A New Rebel Threat Rises In Eastern Congo
A warlord in Eastern Congo said that he wants to unify his country’s anti-government forces.
William Yakutumba presided over a failed maritime assault against the coastal city of Uvira on the shores of Lake Tanganyika last weekend, one which failed only because of the decisive intervention of UN troops stationed in the region, but now he wants to unite the various anti-Kabila forces in the country in order to forcibly overthrow the Congo’s beleaguered leader. As a little bit of background, Kabila was supposed to have stepped down last December after elections that were going to be the first-ever democratic transfer of power in the country’s history, though the polls were postponed because he argued that he couldn’t carry them out for security and logistical reasons. A compromise deal was set whereby he’d temporarily continue to rule until the end of the year when the elections were planned to be held, but some people think that he’s going to delay them as well on national security grounds, given the violence in Kasai region and once again in the eastern part of the country.
These fears – whether justified or not – have given rise to an increase in anti-state militant activity, and Yakutumba wants to capitalize on this in order to lead armed forces into Kinshasa to overthrow the President if he remains in power after this year. Whether regarded as rebels, militias, or terrorists, these fighting forces could wreak serious havoc in the war-torn country, and the move to unite all of them – whether ultimately successful or not – harkens back to the beginning of the country’s civil war in the 1990s. The difference this time around, however, is that no regional states have thus far thrown their support behind these groups, probably owing to the fact that neighborhood hegemon Rwanda – a tiny country with disproportionate military and diplomatic influence despite its genocide – controls many of the coltan, cobalt, and other mines in the eastern part of the country by proxy, so it has no interest in rocking the boat and risk losing its position to other rivals if another war occurs.
On the other hand, any international support might come from the West, not the East, and not just the US, which obviously wants to overthrow Kabila because of his closeness to China and the Congo’s envisioned role in connecting both African coasts along the New Silk Road, but from Angola. The reason for this is because the refugees who have flooded into the northeastern part of the country are functioning like what Ivy League researcher Kelly M. Greenhill would describe as "Weapons of Mass Migration” in destabilizing the region, and the new Angolan government has no personal ties to Kabila like the previous one did. That said, Angola might be pushed by the US to commence a so-called "humanitarian and stabilization operation” there if the situation continues to deteriorate, though as of now, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next in the Congo.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
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