DR Congo - The Heart of Western DarknessBy Asad Ismi 09-09-2011
Genocide and plunder have been Western policy towards the mineral-rich Congo since the Berlin Conference of 1885 when European nations divided Africa between them, and King Leopold II of Belgium got the Congo as his personal property.
Ten million Congolese were killed under Belgian rule which lasted until 1960. The Congo's population was cut in half.
Belgian domination was marked by slavery, forced labour and torture aimed at extracting the maximum amount of ivory and rubber from the Central African country.
The people of the Congo 'probably suffered more than any other colonized group'.
Their hands were cut off for not working hard enough and on one day 1 000 severed hands were delivered in baskets to an official.
Women were kidnapped to force their husbands to collect rubber sap and Congolese were shot for sport.
Such atrocities were documented by George Washington Williams, an African-American visiting the Congo, who invented the term 'crimes against humanity' to describe them.
The US took over the Congo from Belgium in 1960-61 in a bloody coup after the CIA arranged the murder of Patrice Lumumba, the country's first elected leader.
In his place the Agency installed its paid agent Colonel Mobutu Sese Seko who continued the looting and killing started by Leopold, for another 37 years.
The US considered the socialist Lumumba to be pro-Soviet and President Eisenhower himself approved his assassination.
The CIA sent Sidney Gottlieb, its top scientist (under the code name 'Joe from Paris'), to the Congo with deadly biological toxins to use on Lumumba.
This particular assassination plot was unsuccessful but Lumumba was killed by Mobutu's troops on January 17, 1961.
Until his ouster in 1997, Mobutu was Africa's most brutal and corrupt ruler who massacred and tortured thousands of people, and plundered his country with US backing.
From 1965 to 1991, Zaire (as Mobutu named the Congo) got more than US$1.5 billion in US economic and military aid.
In return, US multinational corporations increased their share of Zaire's abundant minerals.
Washington justified its hold on the Congo with the pretext of anti-Communism but its real interests were strategic and economic.
The Congo borders nine African states and in terms of mineral wealth it is the richest country in Africa holding the world's biggest copper, cobalt and cadmium deposits.
The Congo contains 80 percent of the world's cobalt (essential for jet aviation, defence and other high-tech production), 10 percent of its copper, and one-third of its diamonds in addition to possessing considerable reserves of gold, uranium and manganese.
Other resources include coltan (used in cellphones, jet engines and fibre optics), timber, oil, coffee, tin, zinc and palm oil.
Former US President George Bush who was Mobutu's friend for 20 years, has interests in mining companies in the Congo.
In addition to getting a share of Congolese wealth, the US used the country as a base to attack the left-wing MPLA government in Angola after it took power in 1975.
According to the World Bank, (a long-time supporter of Mobutu's), 64.7 percent of Zaire's budget was reserved for Mobutu's 'discretionary spending' in 1992.
Official Zairian figures put the number at 95 percent.
Such astounding pillage made Mobutu (according to himself) one of the three richest men in the world while impoverishing Zairians and destroying the country's infrastructure.
One-third of Zaire's citizens died from malnutrition under Mobutu with 'countless others' suffering permanent brain damage in youth.
A Balkanized Congo
Mobutu's unlimited greed was his undoing.
As long as he shared the looting with US, Belgian, French, British, Dutch and other Western corporations which dominated the Zairian economy, the US supported him.
But, as one observer put it, 'when he kept too much for himself - and became an embarrassment - the US was ready to see him overthrown'.
In October 1996, the Rwandan army along with Ugandan troops invaded Zaire and by May 1997 had taken over the country and forced Mobutu to flee.
To give the invasion the cover of a local rebellion, the Tutsi Rwandan forces called themselves the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (ADFL) and recruited Laurent Kabila, an exiled Congolese Marxist opponent of Mobutu's, as a figurehead leader.
As the Wall Street Journal put it, 'Many Africans (concluded that) the Zairian rebellion was the brainchild of Washington from the very start.'
Rwanda and Uganda are the US' 'staunchest allies in the region'.
Paul Kagame, the Rwandan leader, was trained at the US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
US Special Forces had been training the Rwandan army since 1994 in counterinsurgency, combat and psychological operations.
This included instructions about fighting in Zaire. Rwandan soldiers were also trained at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US), in July-August 1996 (just before the invasion), in land navigation, rifle marksmanship, patrolling and small-unit leadership.
Also in August 1996, Kagame visited Washington to discuss his concerns about Hutu refugee camps in eastern Zaire with US officials.
The Hutus are the majority ethnic group in Rwanda (85 percent) while Tutsis make up the minority (15 percent).
In April 1994, the Hutu government had unleashed a genocide that killed 800 000 Tutsis and 50 000 Hutus in 89 days.
Kagame's Tutsi rebel force, the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) then invaded Rwanda from Uganda and took power.
A million Hutus fled to eastern Zaire.
Kagame considered the Hutu refugee camps a 'dangerous threat to his regime' because Hutu militia who had carried out the genocide were amongst the civilians.
As one observer put it, 'It was clear to the US ... that Kagame was prepared to act and that this was certainly in the US government's interest.'
Once the Rwandans had installed Kabila in power, his relations with them quickly deteriorated.
In July 1998, Kabila expelled Rwandan and Ugandan forces from the Congo. ...
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