The Terrorism in Cabo Delgado.
Consequences for the security in Mozambique and beyond
The fifteenth conference in the cycle,
Africa Sessions 15
Friday December 17th, 2021, 18.00h – GMT (Lisbon Time)
Whereas Mozambican insurgency in the northeast province of Cabo Delgado gained visibility first after the attacks in 2017 in Mocímboa da Praia by the Salafi-jihadist movement Al-Sunnah Wal-Jamâa – locally known as Al-Shabab -, it only raised widespread international attention in March 2021 following the complex attack in the town of Palma and coastal Macomia. In 2019, the movement had pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – integrating, at least formally, the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP).
Likely transnational in nature, and with the potential to become transregional, external responses to the conflict were expected from the region itself within African Union’s African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), via the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in coordination with East African Community (EAC).
Nonetheless, despite signs for a potential initial support from SADC, the Mozambican government showed reluctancy in accepting it. Instead, assistance had been requested to the EU, mostly in the form of training of special forces, towards its counterterrorism efforts – similar to the type of support being provided by the USA and Portugal.
Different international assistance mechanisms have been fully deployed since: ii) participation in counter terrorism and insurgency efforts by Rwandan forces; ii) capacity building to security forces – via bilateral programs with the USA and Portugal, or more recently through the establishment of a new EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) Mission, EUTM Mozambique-; iii) launch and deployment of the SADC’s Standby Force mission (SADC Mission in Mozambique – SAMIM). At the same time, the revised EU strategy for the Horn of Africa released in May 2021 suggests a broader maritime dimension, expanding from the Red Sea to the Western Indian Ocean by including the Mozambican coast.
Amid current discussions on the post-conflict environment in Cabo Delgado, other cases in Africa, including in the Sahel, Somalia, or Northern Nigeria, reveal that any external intervention, either national, regional and international, cannot be isolated from political considerations. The role the different actors play or could potentially play in transborder governance issues, including its maritime dimension, requires further debate.
(*) We will draft some conclusions from the Africa Sessions webinar and we be send to all the participants has a newsletter 5 days after the webinar.
Center for Strategic and International Studies of Joaquim Chissano University in Maputo (CEEI/UJC)
Aslak Jangård Orre
Alexandra Magnólia Dias
Assistant Professor and Researcher
Luis Vinicius Mariano De Carvalho
Luis Bras Bernardino
Teacher and Researcher
Specialist in the matters of African Security and Defense
Ana Carina Franco
PhD candidate at NOVA Lisbon University;
Senior Associate at INCAS Consulting
Sheila Marcela Dinis Cossa
MSc in Maritime Security and Safety