Over the past 19 years, one of the most intractable symptoms of mass violence in Congo’s eastern regions has been the proliferation of armed groups that threaten security, perpetrate horrific human rights abuses, and undermine economic development. Two of these armed groups—the M23 and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR—not only have committed some of the worst atrocities in the conflict, but they have also internationalized it in multiple ways. The FDLR is headed by some of the perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and it has attacked Rwanda in the past year. Kigali believes the FDLR poses an existential security threat. The M23 is an offshoot of several previous rebel groups, and the United States and other groups have linked it to the Rwandan government, but Kigali denies the link. Therefore, dealing with these two groups addresses one of the most destabilizing factors in the Great Lakes region: the relationship between Congo and Rwanda. The Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, is also becoming a destabilizing force in Congo and threatens Congolese communities and Uganda.
By Timo Mueller and Fidel Bafilemba
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