The eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) took a turn toward peace today as M23 rebels reportedly gave up their 20-month insurgency. The Congolese army, re-engineered after a humiliating defeat by the rebels last year, pushed the M23 out of its remaining strongholds with help from a precedent-setting U.N. intervention brigade and an intensive new focus on the conflict by the U.S. and other international actors.
But as Anthony Gambino wrote in a WPR briefing in July, ending the M23’s fight is only one step in a much larger process:
The key question now is whether the international community has the will and energy to move to a positive approach or whether it will once again sink into a negative one. If the U.S. and others settle for stopping the present round of fighting, but do not seriously tackle Congo’s dysfunction and regional issues, they will merely paper over the fundamental problems, at best delaying the inevitable onset of the next round of fighting, human rights violations and humanitarian crises.
In addition, other armed groups remain active in the eastern DRC. Particularly sensitive is the continuing presence of the FDLR, formed from the remnants of the genocidaires who fled Rwanda after 1994. Although the FDLR is much weaker than it once was, it can still exact a toll on civilians, as Christoph Vogel told WPR in September. "In terms of military threat, the FDLR and its splinters seem unable to do more than launch terrorist-style mortar attacks into Rwandan territory these days," said Vogel, "but their potential to harm Congolese communities remains very high."
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