Today I look at the debate over whether to send an EU “bridging” force to Congo. The UN plans to beef up the UN force in Congo, MONUC, but it can’t mobilize additional troops for months. The idea behind an EU deployment would be to get a small agile force on the ground quickly to secure strategic towns and provide some stability while the UN force refocuses on civilian protection outside the cities. The massacre in Kiwanja last month unfolded even with a UN peacekeeping base nearby. Belgium has offered troops and its foreign minister is keen to see an EU force go but Britain and Germany, countries that actually have troops standing by for emergency deployments, are reluctant to deploy them. It doesn’t make sense for France to send troops to Congo because it has terrible relations with neighboring Rwanda (which is anyway accused of stoking the conflict in eastern Congo–an accusation it denies.) President Sarkozy said today he thought African troops should go, not European troops. Yesterday EU leaders failed to agree on an EU force. It’s not clear that the idea is dead yet though. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is due to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Monday.
Here’s the piece: