Following the publication of the UN report into the killings of Hutu civilians in the DR Congo during the 1990s, the US Department of State has issued a statement that “As we contemplate the contents of the report, it is crucially important that we remain focused on the tens of thousands of victims in the DRC. Accountability is an important step toward ensuring that further such incidents do not occur.”
The UN report says some of the attacks could – if proven in court – “be characterised as crimes of genocide” and recommends that the international community seeks to prosecute those responsible.
If, according to Philip J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs, the United States “strongly supports accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law around the world, including in the DRC”, then US policy-makers should come clean or be held accountable for its disastrous military and political involvement in African Great Lakes region particularly in DRC, where more than six million people have been killed in the world’s deadliest conflict since World War II.
Talking of accountability, in his much-acclaimed article “Rwanda Crisis Could Expose U.S. Role in Congo Genocide” , Glen Ford, BAR executive editor believes that what is being revealed by the recent UN mapping report is the United States’ role as enabler in the deaths of as many as six million people while Washington’s allies occupied and looted the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Glen is clear; what this damning report put at stake is not only the reputation of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, an alumnus of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, but also the larger American strategy for militarization of Africa and exploitation of her riches.
Since year 1990, the United States provided financial support and military training to the army that today stands accused of mass killing of hundreds of thousands of refugees while engaging in illegal mining and looting of Congo natural resources.
Michel Chossudovsky, Professor of economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) in his book The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, confirms that in the run-up to both Congo Wars U.S. Army Special Forces mainly Green Berets from the 3rd Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, N.C. trained hundreds of Rwandan troops, which was itself secretly training Zairian rebels.
It must be well understood that the destruction of the refugee camps in Eastern Zaire and the death of hundreds of thousands Rwandan refugees and millions of Congolese was not the principal aim of US involvement in Congo wars. What was at stake in these military operations in the Congo were the extensive mining resources of Eastern and Southern Zaire including strategic reserves of cobalt — of crucial importance for the US defence industry.
According to Michel, “Once the war [in the Congo] started, the United States provided ‘political assistance’ to Rwanda. An official of the U.S. Embassy in Kigali travelled to eastern Zaire numerous times to liaise with Kabila”.
Michel claims that during the civil war, several months before the downfall of Mobutu, Laurent Desire Kabila based in Goma, Eastern Zaire had renegotiated the mining contracts with several US and British mining companies including American Mineral Fields (AMF), a company headquartered in President Bill Clinton’s hometown of Hope, Arkansas.
Helmut Strizek, a German political scientist, elaborates further on this. In his memoire titled Central Africa: 15 Years After The End Of The Cold War: The International Involvement which appeared in Internationales Afrikaforum, Weltforum-Verlag, Bonn Vol. 40, Issue 3/September 2004, pp. 273-288, Dr Strizek calls the two Congo wars which broke out shortly after President Clinton’s re-election in November 1996, as “Albright wars” because of the Secretary of State’s major involvement in their planning.
According to Helmut, Madeleine Albright, together with her new Assistant Secretary of State, Susan Rice, and Gayle Smith, who was responsible for Africa in the National Security Council, formed a “triumvirate” that prepared a “new African order” [...].
Here quoting the AllAfrica.com of 6 June 2004, Susan Rice and Gayle Smith acknowledged that “As U.S. officials (…) we helped plan several subsequent military interventions in Africa.”
This explains why Laurent Kabila, a long-time American foe, was given a U.S.-hired aircraft with an American pilot to organize the seizure of power in Kinshasa by the Rwandan and Ugandan-led coalition, AFDL.
Dr Strizek is probably correct when he writes that “when Laurent Kabila broke with his Rwandan “godfathers” on 2 August 1998 he became an enemy of Madeleine Albright, who just 18 months earlier had been his fervent supporter. Susan Rice and the Pentagon equally helped Kagame to “re-organize” the second Congo military intervention. The first part of this war went as planned but then ended in failure because, unexpectedly, Kabila was able to forge a coalition with Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia to counter the invasion. Nonetheless, Rwanda and Uganda were able to occupy vast parts of Congo.”
The German political scientist also says that “running out of time after George W. Bush had won the presidential elections in November 2000, the “triumvirate” must have been happy that somebody was ready to kill Kabila I on 16 January 2001. Three days before leaving office on 20 January 2001 Madeleine Albright – together with a strange coalition of supporters including Kampala, Kigali, Luanda, Harare, Paris, London and Berlin – succeeded in “enthroning” a certain Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa”.
U.S. officials deny that there were any U.S. military personnel with Rwandan troops in Zaire during the war, although unconfirmed reports of a U.S. advisory presence have circulated in the region since the war’s earliest days.
The US Administration must give satisfactory clarifications on the role of US in Congo human right abuses as inventoried in the UN mapping report. The US Department of State should at once accept past mistakes of its foreign policies to the African Great Lakes region. This would be the first step to accountability this office is calling for.