Supporting crime doesn’t pay
Rwanda has persistently fueled the DR Congo’s M23 rebellion with a complete disregard for its impact on human rights, but as western governments become privy to the emerging ties, such recklessness may carry a significant cost. For the aid Kigali gives to Bosco Ntaganda’s successors, the UK and the Netherlands have retracted aid of their own from the tiny African nation. Rwanda’s combined losses total to over $30 million, only a fraction of its donors’ annual monetary assistance, but still enough to make a statement. President Paul Kagame has been revered for his reconciliatory stance regarding domestic policy, but his proxy wars throughout Congo’s devastated Kivu region indicate an entirely different agenda.
He and the rest of his administration have rebuked the aid cuts, and see the West’s reasoning as nothing but false allegations. The two European nations are following in the wake of a U.S. decision to decrease its military aid by $200,000, which, considering the circumstances, is a predictably paltry amount. Instead, Germany demonstrated a sense of leadership and suspended an aid plan that was scheduled through 2015.
These actions do appear more punitive than corrective, but they are carefully designed to target budgetary support, not sector support. Vital programs for agriculture and public health are by no means at risk. Furthermore, these are temporary pauses on revenue for Kigali, when Kagame reassures the West that claims of his connections to Ntaganda are fraudulent, it will be business as usual before long.
Or will it?
These claims are not rumors. First-hand accounts from defecting rebels say they were trained within Rwanda’s borders. Much of the M23 demonstrate characteristics, i.e. tactics, uniforms, and weapons that are more reminiscent of the Rwandan Patriotic Front than any Congolese military. Evidence continues to mount against Kigali’s pleas of ignorance. The U.S. can always add a few extra zeroes to their aid cuts, knowing exactly whom it will target to assure no collateral damage for development assistance. But their diplomatic pressure is only contingent upon public pressure at home.