United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will visit Goma this week to draw attention to the conflict in eastern Congo.  His legacy will now be heavily impacted by future events there.

The UN recently authorized a new mandate for the now ex-peacekeepers in Congo.  The former peacekeepers have now been elevated to soldiers.

Last year, the UN peacekeepers looked the other way when the rebel M23 forces captured Goma without a fight after vowing the defend the city. This was a colossal embarrassment to the UN.  Now, the UN has authorized their soldiers to have unprecedented scope to use force and proactively route out the M23. Tanzania will lead this operation and some of their troops are now in place in advance of a total of 3,069 expected from various southern Africa countries.

Rwanda has been suspected of supporting the M23 in the past, but they continue to insist otherwise.  Foreign aid to Rwanda was stopped because of this but has begun to flow again.  Future aid to Rwanda will be dependent on having a lack of evidence that they are supporting the M23. The M23 appear well equipped although they have recently been hit with some defections.

With the first fighting in six months, the M23 today attacked the road from Goma to where the new force is expected to be centred. UN helicopter gunships were deployed to maintain and re-open the road.  The UN declared the operation to be over.

When serious military strength has been required, the world has looked in only one place: NATO. Committing to a more aggressive UN policy could have far reaching implications. Will this become a new template in other hot spots? Will the UN buckle and fail against the M23 who have far more to lose than UN soldiers?

A big question mark for the UN was whether they could get adequate soldiers committed by the various nations. Peacekeepers paid by the UN, no problems. Soldiers exposed to serious risks, another matter. It appears that the UN has managed to twist enough arms to present a viable fighting force.

One positive for the UN is the exclusion in this new force of soldiers from Muslim nations. Of the 19,000 UN soldiers in Congo, the top four countries represented in order are India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Egypt. These nations are all using the UN as an employment program with their expenses all paid out of UN head office in New York. Unlike our professional Western armies, soldiers from these countries are not high quality and rarely want to be there. Muslim attitudes toward infidel non-Muslims, and even worse, black infidel non-Muslim, results in soldiers with no motivation to risk themselves to protect the local Congolese population. The use of African soldiers and exclusion of Muslim nations in this latest operation undoubtedly reflects lessons learned from the sorry history of UN peacekeeping to date in Congo.