Its immeasurable mineral resources has made the Congo the victim of a long history of Western greed, plunder, and genocidal violence. AFRICOM’s recent arrival in the Congo -- ostensibly to fight ISIS -- will only extend this history; we can be sure these military forces will do more to support the US looting of the Congo’s wealth than stopping terrorism.
On the night of August 13, 2021, a US Special Forces team arrived in Kinshasa, the “Democratic” Republic of the Congo. In a press release, the US embassy in Kinshasa notes that the US soldiers are in Congo at the invitation of the Congolese government. The ostensible goal is to fight the invisible and fabricated ISIS-DAESH, which the US State Department and Pentagon insist are in the Congo, even as multiple reports, including the UN Group of Experts, have categorically rejected that any ties exist in Congo between rebels called Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and ISIS.
The press statement was released on the same day the US soldiers arrived. It is also not available as of now on the U.S. embassy website. It is only on the embassy’s twitter page as an image, and in only French.
It has been fascinating watching the escalation of violence in my family’s hometown of Beni since the discovery of oil in Lake Albert in the mid 2000s. Lake Albert, at the border of Uganda and Congo, is said to be containing 2.5 billion barrels of oil, most of which are on the Congo side.
For the past 15 years under the Kabila regime, there has been reluctance in exploiting oil and giving out licenses in that lake, with the exception of the licenses given to Clive Khulubuse Zuma (Dig Oil affair) and Dan Gertler (Israeli secret service asset in Congo). On the Uganda side, Total (the French oil company) has been successful in securing most of the licenses for oil exploitation. As the geopolitics of the region changed, and Tullow Oil collapsed, French oil interests started to dominate not only the Central and East African region, but also Mozambique where Total is also present.
There is a plan to build a long oil pipeline from Lake Albert to the Indian Ocean which will go through Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and of course the DRC. The pipeline has multiple stakeholders, including with foreign countries, with countries who have been involved in long time regional conflicts, and, importantly, with China. The former Tanzanian president John Pombe J. Magufuli, though his position on COVID-19 was non-scientific, was right on the pipeline deal and refused to get the project moving forward seeing it as an exploitative measure being imposed by French interests in the oil reserves in the region.
Since Magufuli’s death, the project is moving much faster and it’s becoming obvious what everyone is trying to do in the Kivus.
Let’s keep in mind that thousands of people have been killed senselessly in Beni (North Kivu), very often by assailants speaking foreign languages and sometimes even speaking Lingala, per the findings of the UN reports. We have seen the displacements of thousands more in the same area where we know that if not displaced, the people will benefit from the oil exploitation. We have also heard one of the biggest lies of the 21st Century: ragged-tagged Ugandan rebels called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the Congo since the late 90s, with no capacity to overthrow the Ugandan government, have been somehow connected to ISIS. This “connection” is being made by the US government and, to some extent, a Texas organization called Bridgeway Foundation, a charity arm of a US hedge fund.
From the day the U.S. State Department listed the Congo as a country harboring Islamic terrorists tied to ISIS, I have been consistently debunking this myth. Though Muslims are less than 10% of the population, we understand that it is ludicrous to think a group of people will want to convert a nation the size of Europe to Islam by beheading people. Only the gullible can trust what the US State Department and US Department of Defense are saying after their lies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We do have a serious problem now as international and regional interests collide. Kenya, which now controls the financial sector in the Congo as they push out South African banks, is sending their special forces in North Kivu. Uganda is building a military base in Beni, North Kivu, becoming the first African country to build a military base in Congo and arguably the first African country to build a military base in another country. Rwandan special forces have been operating in the Kivus without any official documentation, as exposed in the 2020 UN Group of Experts report, which notes that these soldiers are operating near the area where the Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio was killed earlier this year. The French president Emmanuel Macron promised to Congolese President Felix Tshilombo that he also will send French troops soon to the DRC to help fight “Islamist Terrorists.” This promise took place during the latest Africa summit in Paris where African presidents went to beg for debt forgiveness, including Ghanaian president Akuffo Addo, since Ghana now receives tremendous support from France (and Total) and is now a voluntary member of Francophonie. And last, the US soldiers have now arrived in Kinshasa.
What does all of this mean?
I’m certain that the US military coming under the umbrella of AFRICOM is there to secure US interests in the Congo. In the Kivus, it is the oil in Lake Albert and around Virunga Park all the way to Beni. I’m also clear that there is a huge attempt to counter Chinese interests in the Congo. People do not realize that Jeff Bezos could not go to space for 15 minutes if it wasn’t for Congo’s cobalt, nor could South African Elon Musk do the same. But this cobalt at the moment, in the Congo, is in control of China after the US mining company Freeport McMoran sold it to China. Freeport controlled the largest cobalt reserve in the world and had it (with Canadian Ludin) at 80% while Congo had 20%.
Watching the fight between US and China, I believe the US is going to try to take that mine from the Chinese using Felix Tshilombo while playing on anti-Chinese hysteria on the African continent.
Just study the visits of China and U.S. in the past 8 months in the Congo and the tweets by the Chinese ambassador to the Congo. That will show you what’s unfolding geopolitically with military ramifications.
Mao said “whoever controls the Congo, controls the world.” As Congolese people struggle to control their destiny, we know we are not alone. Lumumba reminded us of this. And we will not remain silent as they create their lies to control our land and resources.
We want to control our land and resources. We want to exploit them for the benefit of our people and not the Washington lobby firms, the mining conglomerates, or western powers! We want to better the conditions of our people!
We know why the US special forces are in Congo… and it’s not to stop ISIS!
Note: The US military has operated in the Congo for a long time. They have had their soldiers in Camp Base, near Kisangani, doing covert operations in South Sudan and Central African Republic. Their current engagement is not covert and highly arrogant after being the military that has trained Rwanda and Uganda, countries that invaded the Congo twice and unleashed the deaths of over 6 million people.
Kambale Musavuli, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, writes on issues affecting the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has served for the past decade as the national spokesperson for the Friends of the Congo, a group that raises global consciousness about the situation in Congo and provides support to local institutions in Congo. He is currently an analyst with the Center for Research on Congo focusing on Kwame Nkrumah’s legacy in the development of Ghana.