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Cablegate: July 18 Meeting of Jmg Task Force Deals with Anti-Fdlr

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1. (SBU) Summary: The 31st meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group
Task Force on July 18 was, overall, a cordial gathering. U.S.
members of the International Facilitation in attendance were DCM Sam
Brock and Program Officer Geoffrey Parker. In the absence of
Jean-Michel Dumont, the EU chairmanship of the Task Force was
delegated to Bernard Sexe of the French embassy. The Congolese
delegation first updated the Task Force on GDRC activities in
support of the Nairobi Process. MONUC made a presentation on the
joint MONUC/FARDC operations against the FDLR. This was followed by
a litany of reasons by the Rwandan delegation on why operations were
ill-conceived. Finally, the Task Force discussed ways to avoid
continued discrepancies between the DRC and Rwanda on the exact
number of demobilized combatants that undergo their respective
screening processes. End summary.

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Recent Congolese Steps

2. (SBU) After opening remarks, Colonel Mamba of the Congolese
delegation announced that his government had appointed Major General
Marcellin Lukama as the commander of all FARDC forces deployed to
the Kivus to take part in MONUC/FARDC operations against the FDLR.
MG Lukama would be introduced to the Task Force as soon as he was
present in the East. The Congolese delegation also announced the
creation of a technical commission for the Nairobi Process. This
commission would advise members of the Pilot Committee on National
and International Armed Groups in Kinshasa and would be a resource
for Special Envoy Ambassador Seraphin Ngwej. Both developments were
presented by Col. Mamba as a sign of Congolese commitment towards
the Nairobi Process. Major Franco of the Rwandan delegation
acknowledged the DRC's gesture.

MONUC Briefs anti-FDLR Activities

3. (SBU) British Colonel Cunliffe, MONUC Chief of Staff for the
Eastern Region, made a Powerpoint presentation on the concept of
joint MONUC/FARDC operations against the FDLR. In developing the
planned operations MONUC Force Commander Lt. General Gaye had given
the following four points of guidance:

-- Protecting civilians remains MONUC's number one mission.
-- Operations against the FDLR must not result in additional IDP's.
-- All operations carried out must be within FARDC's capacity.
-- Integrate DDR and DDRRR into operations by conducting military
and sensitization activities simultaneously.

4. (SBU) MONUC Briefing (continued): The concept of operations in
general terms is (a) all activities would grow progressively in
complexity and aggressiveness; (b) MONUC/FARDC would follow a
three-pronged approach (initial concentration on two geographical
triangles each in North and South Kivu, military activity would
support DDR/DDRRR operations, target FDLR economic resources); and
(c) the desired end state for Eastern Region was stability,
extension of state authority, and establishment of rule of law.

5. (SBU) MONUC Briefing (continued): The four triangles are as
follows: Lutunguru-Lubero-Kikuko (North Kivu), Walikale-Masisi-Hombo
(North Kivu), Mwenga-Shabunda-Walungu (South Kivu), and
Fizi-Lulimba-Mulembe (South Kivu). The activities in the triangles
are happening in four phases:

-- Phase 1 (May 15-31): Preliminary operations including
reconnaissance, force buildup, and base establishment.

-- Phase 2 (June 1-30): Joint reassurance activities such as
visibility patrols in population centers, ensuring proper behavior
of FARDC elements vis-a-vis civilians.

-- Phase 3 (July 1 onwards): Domination activities such as robust
patrols, removal of illegal checkpoints, restriction of FDLR
movement at chokepoints, and inviting the Congolese National Police
(PNC) to join patrols. This phase is currently ongoing but should
not be overestimated. MONUC stressed repeatedly that operations
were still at a crawl given FARDC capacity. These activities should
not be considered aggressive, offensive actions. The PNC has not
yet joined the MONUC/FARDC patrols.

-- Phase 4 (September 1 onwards): Consolidation activities
including securing of illegal mining sites and physical removal of
the FDLR from the triangles. Again, MONUC stressed that phase 4
could take months and would progress slowly.

6. (SBU) MONUC Briefing (continued): Col. Cunliffe then cited some
achievements already attained. Quality joint patrols were ongoing

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and about 50% of the time was spent conducting solid planning and
rehearsal exercises. Sensitization activities were increasing and
MONUC was conducting focused training in command and control,
leadership, small unit tactics, and logistics. Challenges cited by
Col. Cunliffe were the size and nature of the terrain, the capacity
of the FARDC, pressure from the Rwandans to accelerate activities,
and overcoming FDLR fears over repatriation that prevent them from
readily entering into DDRRR.

Rwandan Reactions and MONUC/DRC Response

7. (SBU) Having previously been given a written copy of the concept
of operation, the Rwandan delegation made several comments on the
plan as briefed by MONUC. Displaying a rather precise understanding
of FDLR deployments, Major Franco explained how the triangles did
not cover what he would consider the areas of concentration of the
FDLR. The triangles in particular covered neither the FDLR 1st
Division Reserve Brigade - considered by the Rwandans as one of the
strongest FDLR units - nor FDLR deployments in immediate proximity
to the border and from where infiltrations into Rwanda were
supposedly conducted frequently.

8. (SBU) The Rwandans continued, asserting that securing a few
illegal mining sites would not have much effect since - much to the
irritation of the Congolese delegation - the FDLR essentially
controlled all economic activity in the Kivus with perhaps the
exception of Beni Territory in the North and the island of Idjwi.
What concrete steps, therefore, were being taken by MONUC?

9. (SBU) Col. Cunliffe replied that MONUC was aware the triangles
did not overlap the central heartland of FDLR territory. He felt
strongly that attempting phase 4 activities in these areas at this
time would undoubtedly lead to MONUC/FARDC failure. The eight FARDC
battalions (8,000 men) and eight MONUC companies (800 men) currently
deployed were not robust enough to go head to head with concentrated
FDLR formations. On the positive side, however, the DRC planned to
eventually deploy an additional 16 battalions to the area.

10. (SBU) Col. Mamba of the Congolese delegation explained that the
FARDC had multiple brigades stationed in the Kivus, not just the
eight battalions that were specifically tasked with anti-FDLR
activities. These brigades already provided a stabilizing presence.
He continued to mention a few examples of where the brigades'
presence had already led to displacement of the FDLR into the bush
and the resumption of civilian economic activity. He felt it was
absolutely erroneous to state FDLR was "in control" of the Kivus and
he also claimed to be unaware of frequent FDLR infiltrations into
Rwanda, but promised to inquire into this matter.

DDRRR Discrepancies

11. (SBU) The final portion of the meeting dealt with the
discrepancies between the number of demobilized FDLR combatants
claimed by both the DRC and Rwanda, the latter's numbers being
significantly lower. This is mostly due to the much more stringent
screening process on the Rwandan side that is slow to label anyone a
real combatant. The issue had been discussed in previous meetings
and it had been agreed to establish a working group to handle the
issue as well as send a delegation to Kigali to discuss it with
Rwandan authorities there. At the 31st JMG meeting the working
group was supposed to brief the Task Force on how the issue would be
resolved and prevented in the future.

12. (SBU) It turned out that no working group had been formed and
that the delegation sent to Kigali included only the EU and MONUC,
but no Congolese or other Task Force representatives. Both the
Congolese and Rwandans were quick to display their unity in blaming
MONUC for having botched the Kigali visit and done nothing about
setting up a working group. Needless to say there was no briefing
from MONUC DDRRR on how the counting issue had been resolved. After
much back and forth the Task Force agreed that on a monthly basis
MONUC and Rwanda should compare DDRRR numbers and brief these at one
of the JMG meetings.

13. (SBU) Finally, the Congolese delegations felt it would be
necessary to agree upon a single definition of combatant. Col.
Mamba felt the Rwandans would not accept anyone who had not been
fighting in Congo for several years already - or at least since
before the signing of the Nairobi Accord. Since it is assumed that
the FDLR is actively recruiting, this would mean a lack of incentive
for recent recruits to disarm. At the suggestion of U.S.
representative Brock, MONUC agreed to work with Headquarters in New

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York to help clarify the definition of combatants, particularly
irregular combatants, according to international conventions and
precedent. This may or may not put the argument to rest, and the
Task Force agreed that if the problem persisted it should be handled
at the Special Envoy level.

14. (SBU) Comment: The meeting was unnecessarily long, in large
part due to the chair's inexperience and lack of familiarity with
issues. The Congolese and Rwandans were respectful towards each
other and agreed on most points. The DDRRR counting issue is
important for sensitization purposes. Resolving it would allow
MONUC and the FARDC to show that demobilized combatants were
successfully completing the process and getting on with their lives
in Rwanda. Rwanda's continued inability to account for the lower
numbers of combatants would certainly raise questions about what
happened to those missing. The idea of briefing the official
MONUC/FARDC numbers versus the Rwandan numbers every month is good,
but it implies going through the lists of names in some forum
outside the weekly JMG Task Force meeting. Otherwise, the monthly
briefing would only prove the two screening processes are not
compatible and the entire meeting would be wasted trying to lay
blame for this. End comment.


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