The people of Central Africa are no strangers to war. They are probably strangers to peace at this point as the various civil and bush wars that erupted in the 20th century never really ended.

However, they have never seen a war like this before: Fueled by corporate interests of China, Europe and the United States and conducted by thousands of highly trained foreign mercenaries equipped to standards that would put most African armies to shame, supported by air wings with numbers, skills and technologies that outclass many African air forces.

The crash of 2012 bought the faltering economies of the Central African nations to their knees, and China was only too happy to provide “support” and “aid” in exchange for exclusive rights to much of the Congo’s mineral resources but this meant moving in mercenaries to protect vital mining assets which only infuriated the Ugandan backed Kivu rebels who regularly retreated into Ugandan and Burundian territory bringing reprisals from Congolese troops across the border, sparking more tensions with the neighbouring great lakes states.

In 2014, Uganda, backed by Rwanda and Burundi declared war against the DRC in order to create a “buffer zone” to keep conflict away from its borders...a buffer zone that included much of the Chinese held mines. An increase of Chinese military aid to the DRC saw a tit for tat increase in aid from the European nations to their former colonies.

Now one year later, Uganda has its “buffer zone”. But the DRC and fellow Hutu militias, flush with Chinese funded mercs and weapons, are poised for a counter attack.

The Conflicts

The Third Congo War

The Second Congolese War never really ended, rather it merely simmered for years as militias from both Hutu and Tutsi tribes raided along the borders of the belligerent countries, occasionally drawing a massive military response from the Congo or Rwanda.

The crash of 2012 weakened the only forces keeping the militias in check which led to chaos in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi as Hutu militias operated with impunity from bases in the Eastern Congo. Chinese military aid and mining operations in the area were supposed to bring stability to the region but the DRC and China, seeing their usefulness in countering Tutsi militias,  turned a blind eye to the Hutus.

This situation prompted an alliance between Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi in 2014 that pushed the DRC back along several fronts (with the exception of the south due to DRC naval superiority)  and lost them the valuable mining regions of Kivu. Now the Chinese have to deal with less favorable profit margins involved when mining under foreign military control. Of course, China dealt with this situation in the only way it knows how to: Massive military aid to the Congolese military. Throw in some Mercs as well.

Belgium, France and England were not going to leave their former colonies and prime sources of precious metals for the Chinese to control exclusively. Therefore massive amounts of aid flowed to the triple alliance. Oh, and Mercs as well.

The Situation in August 2015

Abyei Conflict

The Independence of South Sudan in 2010 brought some semblance of peace to the Nile Valley as profit sharing agreements between the North and South regarding oil revenue kept both nations from rocking the boat: South Sudan drills and extracts the oil under its soil and ships it north to Red Sea ports of Sudan for shipping and the profits are split 50-50.

South Sudan, seeking a better deal for its oil, announced plans for a pipeline through Kenya to the southeast for shipping instead of its northern neighbor. And that’s all the excuse Sudan needed to seize the contested area of Abyei in a short 2 month war along with the rest of the Northern Bahr el Ghazal province and claim all the oil revenues for itself. Only mediation by China, who has stakes in both countries, has kept this from escalating into a full on war. Mercenaries and guerrillas still continue operations in the area, trying to claim the region foreither side.

Somali Piracy

In late 2012, Somali Pirates were down and out. The Shabab had taken their toll on the sailors and with the defeat of Al Shabab, the federal government of Somalia looked to be in a strong position to restore order with the help of Ethiopian troops.

But the crash put and end to that. Support for the Federal Government quickly eroded as economies around the world cut budgets, especially now that Shabab insurgency was put down and Ethiopia withdrew its troops in 2013 and most anti-piracy vessels were withdrawn back to home ports.

For the Black Flags, it was a  stroke of divine intervention. Overnight, all of their enemies fell around them. No one has the strength to stop them. Their attacks become more audacious and their targets began to include military vessels and land facilities, mounting crude amphibious assaults and even rotary wing CAS Support in the biggest of raids.

For most in the region: It is a time of great suffering. For the pirates, it is the so called “Happy Times”