On November 30, 2021 Uganda Defense Forces (UDF) launched attacks in Beni, Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and carried out airstrikes against Allied Defence Forces (ADF) positions, in a joint operation with the DRC armed forces (FARDC). UDF then deployed its troops in various areas in Eastern DRC. Following the deployment of UDF troops, Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) started to discretly deploy its own forces into DRC with the aim to disrupt the military operations, using complex schemes. Since then, the situation has become more complex and has been worsening, involving covered attacks, diplomacy, blaming Rwandan rebels, and coup attemps.
According to AfroAmerica Network sources close to both UDF and Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF), the RDF military leaders, worried of the implications of the alliance between UDF and FARDC, started to stealthily deploy troops into Eastern DRC, secretly sending small platoons of special forces into North-Kivu territories and towns. The plan was to conduct raids near the border between Rwanda and RDC. The attacks were be blamed on FDLR-FOCA, RUD-Urunana and RPR-Inkeragutabara. Then, a large number of forces would cross the border from Rwanda, claiming to retaliate and pursue the attackers based on DRC territory.
When the plan was leaked in the media (see DRC-Uganda-Rwanda: Like Ugandan Defense Forces, Rwandan Government Sending troops into Eastern DRC, Complicating Military Operations Against ADF.), the RDF leaders slightly modified the strategy. Infiltrated RDF special forces launched operations under the cover of M23, a congolese rebel group created, funded and supported by the Rwandan Military (DRC - Rwanda Renew 2009 Secret Accord Regarding Rwandan Refugees and Tanzanian Officials Warn Rwandan General Paul Kagame Against Invasion). The M23 rebel group was formed on April 4, 2012. M23 rebels were defeated in 2013 and the combattants fled to neighboring countries, mostly Rwanda and Uganda, where they have been reorganizing.
Rwandan special forces, within M23 rebel group started military operations in January 2022. On January 4, 2022, they attacked FARDC troops in Nyesisi in North-Kivu Province, near Virunga National Park, close to the Rwandan border. The attacks killed more than 20 FARDC soldiers. The operations were condemned by the Congolese army, only mentionning that the M23 rebels were former refugees in Rwanda. Intense fighting continued into January 26, 2022, leading to more than 41 FARDC soldiers killed.
Following the January 2022 attacks, M23 rebels, through their spokesperson Willy Ngoma claimed that their bases were surrounded by FDLR fighters wearing FARDC uniforms. They also added that FARDC have been supplying heavy weapons and uniforms to FDLR and RUD-Urunana uniforms troops based in the the Masisi area.
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Ugandan Government Facing Attacks by Rwanda Forces: Diplomacy, Military Readiness, and a Coup Attempt in DRC
As the Rwandan Defence Forces have started operations under the cover of M23 rebels, Uganda Defense Forces (UDF) and Congolese Government forces (FARDC) are getting ready on two fronts: diplomacy and military readiness.
However, following the attacks by M23 rebels and an attempt coup in DRC against President Félix Tshisekedi, blamed on Paul Kagame's agents led by the presidential security adviser Francois Kasongo Beya, Yoweri Museveni had to revise his strategy against Paul Kagame. Francois Beya was arrested by the National Intelligence Agency and accused of plotting to overthrow President Félix Tshisekedi.
Francois Kasongo Beya aka "Mister Information" or "Mister Security", was well known to be close to Rwandan military leaders and DIrectorate of Military Intelligence (DMI). He closely worked with Rwandan General Jean-Bosco Kazura, Chief of Defence Staff of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) and head of RDC Desk. He also had strong deep-rooted ties with famous dictators in the region. Francois Beya has served in key positions, especially related to security and intelligence, under the regimes of Mobutu Sese Seko, Joseph Kabila and the current President Félix Tshisekedi.
In February and March 2021, Francois Kasongo Beya, on behalf of President Tshisekedi and General Jean-Bosco Kazura, on behalf of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, met in Kinshasa and drew a plan for joint military actions against Rwandan rebel groups operating in eastern DRC, including the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR - FOCA), the Conseil National pour la Renaissance et la Démocratie (CNRD), the Ralliement pour l’Unité et la Démocratie-Urunana (RUD-Urunana), and the Ralliement du Peuple Rwandais (RPR- Inkeragutabara). The plan was foiled by the joint operations between the UPDF and FARDC forces against ADF.
Ugandan Government's Failed Diplomatic Game: Rwandan Military Readiness
On the diplomatic front, Ugandan leaders, especially Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, UPDF Land Forces commander and the purported heir of the throne of his 77-year old father, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, visited Rwanda and was received by Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the afternoon of January 22, 2022 during a one-day trip. Rwanda's presidency said that the purpose of the meeting was "to discuss relations between Rwanda and Uganda".
Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba's trip followed a similar visit to Rwanda by Uganda's UN representative "to deliver a message from Museveni", according to the Rwandan foreign ministry. Meanwhile, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba had been tweeting messages to appease and flatter Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame. In the tweets, he said that: "This is my uncle, Paul Kagame. Those who fight him fight my family. They should all be careful" .
After the trip, on January 25, 2022, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni removed Major General Abel Kandiho, a known nemesis of General Paul Kagame, from Chief of Miliitary Office (CMI) and posted him to South Sudan as Head of Peace Monitoring Mechanism.
On February 9, 2022, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni promoted Major General Abel Kandiho, as the new Chief of Joint Staff of Uganda Police Force, barely 2 weeks after the post to South Sudan. He replaced Major General Jack Bakasumba who was appointed as his replacement to the South Sudan post.
The appointment of Maj Gen Abel Kandiho, an open nemesis of Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame, as the new Chief of Joint Staff of Uganda Police Force has created turmoil with the Rwandan military structure and General Paul Kagame 's entourage.
In fact, the latest diplomatic dynamics and military structure change in Uganda had created hopes for a rapprochement between the leaders of the two countries, but most importantly among their purported heirs: Ange Kagame and Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
According to unnamed sources close to UDF and RDF, it has now become obvious that the priority of Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) military leaders has now shifted to military readiness. The first step is the reinforcement of M23 rebels, the attacks against FARDC and claiming to fight FDLR and RUD-Urunana rebels.
Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) Reinforcing Troops in DRC
Addressing the Rwandan Parliament on February 8, 2022, Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame made it clear that he is ready for intense military operations the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda. He said: "We will use all available means including persuasion and agreement for solutions. But when anyone crosses a red line, we don’t ask anybody for permission to intervene. We simply move in and sort the problem out. We are still at the stage of assessing the situation and weighing our options. But if we decide that Rwanda will be impacted by these developments, we will directly intervene with or without the consent of the concerned parties…Anyone who wishes us war, we give it to him. We have professionals capable of executing it. Our doctrine is to fight war on enemy territory because of Rwanda’s small size.”
However, despite the provocative speech, sources within RDF and DMI told AfroAmerica Network that the situation is not that simple: General Paul Kagame no longer trusts most of the RDF military leaders and is worried that a coup against him could be imminent ( see Africa: Military Coups Against and For Dictators Trending Up; Imminent Military coup in Rwanda is a possibility, Rwandan President Paul Kagame tells media.).
According to the sources, his hopes of seing a rapprochement between his presumed heiress, Ms. Ange Kagame, and Yoweri Museveni's own purported successor in waiting, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, have vanished. There are also speculations that Major General Abel Kandiho has resumed his covert contacts with General James Kabarebe, Senior Presidential Adviser on security matters.
AfroAmerica Network will continue to follow and update as the details become available and are checked.
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