As much as any country, the Democratic Republic of Congo has reason to blame its woes on outsiders. From the plunder of its rubber and ivory by Belgium’s King Leopold II to the West’s Cold War coziness with the notorious dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, the history of sub-Saharan Africa’s third-most-populous state is largely a tale of abuse by foreign powers.
Today, the most relevant outside actor is arguably neighboring Rwanda, which has sponsored several rebellions on Congolese soil since it engineered Mobutu’s overthrow in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It’s no surprise, then, that after the M23 rebel group allegedly backed by Rwanda captured the eastern DRC city of Goma last month, diplomatic attention has focused on Kigali.
Despite the Rwandan government’s continued denials, its role in the conflict has become harder to refute. Since June, multiple reports by the U.N. Group of Experts have cited systematic evidence of Rwandan involvement, including the use of Rwandan troops and the direct command of rebel operations by Rwanda’s minister of defense, James Kabarebe. Uganda, which is currently hosting talks between the M23 and the DRC government, has also been accused of providing more-limited logistical support.