GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo — Two weeks after seizing Goma, the M23 rebels withdrew Saturday with a warning that they still could retake the key eastern Congo city.
M23, backed by neighboring Rwanda, caused a geopolitical crisis with its surprise capture of Goma nearly two weeks ago.
They embarrassed Congolese President Joseph Kabila, whose troops gave up the city without a fight. They exposed Rwandan President Paul Kagame, whose persistent military interference in one of the world’s most troubled regions was widely condemned.
And they triggered local criticism of the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission, with Congolese complaining that the world body’s troops should have repelled the rebels -- even as government forces retreated.
M23, accused of myriad human rights abuses, is the latest successor to a string of militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled east with strong ethnic and military links to the Kagame regime, always denied by Rwandan authorities. A recent U.N. report on the conflict offered strong evidence of Rwanda’s military support for M23.