I must admit. My observation of the conflict between M23 and the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is of an outsider. So too, I must clearly say that I heard or read a letter you sent to heads of states and citizens of Malawi, South Africa, and Tanzania, warning them about the danger sending their troops in DRC poses.
To a Conflict Resolution Studies professional, your message served two or more purposes. First, it is a true warning due to the fact that a war has no eyes. Second, it creates and inflicts fear, and if possible, acts as a drive to encourage peace talks. To me, this is but an olive branch to new forces coming into the big picture to pick and tell Kinshasa to talk under certain favourable conditions for you. Third, it alienates and intimidates your enemy so that you can easily take him down. Fourth, it asserts your authority and the zeal of seeing to it that what you want is achieved by all means. Generally, what you did is a PR strategy that your enemy has always embarked on.
Looking at our geopolitical stance, no side will win in this imbroglio. What’s been going on is but wastage of life and property knowing that there won’t be a winner. The conflict in DRC is not a two-person zero-sum game kind of equation. It is lose-lose situation shall the war go on. Again, it can be turned around and become a win-win situation.
Being under unipolar command currently, the dynamics of ‘wars of liberation’ have changed. Under the Cold War, it was easy to get backing from two antagonistic sides. Currently, the world is under one order. So too, you need to underscore that even the emerging powers especially China are talking to those with powers in their hands. It is cheap to do business with a government in power than supporting a group to take up power. Their interests are second to none. You can kindly refer to what’s going on in North Korea whereby China is openly siding with the international community thanks to safeguarding its interest and extending its tentacles. Also, the world is facing an economic crisis. It thus needs a break from war.
Even a few avenues of support especially from business interested sides and arms dealers does not suffice to make things look good on your side. Seeking peace is pivotal and the only way out of the impasse in DRC and the whole region at large.
I understand you’d like to paint your enemy with your own brush. Likewise, your enemy would like to do the same. Nobody has a soft spot in the heart for the other. This is what has oiled the cogs of your killing machines. Again, looking at the recent ‘self-handing over’ of your former enemy-turned ally, Bosco Ntaganda aka Terminator, chances are that he is going to spill the beans. This won’t do you good.
The sure means of getting out of this conflict safely is by means of round-table talks. You can take this to the bank - once you decide to sit down and discuss, support will come even from those you didn’t expect. At this level and time you’ll be able to achieve what many failed to achieve - everlasting peace as a means of developing your mineral-rich country.
I am saying this after looking at the history of conflicts in Africa. When I look at people like Charles Taylor, Laurent Gbagbo, Lubanga, Jean Pierre Bemba and others, I find that peace talks stand as the only viable and reliable means.
Sadly though, clinging to the barrel of the gun means committing more atrocities and tarnishing your already tarnished image more. The world is seeing your atrocities more vividly than the other side. Looking at how Eastern DRC is traumatized, methinks. You have the land but not the population. How can you have the people to support your legitimacy whilst what the people in the area have known is war and trauma, atrocities and poverty?
This conflict is sucking in many more players who obviously sympathize and cooperate with authorities in Kinshasa. Given that the UN has already authorized the take on you, believe you me, think about talking instead of fighting.
Let me wind up by inviting you to face the reality; and, if possible, seek conciliators out of political and diplomatic circles. Academics can do a good job to see to it that they bring three players namely authorities in Kinshasa, the International Community and M23. If you need that, just let me know so that I can shop around and put forth some proposals about who fits to take the task. I believe this is another hunch.
Source: The African Executive Magazine April 24, 2013.