“The spirit of our endeavour is, To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield”

Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo, President

Mozambique: is the insurgency out?

In July 2024, the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will come to an end. The phase out began on the 15th of December 2023, and is now expected to be completed by the 15th of July.
Source: Cabo Ligado on ACLED data.

The deployment of SAMIM military mission in 2021 was a regional response to support the Republic of Mozambique in combating violent extremism in Cabo Delgado, a northern coastal province. The Mozambique Defence Armed Forces (FADM), SAMIM forces and Rwandan troops have worked together to reduce the violence, insurgent attacks and facilitate the return of displaced people to their communities. Among the SADC countries, South Africa provided the largest contingent of around 1.500 personnel. Islamic State terrorists are estimated around 200 by 2024.
Since July 2021, according to the armed forces, the number of Islamic State (IS or Ansar al Sunna, Followers of the Sunna) fighters has significantly decreased and the territory has been reconquered by 90%, while the killing of Ibn Omar, the military commander of IS Mozambique, was a further success. However, despite this progress, the insurgency in Cabo Delgado is far from over, and concerns about insurgent infiltration, radicalization, and recruitment continue to grow. IS insurgents now avoid killing people, taxing them instead and trying to befriend Muslims in the population.
The conflict has intensified in 2024, with Islamic State-backed insurgents launching attacks on the N380 highway and seizing strategic territory on the Macomia district coast. FADM’s withdrawal from and recapture of the village of Mucojo has further revealed its weak points, including shortages of food, unpaid salaries, insufficient training, indiscipline amongst troops and outdated equipment.
Moreover, the number of internally displaced persons remains high, with nearly a million people affected, and the Mozambican government’s progress in addressing the root causes of instability, such as socio-economic exclusion, remains uncertain. The protection of natural gas fields, crucial to Mozambique’s economy, will be a major challenge after SAMIM’s withdrawal, particularly with the resumption of TotalEnergies’ LNG project, worth €20 billion and interrupted since 2021.
The European Union has trained members of a special forces unit, the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), but their effectiveness without the support of international forces remains to be tested, as evidenced by recent ambushes suffered by troops.
The early withdrawal of SAMIM raises concerns about Cabo Delgado’s future security, the FADM’s effectiveness, and the government’s ability to address the conflict’s root causes.  

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