East African Community lays the foundation for DRC multinational force

East African Community lays the foundation for DRC multinational force

Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The East African Community (EAC) recently accepted the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into this organization. EAC partners concern Burundi, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Therefore, with major ethnic and religious faultlines existing in certain regions within the EAC – often more notable in certain nations or parts of the respective country – the EAC seeks to create a multinational military force to tackle the crisis in eastern areas of the DRC. 

The Islamist forces of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and Hutu militias – are an example of how cross-border issues can escalate and impact neighboring nations. Originally, the ADF was firmly established in Uganda. Hence, despite declining ADF terrorist attacks inside Uganda, this Islamist movement is causing mayhem in parts of the DRC. Therefore, the armed forces of Uganda have entered eastern areas of the DRC to counter-attack the regional menace of the ADF. 

Many analysts are skeptical about the capability of the EAC to tackle the plethora of militias and terrorist groups that exist in eastern areas of the DRC. After all, Kenya and other regional nations are concerned by the endless instability in Somalia concerning the Islamist al-Shabaab (al-Shabab) that impacts border areas with Kenya – and sometimes brutal terrorist attacks in Nairobi. Also, South Sudan is blighted by internal political intrigues and ethnic tensions. 

Voice of America reports, “Over 120 rebel groups and militias still operate in the DRC’s eastern provinces nearly two decades after the official end of the country’s civil wars. The effort to restore peace has, since 2010, involved the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping force, with billions of dollars invested in the operation.”

Hence, skepticism abounds that if the United Nations peacekeeping force can’t contain the crisis despite spending vast sums, what hope the EAC? 

Yet, with cross-border militias and terrorist groups existing within the EAC, these nations have more reasons to tackle the crisis in eastern areas of the DRC. Also, military forces belonging to the proposed multinational EAC military force should be more committed to tackling the plethora of militias that exist in the DRC – rather than UN peacekeepers. 

America and NATO nations failed to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. Nor could America and NATO contain the growing menace of ISIS (Islamic State – IS) before pulling out. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya witnessed many debacles. Therefore, skepticism should naturally concern any multinational force. 

The EAC faces a difficult task ahead. However, at worst, it will help regional integration and highlight self-reliance. Unlike NATO in Afghanistan – to several UN peacekeeping missions – the nations of the EAC have greater motivation to tackle the destabilizing menace of eastern parts of the DRC. 

It will be very difficult for the EAC to contain and finally crush the various insurgencies, terrorist groups, and cross-border forces that blight eastern areas of the DRC. Despite this, at least the EAC seeks an internal solution rather than leaving it to nations from distant lands. 

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