Congo: Tribal Power Persists


April 26, 2021: Islamist militia groups and terrorist organizations are increasingly active in central and southeastern Africa. The most notorious and largest in terms of manpower is the Ugandan Moslem ADF-NALU (Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda, often simply ADF). The ADF operates in eastern Congo, primarily in North Kivu province but has been reported in Ituri and South Kivu provinces. Intelligence estimates of ADF fighting strength run from 1,100 to 1,500 fighters. That’s a huge increase from the 2015 estimate of 200. Ugandan and Congolese intelligence believe Arab ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) extremists began sending the ADF money in 2017, which allowed the ADF to recruit more fighters and buy new weapons. The ADF, in some configuration, has been operating in the area for at least 30 years. Allegedly some of its original members were active in Ugandan Islamist groups in the 1990s. The ADF has ties to Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamic terrorists. Now ISIL also has cadres in central and east Africa. It is believed the ISIL cadres also have ties to Somalia’s al Shabaab. The African cadres now have a name: ISCAP (Islamic State-Central African Province). Think of it as an ISIL regional franchise. How many fighters does ISCAP deploy? Good question. It appears the largest contingent is in Mozambique, but ISCAP fighters have claimed “credit” for several attacks in eastern Congo, including an attack on a prison in October 2020. In late March the ISCAP gang in Mozambique raided the town of Palma, a seaport on the Indian Ocean and just south of the Tanzanian border. The group launched another raid in the area April 16. Mozambique authorities believe the majority of ISCAP-Mozambique’s fighters are Moslems from Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province coastal zone. This is the only province with a Moslem majority. Only 20 percent of Mozambique’s population is Moslem, the majority are Christian. Worldwide, that means the Islamic terrorists can survive as long as they get some outside help but without that are eventually overwhelmed by a coalition of non-Moslems and Moslems desperate to restore peace in their neighborhoods. Over 80 percent of those killed by Islamic terror groups are Moslems.

Islamic terrorists often try to exploit tribal conflicts by providing the Moslem tribes with assistance against infidel (non-Moslem) tribes. This works until the Islamic terrorists go after Moslem tribal leaders who oppose demands for recruits and contributions of cash, goods and services.

Tribal loyalties, governments and militias survive in many parts of the world because central governments have not been able to effectively replace the economic, judicial (settling disputes) and security services that tribes have long provided. In just about every major nation (China, India, Russia and even the United States) some tribes continue to function like this. In many more minor nations tribes constitute the main source of “government services”.

Nation-states appeared when a central government could provide better services. This usually took place when one or more tribes were able to build urban centers (cities) and attract more people to their superior rule. Some tribes were conquered, but unless the conquerors could provide the essential services the tribe provided, the conquered tribe would evolve into rebels. Particularly stubborn tribes were exterminated, often by dispersing population to distant parts of the empire. Such tactics continue to be used.

April 24, 2021: In northeast Congo (Ituri province) rebel violence during March forced 26,409 civilians to flee their homes.

April 23, 2021: In CAR (Central African Republic) renewed fighting has led to another surge in displaced persons. The majority of those displaced this time because of fighting in northwestern CAR, near Cameroon border. Currently there are about 11,000 CAR refugees in Chad with over 100,000 more CAR refuges in Congo, Cameroon and The Republic of Congo (Brazzaville).

April 22, 2021: Uganda has responded to the ICJ (International Court of Justice) lawsuit Congo filed on April 20. Uganda told the court that the billions of dollars Congo seeks as reparations and restitution for Ugandan actions in eastern Congo would ruin Uganda. The Congo’s demands are described by Uganda as “disproportionate.”

Congo contends that from 1998 to 2003 Uganda and armed groups it supported plundered eastern Congo, primarily in Ituri province. Congo claims it is due over $13.5 billion in damages. The claims break down like this: (1) $4.3 billion in reparations payments for victims of theft and violent attacks; (2) $2.8 billion for damage to wildlife; (3) $700 million for lost natural resources; and (4) $5.7 billion in what Congo calls macroeconomic damages. Congo first made accusations against Uganda in 1999. In 2005, the ICJ ruled that Uganda had violated international law when its forces occupied parts of Ituri province. At that time the ICJ also ruled that Congo had violated international law when its forces attacked Uganda’s embassy in Kinshasa. It then ordered the Congo and Uganda to negotiate a settlement. The countries have failed to reach a settlement.

April 19, 2021: In Rwanda a government report claims that France bears “significant” responsibility for the 1994 genocide. The report contends France enabled “the foreseeable genocide” and has since tried to cover up its role. The report accuses the government of former French president Francois Mitterrand of knowing that preparations were being made to commit large-scale massacres. France recently acknowledged that it failed to act to stop the genocide and was “blind” to indications that radical Hutus were plotting a genocide.

April 18, 2021: The government of Malawi arrested 14 people on corruption charges related to the misuse, and possible theft, of funds to fight covid19. At least two of those arrested were identified as “senior officials.” One of the senior officials is Labor Minister Ken Kandodo who is accused of misusing funds. All of the accused were caught in an audit ordered by president Lazarus Chakwera.

April 17, 2021: The United States announced it will impose sanctions in the form of visa restrictions on several Ugandan government officials the U.S. State Departments claims have undermined the democratic process in Uganda’s January presidential election. The U.S. said that members of the Ugandan security forces who assaulted opposition supporters will be among those facing travel restrictions. A spokesman for the National Unity Platform (NUP) party, the major opposition group, said that the NUP appreciated the U.S. action.

April 16, 2021: In southwest Congo (Kasai region) more Kuba and Luba tribal violence erupted. Disputes over farmland and farming rights have been going on for over five years. This time 21,000 civilians have been displaced by fighting in late March. The last major outbreak was in September 2020, followed by efforts to negotiate a settlement. That failed.

April 12, 2021: In Congo the prime minister (Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde) named a new government cabinet. Removing supporters of former President Joseph Kabila from power has been one of president Felix Tshisekedi major goals and the new cabinet is a major step to achieving that goal. Lukonde himself became prime minister in February.

April 11, 2021: In eastern Congo (South Kivu province) soldiers killed five rebels of the Makanika and Twigwaneho Coalition who attacked an army checkpoint near the town of Minembwe.

Uganda and Tanzania signed agreements with two oil companies, one French and the other Chinese, to construct an oil pipeline that will transport Ugandan crude to a Tanzanian port. The pipeline will cost an estimated $3.5 billion.

April 9, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) two people died during violent protests near Beni against the UN peacekeepers. One of the people was reportedly shot by a peacekeeper after protestors burned two bridges that lead to a UN base. The protestors had also blocked a road in the area. The protest began after a rebel attack in the area left seven local people dead. The protests are under investigation as well as the incident. There have been several demonstrations in Congo where protestors claim peacekeepers have not done enough to protect civilians from violent attack.

April 8, 2021: Uganda and Egypt signed an agreement to share military intelligence. Egypt is seeking “up river” allies in its dispute with Ethiopia over filling the reservoir of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The dam is on the Blue Nile. The White Nile flows through Uganda.

April 6, 2021: In CAR (Central African Republic) the UPC (Unity for Peace in Central Africa), the most powerful rebel faction, announced it was withdrawing from the CPC (Coalition of Patriots for Change) rebel coalition that is attempting to remove from power CAR president Faustin Archange Touadera. The UPC said that it remains committed “to the Khartoum Accord process," also knowns as the February 2019 peace agreement signed in Sudan.

April 5, 2021: Congo’s new state-run cobalt consortium EGC (Entreprise Generale du Cobalt) announced that unregulated miners have six months to shut down their operations. EGC now has a monopoly on “all hand dug cobalt” (cobalt extracted by individual miners, aka artisanal miners). EGC will limit hand dug extraction to a few approved mining sites which meet safety standards. Congo produces almost 70 percent of the annual global supply of cobalt. Accidents involving many individual miners working the same site are common.

April 4, 2021: In southwest CAR (Ombella M’Poko province) the government confirmed that that Sidiki Abbas, the founder and senior commander of the 3R (Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation) rebel group, had died in late March. In November 2020 Abbas was wounded while participating in an attack on the town of Bossembele. He died from those wounds on March 25 at a hospital in Kambakota (300 kilometers north of the capital, Bangui). Abbas claimed he formed 3R in 2015 to protect the predominately Moslem Peuhl tribe from attacks by Christian anti-balaka militia. The anti-balaka militias were organized to protect their tribes from attacks by the Moslem Seleka rebels which succeeded in overthrowing CAR president Francois Bozize in 2013. 3R, however, immediately began committing atrocities, primarily in Ouham-Pende province. Some of his attacks were indiscriminate and were against tribal minorities. Abbas was under sanctions from the UN and the U.S. for rape, torture and crimes against humanity. (Austin Bay)

April 3, 2021: In Congo (Kinshasa, the capital) president Tshisekedi acted as host officials from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia began another round of talks to resolve their disputes over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project on the Blue Nile. The AU (African Union) is mediating the talks.

April 1, 2021: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) ADF Islamic terrorist rebels launched a night raid on the village of Manyama-Moliso near the city of Beni and murdered 23 civilians. Soldiers claimed they killed two ADF gunmen as they entered the village after the attack.

March 31, 2021: In southwest Congo (Kasai region) Kuba and Luba tribal militias continued fighting in the town of Bakuakenge. This battle has been going on sporadically since March 28. After the first clash, investigators found the bodies of 13 Kuba, all of the victims beheaded with machetes. Over 100 homes were burned in the area. Bakuakenge is on the border of Kasai and Kasai Central provinces. Kasai is predominantly Kuba, Kasai Central predominantly Luba. Control of the town has been disputed since 2015.




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