Despite an international force deployed to fight the LRA in the CAR and Congo, LRA senior commander Joseph Kony is still in the field and LRA fighters still attack civilians in the Congo and the CAR. Despite the failure to capture Kony, many hail the film because it brought global attention to Central African security issues. Moreover, they argue that the anti-Kony effort has had positive effects by forcing the UN to devote more soldiers to protecting civilians in the Congo. That is probably true but at the margins. Chaos in the CAR and parts of Congo (especially eastern Congo) and South Sudan is a bigger threat to lives and property than the LRA. Eliminating Kony won’t end political chaos or the threats posed by other armed groups, such as the rogue militias in eastern Congo. (Austin Bay)

August 4, 2013: UN forces in the Congo are now using an Italian-made unarmed surveillance drone.

July 31, 2013: Rwanda believes that the use of the UN IBDE to forcibly disarm militias around Goma could undermine peace talks.

Oil industry analysts reported that a new discovery in Uganda could add 500,000 barrels a day in output. The announcement boosts prospects for building a pipeline from Uganda to the Kenyan seaport of Lamu.

July 23, 2013: The United States demanded that the Rwandan military end its support of M23 rebels. The U.S. said that it was concerned that the Rwandan Army was still supporting the M23 militia in the Congo. The U.S., however, indicated that it did not have evidence that Rwanda had authorized support for M23.

July 19, 2013: The African Union (AU) announced that it will deploy a new peacekeeping mission of 3,600 soldiers to the Central African Republic (CAR).

July 18, 2013: There was heavy fighting between M23 rebels and the Congolese Army 12 kilometers north of Goma (Kibati area).

July 14, 2013: The Congolese Army fought with M23 rebels near the town of Mutaho, seven kilometers north of Goma.

 

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