Mozambique – Rabeb Haddada – 23-12-2020
Translated by Rania Salah
Mozambique: The treasures’ country
Mozambique is considered as one of Africa’s richest countries. It retains one of the largest ruby deposits in the world, located in Cabo Delgado. The British Gemfields Group owns a concession in the province, that produces 40% of the world exports of ruby.
Mozambique also possesses the largest gas reserves in the East African States and the 9th largest global reserve estimated at 5000 billion cubic meters. A series of gas investment projects estimated at 130 billion were launched. According to specialists, in a decade from now Mozambique will be ranked fourth in the world in terms of exports.
In addition, Mozambique owns the largest graphite mine in the world located in the city of Balama.
As for coal production, the country has the fourth largest coal mine worldwide and is invested by the Brazilian Vale Company. The country’s natural resources list may go on, however, with lower ratios of gold, bauxite, tantalum, and titanium.
Oil and gas companies have been fighting over the territory for a decade. The oldest stationed companies in the region are the American Andarako Petroleum Corporation, the Italian Eni Group, and joining in later the French Total SE, in addition to the American Exxon Corporation.
Despite the enormous number of natural resources, the human development index is still very low.
According the 2018 statistics, Mozambique is ranked 44th in Africa and 180th worldwide. Citizens also live with very low incomes, as the average per capita income in the country is 1.2$ per day.
Political corruption remains an issue in the country, as well as a stratified social system that existed since the Portuguese colonialism.
The educational system is almost absent and remains preserved for a minority, which made the social climate appropriate for terrorism to become deep-rooted. Foreign terrorist Islamic and Christian groups emerged in the country since 2007.
The militant merged with the citizens, teaching them extremist thoughts, as well as urging them to replace and fight the local Imams for refusing to establish terrorist training camps.
They also advocated people to engage in confrontations with the current political system to implement religious rule, claiming that it is the only way to redemption and justice.
Thus, Mozambique has witnessed a state of instability and civil strife, between the locals and the extremists on the one hand, and between the opposition and the political system on the other hand.
From a civil uprising to a terrorist insurgency
Despite the country’s richness, impoverishment and low living standards resulted in a public outcry that grew especially in three northern provinces: Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula.
Most resources and economic activities such as tourism and agriculture are concentrated in the area, which led to a popular uprising in October 2017. The protestors seized the city of Mocimboa da Praia and its port for two days, through which the production of the LNG base in Palma is exported. Nevertheless, the extremist leaders took control over the protests and isolated the city of Palma from the rest of the country with the help of their armed members.
The leaders had direct relations with the Islamic State prior to 2017 and had enhanced its presence and broadened its base by financing the locals to plan projects and to recruit youth. In 2017, Daech features appeared during the popular uprisings and succeeded to reign over many areas.
Most of the extremist leaders were trained in both Eastern and Western Africa, where major Daech training camps are located.
Awakening of the Sleeping Death Ghost
Extremists and terrorists kept feeding young people their radical thoughts, establishing camps, and creating a cryptic terror organization among the native people so that the spark of the uprisings launches the wake-up call of the sleeping organization
. Acts of violence and terrorism have grown over the past two years, leading more than 500 thousand Mozambicans to displacement or to resort to other cities, fleeing the terrorist attacks in the northern part of the country.
On November 9th, 2020, militant Islamists beheaded 50 farm workers in Cabo Delgado Province. In addition, the insurgents burned homes and kidnapped women and children during their raids.
To justify these acts, they blamed the locals for leaking information regarding the organization to the Government’s Security Services.
The port seizure in de Praia City is considered one of the most dangerous military operations led by Daech in August 2020. In September 2020, the terrorist organization took control of the coastal islands of the area in which most of northern tourist activities take place
. The latter represented a threat to both foreign nationals and to investments in the sector, as they were expelled and pressured to evacuate the islands to eventually fall in the hands of the terror organization.
Daech recruited the young members of Ahlu-Sunnah Wa-Jama group (ASWJ) to act under their rule
. Most of their attacks are concentrated in Cabo Delgado Province, rich in natural gas and precious metals.
The organization intensified its attacks against mining sites’ workers. On November 1-2, 2019, a group of jihadist militants carried out an attack on a mining truck in Cabo Delgado, leaving 13 dead and injuring others.
In October 2019, two Russian nationals working in a gas field were killed by the same organization.
On October 14th, 2020, Daech crossed the borders of Mozambique to reach Tanzania with 300 terrorists, attacking a police station in the southern village of Kitaya.
The Annual Report of the Global Terrorism Index of the year 2020, released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, headquartered in Sydney, Australia, highlighted the drastic situation in Mozambique. The country has climbed 8 ranks since 2019 to become ranked 15th among the most affected countries by terrorism in the world.
The South African Group for Development Community and the Regional Efforts for Counter-Terrorism
The growing threat of terrorism has led to the gathering of the leaders of South African countries to discuss the crisis of terrorism spread in Mozambique. The discussions were made in a series of procedures seeking peacebuilding and stability in the region, thus avoiding bloodshed, displacement of citizens and the wastefulness of the country’s economic resources.
On December 15th, 2020, the presidents of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Botswana gathered in a summit held in Maputo and discussed the best ways to circumvent extremism and to assist the governments in fighting the terrorist groups, on the security, intellectual, and social levels.
The summit is part of the efforts done by the Southern African Development Community, founded in 1980 to enhance the quality of life of the people in the area and to solve political and economic problems facing the governments.
The Community members made sure to meet several times in the past months to research the same crisis that caused the death and the displacement of thousands of citizens.
The invitation of Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi to gather the Community members in his country to solve the crisis of groups spread in the North, is seen as a readiness for an imminent regional military intervention.
Few months ago, the President requested for international assistance, knowing that his country will not be able to stop the violence alone.
With the multiple terrorist attacks and the numerous international interests in Cabo Delgado, which touristic and economic stability are threatened by extremists, a military intervention remains a serious option, even though the local media stated that the President has not yet asked the SADC for one.
It is likely possible for the military intervention to include security forces from countries in the region. Private security companies will contribute significantly to this context, mainly to protect the major Powers interests, that are investing in natural gas in Cabo Delgado Province. However, this remains a possibility that depends on the President’s approval.