Islamic State insurgency Mozambique

Fred Gunner

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“The world still has no idea what is happening because of indifference, and because it seems that we have already become accustomed to wars. There is war in Iraq, there is war in Syria and there is also now a war in Mozambique.”
In an interview with Club Mozambique, the bishop of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa, recounts the constant daily struggles in the regional capital of Cabo Delgado.
Outside of the province, many people have little idea of the growing violence taking place in Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique that is affecting more than 700,000 people.


Response against the insurgency
The Mozambican army is trying to quell the insurgency. They have solicited the help of private military contractors including Russia’s Wagner Group and the South-Africa based security company Dyck Advisory Group. Estimates by the government put the number of killed insurgents at 100 in recent months. But the reality is the response has fuelled the movement; what was once a small uprising has now transformed into a larger threat.

Southern Africa: Cabo Delgado Civil War - Pressure Grows in South Africa for Intervention


South African General Xolani Mankayi has ordered the soldiers of his 43 Brigade, who form the rapid intervention unit of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), to begin an intensive training programme for possible action in Cabo Delgado if President Cyril Ramaphosa decides to intervene, according to Africa Intelligence (29 July). (Zitamar, Carta de Mocambique 30 July)

Africa Intelligence points to a "lobby" for military intervention led by the SANDF chief General Solly Shoke. He has backing of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapissa-Nqakula and her husband Charles Nqakula, a former defence minister. Charles was High Commissioner (ambassador) in Mozambique 2012-16 and the pair retain close links with Frelimo.

South Africa's Institute for Security Studies (ISS) is also lobbying for intervention. Police raided a house in Kliprivier south of Johannesburg on 23 July, arresting a five person kidnapping gang and finding weapons, training manuals, and an ISIS black flag (eNCA, 29 July). ISS consultant Peter Fabricius wrote in Daily Maverick (30 July) that "some security analysts believe the Kliprivier group was only involved in raising finances, mainly through kidnapping and perhaps extortion, for terrorist operations elsewhere, including in Mozambique." Jakkie Cilliers, ISS head of African futures and innovation told TimesLive (28 July) that it was well known that kidnapping syndicates in South Africa use ransoms as a source of finance for other criminal networks. “Extremist organisations are able to take root when there is a collapse or failure in governance as we see happening in northern Mozambique," he said.

Who’s to blame for the instability?
What is not clear is if the groups are connected or are fighting each other and the inhabitants for control. In addition to a growing death toll, the militants have also:

  • Targeted security forces;
  • Destroyed public infrastructure;
  • And stolen weapons from Mozambican troops.
But why the insurgency?

A decade before the violence, there existed a religious sect, Al-Shabaab, which was active in a few districts of Cabo Delgado. As a religious group, it sought the practice of radical Islam and Sharia law, and opposed all forms of collaboration with the government. But over time, it began to expand, including military cells along with a tougher discourse as of late 2015, until its members started fighting in 2017.

To feed the movement, the rebels looked to the local Muslim population that has been marginalised and neglected for years by the government. Unemployment and poverty are widespread in the region.
 

Fred Gunner

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Mozambique: Semi-Official Think-Tank Says Mozambique Must Use Mercenaries:

"Mozambique needs to recognise that it is facing a well-led group, that is adapting easily to the conditions imposed on it, and that it is taking advantage of the gaps and weaknesses of the country, especially the FDS [Defence and Security Forces]", warns semi-official think tank CEEI. The clear tone of its new Security Brief is that the Cabo Delgado war is unwinnable without mercenaries. https://bit.ly/CEEI-3

"Much of the progress made by Mozambique's FDS in the fight against terrorism in Cabo Delgado was due to the use of private military companies (PMCs) operating helicopters and drones," notably Dyck Advisory Group (DAG). "The withdrawal of mercenary companies does not mean that Mozambique's security forces will be able to provide security to regions that are affected by terrorism in Cabo Delgado. The final question is: would Mozambique have any other alternative but the use of PMCs, in view of the urgency and high risk that terrorists imposed on the populations of Cabo Delgado?"

The Brief notes that "the use of PMCs has become a common practice in the international system where their employment is done by both weak states and superpowers like the US, Russia and the UK." (Indeed, "about half of the US Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan is employed by private military contractors," according to an article in Newsweek by academic Bryan Stinchfield: https://bit.ly/US-PMC-BS)

"Mozambique has systematically underestimated the scale of insurgent success and increasing control and influence over the population and countryside."

"Mozambique has failed to develop a coherent civil approach to encourage de-radicalisation [and] interrupt recruitment"

"Whenever they manage to regroup, terrorists return more determined, more knowledgeable of FDS tactics and with increasingly effective weapons."

 

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Violence Creeps Toward $20B Mozambique LNG Project
Friday Sep 18, 2020
URL: https://www.rigzone.com/news/wire/v...bique_lng_project-18-sep-2020-163335-article/
Bloomberg) -- Total SE Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanné and Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi met to discuss an intensifying Islamic State-linked insurgency in the country’s north, where the French oil giant is building a massive natural-gas project.
For more than a month, militants have occupied a town about 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of where Total is spending $20 billion to extract natural gas from below the ocean and export it to European and Asian customers. The violence is now creeping toward Total’s Mozambique LNG project in the far northeast.
Recent videos that appear to show abuses, including torture and executions of civilians, by Mozambique’s army suggest the Cabo Delgado province has become increasingly lawless. Total last month said it signed an agreement with the government for a joint task force to provide security to the project. Hundreds of Mozambican soldiers had already been guarding the site.
“The security situation in Cabo Delgado was at the core of the discussion between President Nyusi and Patrick Pouyanné,” a Total spokesperson said of the Sept. 12 meeting in Maputo, the capital. “The government of Mozambique recently reiterated its commitment to respect international humanitarian law.”
Two days after the meeting, a widely shared video of men in military uniform gunning down a naked woman caused a public outcry in the country. Amnesty International said it has verified the men as government soldiers and that the incident occurred near a town less than 100 kilometers from the LNG project.
Woman Executed
A statement from the presidency about the meeting didn’t mention security. The Mozambican government has consistently tried to downplay the insurgency since it began nearly three years ago. The state has also rejected accusations by rights groups that its military is committing abuses and has blamed the insurgents for fabricating the videos.
The execution of the woman was carried out by the same forces who protect the natural-gas projects, according to the Center for Democracy and Development, a local non-governmental organization.
“There is no way to dissociate the LNG companies from this situation, as the army is in Cabo Delgado to protect above all the LNG projects,” Adriano Nuvunga, who heads the center, said in an interview.
Local Communities
“Total unequivocally denounces and condemns all forms of violence,” the company said. “The Group is concerned by the violence in Cabo Delgado, which affects local communities first and foremost.”
The memorandum of understanding the company signed with the government includes specific clauses to report, investigate and address any grievance closely or remotely related to the joint task force protecting the project, Total said. The agreement “includes very strict provisions on the respect of human rights,” it said in an emailed response to questions.
--With assistance from Paul Burkhardt.
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.
 
 

 

 

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