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Insurgency in Cabo Delgado How did it start?

15 Apr 2021 at 02:57hrs | Views
No human eye has seen such a level of cruelty perpetrated on another human being by another human. The gruesome nature of the killings rape and suffering caused by these ISIS rebels is indeed knee shaking. Humanity has painted its history in black in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.

The Insurgency in Cabo Delgado is an ongoing conflict in Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique, mainly fought between Islamist militants attempting to establish an Islamic state in the region, and Mozambican security forces. Civilians have been the main targets of attacks by Islamist militants. Of late the Islamists militants have now targeted foreigners and expatriates. The main insurgent faction is Ansar al-Sunna, a native extremist faction with tenuous international connections.

Ansar al-Sunna (transl. Supporters of the tradition), also known as al-Shabaab, Ahlu al-Sunna, Swahili Sunna,and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jammah,is an Islamist militant group active in Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique.

Ansar al-Sunna's name is similar to the name of an Iraqi Sunni insurgent group that fought against US troops between 2003 and 2007. Locals call them "al-Shabaab" but they are a separate organization from Somali Al-Shabaab.The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and outside observers have claimed that all or at least factions of Ansar al-Sunna have joined the Islamic State's Central Africa Province. Regardless, ISIL does not seem to actually control the Mozambican insurgents, although there is evidence that it has sent trainers to aid the insurgency.

From mid-2018, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has allegedly become active in northern Mozambique as well,and claimed its first attack against Mozambican security forces in June 2019.In addition, bandits have exploited the rebellion to carry out raids.The insurgency is intensifying, as in the first half of 2020 there were nearly as many attacks carried out as in the whole of 2019 and in the first quarter of 2021 they have taken over towns and displaced over a million people killing over five thousand civilians.

The northern Mozambican town of Mocimboa de Praia came under heavy attack by a jihadist non-state armed group on 23 March. The town is best known internationally for its proximity to Mozambique's liquid natural gas fields, still under development and set to be worth tens of billions of dollars. Because the rebels specialise in cutting off internet and completely blackout the dissemination of information it becomes hard to distinguish fact from fiction. The reality is that when the rebels gain any ground they hoist their flag. The news paints a picture of an increasingly capable rebel force, which may have mounted a seaborne assault on the town with speedboats and barricaded main roads.

The Cabo Delgado province of northern Mozambique has been embroiled in violence since October 2017. Over the course of these four years, well over five thousand have been killed and over a million displaced. The Mozambican armed forces are unable to contain the violence, which led to the involvement of troops from the Russian private military company Wagner. Its forces arrived in Mozambique in September 2019, but suffered a number of defeats and deaths at the hands of the fighters in the first two months. Wagner has not left Mozambique, but it has had to significantly reassess the strength of its opponents. Meanwhile, Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has claimed responsibility for some of the violence, referring to its Central Africa Province (ISCAP) as having been behind certain attacks.Despite their impact, these militants are extremely poorly understood – to date there is no agreed-upon name for the group. Journalists and researchers are largely blocked from accessing Cabo Delgado. It isn't clear whether the present violence is the work of a singular group, or whether multiple groups have now formed in the area, with other violent actors taking advantage of the chaos to pursue their agendas. The insurgency was allowed to grow and become a menace.

The region took its sweet time to militarily help the Mozambican government. Despite their proximity to Mozambique American Special Forces soldiers began training Mozambican troops this week as part of an effort to repel a spreading insurgency in northeastern Mozambique which is a boost to the SADC forces who are prepared to take their helping position now. American officials say the rebel group is linked to the Islamic State. The insurgency, are actually led by some Mozambican criminals who are hoping to control the natural resources found in the province. It is therefore not surprising that the war is waged near some of the world's biggest gas reserves.

Despite the atrocities committed by these rebels The American program is modest in size and scope: A dozen Army Green Berets are to train Mozambican marines for the next two months. But it signals the entry of the United States military into a counterinsurgency effort that has been aided so far mainly by South African mercenaries, who have faced accusations of human rights abuses.

The war in Mozambique is part of an alarming expansion of insurgencies believed to have ties to the Islamic State in several parts of Africa. This speaks volumes of SADC which only stood up to act yesterday after hundreds of Zimbabwean and other SADC citizens were murdered last week in Palma. In actual fact the rebels have become stronger and have expanded further. In the past year, militants have captured swaths of territory in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, including a port on the Indian Ocean, and beheaded hundreds of civilians, according to human rights groups. The spread of the activities of the rebels has caught nations unprepared.

 "I don't think anyone saw this coming," Col. Richard Schmidt, the deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Forces in Africa, said in a telephone interview from Maputo, Mozambique's capital. "For this to crop up so quickly is concerning."

 A French journalist wrote that "This conflict appears to have been seeded by external actors, but it was nurtured in Cabo Delgado by widespread local grievances. Cabo Delgado is one of the poorest regions of Mozambique, but it is also a place where inequality and injustice are acutely felt. Transnational crime networks make extensive use of northern Mozambique's coastline, smuggling rubies, heroin and other valuable commodities. These criminal actors have powerful connections to Maputo's political elite, which they make little effort to hide. Other than the illicit economy, there are few ways for ordinary people to make money in Cabo Delgado. Still, those who are caught smuggling face jail and heavy penalties, unlike those among the political classes with known criminal fortunes. Private companies with investments in the area have also acquired a reputation for abuses and land grabs. " so the blood which is now spilling ind Mozambique started as corrupt agendas by men in power. The rebels are not fighting to remove the Mozambican government. They want to put an Islamic rule in the northern Mozambique. The problem is once you allow that you will have pockets of resistance all over the region. The recent discovery of vast natural gas reserves in Cabo Delgado raised the prospect of new wealth in the region. With this discovery the criminals in government then encouraged the rebels to run the province so that they control the resources. What angers the locals of this area is the fact that the companies which are working in that province have employed foreigners. While this is not the main problem but it has contributed to the strife in the area. But, it rapidly became clear to residents that they would not receive new jobs or other benefits from the gas reserves, deepening their political cynicism.

This reminds us of the Mashurugwi menace in the Midlands thanks to President Mnangagwa he put his foot down and stamped out such rebellious machete wielding thugs promoted by some politically strong men in the province. Mozambique has given us a lesson on what corruption can do if it is left unreported. It harms even the innocent in the remotest areas you never think of.

Poverty brings a new wave of radical but empty headed preachers like Talent Chiwenga.

A new wave of radical preachers began working in Cabo Delgado in 2014 and 2015, many of whom were believed to have come from over the nearby Tanzanian border. Some were Tanzanian nationals, but there were also – reportedly – a few Kenyans, Ugandans, Somalis and Congolese. The mix of nationalities is not surprising – East Africa's many Islamist networks run long, even when they just consist of a few individuals. It appears that the preachers found an audience among a number of disenfranchised Muslim youth in Mozambique, and a new sect of ultra-conservative radical Islam began to form in the area. Religion is not the extremists' only tool but it must be dealt with from the beginning. Zimbabwe has preachers who attack the government from the pulpit this will have rebellious effects very soon. The corrupt leaders who are controlling our natural resources for themselves are using money to get support against the government yet pretending to be close friends of the president. So was the situation in Mozambique,The new sect in Mozambique offered its prospective members small business loans, which could be invested in a sector of their choice. The only condition was loyalty to the sect, and a pledge that when the time came, they would turn over their assets for the cause. In an area where income is hard to come by, this would have been an extremely tempting proposition. It appears that since at least 2015, the group has been preparing for militant action, and running training camps in the compounds of some of the mosques they built. While it did find many willing recruits, a majority of Cabo Delgado's residents were opposed to their activities. But the government did not act then. The government was afraid that the West will call them dictators if they shut down such activities. But now the activities are being shut at a higher cost. The new sect was inflaming tensions within Muslim families and mosques, pitting the Sufi traditions of the area against the new radical brand of Islam. Locals were disturbed by the militant preparations and reported the group to the authorities several times. However, the security forces did not respond until May 2017, when they began imprisoning large numbers of youth they suspected of involvement, further heightening a sense of mistrust of the authorities. The militant Islamists finally struck back against the security forces, first in August and then more spectacularly in October 2017 when they attacked the police station and other government buildings in Macimboa de Praia, killing 17.  The attack's notoriety spurred the militants' recruitment efforts, and the group quickly expanded to over 300. Its present numbers are unknown, but its capability suggests it has grown further. Its recruitment has likely been aided by repressive military actions on the part of the security forces, and the group's strategic charitable gestures to targeted communities. While the militants portray themselves as just and pious in contrast to a corrupt state, they have used widespread violence against civilian communities, including beheadings and other gruesome actions. This appears to have started after some villages set up their own defence units to combat the militants. Only Last week the United States formally designated the group, as a global terrorist entity and imposed sanctions on its leader, named by American officials as Abu Yasir Hassan. This is too little too late. Abu Yasir had sold Mozambique's natural resources to America making him rich and giving him the capacity of recruiting many more terrorists. Abu Yasir has history of mental health yet he controlled so many people so many believers. I can not help but to draw similar lines with our own radical pastors who are using the pulpit to attack the government. Some have mental health history and they are now having slogans praising themselves and not God. This must be dealt with now it is not too late. But Le me go back to Mozambique. it is unclear how strong the ties are between the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and this group, as well as some others in Africa, the belief is the group is well connected in terrorism and judging by the atrocities it causes and the trail of destruction it causes and leaves behind it is clear they are well connected. It has been proven that the insurgency in Mozambique includes some fighters from Tanzania, but most come from the local area, a place of deep poverty and endemic corruption. The militants' ultimate aims are still unclear. The only public communication on behalf of the group has come from official ISIS media agencies. ISIS issued its first claim to an attack in Mozambique in June 2019, claiming the militancy there as part of ISCAP, and it has since claimed credit for several more attacks. How much credence these claims should be given is the subject of much debate. There is no evidence to suggest ISIS's remaining core is behind the growth of Mozambique's violence. However, there is reason to suspect a limited amount of coordination between the Mozambican militants and the Islamist fighters in Democratic Republic of Congo, who are also labelled as ISCAP fighters. The Congolese militia Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) has some tenuous links to ISIS, and individuals with known ADF connections have been arrested in Mozambique.

 Mozambique's jihadists tell us that transnational connections and ideas still spark radicalism, but the social conditions of the places where they land will determine whether conflict follows.

 Mozambique has itself to blame too. It started by inviting soldiers for hire ignoring its neighbours completely. But as our brother in all weather Mozambique finally turned to the region and the region has willingly agreed to help. An injury to one is an injury to all. In 2019, an estimated 160 contractors from Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked private military company, flew into Cabo Delgado. But they quickly withdrew after at least seven Wagner personnel were killed by insurgents, American officials say.Then Mozambique turned to mercenaries from South Africa, specifically the Dyck Advisory Group, which have come equipped with small helicopters armed with side guns.But Amnesty International recently accused the mercenaries of possible war crimes, including killings of civilians. More broadly, their effectiveness against the insurgents has been limited. John T. Godfrey, the State Department's acting coordinator for counterterrorism, told reporters the United States was "concerned" by the presence of private contractors who have "not demonstrably helped" to win the battle against the Islamic State. "It's frankly a feature of the landscape in Cabo Delgado that complicates rather than helps efforts to address the terror threat there," Mr. Godfrey said.  Regional experts, though, say some of those groups may be using the Islamic State name to sow fear and attract funds, while prosecuting conflicts that are essentially local in nature.

 The people in Mozambique now leave in fear. The level of the cruelty in Mozambique is unbearable. If the region does not act now we will be seeing another African Massacre.

 While Zimbabwe sends its soldiers to Mozambique we need to review how leaders in provinces are creating divisions and abusing our natural resources for their own amassing of power and wealth. We need to look into our preachers of hate and see what spirit are they using. This peace is important we need to guard it with all we have. Stories from Mozambique are disturbing. Remember the world is now a global village so your own son or brother or father might be in Mozambique working for you. Any attack to civilians in Mozambique it may be one of ours.

Source - Dr Masimba Mavaza
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