The Next Front

Without great fanfare or notice Jihadists have appeared to successfully open another front in #Africa that has not generated the interest that such efforts have drawn in the past.

By Scott Morgan

July ended in #Mozambique with an announcement by President Filipe Nyuse that the Security Forces will hunt down and unmask the attackers who are responsible for a series of incidents over the past two years in the northern province of #CaboDelgado. At least 250 people have perished as a result of the violence in this region. The authorities have managed to arrest over 400 suspects since the violence has begun but there have been few convictions in court. This has to be frustrating to the government.

The region has two distinct markers that could highlight both the rationale for the attacks and a possible reason for Mozambique to receive assistance from several major geopolitical actors to resolve the situation.

First of all are the obvious factors. Cabo Delgado currently has a substantial Muslim Population. This means in the eyes of some this is fertile ground to recruit new fighters or even to possibly relocate to in an effort to continue operations against Western interests in #EastAfrica. The relocation theory has been the most promoted considering recent events in #Somalia. There have also been some anecdotal reports that some of the insurgents have also spoken French as well. Current documentation suggests a link to groups based in the Eastern #DRC and the insurgents in Mozambique.

There has been some pushback regarding whether or not these groups are domestic in nature or have actually joined the #IslamicState as it searches for a new location for the physical caliphate. Regardless of the location they originate from they have proven successful in frustrating the current leadership in Maputo.

Cabo Delgado is the home of several large blocs of Natural Gas. Some of these fields are controlled by Indian Energy Companies and others by China. Access to these fields could deprive #Maputo of badly needed revenue and cause some demonstrators to hold rallies and chant no war for Gas.

That being said the main question is does the Armed Forces of Mozambique have the current capacity to conduct a major operation in Cabo Delgado that could defeat the insurgency and restore peace and tranquility to the north? Conventional Wisdom suggests that the Military does not have this capacity at this time and will need assistance from a major Geopolitical Actor to improve their capacity to launch such an operation.

There are several concerns regarding any assistance. Whichever nation provides Mozambique with the proper assistance to improve its Military will be accused of only doing this just for access to the abundant Natural Gas. There is no way around this narrative and probably no use in debunking it either. Stability in Mozambique should be the major concern to ensure that the issues do not spill over into #Tanzania. Issues in Mozambique will also affect two other struggling countries in Southern Africa. They are #Zimbabwe and #Malawi. Both countries rely heavily on the Port of Beira for most of their International Trade. If the port or even the Railroad running north from the city is cut then both nations could suffer.