Two reports from the Eastern Congo illustrate the difficulty of covering events in that part of the world, or perhaps just the difficulty of doing some fact checking before going into print. In the New York Times, Jeffrey Gettleman, who either has a death wish or is vying for the crown of how many 'worst' places he can visit in the shortest amount of time, reports that in the wake of the Rwandan incursion over the last few months peace has finally returned.
Over at the BBC, however, U.N. spokespersons are claiming that Hutu rebel groups have been moving back into areas they were recently booted from, once again raping and pillaging in their wake. The report does take pains to point out that the rebel groups are not taking up fixed positions and scurry back into the forest after committing their atrocities. Frankly, given the U.N.'s recent track record in the region, I'm hard pressed to believe anything they have to say, but I hope we can safely assume that peacekeepers know war when they see it.
In the end, we're left to wonder what is really going on in the Congo. Has Kagame's bold move finally brought some stability along the border regions, or is this "peace" just a prelude to more chaos? My feeling about this conflict is that it has always been more about control of natural resources than protecting Congolese Tutsis. Rwandan business interests have their fingerprints all over Kivu and have been using the ethnic tension issue as a smokescreen to solidify their economic interests. This is just speculation, but so, it seems, is much else of what we are reading from the region.
In any event, the Ugandan incursion is yet to end, so for now, the storm continues.
(First published March 4, 2009 in World Politics Review)