Northern Mozambique’s expanding violence is more than just an Islamist insurgency: its political history, ethnicity, as well as the interests of past and present political figures, private security enterprises, and multinational extractive corporations have all contributed to the surge of violence. The security forces’ confused approach, as well as the government’s blackout of media coverage raises more questions about government intentions than it does about ISIS infiltration.
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The violent extremist threat in northern Mozambique exploits underlying societal vulnerabilities of inequity, insecure land rights, and distrust of authorities.
The emergence of a new militant Islamist group in northern Mozambique raises a host of concerns over the influence of international jihadist ideology, social and economic marginalization of local Muslim communities, and a heavy-handed security response.
African countries can negotiate a more equitable role in FOCAC, but this requires a more strategically focused approach, better coordination, and greater accountability to their citizens.
Stabilizing northern Mozambique will involve more than defeating violent extremists. It will also require rebuilding trust with marginalized and traumatized local communities.
The risk of militarization of drone technology in Africa represents a new asymmetric tool that violent nonstate groups may deploy to extend the reach of their coercion, reshaping the African battlefield.
The contours of African militant Islamist group violence are shifting, though maintaining a record pace of havoc resulting in an average of 14 violent events per day.
Africa continues to experience expanding and record levels of forced displacement—a result of predatory governments, political fragmentation, and violent extremist groups.
(This article originally appeared as a chapter in "Russia Strategic Intentions White Paper," Strategic Multilayer Assessment (SMA) publication series, NSI, May 2019.)
Russia has significantly expanded its engagements in Africa in recent years. These engagements often take the form of propping up embattled and isolated autocratic leaders of countries that are rich in natural resources. The United States can draw a distinction with Russia’s destabilizing role by pursuing a positive engagement strategy in Africa. The United States must avoid the Cold War trap of competing with Russia for the affections of corrupt, autocratic leaders in Africa, however, as such a policy would be disastrous for Africa while not advancing US interests.
While the insurgency in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado grows increasingly violent, the unpoliced coastline of Northern Mozambique allows for the trafficking of hundreds of millions of dollars of heroin. The ruling Frelimo party reportedly pockets at least of $100 million of revenue from this trade each year. Efforts to combat the insurgents, who doubt that the government’s deals for natural gas exploitation will benefit all citizens have stalled, worsened by heavy handed tactics of government forces and their allied Russian and South African mercenaries. A better understanding of the dynamics at play, along with a recognition that criminalized power structures seek to protect themselves, will be required to craft adequate responses to the violence.
The Africa Military Education Program (AMEP) helps to strengthen professional military education institutions across the African continent through focused investments in faculty development and improved curriculum design and content.
A surge of violent events by militant Islamist groups in Africa, led by escalations in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, sets record and widens instability.