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The CIA’s First African Colour Revolution Experiments; The Congo
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The CIA’s First African Colour Revolution Experiments; The Congo

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Beautiful scenery, abundant natural resources, vast landmass, a primitive and still growing civilization today, appears to be a golden business environment, a choice holiday destination, etc but prior to the 21st century these qualities and advantages marked you out for one of the cruelest forms of political exploitation and repression, colonialism. One of the greatest ills of colonialism goes beyond the exploitation of groups/civilizations and resources within a given sets(s) of geographic region during the timeframe of colonial rule, but the setting up of weak state as perfect platforms for neocolonialism. What colonialism actually does and this is true for most African colonized states is the identification and exacerbation of intra groups fault-lines, creating weak critical institutions, and a primary production only base economy centered on the extractive industry dependent on exports without no value addition, advisors/military trainers and commanders, amongst many others. These act as levers of influence and control. This is done to create paper “independent” states that are not sovereign, because they lack the necessary tools to survive and strive in a modern era, like new born babes they still are dependent on their former overlords for guidance and inputs to get their nations working and exposing them to needless intervention and interferences, since the colonialist never really wanted them to be independent because they are still attached to such a nation economically albeit a skewed manner were later provides critical raw materials at a fraction of the cost or none at all, the protection of this unfair economics lies at the core of neocolonialism.

The curious case of the Congo like her other sisters

The Congo is a truly magnificent geographical entity richly blessed by nature, dotted with mountain ranges, valleys, massive winding rivers etc, one of the few homes left to the rear mountain gorilla, second to only the Amazon in terms biodiversity, great energetic and hardworking people, Congo is a remarkable place. As you try to impossibly juxtapose her present reality of political crisis, hunger, poverty, and general underdevelopment with the aforementioned glowing qualities. It is necessary to know that this bartered nation didn’t get here all of her own doing, just like when the powerful elements of weather come raging beating into submission all that lies in its path, the Congo has had the unfortunate and unenviable position of being irresistible to those who will covet and lust after its riches, turning her into a battle ground for great powers, intervening as they see fit to the ruin of the people and state, forcing her into submission in the battle of sovereignty she is ill prepared for.

For over 130 years, foreign imperialist powers (US and Belgium) have played major roles in shaping Congo into its present state. which started in April 1884, being the first country before the Berlin Congress, the US would become the first country in the world to recognize the claims of King Leopold II of Belgium to the territories of the Congo Basin. During the course of their economic exploitation venture, widespread atrocities recorded in the then Congo, the Free State had casualties in the millions to the local population majorly as a result of mining and pillaging of any resource of importance, the US thus joined other world powers to urge Belgium to take over the country as a regular colony. And it was during the colonial period that the US acquired a strategic stake in the enormous natural wealth of the Congo, following the lead of the Belgians, it has been purportedly reported that uranium from Congolese mines manufactured the first U.S atomic weapons, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. It was clear from that point onwards that the U.S would not allow the people of the Congo chart their own course socio-politically and economically.

Not long after Congo’s transition from Belgian colony to sovereign state that events took an ugly dimension. The mineral-rich country at the heart of Africa became independent, on June 30, 1960, guided and achieved under a democratically elected government headed by Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. A charismatic nationalist, Lumumba led the only party in parliament with a nationwide, rather than ethnic or regional base (Movement National Congolais) . However, the first disaster preset for eruption appeared, Congo’s troops mutinied against their all-white officer corps (a holdover from the colonial era, an arrangement that was deliberately arranged to infuriate the majority of the rank and file of the army) and in protest intimidated the European population (providing a perfect guise for intervention. Belgium’s response was hash and swift sending its armed forces to reoccupy the country, instigated and covertly and overtly directed Congo’s richest province, Katanga, to secede. The United States, declined appeals for help from the new Congolese government, instead threw its support behind a UN peacekeeping mission (as this guise presents a perfect excuse, as we have come to know time and again to achieve goals well beyond the stated U.N mandate), this was a prelude to the CIA covert operation, allowing the agency to pour in resources and assets into the country in a bid to maintain the status-quo of skewed economics, which culminated in the death of Patrice Lumumba, the actions and inactions of the U.S was guided under the premise that should negate any Congolese realignment especially towards the Soviets, in areas such as economics, military assistance, etc. the major goal of the then government of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was the expulsion of Belgian military foothold on their young nation, Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba wished above all things for his country to chart its own course of socio-economic development without the over bearing hands of colonialists, thus the failure of the U.N peacekeeping force to expel the Belgian troops and end Katanga province secession, Patrice Lumumba would come into direct conflict with the peacekeeping force. After issuing a series of deadlines to the UN mandated force, he turned to Moscow for help, Moscow responded by sending transport planes to fly Lumumba’s troops into Katanga to quell the secessionist rebellion, one could only imagine the consternations that singular act caused and thus sealing his fate for regime change.

THE MONKEY’s HAND IN THE SOUP POT

Because of the fear of the United States to the perceived Soviet influence in the new government, the Eisenhower administration sent in the CIA. Allen Dulles, the then director of the CIA, cabled the CIA station in Léopoldville today kinshasha the capital, in August 1960: “We conclude that his removal must be an urgent and prime objective and that under existing conditions this should be a high priority of our covert action.” So the CIA station, in tandem with Belgian intelligence officials, subsidized two opposition senators who attempted to organize a vote of no confidence against Lumumba’s government. The plan was for Joseph Kasavubu, Congo’s president and Lumumba’s rival, to dissolve the government after the vote and nominate one of the senators as the new prime minister. The CIA also funded anti-Lumumba street demonstrations, labour movements, and propaganda. But Kasavubu, encouraged by the Belgians, acted too early and unconstitutionally and went public in announcing the firing of Lumumba two days before the vote was to be held, in breach of the rule of law. Lumumba responded by refusing to withdraw and continuing to dominate parliament, which would have to approve a new government. Devlin quickly found a solution to the stalemate in Mobutu, in the 29-year-old power hungry army chief of staff. In two meetings, Mobutu told Devlin that he was moving troops to the capital (it could just be that former encouraged the ambitions of mobutu) thus the U.S. took over that operation in acting against Lumumba. Devlin agreed to finance his efforts, as reported by the new Foreign Relations of the United States series volume and encapsulated it as, “this was the beginning of the plan for Mobutu to take over the government.” On September 14, Mobutu announced that he was suspending parliament and the constitution. He overthrew Lumumba and placed him under house arrest while keeping the U.S stooge Kasavubu on the job, but now Mobutu was the power behind the throne.

CIA’s program initially focused on removing Lumumba, not only through assassination if necessary but also with an array of nonlethal undertakings that showed the Agency’s clear understanding of the Congo’s political dynamics (inter/intra-groups fault lines). The activities included contacts with oppositionists to oust Lumumba with parliamentary action; payments to army commander Mobutu to ensure the loyalty of key officers and the support of legislative leaders; street demonstrations; and “black” broadcasts from a radio station in nearby Brazzaville, across the border in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to encourage a revolt against Lumumba. The CIA’s multiyear, multifarious covert program and the complexities of planning and implementing it. The volume provides additional detail about the assassination plot against Lumumba and his eventual death at the hands of “tribal rivals” abetted by their Belgian allies, substantiating the findings of a Belgian parliamentary inquiry in 2001.

The plot to assassinate Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was a sinister but simple operation which is the culmination of the many years of meddling, the house arrest house arrest and his subsequent escape from that detention was staged, Lumumba being from a different ethnic group to the usurper mobutu will feel extremely threatened being in the grips of such a dictator, it will only take one or two soldiers to play into Lumumba’s nationalistic credentials that they like him were nationalist and are ready to “free him” for the growth of Congo, when in reality they were setting him up for the fall. So it played out that Lumumba fled house arrest from the capital late November 1960 and was tracked down and killed soon after by “tribal rivals” absorbing the UN mission, U.S, Belgian, and Congolese authorities of blame as a classic example of political ethnic squabbles.

The dominant narrative in U.S. foreign policy circles portrayed the U.S. covert action in Congo as a surgical, low-cost success, which the people of the Congo and the present reality of the socio-economic life of the country’s state will beg to differ. In 1975 the U.S. Senate investigation by the Church Committee, which was somewhat critical of the CIA, concluded that of the five covert paramilitary campaigns it studied, the operation in Congo was the only one that “achieved its objectives.” Those who hold this view credit the U.S. government with avoiding a direct military confrontation with the Soviet Union and China while foiling the communists’ attempts to gain influence over a key African country. They acknowledge that the CIA contributed to the fall of Lumumba, who lost a power struggle with Joseph Mobutu, the pro-Western head of Congo’s army, in September 1960. But they maintain that even though the CIA plotted to assassinate Lumumba once, even trying to get a recruit to poison his toothpaste or food it never did so, and had no hand in his eventual murder, in January 1961. They also recognize the agency’s contribution to the military defeat of Lumumba’s followers.

The Congo today stands as a testament to brazen disregard for respect for state’s sovereignty, and a struggle to curb the interest of a perceived adversary, while throwing to the dustbin vaulted “values” that serve the interest of the preacher. The enthronement of mobutu sese seko one of Africa’s most despotic kleptomaniac was not only evil but a great disservice to the African race and humanity. The story of mobutu and the Congo is a long and unpleasant one, his role in suppression of individual and collective liberties, being a proxy force against the struggle for independence for another African sister state, institutionalized corruption and embezzlement, etc. all of which will not have been possible without the support and guiding arms of the CIA which ran for decades. This is by no means the end of the sad story.

Author: Aaron D. Chiroma