For the second time since 2004, the US Department of the Treasury has seen fit to place sanctions on a Ugandan Militia currently operating in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) is a Ugandan Militia that was founded in 1996 during the era of conflict in the African Great Lakes region that began after the Rwandan Genocide and officially concluded with the ascension of Joseph Kabila to President of the DRC. This is where the story becomes most interesting.
During this period the UN Peacekeeping Mission that was sent to the region and the neighboring states had their own groups to focus on. There was the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) which was the Hutu Government that was driven out of the country by forces loyal to current President Paul Kagame, The M23 which is a Congolese Tutsi Militia has been eradicated by a joint effort by MONCUSO and the Congolese Government.
But what of the ADF? Better yet why wasn’t it taken seriously as a threat? It appears that elements within the US were paying attention to the actions of the group. In July 2004 the US Treasury placed sanctions on the group for the very first time. This was under EO 13413 which called for the US to place sanctions on those connected with the violence and atrocities that threatened the region at that time.
Fast Forward to 2019. There is a new Administration in charge in Washington. And there are sadly new reasons to target the ADF for Sanctions. The sanctions program targets the financial ability of the current leadership and others to raise funds. It has been documented that one of the reasons for the ADF to remain viable and not fracture was due to the strength of their financial networks. One of the reasons why the US levied these sanctions was an incident in August 2019 when over 240 Anglicans were kidnapped.
The ADF is not the only entity within the DRC that has sanctioned by the US Treasury. Several entities linked to the Lebanese group Hezbollah have been sanctioned as well for money laundering. One of the persons directly identified Mr. Tony Saab was targeted for his role in price-fixing in the Kinshasa Bread Market in 2018.
Mr. Saab was linked to another individual Nazeh Said Ahmad a well known Art Collector who has ties to the Blood Diamond Trade. He has also been a major financial contributor to Hezbollah as well.
Ever since the 2011 Presidential Elections in the DRC Hezbollah has found that the Country has been an excellent location to launder money and acquire assets to fund their efforts in Lebanon while withholding revenue to the Lebanese State. Operations in support of Syrian President Assad has probably placed pressure on Hezbollah as these actions could lead to expenditures outpacing revenues.
The US effort here is designed to place
pressure on Hezbollah while offering support to the Government of President
Felix Tshishsekedi. It is hoped that the Lebanese Economy will receive some
sorely needed revenues as well when these funds are returned to the Lebanese
Treasury as well.