Since the early 1990s, Africa has been swept by a proliferation of armed conflicts, as many of the continent’s established military and one-party regimes have been undercut by the end of the Cold War, the growth of pro-democracy movements and an eruption of ethnic and other social tensions.
From Somalia and Rwanda to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), hundreds of thousands have been killed outright and millions more have succumbed to war-related epidemics and starvation. All but a fraction of the victims have been civilian.
“Traditional” peacekeeping missions were not well suited to deal with these kinds of conflicts, since they were generally set up to monitor peace agreements between established armies holding separate territories.
Only the 1998-2000 border war between Ethiopia and Eritrea matched that model.
Instead, most of Africa’s recent conflicts have been civil wars or insurgencies, with multiple armed factions and grievances rooted in poverty and inequality.
Even when peace accords have been painstakingly negotiated, not all political and military leaders have been able to fully control their followers.
In some countries, local warlords who profited from the chaos of war saw little immediate advantage in laying down their arms.
The difficulties confronting international efforts in Africa were dramatically demonstrated by the losses suffered by US forces in Somalia in 1993, prompting that country’s unilateral withdrawal.
This seriously weakened the UN peacekeeping mission, which ultimately ended without restoring national political order.
The “Somalia effect” -- combined with the preoccupation of the US and other NATO powers with events in the Middle East and the Balkans -- led to a marked decline in big-power participation in UN peacekeeping missions generally, but especially in Africa.
When the genocide in Rwanda erupted in 1994, the small UN mission already there was far too weak to do anything to stop it.
At the start of 1991, eight of the top ten contributors to UN peacekeeping missions were developed countries.
By the beginning of August 2003, one transitional country (Ukraine) was in the top ten.
All the rest were from the developing world, including four African countries (Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa).
In the five UN peacekeeping missions then under way in Africa, troops, police and military observers from the Security Council’s five permanent members comprised only 2 per cent of the total personnel.
Africa’s major former colonial powers have remained somewhat more active in the continent, notes Mr. Jackie Cilliers, executive director of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa.
However, they “now intervene on their own terms, for limited duration, or where their intervention is uncontroversial, cheap and largely symbolic.”
As developed countries have pulled back from multilateral operations, African participation in UN peacekeeping has grown.
Up to 1988, only a dozen African countries had ever contributed troops or police to UN missions.
Since then, the total number that has provided peacekeepers to at least one UN mission has tripled.
At the beginning of September, 24 African states had nearly 10,000 nationals serving under the UN flag.
They constituted 26 per cent of all UN peacekeepers worldwide.
But nine-tenths of them were posted in Africa, where they made up 35 per cent of the five UN peacekeeping operations then under way in the continent (a sixth was subsequently established in Liberia). In the DRC, African troops constituted nearly half of the total.
In modern African politics, there has been a remarkable resurgence of social disorder, rule of impunity, and, in some countries, the criminalization of state power and the privatization of collective security. Since the end of the post-cold war era, African countries such as Senegal, post-apartheid South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, and Kenya, for example, have embraced democratic pluralism and market economies.
Others have experienced severe armed conflicts and the outright fragmentation or collapse of central political authority. War-ravaged countries include DRC, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.
Although many of Africa’s civil wars and brutal cross-border armed conflicts have been caused by intractable issues such as ethnicity, communal schisms, regionalism, and religious differences, some of the most virulent conflicts have been characterized and catalyzed by the ruthless struggle for domination and control of vital economic resources such as diamonds, crude oil, gold, cobalt, copper, timber, and other extractive materials.
As witnessed in Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and DRC, the political economy of violence has defined and transformed these rapacious armed conflicts into a vicious struggle for control of mineral resources and the attendant catastrophic humanitarian tragedies.
Was RPF/RPA war a Rebellion or a Revolution?
Can we put rebel groups like UNITA in Angola, RUF in Sierra Leone, LURD and MODEL in Liberia, and the RCD and MLC militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo, NRA, RPF, etc. in one basket? Or were some of them revolutionists?
The warning given to Louis XVI: “No, sire, this is not a rebellion, it is a revolution,” accents the essential difference.
It means precisely that “it is the absolute certainty of a new form of government.” Rebellion is, by nature, limited in scope.
It is no more than an incoherent pronouncement.
Revolution, on the contrary, originates in the realm of ideas.
Specifically, it is the injection of ideas into historical experience, while rebellion is only the movement that leads from individual experience into the realm of ideas.
While even the collective history of a movement of rebellion is always that of a fruitless struggle with facts, of an obscure protest which involves neither methods nor reasons, a revolution is an attempt to shape action to ideas, to fit the world into a theoretic frame.
That is why rebellion kills men while revolution destroys both men and principles.
Rwanda commands UN soldiers. A large and complex peacekeeping operation planned for Darfur will launch on time and could, within months, improve security in the war-torn region of western Sudan, the mission’s head said.
Rodolphe Adada, chief of the United Nations and African Union joint mission to Darfur, said contributing nations have already committed more than the 26,000 required troops for the force, and he expects the peacekeepers to deploy in October.
It is highly believed that the Nigerian was chosen to top but General Karki will be the real ground operator.
This gives a big sign of maturity of the Rwandan defense forces. Small as it is, its army has provided protection of huge nations in most African countries either directly or indirectly.
This thus proves the former RPF/ RPA to have been a revolutionist and not a rebellion.
The enemies of Rwanda and peace in general were against the appointment of General Karenzi Karaki. But reality beats sentiments!
The United Nations has agreed to the appointment of a Rwandan general as deputy commander of the Darfur force, saying there was not enough evidence against him to support allegations of human rights abuses.
Human rights watch groups that are influenced by the forces who are still determined to destroy the new Rwanda face using all avenues.
Karenzi Karaki belongs to the new bleeds in the African army that is a strong force to reckon.
There is no doubt therefore that the choice of UN and AU is excellent and fruits will be evident in few years.
The former RPA/ RPA forces were not rebels as the same forces under the cover of Human rights would like to put but revolutionists.
They have been doing well not only in foreign land but also in their own country.