Monday, May 23, 2022

Mozambique's Civil War

 The Carta de Moçambique daily newspaper discovered 7,000 "ghost soldiers" in the ranks of a poorly paid and badly trained army with many of the salaries of fake soldiers were paid to senior defence officials, and that there are a growing number of children of former officers and politicians who receive salaries without ever having been in military training, let alone setting foot in a military unit.

At least 24 foreign nations have sent soldiers to support Mozambique in its fight against insurgents in northern Cabo Delgado province. Cabo Delgado is Mozambique's resource-curse province, with gas, rubies, graphite, gold and other natural resources. 2,000 well trained Rwandan troops were sufficient to largely take control of the two coastal districts, Palma and Mocimboa da Praia, near giant gas fields. Despite their successes, Mozambique's civil war rumbles on. The big struggles now are political - about money, the causes of the war, who can fight, and if the gas project can resume. Civil wars always attract outsiders, and there has been some involvement from Islamic State (IS) and jihadists from other wars, as well as finance from some Middle Eastern states.

Protests were growing that the profits were all going to an elite in the ruling party, Frelimo, and that few local jobs were being created. The coastal zone is historically Muslim. Local fundamentalist preachers said Sharia, or Islamic law, would bring equality and a fair sharing of wealth. The war started in 2017 when young people in Mocimboa da Praia attacked the local police station and army post, capturing weapons. Since then, more than 4,000 people have been killed and 800,000 forced from their homes.

Most Mozambican researchers say local issues remain dominant. But both the US and IS want this to be seen not as a local civil war, but as a clash between two global powers. In March 2021, the US labelled the insurgents as Isis-Mozambique and "global terrorists". This was widely rejected by those researching the war, and the US refused to release its evidence. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on 14 July 2021 stressed that the main US interest in Mozambique was "countering Isis". And on 4 April 2022 the US named Mozambique as one of five countries under the Global Fragility Act, which would involve substantially increased US involvement in Mozambique.

Meanwhile, apparently pleased with the growing publicity for such a small investment, IS began to call the insurgents IS Mozambique.

The fear is that IS and the US seem to be aiming for a proxy war in Mozambique. This stirs unhappy memories because in the 1980s, before the end of the Cold War, the US waged a proxy war against the then Soviet Union that killed one million Mozambicans.

Mozambique insurgency: Why 24 countries have sent troops - BBC News

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