News / Africa

UN Brigade Makes Mark on DRC Conflict

UN Brigade Makes Mark on DRC Conflicti
X
November 12, 2013
Last week, the Congolese army, with the help of United Nations peacekeepers, crushed a rebel group that had terrorized the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for 20 months. Support from a specially created U.N. “intervention brigade” helped change the military dynamic and push rebels into peace talks they had resisted. VOA's United Nations correspondent Margaret Besheer has more.
TEXT SIZE - +
Margaret Besheer
— Last week, the Congolese army, with the help of United Nations peacekeepers, crushed a rebel group that had terrorized the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for 20 months.  Support from a specially created U.N. “intervention brigade” helped change the military dynamic and push rebels into peace talks they had resisted. 

This time last year, Congo’s poorly trained and undisciplined army abandoned their positions in North Kivu province, letting rebels from the group called M23 advance and briefly seize the regional capital, Goma.
 
But that all changed recently when over a two-week period the newly bolstered army began retaking rebel strongholds, finally crushing the rebellion.  
 
Columbia University international affairs professor Dirk Salomons attributes this shift to two developments.
 
“First of all the government put pressure on Rwanda and Uganda, who were secretly backstopping M23," he said. "Secondly, the U.N. finally rolled up its sleeves and got a competent brigade in to knock some heads together.”

Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.
x
Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.
Tanzanian Forces of the U.N. Intervention Brigade attend a training session outside Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Aug. 9, 2013.
The U.N. brigade he refers to are 3,000 well-armed South African, Tanzanian and Malawian peacekeepers, backed by attack helicopters and empowered by the U.N. Security Council to neutralize the dozens of armed groups that threaten civilians in eastern Congo.
 
The brigade started deploying in July, beefing up the 17,000 U.N. peacekeepers already there.
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week that the intervention brigade changed dynamics on the ground and enabled the U.N. mission to better protect civilians.
 
“It [the intervention brigade] will remain a critical tool in support of the comprehensive political process and the protection of civilians,” he said.
 
Salomons says the U.N. Security Council was strategically smart to choose African soldiers.

“Security Council said let’s put South African, Malawi and Tanzania into those troops.  If they start fighting M23, and Rwanda and Uganda back M23, it’s going to be a regional war," he said. "So basically the warning was we put South Africans in the field, we put Malawians in the field, you don’t mess with them.”

Analysts say the military defeat of M23 could serve as a warning to other militias, as well as to the international companies who finance these groups by buying looted minerals.  The military victory has also added momentum to political talks between the parties in Kampala, Uganda.
 
Peacekeeping expert Arthur Boutellis of the International Peace Institute in New York says the real challenge now will be to see if a sustainable solution can be achieved.

“But [it remains to be seen] whether this will actually translate into a durable political agreement, of course, between the M23 and Congolese government, but more broadly at the regional level to address the root causes of the conflict in eastern DRC," he said. "Otherwise this will have only been a temporary success.”

The experts say other armed groups will be watching to see how the government treats M23.  If they are fair, they say, it could encourage some militias to make deals to lay down their weapons as well.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid