Post-independence events in the Republic of the Congo are a veritable Gordian knot. The ambitions of Congolese political leaders, Cold War rivalry, Pan-Africanism, Belgium’s continued economic interests in the country’s mineral wealth, and the strategic perceptions African History & Politics of other southern African states all conspired to wrack Africa’s second largest country with uprisings, rebellions and military interventions for almost a decade. Congo Unravelled solves the intractable complexity of this violent period by dispassionately outlining the sequence of political and military events that took place in the troubled country.
The reader is systematically taken through the first military attempts to stabilize the country after independence and the two distinguishing military campaigns of the decade—the United Nations military operations (Opération des Nations Unies au Congo, or ONUC) to end the secession of the Katanga Province, and the Dragon Operations led by Belgian paratroopers, supported by the US Air Force, launched to end the insurgency in the east of the country—are chronicled in detail. Finally, the mercenary revolt—an event that tainted the reputation of the modern mercenary in Africa—is described.
Lesser known military events—Irish UN forces cut off from the outside world by Katangese gendarmes and mercenaries, and a combined military operation in which Belgian paratroopers were dropped from US Air
Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and supported by a mercenary ground force to achieve humanitarian ends—go far toward resolving the enigma surrounding post-independence Congo.