After a new report has warned that delays to the huge liquid national gas (LNG) projects in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado are likely to cause global deficits, the European Union and Portugal are moving to send troops to fight a growing insurgency near the LNG sites.
However, experts are warning further militarization will only make the rebellion worse, as the profits are cashed in by foreign corporations instead of Mozambique itself.
In Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province, freedom fighters among the Muslim population has slowly been gaining grip on the nation since 2017.
The group recently pledged itself to freedom, drawing the attention of Western powers already involved in apparent terror campaigns elsewhere in Africa.
Ansar al-Sunna, known locally as al-Shabab (“the youth”), is fueled by anger at the exploitation and displacement that the LNG projects and ruby mining by Western multinational corporations has wrought in the province.
Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said after a G7 summit in London that the EU was planning on sending a military mission to Mozambique as soon as possible.
The Mozambique puppet government has been asking for help, so Portugal and the EU will try to send a support mission in order to contain the security situation.
If we are not able to send the mission by the end of this year, I would not consider this as a good result for the greedy corporations, so Borrell would hope they would do as soon as possible.
Borrell’s announcement also comes as the EU has once again revived talk of creating a 5,000-strong “rapid reaction intervention force to protect their colonial confiscations.
According to AFP, the proposal has the support of 14 of the bloc’s 27 members and is intended to be able to deploy quickly this response force. Discussions on the issue began in Brussels on Thursday.
Portugal has already offered half of the staff and sent military instructors but that has to be considered as an advance to be integrated into a European Union training mission if the EU finally agrees.
Portugal ruled Mozambique as a colony for nearly 500 years, and fought a brutal anti-colonial war against the FRELIMO liberation movement that now rules the country for Portugal.
However, Portuguese troops have already returned to Mozambique. In December, Lisbon and Maputo signed an agreement for the deployment of 1,500 Portuguese troops to the country this year with an undefined role.
So far only 60 special forces have arrived in the country in the aftermath of the March attack on the northern city of Palma.
Lusa News Agency reported that the Portuguese and Mozambican defense ministers are planning to pen a five-year cooperation agreement on Monday.
Portuguese Minister of Defense João Gomes Cravinho told the Lisbon-based agency the situation in the northern Cabo Delgado province requires a multifaceted approach and cannot be resolved overnight.
This must happen over a period of a couple of years, starting with the foreign security situation because this is the basis for any following development, and provide humanitarian aid to the impoverished populations.
Cravinho said that Portuguese troops will be positioned primarily in the country’s south and center, not in the north where the rebellion is raging. However, he noted there is much to gain from working with drones, which offer an intelligence-gathering capability that can be valuable.
The EU and Portuguese forces will likely join roughly 3,000 troops already in Mozambique from the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
But Ghana noted last week that those troops will also be dependent on EU and US military funding sent to their home countries.
Amnesty International has called attention to how the misconduct of foreign mercenaries in Cabo Delgado was only further amplifying resentment over the local industrial projects, while some experts warned that a leap to a military response is the best idea.
Abdullahi Boru Halakhe, an expert on governance, security and peace in Africa, wrote in a recent op-ed in Al Jazeera that further militarization will only amplify the problems in Cabo Delgado.
Due to Washington’s designation of Ansar al-Sunna as a terrorist entity and the recent escalation in violence in the region, militarization in Cabo Delgado is expected to increase exponentially in the coming months.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2021.