- SADC orders Moza technical deployment
- Human toll rising as terror continues
Southern Times Writer
Windhoek – An Extraordinary Summit of the SADC Double Troika on Thursday resolved to despatch a “technical” unit to assist Mozambique quell a growing insurgency, stopping short of approving a full military deployment.
However, regional leaders said the attacks would attract a “proportionate regional response”, signalling the bloc could be moving towards a comprehensive response to the rebels who have affiliated themselves to Islamic State extremists in 2018, a year after they started the insurgency.
The Double Troika also said it would reconvene on April 28, a day after a ministerial committee sits to make recommendations on how best to tackle the terrorism in northern Mozambique.
Prior to this Extraordinary Summit, a rising chorus was calling for SADC to take action on the terror threat in Mozambique, and for authorities in Maputo to accept a regional intervention.
In its communiqué this week, the Double Troika said, “(The) Double Troika Summit directed an immediate technical deployment to the Republic of Mozambique, and the convening of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ by 28 April 2021 that will report to the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit on 29 April 2021.”
The Double Troika consists of Mozambique (SADC Chair), Malawi (incoming SADC Chair), Tanzania (immediate past SADC Chair), Botswana (Chair of SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation), South African (incoming Organ Chair), and Zimbabwe (outgoing Organ Chair).
The communiqué also said, “Double Troika Summit received a report from the Organ Troika on the security situation in Mozambique, and noted with concern, the acts of terrorism perpetrated against innocent civilians, women and children in some of the districts of Cabo Delgado Province of the Republic of Mozambique; condemned the terrorist attacks in (the) strongest terms; and affirmed that such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response.”
The leaders expressed their condolences to the government and people of Mozambique over the loss of life in the insurgency.
“Double Troika Summit expressed SADC’s full solidarity with the government and people of the Republic of Mozambique, and (reaffirmed” SADC’s continued commitment to contribute towards the efforts to bring about lasting peace and security, as well as reconciliation and development in the Republic of Mozambique,” the communiqué added.
Prior to the Summit, Mozambique positively signalled that it would accept international assistance in combating the terrorists – but that any such intervention would be limited in scope.
On Wednesday, President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique, who is the SADC Chair, told local media that: “We know in which areas we need support and which areas are up to us, Mozambicans, to solve. Those who arrive from abroad will not replace us, they will support us. This is not about pride, it’s about sovereignty.”
Ms Liesl Louw-Vaudran, a senior researcher with the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies told Xinhua that the unrest in Mozambique had the potential to destabilise the wider SADC region.
“It could affect southern Tanzania, Malawi and countries bordering Mozambique. It could affect the whole of Southern Africa because we can’t have a terror threat in the neighbouring country and region,” she said.
According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre, the regional instability threat is very real.
“Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are part of ISIS’s Central Africa Province, whose establishment was announced by ISIS in April 2019. In practice, there are two local organisations which pledged allegiance to ISIS: Ansar al-Sunna in Mozambique and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which also calls itself Madinat al-Tawheed wal Muwahideen, in Congo. These two organisations are apparently in contact with ISIS’s leadership in Syria.”
The Meir Amit Centre quotes researcher Eleanor Beevor saying there is presently “limited co-ordination” between the groups in the DRC and Mozambique.
It also says, “Tore Hamming noted in his recent article that ISIS’s Central Africa Province is administratively subordinate to Maktab al-Qarar (literally, ‘the Office of Decision’), which is based in Somalia and is responsible for ISIS’s branches outside Syria and Iraq. This may indicate that relations are maintained between ISIS operatives in Mozambique (as well as Congo) and ISIS operatives in Somalia.”
The human toll is getting heavy with each passing day.
According to Ms Louw-Vaudran of the Institute of Security Studies said, “The immediate concern is the humanitarian crisis facing refugees and victims of Cabo Delgado. The neighbours and SADC have to urgently use all the tools that it has to assist with humanitarian situations. It looks as if there is some kind of military assistance as well in consultation with AU and United Nations.”
This week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said its teams on the ground were reporting reports of a refugee exodus to Tanzania.
The UNHCR has previously said the insurgency has resulted in the displacement of at least 700,000 people and the figure could reach one million mid-this year.
Most estimates put the number of people dead at more than 2,500.
The economic cost is also huge, as the terrorists are operating in a region in which international firms are developing a multi-billion dollar gas business – a project that some experts say has itself fuelled the rebellion as extremists recruit marginalised young locals to their ranks.Dr William Mpofu, research co-ordinator at the University of Witwatersrand Centre for Diversity Studies in South Africa, told Xinhua that, “Violent acts of extremism and political fundamentalist will affect the economic life of the country. Tourism will collapse, national security will collapse and this will create an unfriendly violent climate for internal and external investment in Mozambique.”