Congo Army, in Shift, Fights Back Against Rebels – NYTimes.com

The most important war you haven’t heard about is happening in Africa right now.  New fighting in Sake, located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as M23 takes new ground doesn’t bode well for stability:

In the past week, the rebel force has marched into a string of towns in eastern Congo, culminating in the capture of Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province, and raised serious questions about the future of this vast and often troubled country.

In most of the battles, demoralized government troops abandoned their positions and literally ran for the hills.

via Congo Army, in Shift, Fights Back Against Rebels – NYTimes.com.

James Fearon digs a little deeper in to the lit–asking why is it that M23, numbering according to some estimates at fewer than 3k soldiers—is able to destablize such a large force in a major African country.

But what distinguishes the strong and the relatively weak African states?  The ones that have had a lot of coups and/or civil war are not systematically more ethnically diverse, or larger in land area than the rest.  They are not much more likely to have had one or another colonial legacy (although former Portuguese and Belgian colonies have been somewhat more civil war prone).    Countries with larger populations have been somewhat more at risk for civil wars, but are not much different from smaller African countries when it comes to coups.  Beyond saying that it has something to do with quality of leadership, which isn’t very helpful, I don’t think we know why some subSaharan African states are so badly defended, year after year.

via The unbelievable lightness of some African states — The Monkey Cage.

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One thought on “Congo Army, in Shift, Fights Back Against Rebels – NYTimes.com

  1. What is Africa’s problem???

    Businessweek published an article today that provides the latest updates on the situation in Goma:
    “Congo’s M23 rebels defied a deadline imposed by neighboring nations Tuesday, saying they will stay in the crucial, eastern city of Goma and will fight the Congolese army to hold it.
    “Congo’s military spokesman Col. Olivier Hamuli called it ‘a declaration of war’ and said the army will resume combat, although he declined to say when.” http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-11-27/m23-rebels-say-they-wont-leave-congo-city-of-goma

    It’s honestly difficult for me to understand why it’s taken this long for Congo’s military to recognize this offensive as a manifestation of war, but I find it even more bizarre that the Congolese army leaders expect to be able to “resume combat” when so many of their forces are “running for the hills.” None of the sources I have looked over seem to be able to put a finger on the motivations behind this war. Why is M23 so determined to push forward? Why are the Congolese so quick to back down? What is the purpose of this fight? What do the different sides want?

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