The French had obviously not skimped. Money and resources were no problem.
Operation Turquoise included over 2,500 members of elite units,
state-of-the-art weapons, command and control communications,
over one hundred armoured vehicles, batteries of heavy mortars,
a squadron of light armed reconnaissance and medium troop-lift helicopters,
even a dozen or so ground-attack and reconnaissance jet aircraft...
Despite its humanitarian Aim, Operation Turquoise had arrived extremely light in trucks,
which are essential for relief operations.
FRENCH HUMANITARIAN ARMY AID
While I was talking about stopping the ongoing genocide,
Lafourcade's staff were raising points about the loyalty France owed its old friends.
(I had been told the Habyarimana family had close ties to President Mitterrand;
one of his sons had serious business interests inside Rwanda.)
They thought that UNAMIR should help
prevent the RPF from defeating the RGF...
They showed overt signs of wishing to fight the RPF.
continued from FRANCE ORWELLIANLY AIDS RWANDA
"Shake Hands With the Devil"
by General Romeo Dallaire
excerpt from page 448-452
The city of Goma looked as though it had been painted in blacks and greys. At about 1000 on June 30, I was sitting up front with the crew as we made our final approach to the single airstrip. We had stopped to pick up our liaison teams and their vehicles in Entebbe and then had flown on over the Volcano National Park, which was the home of the endangered mountain gorillas. Dian Fossy was buried down there among her great apes, having given up her life to a butcher with a machete in that thick bamboo mountain forest. One of the seven volcanoes we flew over was in a state of instability, spewing out steam and ash.
Goma was depressing. Before the genocide, Gisenyi, across the border in Rwanda, had been a beautiful tourist town, but Goma struck me as a dreadful, dark backwater, even though it was the capital of Kivu province.
I could see the sprawling Turquoise [French Army] main base spread out before me. As we came down, I noticed hundreds of children playing chicken with the large cargo aircraft as they took off and landed. A misstep or a stumble and the children would be under the wheels of those monsters. No one had thought to put up fencing to keep the children out of danger. It was an unauspicious start to the first of my many visits to Turquoise [French Army].
Still, the French had obviously not skimped on their own logistics, billets and military requirements, and had carefully deployed around the airfield and in the town. Witnessing the size and level of the outfitting of the camp vividly put into relief my own lack of support. Money and resources were no problem when the full weight of a world power is put behind the effort. Operation Turquoise [French Army] included over 2,500 members of elite units such as the French Foreign Legion, paratroopers, marines and special forces. They were equipped with state-of-the-art weapons, command and control communications HQ assets, over one hundred armoured vehicles, batteries of heavy mortars, a squadron of light armed reconnaissance and medium troop-lift helicopters, even a dozen or so ground-attack and reconnaissance jet aircraft. They were being deployed to Goma by an armada of very large cargo aircraft -- Boeings, Airbuses Antonovs, Hercules and Transalls delivering supplies of all sorts. Large bladders of fuel and water were already functional, and a tent city to house troops and equipment was receiving final touches. All that capability was mustered under a command team that had worked together for years and was familiar with African conflicts.
A small group of tall, fit French senior officers was waiting for us at the edge of the airfield, looking very smart in grey-green field dress. Brigadier General Lafourcade introduced himself and his principal officers. He had a low voice, a generous handshake and an engaging demeanour. I introduced my team, which included Charles Petrie, the liaison officers and the journalists. Lafourcade invited us to climb into jeeps for the ride into the centre of town, where he had established his HQ. We made small talk as we drove along near-impassable streets carved out of lava-covered ground, bounding in all directons and trying not to hit any of the crowd in the streets. Everything was filthy from falling ash.
About twenty minutes later, we entered a low-walled compound with an unfinished building at its heart. The communication vehicles, antennas, satellite dishes, and land lines going every which way were the classic signs of a well-equipped HQ, even though doors and windows were missing and the rooms were still unfinished.
We convened in small, straight military field chairs in the middle of a Spartan briefing room. Lafourcade's staff had taped a few area maps on the wall, marked with minimal tactical information about troop deployments. Lafourcade was very interested in my opinion regarding the RPF [Tutsi Army] front line and confirmed that he had sent out troops toward Butare and Ruhengeri. Over the past few days, his force had set up a secondary airhead in Bukavu, across the river from Cyangugu. Lafourcade was very interested in my opinion regarding the RPF front line and confirmed that he had sent out troops toward Butare and Ruhengeri. His mandate, he said, was to protect people at risk but not necessarily to disarm the RGF [Hutu Army]. He was, however, going to take down the barriers and disarm the self-defence forces and the Interahamwe. He stressed that he was only in the region until UNAMIR 2 was operational -- at most for two months. Overall his briefing on his plan of action was rather skimpy, considering all the means he had at his disposal.
I walked Lafourcade and a couple of his senior staff officers through the mandate, concept, plan and operational status of UNAMIR 2. I then showed them a map marked with the five deployment sectors covering the country and the proposed force structure. I briefed them on the status of the battle for Kigali, and our picture of the massive movement of displaced persons and the major locations of camps. I then went to Lafourcade's map and drew the line that I saw as the outer limit of the French-protected area inside Rwanda. He was aghast. He could not believe the RPF [Tutsi Army] had moved so fast in the last week. I told him that there would be no room left for him to operate east of Gisenyi if the displaced persons moved any closer to the Zairean border. In the southwest, the RPF [Tutsi Army] was about twenty kilometres from Karama, east of Gikongoro, holding a front straight down to the Burundian border, though I did not know in what strength. The line I had drawn on his map left a narrow margin of no-man's-land between his forces and the most forward RPF positions. I made it clear that Butare was in essence in RPF hands. Still mulling what I'd revealed, Lafourcade proposed that we break for a light lunch and come back to the map after we had eaten.
Over lunch I found him to be much more genuine and level-headed than his officers. While I was talking about stopping the ongoing genocide, his staff were raising points about the loyalty France owed its old friends. (I had been told the Habyarimana family had close ties to President Mitterrand; one of his sons had serious business interests inside Rwanda.) They thought that UNAMIR should help prevent the RPF [Tutsi Army] from defeating the RGF [Hutu Army], which was not our job. I tried to alert Lafourcade to be on his guard when it came to the interim government [genocidal Hutu government], which I thought would likely do everything in its power to bring about a confrontration betweeen his forces and the RPF [Tutsi Army] to try to bring the French firmly on its side. I told him that the extremists [Hutu] were very astute and desperate, as well as in shock because so far the French had been taking down some barricades and seemingly doing nothing to help their cause. But my French interlocutors weren't convinced and continued to express their displeasure with UNAMIR's poor handling of the military aspects of the civil war. They refused to accept the reality of the genocide and the fact that the extremist leaders, the perpetrators and some of their old colleagues were all the same people. They showed overt signs of wishing to fight the RPF [Tutsi Army].
Some of these officers came from the colonial tradition of military intervention in the domestic affairs of former client states; they saw no reason to change their views over what they billed as one more inter-ethnic squabble. Other French citizens, such as Bernard Kouchner, seemed genuinely motivated by humanitarianism. I believe the French never did reconcile which attitude was supreme in Turquoise [French Army]. To be fair, I do not think that at that point many of the Turquoise troops had a clear idea of the scale of the massacres or the degree of complicity in the genocide by the Habyarimana regime. While I feel no inclination to be generous in interpreting the motives of the French military, I honestly believe that their subsequent face-to-face encounters with the reality of the genocide brought most of them to their senses.
The French media very soon would start to report interviews with French soldiers who were shocked that it was their allies who were conducting the massacres and not the RPF [Tutsi Army], as they claimed to have been told by their superiors. Some of them soon came to understand the horrible responsibility of peacekeepers in a genocide. Despite its humanitarian Aim, Operation Turquoise[French Army] had arrived extremely light in trucks, which are essential for relief operations. At Bisesero, hundreds of Tutsis came out of hiding to be saved by a French patrol. The soldiers told them to wait while they went to find transport, and left them out in the open and on their own. When they got back with the trucks, they found the Tutsis massacred by the Interahamwe. As Operation Turquoise [French Army] continued, more and more French soldiers experienced similar incidents and became disgusted with their role in Rwanda.
When we returned to the briefing room after lunch, I informed the French officers that the RPF [Tutsi Army] had asked that I be the link between them and Turquoise [French Army], and that UNAMIR be the arbiter and monitor of the demarcation line. We confirmed that Lafourcade would disarm all non-combat troops he encountered and also any persons who committed crimes, but he had no mandate to disarm the RGF [Hutu Army] in Rwanda. The French-led force would actively stop the killing in the Humanitarian Protection Zone (HPZ) -- the term we agreed on to describe the Turquoise-secured area of Rwanda. Lafourcade agreed that his forces would never go beyond the demarcation line. He would include UNREO [Rwanda Emergency Office] in the planning and execution of humanitarian efforts in the HPZ, which would keep us all in the loop. My mission would pursue its mandate even in the HPZ but in full coordination with his forces on the ground.
I asked him to concentrate on preventing the 2.5 million displaced persons from running through the western forest from fear of the RPF [Tutsi Army] , pointing out what would happen if they spilled over the border into Zaire. Lastly, I asked that his public affairs people get the message across in the HPZ that Turquoise [French Army] was not there to reinforce the RGF [Hutu Army].
The meeting ended on a friendly note, but I was certain that Lafourcade would have to confirm many of my points with Paris. And even though he struck me as a competent and decent commander, I did not leave his headquarters with the warm and fuzzy feeling that we were totally on net.
Go next to 3 of 3: FRANCE PROTECTS PERPETRATORS
60 MINUTES READING RWANDA
26. QUIET BLUE LAKE KIVU and 27. GOMA'S LUMUMBA VOLCANO and RWANDA GENOCIDE HORROR
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