why do birds suddenly appear
Well, while I was enjoying a long week/month/decade working on ridiculously specific dissertation details, stuff did happen in my favorite corner of central Africa. Kate at Wronging Rights has a great summary of the Rwandan army's departure from the Congo at the end of last week. Never mind that it appears the "joint" operation with the FARDC accomplished very little other than exposing lots of villagers to a higher-than-average rate of human rights abuses . What's important (at least in the minds of Kinshasa and Kigali) is that they did something together. Next thing you know, Paul Kagame will be sending mix CD's of Carpenters classics and Boyz II Men ballads to Joseph Kabila for Easter.
To be fair, a few Rwandan Hutu rebels did return home for the first time in fifteen years. That's progress, assuming their time in Rwanda's re-education camps has the intended effect. Here's an interesting photo essay on one of the returnees, a guy named Leonard.
(Leonard and I are the same age; the difference is that the spring I turned sixteen, I was watching the genocide unfold on Channel One and wondering why my government wouldn't do anything about it. The spring Leonard was sixteen, he ran to the Congo to become an extremist with a genocidal ideology. Leonard and I have apparently both been to the place in picture #15, however.)
(As a total aside, does anyone else remember the Anderson Cooper death wish assignments of 1993-94 on Channel One? We all wondered what he'd done to make them send him to every global hellhole that year. And there were a lot of hellholes in 1993-94.)
As longtime readers of this blog know, I'm a cynic about the prospects for peace and stability in the Kivu provinces. It shouldn't suprise you to learn that I don't think much will come of this joint operation. Nobody has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in the eastern D.R. Congo, and until that is established, one rebel group will appear to replace every one that's routed out by the Rwandans. Anytime a government has to outsource the provision of the most basic public good, security, things aren't going to improve for the long term.
It's good to be back.