Back to the Brink in the Congo
Both wars that devastated the Congo (Democratic Republic) in the past decade and led to some 3.8 million deaths began when Rwandan troops crossed the border into that giant country's unstable eastern region, the Kivus. History may be repeating itself in recent weeks as a Rwandan incursion stirs fears of a third catastrophe, but the situation can still be saved. There is uncertainty about what is actually happening on the ground in the isolated and rugged border terrain -- including whether the Rwandans are holding territory -- but the strong government in Kigali appears to have limited aims, and the weak government in Kinshasa is unlikely to confront the invaders seriously. At the least, however, the crisis threatens the Congo's fragile political transition. At worst it could cause the Great Lakes region to go up in flames again. The international community, including the UN, whose peacekeeping mission (MONUC) has stood by ineffectively, needs to sit all parties down for urgent discussions, decide on a course of action and apply a mix of muscle and diplomacy to make a comprehensive solution possible.