What’s happening in Mozambique

You may have heard that Isis is on our doorstep in Northern Mozambique and OMG WHAT THE HECK? 😱 But… it’s not as simple as that. 

The situation has caught our attention because at least 43 South Africans have been caught up in ongoing attacks on civilians and foreigners in the Cabo Delgado province, according to News24. Scary reports emerged of South Africans and others holed up in a hotel. Comms have been cut off, so we can’t tell how many have been killed. 

But the impoverished region has long been a battleground, as the country’s gas, ruby and mineral wealth was funneled to business and political elites and the poor saw no change in their circumstances or future. This is fertile ground for radicalism. Since 2017 there have been repeated attacks by armed militants, leaving scores of people dead. Thousands have been displaced. Total previously stopped operations until authorities could guarantee stability. The recent attacks took place after the company re-started its work. 

Locals armed militant groups behind the attacks are seemingly Muslim minorities. The organisation and others use the local name for the insurgents, al-Shabaab, which means the youth (and has no links to other al-Shabaabs), one expert on the conflict and area, Joseph Hanlon, wrote for New Frame. Amnesty International and other analysts have agreed. But that hasn’t stopped the Islamic State (IS) aka ISIS from claiming responsibility for the attacks, and US military and other Western powers getting involved. 

So now this conflict is being turned into a global fight against IS.

But as Hanlon put it: “If jobs were created and marginalisation reduced, the war could be stopped. Sadly, it looks as if the gas companies, the Frelimo elite and the US building a new cold war would rather fight mythical global Islamist terrorists.”