The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is now on a charm offensive in Africa to regain the US popularity which was lost ostensibly during the Trump administration, and to counter the attempts from Russia to get more African countries on their side. He is now in South Africa, a country that has lost itself a lot of credit for its foreign and internal policies in the recent past. Blinken will continue his trip to Kinshasa, where expectations are very high that he would openly condemn Rwandans for their alleged support to M-23 rebels in eastern DRC. Congolese authorities won’t hesitate to classify his visit as a success. In the meantime, there has been information from a leaked report of the UN Group of Experts (GoE), that there was “solid evidence that the RDF provided soldiers and logistics to the M-23”. This came out at a crucial moment: before the visit of Blinken, and amid a series of protests against the UN Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) in the streets of Goma, Beni and Butembo. For the past 20 years of its existence in DRC, MONUSCO has done nothing to stop the violence in the eastern part of the country. It has only served as a logistical back up to the Congolese army (FARDC), which is considered by many as the most destructive and corrupt institutions in the country. More than 100 violent or less violent militia groups were also created under MONUSCO’s watch, and it has not been able to stop the influx of combatants of the FDLR (which is officially labelled as a terrorist group by the US) and its splinter groups, into the ranks of the FARDC to fight against the M-23. Few weeks before the anti-MONUSCO protests, the Congolese presidency had also tried to blame most of the country’s misery to the Tutsi community and the Rwandan government – although many Congo watchers saw this as a trick by the Congolese Government to cover up its own incompetence and a way to postpone the upcoming presidential elections. While other rebel groups in the far north of Goma, such as the ADF-Nalu and the CODECO, were creating more havoc and killing innocent people; the FARDC and FDLR started attacking M-23 positions on the slopes of the Bisoke volcanoes area. The M-23 was very weak at that time, but they reorganized themselves and started mobilizing new recruits. It is indeed a fact that some of them were found in the circles of demobilized RDF soldiers. But they were born in Congo, and for them it was a natural thing to join their brothers and sisters who were now under threat. If you visit nowadays a town like Gisenyi and you talk to most of the people there (if they can trust you enough), they will admit that many of their sons and daughters are now fighting in the M-23. They went there out of their free will. They are nearly all members of the Bagogwe clan, a group of Tutsis that was living in the Rutshuru plains, the Masisi highlands and parts of northern Rwanda. Before the Berlin Conference, more than 100 years ago, this region was all part of a territory that was reigned by Tutsi kings (abami). It will therefore be very hard for Blinken not to pronounce himself in a proper way, if the international press and the Congolese local press – whose majority believe that Rwanda is the main culprit for everything that went and still goes wrong in the DRC – start bombarding their questions on him. However, the UN GoE leaked report shows numerous contradictions: The fact that it was leaked at this crucial moment is very strange, questionable and probably orchestrated to put extra oil on the already very big and hot fire. Not even ten days ago other UN officials had openly stated that there was no evidence that the RDF was openly involved in all this. The report accuses the FARDC to have equipped and incorporated FDLR units and elements, but weakens this accusation with the nuance that only a “group of FARDC officers” engaged in this kind of practices. This whitewashes Congolese officials in Kinshasa and Goma who knew very well that, if the FDLR would not get involved, the poorly disciplined, trained and corrupt FARDC would become easy game for the better motivated and experienced M-23 fighters who had already gained their spurs on other battle fields; and whose intore (Tutsi warriors) genes make them more determined and fearless. There is ample evidence that the FDLR was able to join the FARDC after the order to allow that was given by the Congolese presidency. The UN is now offering a way to Antony Blinken to put the blame of this fact on “a couple of FARDC officers” who went AWOL. This would be too easy! The fact that the UN researchers take over the FARDC argument that the M-23 fights like a regular army and is in fact capable of attacking simultaneously several FARDC positions is also questionable. When you ask most of the Congolese generals if they ever heard of Sun Tzu, they’ll probably ask you if he wants to invest in the DRC or think that he is a circus clown. M-23 commanders such as Sultani Makenga know the writings of this Chinese warlord very well, as it was part of their training manuals when they were serving in the RDF in their previous lives. One of the reasons why Goma has not been overrun until now and why Rumangabo is just being surrounded, is the fact that the M-23 is not big enough to control that whole area. This also shows that the involvement of the RDF is practically inexistent or very, very limited. By attacking several FARDC outposts simultaneously, Makenga had the FARDC believe that they were omni-present. The accusation that the M-23 is wearing RDF uniforms and dresses up like RDF soldiers does not make sense either. This stuff can be bought for a couple of dollars a piece on the internet, other things are being sent to the rebels by family members by their relatives in the camps in Rwanda and in Uganda or purchased on the markets by those same relatives in Rwanda. The kind of ammunition and weapons that the M-23 is using is not more sophisticated than the equipment the FARDC is using. Extra evidence has been delivered during the past month that this rebel group is mainly fighting with weaponry they seized from FARDC. The infamous 81-1 type Kalashnikov is also widely in use in Uganda. The M-23 has a history of hiding their ammunition and weapons in well-hidden cashes far from the front lines. One has to remember that the M-23 occupied very difficult to reach positions in the volcanic Virunga range. In these hills several volcanic caves can be found where ammunition and weapons can be kept in very dry and favorable conditions for years (such as 107 mm rockets, RPG-grenades and pieces of lighter artillery). Sultani Makenga and his men could lay their hands on several tons of this kind of weaponry in the harbor of Goma in 2013 and they were able to hide this in the volcanic hills. The American, French, English, Belgian, Chinese, Russian and other intelligence services knew that the RDF was conducting raids against the FDLR in eastern Congo because the latter had the honesty to tell them that a couple of times in Kigali. They had even told them that they had captured a couple of FDLR in the DRC for interrogation. These Military Attachés were also told that this had nothing to do with the activities of the M-23 of which the RDF stayed clear. The Attachés were told that the RDF had to do this to keep their fingers on the pulse of events. In the same period, it also became clear that the FDLR was planning to create havoc in Rwanda to disrupt the CHOGM event. These UN-researchers most likely knew this but could have preferred not mentioning it in their report which is a big mistake and even a hypocrite act. The fact that mostly Rwandophone and Tutsi officers are in charge of bigger M-23 operations is present as well, and those guys can easily be confused with RDF officers. As we stated before most or the M-23 were subaltern officers in the RDF years ago and they behave in a way that their Rwandan commanders had thought them. But they are not fighting in Congo as Rwandans. They do this to protect their families! In this case the UN, once again, did not offer the chance to Rwanda to defend itself against all these allegations. Meanwhile, for the government in Kinshasa, this leaked report is a confirmation that their claims were always correct. But the fact that the leaked report puts the blame of collaborating with the FDLR in fighting against the M-23 on “a couple of disobedient FARDC officers” is ridiculous. Most of the Rwandans and also the Rwandan government are getting fed up and tired of the one-sighted and anti-Rwanda narrative that is put forward in the foreign press. Kinshasa will likely have no ears for the possible accusation of Antony Blinken that Tshisekedi & co are once again pampering the FDLR. They will promise him on their knees, with a hand on their hearts and with a finger pointing to heaven that they will never commit ‘naughty’ acts like that again in the future. But when Blinken will be leaving Kinshasa, it will be business as usual again. Rwanda and the Tutsi community in DRC were told the same thing when Makenga vacated Goma in 2013 and withdrew into Uganda. His predecessor and commander Laurent Nkunda as well. But not one FDLR was attacked after that, and the deals made with the M-23 were never respected. This is why the Tutsi community will probably stand its ground this time. For them enough is enough! We simply report what they feel, what they think and what they tell us and so be it if this makes us the devil’s advocate. After Kinshasa, Blinken will travel to Kigali. The US Department of State already issued a statement announcing that Blinken will address the ‘wrongful’ arrest of Paul Rusesebagina with the Rwandan authorities. The State Department also said that Rusesebagina had saved hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in the ‘Hotel Des Mille Collines’ or the famous ‘Hotel Rwanda’ as it was called in Hollywood. This statement clearly shows that the US has already made up its opinion in the Rusesebagina case. The statement about Paul Rusesebagina was however not well digested in Kigali. Most of the Rwandan authorities as well as the majority of Rwandans judged the way Rusesebagina was lured and arrested, as justifiable. Rusesabagina had openly admitted that he was leading the opposition and rebel group FLN (National Liberation Front of Rwanda), which killed several innocent people in the south of the country. Rusesabagina was also openly collaborating with the FDLR, which is made of Rwandan Hutu extremists who had participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda, and who had killed thousands of innocent Congolese citizens as well. During the trial of Rusesabagina and his co-accused, several of his close collaborators admitted that he was the leader of their outfit. The US statement that Rusesebagina saved hundreds of lives is controversial as well: several other witnesses counter this. Others, such as Romeo Dallaire, the commander of the UN troops in Rwanda during the genocide, called it a blatant lie. Most of the people in that hotel were saved via an exchange of prisoners of war between the RPF (rebel force) and the genocidal government. The State Department could have avoided this discussion, by doing better research and listening less to most of the fake and un-factual statements of Rusesabagina’s family and supporters, who are still collaborating with the same FDLR. If Blinken does not condemn the so-called Rwandan aggression during his visit to Kinshasa, he will experience the wrath of the Congolese press and the Congolese public opinion. The Chinese and the Russians, who already control most of the output of Congolese minerals, would very much applaud this. They will accuse him of licking the heels of President Kagame. Believe us, Congolese politicians are specialized in accusing people who are not willing to walk in their line. If he does accuse Rwanda anyway and does what Tshisekedi & co expect from him, he’ll have to face two unpassable hurdles in Kigali. He’ll fail the first one to free Rusesebagina, that’s for sure! With a bit of luck, he’ll be able to negotiate the release of Rusesabagina in a couple of years, when some extra conditions will be met. But when he’ll address the M-23 deadlock he’ll be on a more slippery ground: it’s not the first time that the Americans cut a big chunk of their aid to Rwanda and the last time they did this turned out to be unfavorable for them. Rwanda might fall back on the more comprehensive countries such as France, Israel (the similarity of these facts would be too much for Tel Aviv to resist not to help) and why not China? Other African leaders will follow up closely how Blinken will solve this problem. They know that his mission will be very difficult. The reputation of the US as a super power in Africa has been tarnished in the past. Hilary Clinton started this process and president Trump’s disinterest and disrespect for African countries and his blatant racism towards blacks did the rest. Antony Blinken will only succeed in gaining extra credibility for his country with a better researched approach. Marc Hoogsteyns is a free-lance journalist who lived and worked most of his life in the African Great Lakes Region. He covers Countries especially DRCongo, Rwanda and Burundi. He runs Kivu Press Agency. The views expressed in this article are of the writer. This article was first published on www.kongomani.wordpress.com.