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Brink of War: Tshisekedi's Ultimatum to Kagame Amidst Eastern DRC Turmoil

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Michelle Hayes

Jan 9, 2024

Rising Stakes in Great Lakes: The Role of SADC and Modern Warfare Dynamics in the DRC-Rwanda Escalation

Rising Stakes in Great Lakes: The Role of SADC and Modern Warfare Dynamics in the DRC-Rwanda Escalation

The escalating tension between Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Felix Tshisekedi and Rwandan President Paul Kagame has led to a precarious situation in the region, with Tshisekedi's recent threats to declare war on Rwanda if re-elected. This development is a significant escalation in the ongoing conflict, particularly in the context of the long-standing issues in the eastern DRC, including the activities of more than 100 armed groups such as M23 and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The situation has been further complicated by Tshisekedi's accusatory stance towards Rwanda for allegedly backing M23 rebels, a claim that Rwanda has consistently denied​.


Tshisekedi's declaration raises questions about the potential use of modern military equipment, including war drones like the CH-4 and the Sukhoi-25, signaling a possible shift towards a more technologically advanced form of warfare in the region. This shift would represent a significant escalation from the conventional forms of conflict that have characterized the region's instability.


Congolese Military's CH-4 Drone Assault Targets M23 Rebel Strongholds

The involvement of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the DRC adds another layer to the situation. The SADC Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (SAMIDRC) was deployed to support the DRC government in restoring peace and security in the eastern DRC. This deployment, which includes forces from Malawi, South Africa, and Tanzania, along with elements of the DRC Armed Forces, is aimed at combating the armed groups operating in the region. The SADC's involvement underlines the regional implications of the conflict and highlights the commitment of SADC Member States to support the DRC in achieving lasting peace and stability​.


If Tshisekedi were to follow through with his declaration of war against Rwanda, it could potentially lead to a full-scale regional conflict. Such a development could destabilize East Africa and may involve various regional players, including SADC forces. The introduction of advanced military technology, such as drones and fighter aircraft, could lead to increased destruction and a higher number of casualties. Moreover, it would pose significant challenges to peacekeeping and conflict resolution efforts in the region.


The situation remains highly fluid and unpredictable, with the potential for far-reaching consequences not only for the DRC and Rwanda but for the entire Great Lakes region. The international community, including Western nations and regional organizations, will need to play a critical role in mediating the conflict and preventing a further escalation of hostilities.


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