Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen discusses the mineral wealth, this embattled country has, and in the light of the incoming Obama administration what the future may hold for Congo, as western powers vie for their piece of the pie.


Story Transcript

Destabilization in Congo
Producer: Zaa Nkweta

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ZAA NKWETA, TRNN: In the third and final part of our Congo series, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen discusses the mineral wealth this embattled country has and, in the light of the incoming Obama administration, what the future may hold for Congo, as Western powers vie for their piece of the pie. Here’s Part 3.

WAYNE MADSEN, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Israel’s been a very big player in supporting these client states also allied to the United States—Museveni in Uganda and Kagami in Rwanda. Israel is providing a lot of military assistance to Kagami. Israeli firms are very active in exploiting the resources of eastern Congo, where Kagami’s forces are prevalent. So we see a lot of Israeli involvement in that. One of the natural resources, of course, that’s highly sought after are diamonds, and a lot of these blood diamonds eventually wind up in the hands of Israeli diamond merchants, which are basically run out of Tel Aviv. What’s happening in Congo is a proxy war. These various rebel groups are getting aid and comfort and support from other powers, both in the area, like Rwanda and Uganda, but also outside the area, from countries like the United States, Britain, Israel, and China. It’s not a question of tribes. This whole thing has been popularized by Hollywood in a very pejorative way. Africa, of course, is a polyglot of ethnic groups, but in many cases what we’re seeing are coalitions being formed between various groups, aimed at securing influence and making power grabs. So in the case of eastern Congo we’ve got not only Tutsis from Rwanda and Congo united, but some other groups have been allied with these two groups to battle the central government. The stakes are huge. Coltan, of course, is a key element, resource, in all these miniature electronic devices, PDAs, like Blackberries, cellphones. Microsoft has a tremendous stake in these devices. There’s a lot of outside influence at stake with a steady supply of these materials to these factories. Let’s just look at oil alone. There’s not going to be any move away from carbon-based fuels. So, you know, whoever has access to the oil, that’s a tremendous boost in their industrial engine and their influence. So oil is a big factor in Africa. But also let’s look at gold. Gold, especially now with the global financial meltdown, whoever has gold has something to back its currency, so there’s a big grab for gold, especially in Congo, which [is] estimated to have huge gold reserves. Diamonds as well. Platinum. And the one that of course Bush erroneously used as a reason to go into Iraq is uranium. Congo is very rich in uranium deposits. Niger, a place that Saddam Hussein was trying to get uranium from there, that’s not true, because Niger has a very strong mechanism to protect its exports from falling into the wrong hands. That’s not the case with Congo. So Congo has tremendous stakes there for any country that is trying to obtain nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, what we’re seeing not only from the warfare itself but from the famine that has resulted from the warfare, the disease that’s resulted from the warfare, we’ve seen about 5.5 million people die in Congo since 1994. Now, that also includes refugees from the neighboring countries of Rwanda and Burundi that have been forced to flee into Congo, but if 5.5 million dead Africans is not an earth-shattering number—6 million died in the Holocaust and we call that a Holocaust, we call that a genocide, but we hear very little about the Congolese genocide, the Congolese Holocaust, probably because the United States has been very culpable in that Holocaust, along with countries like Britain, Belgium, and, ironically, Israel. I was hoping that one way for Africa to get out of this current dilemma, this predicament, would be that our first true African-American president—because Barack Obama’s father was from Kenya—I was hoping that the Obama administration would really change US policy towards Africa, bring in a whole new set of people with a different way of looking at Africa’s problems. But, unfortunately, his selection of Susan Rice, who’s a supporter of some of these client dictators who have been responsible for some of the worst genocide we’ve seen since WWII, Susan Rice going to the UN sends the wrong message. And I fear that there are other people associated with the Clinton administration who are—like Rice, support these petty dictators, are going to come into the Obama administration. So I’m fearful that with Obama, for Africa, anyway, there will be no change; it will be business as usual.

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Wayne Madsen

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist, author, and syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in The Village Voice, Wired, and CounterPunch. Madsen was a Senior Fellow...