La guerre maquillée de Kagame

Publié le par Grand Beau et Riche Pays

Prix Pullitzer, et journaliste réputé, Howard French parle du livre de Gérard Prunier que nous avions salué en février http://congograndbeauetrichepays.over-blog.com/article-28358687.html


The NewYorkReviewOfBooks  Howard W. French http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23054?email     One of the most destructive wars in modern history has been going on in the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the past eleven years millions of people have died. Few realize that a main force driving this conflict has been the largely Tutsi army of neighboring Rwanda, along with several Congolese groups supported by Rwanda.


Following Kagame's consolidation of power in Rwanda, a large invasion force of Rwandan Tutsis arrived in North and South Kivu to pursue Hutu militants and to launch a war against the three-decade-long dictatorship of Congo (then known as Zaire) by Mobutu Sese Seko, whom they claimed was giving refuge to the leaders of the genocide. With Rwandan and Ugandan support, a new regime led by Laurent Kabila was installed in Kinshasa, the Congolese capital. But after Kabila ordered the Rwandan troops to leave in 1998, Kagame responded with a new and even larger invasion of the country.


The protracted and inconclusive conflict that followed has become what is called "Africa's World War," a catastrophic decade of violence that has led to a staggering 5.4 million deaths, far more than any war anywhere since World War II.[ It also has resulted in one of the largest—and least followed—UN interventions in the world, involving nearly 20,000 UN soldiers from over forty countries.


Throughout this conflict, Rwanda has pursued Congo's enormous mineral wealth. Initially, the Rwandan Patriotic Front was directly operating mining businesses in Congo, according to UN investigators; more recently, Rwanda has attempted to maintain control of regions of eastern Congo through various proxy armies. Among these, none has been more lethal than the militia led by Laurent Nkunda.

 


Gerard Prunier's Africa's World War is the most ambitious of several remarkable new books that reexamine the extraordinary tragedy of Congo and Central Africa since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Along with René Lemarchand's The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa and Thomas Turner's The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, Prunier's Africa's World War explores arguments that have circulated among scholars of sub-Saharan Africa for years. Prunier himself, who is an East Africa specialist at the University of Paris, has previously written a highly regarded account of the genocide. But these books will surprise many whose knowledge of the region is based on popular accounts of the genocide and its aftermath. In all three, the Kagame regime, and its allies in Central Africa, are portrayed not as heroes but rather as opportunists who use moral arguments to advance economic interests. And their supporters in the United States and Western Europe emerge as alternately complicit, gullible, or simply confused. For their part in bringing intractable conflict to a region that had known very little armed violence for nearly thirty years, all the parties—so these books argue—deserve blame, including the United States.

The three authors characterize Kagame's regime as more closely resembling a minority ethnic autocracy. In a recent interview, Prunier dismissed the recently much-touted reconciliation efforts, calling post-genocide Rwanda "a very well-managed ethnic, social, and economic dictatorship." True reconciliation, he said, "hinges on cash, social benefits, jobs, property rights, equality in front of the courts, and educational opportunities," all of which are heavily stacked against the roughly 85 percent of the population that is Hutu, a problem that in Prunier's view presages more conflict in the future. In his book, Lemarchand, an emeritus professor at the University of Florida who has done decades of fieldwork in the region, observes that Hutus have been largely excluded from important positions of power in Kagame's Rwanda, and that the state's military and security forces are pervasive. "The political decisions with the gravest consequences for the nation...are undertaken by the RPF's Tutsi leadership, not by the political establishment," he writes.

On the question of Rwanda's principal motive for seeking to control or destabilize eastern Congo, the books broadly agree: Kagame and his government want, as Lemarchand writes, "continued access to the Congo's economic wealth." Lemarchand says that within Congo itself the FDLR poses a "clear and present danger to Tutsi and other communities." Like Prunier, though, he concludes that the threat the Hutu group poses to Rwanda's own security is "vastly exaggerated," noting that its fighters "are no match" for Rwandan and Rwanda-backed forces amounting to "70,000 men under arms and a sophisticated military arsenal, consisting of armored personnel carriers (APCs), tanks, and helicopters."

The events that have followed Rwanda's arrest of the warlord Nkunda in January of this year suggest that Congo and Rwanda have finally found reasons to sue for peace. Congo's weak government and corrupt army are powerless to fight Rwanda or its proxies, and there is desperate need to rebuild the state from scratch. Kagame hopes now to find a legal means to sustain Rwanda's economic hold on eastern Congo, for example by promoting civilian business interests in the area. These are often run by ex-military officers or people with close ties to the Rwandan armed forces. In interviews, both Prunier and Lemarchand say that the direct plunder of resources by the Rwandan military has ceased, but that a large "subterranean" trade in minerals has continued through corrupt Congolese politicians and local militias.


Africa's World War:
Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe, by Gérard Prunier Oxford University Press, 529 pp., $27.95 sur Amazon
http://www.amazon.fr/Africas-World-War-Continental-Catastrophe/dp/0195374207/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=english-books&qid=1235376815&sr=1-1

The Dynamics of Violence in Central Africa, by René Lemarchand University of Pennsylvania Press, 327 pp., $59.95
The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, by Thomas Turner Zed Books, 243 pp., $32.95 (paper)

 

The Congo Wars: Conflict, Myth and Reality, by Thomas Turner, Zed Books, 243 pp., $32.95 (paper)