May 26, 2022

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The DRC Geopolitics and the War in Ukraine

In a war, it is believed that whichever side may declare itself victorious is mistaken; no war produces winners, but losers only. Next, those who are in favour and those against the attack on Ukraine by Russia, open up a heatedly useless debate about Putin and Zelensky. In the voting process during the  UN General Assembly, 141 out of 193 countries voted against. But out of these 141 countries, there were only 28 African countries. With the exception of Eritrea, which voted against condemning the invasion, other African countries abstained or did not take part in the vote. This is proof that this war divides Africans. The segmentation of the political world in NATO and the Warsaw Pact was a debacle of yesteryear era. The Warsaw Pact had become obsolete and ceased to exist with the end of the Soviet empire, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – NATO is now the sole captain on board of a new world order flight. What about the DR Congo positioning in the log standings of countries to be reckoned with as to this war?

Newspaper headlines all over the world, especially on Wall Street, kept making headlines: Ukraine Invaded by Russia. It is not a dull game, but the new international order that is taking shape on the margins of African oblivion. The format is certainly unorthodox, but the milestones have already been laid. Africa has never broken any war crisis or initiated one; the continent always pays the highest price as a collateral victim of the world cruelty. The crisis in the Sahel is overshadowed by the unprecedented visibility of the Ukrainian crisis. The distant origins of the African crisis in the Sahel stem from the ousting of Saadam Hussein by Bush Jr. Iraq ungovernability birthed the Islamic State; a caliphate which found crusaders pilgrims and warriors in the Sahel. Mohamad Gaddafi assassination by Westerners in this part of the continent was the main fertilizer for this floundering. As an arsonist, the West has lined up, weapon in hand to instill order in the Sahel through several military operations including Berkane. In France, deceased and wounded people caught in terrorist explosions at the Bataclan and Stade de France neighbourhood  in Saint Denis are anchored in the collective memory of Europeans. What memory the world has when Africa mourns 5 million dead citizens in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including girls and women who are raped on a daily basis therein? Who remembers 147 dead and injured at Westgate in Nairobi, the dead and the wounded at the University of Garissa attack in Kenya, the victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria, those who have fallen from Chebabs attacks in Somalia? The international community has remained unfazed, and it is uncourageously trying to solve a problem it does not care about at all. It took a hundred deaths in France for the whole world to be shaken and mobilized as one. The West had no sympathy for the late Malian President, IBK-Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who once held Hollande’s hand to say NO to terrorism. When IBK was ousted from power in a coup, there was no France or Hollande for sympathy.  The revolution always ends up eating its own sons. Bearded villains of Al-Mourabitoun, Ansar al-Sharia, Ansar Dine, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram, the Chebabs, the Tunisian militias of Okba Ibn Nafaa, the soldiers of the caliphate (Jund al-Khilafah) in Algeria and Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which has become the Egyptian branch of the Islamic State, and the ADF-Nalu in eastern DRC, continue to claim several victims in the name of radical Islam while the world super powers remain unconcerned, despite sophisticated weaponry they possess. These small groups impoverish the continent politically, economically and socially, since Westerners who are the main cause of their happenstance look on, and contemplate the damage caused to Africa.

Russia’s dream of reforming the USSR is becoming a reality. This is perhaps the period that historians would look back on a few years from now on, to declare that it was indeed the birth of World War III. History indeed repeats itself; Putin is doing exactly what Hitler did, to start World War II. Hitler declared to European leaders his concern to invade Poland, and Europe failed to react and stop his madness. The United Kingdom, under the leadership of its Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, described as weak, bowed to Hitler’s deed. Soon after, World War II broke out; over 50 million people were killed and 6 million Jews were technically massacred. Concerning Hitler, Winston Churchill said “You cannot negotiate with the lion with your head in its mouth”. When Putin, a former KGB officer, looks at EU and USA leaders, he sees Neville Chamberlain personified.

Russia and China are united in their efforts to destroy the United States, the world’s leading military power. China monitors American leadership, proclaims loud and clear its own inviolability and strength, with certain actions heralding shambles, but not very effective. China looks at this parade and doesn’t care; it multiplies the sending of its fighter jets in the Taiwanese’s airspace. China has Taiwan in its sights where 65% of all semiconductors are made for high-tech automotive electronics. If China takes over Taiwan, then it will control vehicle production in America and around the world (like OPEC). Meanwhile, as Russia manages to forge its way with Ukraine, with no real pushback, Iran sees this as the green light to finalize its nuclear ambition to make a bomb. Iran is under the control of radical Islam, accused of readying a nuclear bomb to attack Israel and the United States. The Nine Eleven proved that America can be attacked by radical Islamists with devastating effects. A nuclear weapon is far more lethal than a plane loaded with fuel. The Iranian threat is real and the Americans are making every endeavour to prevent Iran from making these weapons operational. The Russian military has been in the Middle East since 2015, helping Syria. Russia supports Iran, and Iran trains, equips and funds the terrorist armies of Hamas and Hezbollah; these movements are begging for the green light to attack Israel with nuclear weapons, with the objective to allegedly come to the Palestine rescue.

Ukraine has become the epicenter of world compassions, but the very world forgets that Ukraine also defends itself, attacks, kills Russians and shoots down their planes and jets with some force albeit numerically  inferior in manpower and weaponry. The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been dragging on since the dawn of time with no one raising his voice to condemn Israel and support Palestine’s cause. With stones and bare hands, Palestinians carry out intifadas and fatwas; stones against a powerfully armed country with the complicity of the USA, the first nation to recognize Jerusalem East as the new capital of the Hebrew State. Israel’s expansionist madness does not stop halfway. The country continues to annex occupied territories and pompously believes that it owns the Golan Heights, the only meeting point between Syria and Israel. It has been Syrian territory since Syria gained independence in 1946. If Israel claims sovereignty over it today, it is because it conquered the Golan Heights, including Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1967, following the Six-Day War. In this war, Israel had faced three (3) countries at the same time, Jordan, Egypt and Syria. These are the echoes of a skillfully distilled thought.

To Africa, especially the DRC, the time is no longer for positional procrastination in this international order and the imagination that accompanies it. This war is a mirror that reflects the real issues within international politics spectrum. Verbal friendships and pats on the shoulders are no longer enough; only the big global military alliances remain the safety valve against potential invaders. Poland’s NATO membership has wiped out the threats once addressed by Russia. Perestroika and Glasnost have sublimated Bloc affiliations – capitalism and – demeaning socialism. Countries that do enhance their military capacity have the keystone opening up to solutions in time of need. Sneaky smiles have subjugated Africans for ages. The so-called Western friends have always mired them in a far-fetched belief that they are and will remain on their side come hell or high waters. When it indeed rained and snowed for Mobutu, no one came to his rescue on his painful and unworthy journey in a Savimbi army cargo plane to his cemetery in Morocco, via  Lome. Not even Jacques Chirac, then the Mayor of Paris, who, in the 80s, wore the Abacost to meet up with the “Maréchal”, smiling from ear to ear. But he refused him the military aid which Mobutu so badly needed to slowdown and counter the advance of AFDL. The rest will always be a new story to be told over and over again, and from generation to generation. Today, the pseudo-revolution of young African leaders from the military ranks has been brewed by a Western hand. Doumbouya in Guinea, Colonel Goita in Mali, the four-star General, 37 years old and commander of his father’s presidential guard in Chad, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, and more recently in Burkina Faso, with Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba, in his forties, seem to have hit the jackpot. Ironically, these four states are former French colonies, and use CFA franc as currency, except Doumbouya’s Guinea. The picture is well painted to understand African leaders’ naivety, at a time when they need to hit the iron while it is hot. These new statesmen have acquired weapons handling techniques from the best military academies in France; doubtlessly this was  the reason for poor rationale, which justifies such a nonchalance.

In the face of countless partitioning’s hurricanes and cyclones, the Congolese nation is cracking up in a ghostly positioning contemplation in the aftermath of Tshisekedi. Fatshi did not enter into any deed to remain in power ad aeternam vitam; he will complete his term and shall leave office; what about the survival of the Democratic Republic of Congo? Nobody thinks about it, hoping to cross the bridge once they reach there! In front of monstrous accumulation of military powers under NATO aegis, Putin retracts from declaring war on NATO members openly, so as not to hasten the end of his presidency in Russia. The remote-controlled military aid that the North Atlantic Alliance countries send to Ukraine, illustrates their firepower; attacking a NATO  member state, is attacking NATO as a whole. Do not dare! Anyone rubbing against NATO, even teasingly, will get burn. Congolese politicians are obsessed with the frantic race for power; the Congolese people do not know which saint to turn to in this international conundrum. No Tank Think is set in motion in the DRC, no lobby to forge new acquaintances based on earnings reciprocity, nor a political class that ponders the challenges on the new deal. Some are Katumbi newsfakers, others, djaleloists (singing praise from dawn to sunset) of Fatshism, including non- aligned followers of Fayulu and Mpangi Muzito. It is, here, the showcasing scene, with plentiful imbecility tinged with unpublished buggeries. Time has come to read the world context from another perspective; this is such a huge opportunity for the DRC to shuffle the cards differently, and know with whom to get affiliated with, and establish relations that are beneficial for both sides. At the international negotiating table, the extremely wealthy Congolese subsoil gives the DRC a Bargaining Power (sufficient negotiating power) with confidence in the concert of nations. This bargaining power will serve the country in the conclusion of treaties, memorandums of understanding, contracts and others, including capital conventions. Ultimately, faced with multinationals, it is up to national leaders to table their grievances and ensure that they are met. Requiring from mining investors to have processing plants installed in DRC would never be a mortal sin, rather a serious agenda for the sustainability of the nation. Botswana has had to go through such bold metamorphosis and implement resolutions to sustain local industry with international diamond mining companies and dealers. For a long time the DRC suffered from a maddening laxity in the negotiations which turned out to be one-sided contracts.   

Chinese contract, Tenke Fungurume, Ivanoe, Glencore and many others must be revisited. Some of these one-sided contracts, like Glencore, have made this Swiss based mining company a powerful owner of more than 70% of the world’s cobalt reserves. Glencore cobalt ore reserves are in DRC; even in one’s wild dreams, a foreign company can never own more mining resources rights  than the country in which these minerals are mined.  Yesterday, the current political fringe vying to lead the DRC after the holding of the next electoral contests was in charge. Its tenure was shamefully linked to the selling off of mining resources during its term, as the governor of the mine rich Province of Katanga for 8 years. Mining quarries and the most important reserves of cobalt and copper, such as Kambove’s, were fraudulently sold. One needed to be at the mercy of the Governor and advocate his demands, before the very governor picks up the cellphone device to buzz Gecamines CEO to influence the board – done deal. Obviously “bullshit” deals! Mining right holders used geological studies and data collected on the sites of ore deposits sold;  certain results of due diligence were collected too, to assist new buyers to raise fund on international stock markets, some of  which would never see the bottom of the coffers from the Public Treasury. Gécamines leadership and management, its Board and the Governor formed the white-collar criminals’ trilogy, which used to share the windfall as if the DRC belonged only to them so that they could inherit from the deceased.

Never the United States do flinch when their interests are threatened, they will defend them tooth and nail, and achieve their primary objectives, irrespective of the price to pay, including death, even in the most brutal way possible. In these moments, it appears that the good lessons on respect for human rights learnt at various universities and colleges around the world stop with the completion of studies at law, political sciences and international relations faculties’ doors. The applicability of these rights is implemented only for the poor and the weak; in short, Africans.  DGSE, DGSI, CIA, FBI, Mossad, MI5, MI6 as well as Guantanamo, would not exist if countries were compliant with the respect for human rights. The safeguarding of citizens’ rights in Palestine and in lands occupied by Israel has always resembled the dreams of a deaf-mute who cannot share their content. The United States were tolerant in dissuading Australia from breaching their  contract with France for the delivery of warships and submarines within 30 years period span. The goal pursued by the USA is to counter the ever growing presence of China in Southeast Asia. This region has 646 million inhabitants, or 8.6% of the world’s population, which includes, in its current meaning, eleven countries, Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor and Vietnam. China’s presence is an inconvenient louse in America’s hair. However, they (America) have placed warships in the Strait of Hormuz to monitor the passage of oil tanks, as long as Iran is under embargo. 30% of the world’s oil production passes through the Strait of Hormuz. The surveillance the USA has implemented through their military arsenal in the Strait of Hormuz, is backed up  by their  military bases in Qatar and a little further in Guam, where the States closely monitor the nuclear armament by North Korea, with Japan and South Korea monitoring any shenanigans unfolding therein. Power is constitutive of the American imagination; it has animated men and participated in the constitution of national identity to the point of being a fundamental determinant of the geopolitics by the United States to ensure their hegemony.

The New York Times believes the conflict is likely to have a turbulent impact on the global economy, raising interest rates and reducing access to credit. What does this mean for African countries? Governments that need credit to manage their debts will have to spend far more than expected to pay them off. This will have a ripple effect on other countries’ needs, as it has the potential to limit national budgets primarily allocated to sectors like health care, education, employment and other public services, such as free education in the DRC. The thinning of investments will exacerbate internal unemployment and  FDI will experience a slowness whose consequences will be palpable in terms of revenue mobilization by the tax authorities. National budgets and African economies in general, have already been strained by the pandemic. It is impossible to envisage that the government is able to be the only partner in a project as colossal as Bukanga Lonzo. In this context it would have been pertinent to apply the comparative advantages theory; arable land against capital. DRC has 80% of the arable land that they can rent to big countries with a loaded purse like the Gulf States steeped in petrodollars. DRC makes its lands available to them, which these states will farm on; the food products harvested therefrom are shared up to 60% for the investor against 40% for the landowner. The tax authorities would grant them certain tax rebates or tax payment at preferential rate. Rebates in the tax slate shall incite investing countries or companies to reduce unemployment among young people and other idlers. The discovery and exploitation of oil in Muanda dates back a few decades. However, it has been obvious since the beginning of the new millennium that only the super powers, old and new, exploit it to the great displeasure of nationals. However, the tsarist crisis will affect the price at the pump, and by extension the pocket of the consumer. It is understandable selective indignation with the increase in the price of transport, goods and services. In the future, the war in Ukraine will have repercussions through the high cost of bread products. Wheat, the basic product, fundamentally used in the manufacture of these products, will cost too much on the international market. The two countries from the tsarist empire, Russia and Ukraine, are the main producers worldwide of wheat. The scenarios will multiply over time, like the import of fertilizers from Russia as the world no 1 producer.

The DRC needs to leverage its key resources

The DRC is a solutions country provider in many ways. The peat bogs in its northern part are a guarantee against global warming. The country shall impose the highest price on international polluters, including the USA, China and India. Shinkolobwe’s uranium is the key leverage that grants the DRC propagandist freedom of speech; a panacea for the DRC to find a suitable placing in geopolitical shares. Western powers are fighting for Congolese uranium to achieve civil or military nuclear industry; the DRC has deposits of inestimable value for this rare but very important mineral. This context challenges the country to never let the buyer set the price of this rare commodity. Areva should not have the monopoly or Bolloré which maintains the neo-colonization for countries of the shameful Francafrique. Faced with the explosion in demand for lithium, for the manufacturing of electric car batteries, the geopolitical, environmental and economic issues will be borne in the hunt for “white gold, called lithium. The DRC has reserves estimated at more than 3Mt. As with Coltan, another economic war looms on the horizon for this ore. Inga III is a massive economic asset for the DRC alongside Methane Gas in Lake Kivu and arable land to ensure food sufficiency at the international level, as well as the country  seabed rich in marine and aquatic products, is still non-exploitable. In such domains, DRC is suitably positioned and has an upper hand. The country is in an awesome position to guide negotiations with investors and interested countries with a stubborn freedom of expression. In fine, DRC must remember the weaknesses of her army with invasion by AFDL and the Rwandan-Burundian-Ugandan invasion, shall be the drive to carve out an army worthy of her wealth, which is dissuasive, which scares people to avoid and drive out “Balkanist” threats. In view of her past bruised and nourished by wars for the Colombus tantalite “coltan” exploitation, the scalded cat fears cold water. The country will be entitled to assume its own geostrategic features and shall impose itself in Central Africa and amongst countries of the Great Lakes Region, which have made it consume hemlock with various taste virtues.

Gone with the wind, dominant power geopolitics is an act of subliminal supremacy. China proceeds by Softpower to establish its hegemony in Africa, in two decades Chinese investments have skyrocketed to reach 137 billion dollars. China is less strict about loan conditions compared to Breton Wood institutions. This facilitates loans approval for African countries. Over the years, China had declared that it will never have a military base anywhere other than its territory, but the story of denial is a basic instinct tested by thousands, China is not immune to it. Like the world super powers, China has come out of its shell to set up a military base in Djibouti; following in the footsteps of the USA, Japan, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and soon India. Djibouti is strategically located to control one of the busiest shipping routes in the world. Suddenly, the country becomes the most beautiful woman in the world coveted by the rich whose libidinal impulses face merciless unfair competition for their gratification. The Djiboutian president, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, in power since 1999, monitors the interests of these military powers; which is earning him a long stay in office. Unable to stay in the comfort zone, geostrategic issues are so interconnected that they are tearing apart the old world order and dictating the pattern, format and modus operandi of the next global alignment politically. Africa foot-dragging translates into a stutter of choices for geopolitical strategies, in the light of a globalization coupled with warring heartbreaks. Nevertheless, the continent  remains in expectation of the success prone by the implementation of a free trade zone; the latter advocates the opening of African markets to African products without customs barriers, but anti-dumping regulations.

For twenty years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been the target of serious criticism. It is accused, in fact, of being an instrument of black Africa submission, in alienating them politically and economically compared to westerners. It propagates the Western capitalist system, and destroys the foundations of national development. From adjustment to adjustment, Western capital does not develop a nation. For a long time, Westerners have been claiming that they were able to repay the funds loaned to them under the Marshal Plan. They forgot that the European debt has been cleared by the theft of currencies from colonized countries, lodged in bank accounts held with banks in the countries of colonizers, who were indebted to the Americans.

The onus is on the DRC to spread out the choices of its perspectives so that it finally speaks for itself and on its behalf, and not through an intermediary person or country. DRC shall redirect its policy away from market logic. The London Club and the Paris Club are a parody that further dulls the Congolese subconscious and diminishes its cognitive abilities. The vehemence of the re-conquest for self-affirmation is not a plea made pro bono. The strengths of the DRC allow it for a truly tailor-made configuration, which will take into account its multiple growth needs for emergence. A formidable army with the intention of stifling in the bud all attempts of invasion or theft of the DRC’s precious metals. The Chinese model is exempt from the prerequisites to guarantee loans, but the non-payment of these loans when falling due is a double-edged sword. When signing on loan documents, China always makes sure to insert the provision that it could get paid otherwise. For example, in the event that the DRC will not be able to repay the loans granted to China for the completion of Inga III, it will impose its line of managing this work for 99 years. The Chinese loans are suicidal and will leave DRC penny less.