20 years on: America’s hand in Rwanda
Michel Chossudovsky/ Anjan Sundaram
The civil war in Rwanda was a brutal struggle for political power between the Hutu-led Habyarimana government supported by France and the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) backed financially and militarily by Washington. Ethnic rivalries were used deliberately in the pursuit of geopolitical objectives. Both the CIA and French intelligence were involved.
In the words of former Co-operation Minister Bernard Debré in the government of Prime Minister Henri Balladur: “What one forgets to say is that, if France was on one side, the Americans were on the other, arming the Tutsis who armed the Ugandans. I don’t want to portray a showdown between the French and the Anglo-Saxons, but the truth must be told.”
In addition to military aid to the warring factions, the influx of development loans played an important role in “financing the conflict”. In other words, both the Ugandan and Rwanda external debts were diverted into supporting the military and paramilitary. Uganda’s external debt increased by more than US$2 billion, – i.e. at a significantly faster pace than that of Rwanda (an increase of approximately US$250 million from 1990 to 1994).
In retrospect, the RPA — financed by US military aid and Uganda’s external debt – was much better equipped and trained than the Forces Armées du Rwanda (FAR) loyal to President Habyarimana. From the outset, the RPA had a definite military advantage over the FAR.
According to the testimony of Paul Mugabe, a former member of the RPF High Command Unit, Major-General Paul Kagame had personally ordered the shooting down of President Habyarimana’s plane with a view to taking control of the country.
He was fully aware that the assassination of Habyarimana would unleash “a genocide” against Tutsi civilians. RPA forces had been fully deployed in Kigali at the time the ethnic massacres took place and did not act to prevent it from happening:
Paul Mugabe’s testimony regarding the shooting down of Habyarimana’s plane ordered by Kagame is corroborated by intelligence documents and information presented to the French parliamentary inquiry. Kagame was an instrument of Washington. The loss of African lives did not matter. The civil war in Rwanda and the ethnic massacres were an integral part of US foreign policy, carefully staged in accordance with precise strategic and economic objectives.
Despite the good diplomatic relations between Paris and Washington and the apparent unity of the Western military alliance, it was an undeclared war between France and America.
By supporting the build-up of Ugandan and Rwandan forces and by directly intervening in the Congolese civil war, Washington also bears a direct responsibility for the ethnic massacres committed in the Eastern Congo including several hundred thousand people who died in refugee camps.
The civil war in Rwanda and the ethnic massacres were an integral part of US foreign policy, carefully staged in accordance with precise strategic and economic objectives.
From the outset of the Rwandan civil war in 1990, Washington’s hidden agenda consisted in establishing an American sphere of influence in a region historically dominated by France and Belgium.
America’s design was to displace France by supporting the Rwandan Patriotic Front and by arming and equipping its military arm, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA).
From the mid-1980s, the Kampala government under President Yoweri Museveni had become Washington’s African showpiece of “democracy”.
Uganda had also become a launchpad for US-sponsored guerilla movements into the Sudan, Rwanda and the Congo.
Kagame had been head of military intelligence in the Ugandan Armed Forces; he had been trained at the US Army Command and Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas, which focuses on warfighting and military strategy.
Kagame returned from Leavenworth to lead the RPA, shortly after the 1990 invasion.
The militarisation and funding of Uganda was an integral part of US foreign policy. The build-up of the Ugandan UPDF Forces and of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) had been supported by the US and Britain.
Post-1994 foreign governments, notably the United States, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, are nonetheless lining up at Kagame’s door with praise, and money, desperate for a foreign aid success story after 50 barren years in Africa.
The United States, without doubt, is Kagame’s staunchest ally and oldest supporter, eager to maintain Rwanda as a strategic partner with a powerful army in mineral-rich eastern Africa.
Total publicly reported foreign aid to Kagame’s government stands at some US$1 billion annually, of which the US government provides about a fifth.
Millions of dollars in foreign aid continue to flow to the Rwandan government, and Kagame’s supporters seem reluctant to diminish their praise.
Kagame administers the Rwandan government’s foreign-funded aid programmes with a strict autocratic hand and silences critics from church to media and human rights programmes. – Global Research/Politico Magazine .