who to trust?
The eastern Congo (really, the entire Congo) is one giant rumor mill. This is what happens in a country with very limited media resources, and with even fewer reliable media sources. So when you're trying to figure out current events (or anything, really), you have to decide who to trust.
When it comes to politico-military affairs in the eastern Congo, there are only two people I really trust. Both are incredibly smart, and both know what they're talking about because they actually bother to get out in the countryside and talk to real people. I try to filter everything MONUC, the diplomats, and my Congolese contacts say through their opinions in order to get a mostly bias-free grasp on the actual situation in the eastern provinces.
It's because of this that today's note on Congo in the monthly newsletter from the International Crisis Group is particularly troubling: "For July 2007, CrisisWatch identifies the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia/Eritrea and Pakistan as Conflict Risk Alerts, or situations at particular risk of new or significantly escalated conflict in the coming month."
I trust the opinions of ICG's senior analyst for DRC more than any other expatriate who works on Congo. He speaks six languages, knows the east from the inside-out, and has an incomparable range of contacts.
Here's hoping that this time, his analysis is wrong. But I wouldn't bet on it.