It is not just Ukraine and Gaza: Joe Biden’s wars are just beginning

Here, the United Nations is to blame. Just as it established refugee camps for Palestinians just across from Israel’s borders and refused to disarm the militants inside them, so too did the UN allow génocidaires to establish camps within sight of Rwanda’s borders. In 2021, I surveyed the Rwanda-Congo border from Goma northward for several dozen miles; I could see the smoke of rebel camps just two miles away. Just as armed Palestinians destabilized Lebanon, so too have Hutu génocidaires undermined eastern Congo’s stability. As a result, Africa’s Great Lakes region remains a tinderbox like the Horn of Africa.freestar

Enter Team Biden with a match. Whereas the United States once treated the Somalia-Somaliland issue in parallel to China’s one country, two systems policy, today Blinken treats Somaliland as a pariah to appease Somalia. By signaling blind support for Somalia, Washington encourages Somali revanchists to choose force.

Faced with U.S. efforts to appease its tormentors, Somaliland has turned to Ethiopia, striking a bargain in which Somaliland leases landlocked Ethiopia a port in exchange for recognition. On cue, the State Department condemned the deal. Many in Mogadishu see the condemnation as a green light to act militarily. Today, a fight looms just a stone’s throw across the Bab el-Mandeb from where Houthis attack global shipping.

Rwanda, too, faces a war born out of American incompetence. The Democratic Republic of Congo is, by area, Africa’s second-largest country. Theoretically, it should be one of its wealthiest, with $24 trillion worth of strategic minerals within its borders. Decades of war and dictatorship, however, took a toll, killing more than five million. While many Congolese blame Rwanda, failure to disarm Hutu militias and the Congolese government’s effort to co-opt the génocidaires catalyzed the fight.

Enter Michael Hammer, the U.S. ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo until recently. Regional diplomats say that he pressed for Washington to accept the end of a UN-mandated military purchase reporting requirement to ingratiate himself with local leaders while still in Kinshasa. UN Security Council Resolution 2641 passed in June 2022 with U.S. acquiescence,  lifting the requirement. President Félix Tshisekedi then went on an opaque shopping spree that coincided with his turn to ethnic politics in eastern Congo, a reality acknowledged by both sides during research trips to both Kigali and Kinshasa.

Over the past fifteen months, approximately 1,200 mercenaries from two companies—the Bulgaria-based Agemira and the Romania-based Asociatia-RALF—have arrived in Goma, eastern Congo’s major city. The mercenaries today deploy across the region. In June 2023, regional sources say approximately 200 mercenaries arrived in Goma and traveled to Bukavu by boat. In October 2023, a Boeing 737 arrived in Goma from Bucharest, Romania, via Luxor, Egypt, to supplement the existing deployment and rotate out some private contractors. Blackwater founder Erik Prince is also in Congo.

The mercenaries train the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo snipers and supplement the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FLDR), which grew out of the exiled génocidaires. They also help train the Congolese army to operate recently purchased unmanned aerial vehicles, many of which are of Chinese origin.

While Congo undertakes an unprecedented military build-up, Blinken and U.S. Agency for International Development Administration Samantha Power blame the victim and criticize Rwanda instead. This may lead Tshisekedi to believe Washington would turn a blind eye should Congo attack. Additionally, he confuses possession of advanced platforms with military competence. His new Chinese toys and misplaced State Department encouragement have created a perfect storm that may soon erupt into war.

Entering the Eye of the Storm

Adversaries are sophisticated. They study the American political calendar and time operations to coincide with American distractions. Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia and Azerbaijan’s 2020 attack on Nagorno-Karabakh both coincided with American election season. As the 2024 campaign crystalizes, danger looms. Uncertainty about American leadership has encouraged dictators to believe war works. Forces of altruism do not fill the vacuums of leadership. Biden may be about to learn that lesson the hard way.

Michael Rubin is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and director of policy analysis at the Middle East Forum. Follow him on X @mrubin1971.

by Michael Rubin



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