View Full Version : Mozambique (catch all)

10-21-2013, 11:03 PM
Tension has been mounting in Mozambique, although only last week did I spot a Reuters report on an attack on government soldiers and now the elected government (FRELIMO) has responded an attack on the opposition's (RENAMO) mountain refuge:
Mozambique's opposition Renamo movement has ended a 1992 peace accord after government forces attacked the jungle base of its leader, Afonso Dhlakama......A force of about 300 Renamo men has remained armed since the peace accord, despite efforts to integrate them into the army or police force.


The ex-Portuguese colony gained independence in 1974, FRELIMO taking power and then faced an externally supported insurgency by RENAMO till an internal peace settlement in 1992 (support came from Rhodesia till 1979 and then South Africa). Mr Dhlakama took 16.5% of the vote in an election in 2009, the fourth time he had lost, and an election is due next year.

In a 2007 post Rex Brynen commented:
How has Mozambique sustained democracy since 1992, despite having experienced bitter anti-colonial (1962-75) and civil (1975-92) war that left left almost a million people dead through its direct and indirect consequences? Six years later this question has become pertinent sadly

Suspected Renamo guerrillas killed seven Mozambican soldiers in an ambush on Thursday near the former rebel group's remote mountain hideout, local media said, the latest flare-up in a simmering insurgency..Analysts say this year's attacks are a reaction to it being pushed into political and economic obscurity by Frelimo, which is expected to dominate municipal elections due next month and nationwide elections in just over a year.


10-22-2013, 10:34 PM
Theoretically, the Mozambiquan military should be ready.

They have spent quite a lot in recent years, have trained a lot, and even resurrected their air force. After years of virtual non-existence, this is now flying four ex-Portuguese Cessna FB.337s...

...one An-26B...

...and had two MiG-21UMs overhauled in Romania (and then returned to Maputo on board of this Il-76, on 14 September):


BTW, should there be a serious war, then it's more likely to become quite a large one, perhaps as massive as the war back in the 1980s. For a very good source of reference in this regards, see:

10-23-2013, 08:54 AM
An Africa watcher noted:
Oil in Mozambique was a forerunner to trouble. I wonder where RENAMO got their new uniforms and arms?

Crowbat's observations are more recent than the IISS Military Balance, which shows the army is 9-10k, with less than 10% of equipment working and one wonders how two attack helicopters will make a difference.

I too recall the FRELIMO-RENAMO conflict many years ago, although I do not have the cited book. Earlier books, from the Rhodesian era refer to the skill of FRELIMO at times in countering incursions. At one point in the period the UK sponsored an infantry battalion to protect the railway IIRC to Malawi.

It will be interesting to see if those RENAMO fighters who did integrate into the national security forces remain loyal - at least Mozambique has better economic prospects, so may be able to retain loyalty by buying it.

10-23-2013, 07:58 PM
A blogger's commentary, which IMO provides more than found to date and one key passage:
Why is that after 20 years of peace in the country, Renamo decided to threat the recommencement of hostilities? Mozambique has been through a decade of positive economic growth (around 4% a year). Nonetheless, such growth has failed to be translated into economic development. In fact, the majority of Mozambique’s population lives in poverty and is mostly agrarian. Therefore, there is here an element of grievance from the population towards the Frelimo-led government; but, is lack of economic development and social well-being sufficient for people, or an armed faction, to take up arms? .....It is of my opinion that it has to do with the recent natural gas discoveries, which if successfully explored will put Mozambique in the world’s top league of natural-gas exporters. Such an industry will bring massive flows of investment and revenue into the country. Bearing in consideration that in sub-Saharan Africa the rule is ‘access to power means full access to resources’, political office becomes even more attractive.


11-03-2013, 07:42 AM
Here we go:
Mozambique army raids more Renamo hideouts (http://www.shanghaidaily.com/article/article_xinhua.aspx?id=176688)

BTW, should this become a serious campaign, expect the Zimbabweans to get involved too. The Beira corridor - the corridor connecting the port of Beira with Zimbabwean border, where there is also a major railway line - is of vital importance for that land-locked country, and there is no way they'll ignore any kind of threats for it.

Back in the mid-1980s, Zimbabweans were crucial in fighting RENAMO (and, thanks to their traditions from Rhodesian times, and additional training by Pakistanis, also far more successful than the government forces). Nowadays they are usually either completely ignored, or much underestimated in the West. However, they have one of most professional and best trained militaries in Sub-Saharan Africa, a well developed COIN doctrine, and - most importantly - plenty of relevant and recent experience (from Congo, 1998-2003; namely, Zims tend to serve with the military for very long, because it's one of last 'decent' jobs in that country).

11-12-2013, 10:50 AM
It appears that RENAMO activities have spread from the interior, possibly alongside criminal kidnappers:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/10440424/Attacks-threaten-Mozambique-tourism.html

The (UK) Foreign Office warns that:
the situation in Sofala Province remains tense and on October 22 there were reports of armed attacks in the region, including against a vehicle travelling on the EN1 road. Further attacks can’t be ruled out. There have also been reports of violent clashes between government forces and Renamo in Manica and Nampula provinces, and an armed attack on a civilian vehicle travelling along the E8 road between Nampula and Malema. Take extra care when travelling by road outside urban areas in the affected provinces.

01-02-2017, 01:48 PM
Note the last post was in November 2013. Just caught an update via Twitter:
A sense of calm has descended on Mozambique after long-standing civil war foes (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/negotiations-between-frelimo-renamo-suspended-mozambique-war-escalates-1573691) the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (Renamo) guerrillas and the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) government agreed to a new year ceasefire.Link:http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/relative-calm-descends-mozambique-optimism-grows-long-lasting-truce-1598541? (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/relative-calm-descends-mozambique-optimism-grows-long-lasting-truce-1598541?utm_source=Media+Review+for+December+30%2C +2016&utm_campaign=DMR-+EN+-+12%2F30%2F2016&utm_medium=email)

The article implies there has been an insurgency since mid-2015, which I had not spotted - hence the title.

I note the apparent map of AFRICOM's SOF activity does not include Mozambique:https://theintercept.com/2016/12/31/u-s-special-operations-numbers-surge-in-africas-shadow-wars/

01-27-2017, 09:56 AM
Sad tale how Mozambique's security agency negotiated a US$2billion loan, on the expectation of wealth from natural gas offshore and failed to tell anyone. The result:
... has caused a fiscal crisis that means interest on loans, civil service new year bonuses and other government bills was not paid this month.Link:https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2017/jan/27/mozambique-fabulous-wealth-gas-reserves-pay-nurses-debt-crisis

Might this factor in trying to get peace with Renamo?

04-23-2018, 10:12 AM
Northern Mozambique rarely gets any coverage, but an odd South African press report, since denied officially, a few days ago suggests that a 'small war' is underway and a little digging found more.

Some context from an October 2017 commentary helps:
Cabo Delgado (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabo_Delgado_Province) is a Muslim-majority province where discoveries of giant oil and gas reserves have brought international conglomerates and their private security, making the area a potential powder-keg. On top of this, the area is desperately poor. Northern areas of Mozambique have gained little from the economic boom of the 2000s. Mocimboa da Praia is a case in point: little development has been seen even as expectations exploded following the discovery of massive gas and oil reserves in the province. Billions of dollars (http://www.reuters.com/article/mozambique-gas/mozambique-sees-30-bln-investment-for-2018-lng-exports-startup-idUSL5N0QR49C20140821) have been invested in offshore drilling, with little benefit to local communities.

The odd, if not strange South African report started with:
It is believed that the group headed to Nacala to bolster the Isis stronghold at the port where containers laden with drugs are offloaded monthly from cargo ships.

According to well-placed intelligence sources, the infiltrators entered from the island of Zanzibar and used Tanzania as springboard to cross the border into Mozambique. There have been numerous prior infiltrations, but this was the largest single group that came into the neighbouring state, the sources indicated.
Although not confirmed yet, security experts indicated that the jihadists may try to join forces with Renamo rebels in a united front against the Frelimo government, so as to bolster their stand in the neighbouring country.

A new short backgrounder opens with:
Networks of powerful, politically connected criminal actors have created an enabling environment for an Islamic insurgency in northern Mozambique that is terrorizing local communities and threatening the country’s stability.

Long before the violence began, the locals had been pleading with Maputo to pay attention to their plight. In the sleepy fishing village of Mocímboa da Praia, in the north of Cabo Delgado Province, they said an Islamist group had established itself in the area. They were taking control of the mosques, or establishing their own, they said, and preaching an anti-state ideology and a strict version of Islam at odds with local values.

It also comments on the previous press story:
The real story is that, for over two decades, drug trafficking – and a host of other illicit activities, including wildlife poaching, and smuggling timber and gems – has been allowed to flourish in the north of Mozambique, under full view of the authorities and local inhabitants. Certain groups have seen to it that the border and ports are permeable to all kinds of contraband. Businessmen, local and foreign, have grown enormously wealthy on the back of this illicit economy, while the local communities have remained, for the most part, desperately poor.

05-29-2018, 07:04 PM
A very short BBC report based on AFP:
One of the victims of the weekend attack was the leader of Monjane village, a local resident told the AFP news agency."They targeted the chief as he had been providing information to the police about the location of al-Shabab in forests," he is quoted as saying.

Then as background it cites a source, which alas is a series of PPT in Portuguese by a UK academic expert on the region:
Recent academic research... found that early members of the group, sometimes also called al-Sunna, were followers of a radical Kenyan preacher who was killed in 2012.His followers moved south and settled in Kibiti in southern Tanzania, near the border with Mozambique.

06-01-2018, 10:07 AM
Via a South African newspaper website an article from Mozambique itself, referring to a study (see next paragraph) and the article has more background facts - so worth a read.

Link to the study, which is translated into English and uses the title:
Al Shabaab Mozambique are marginalized youth that create instability for illicit trade of wood, ivory and rubies of their leaders

06-22-2018, 10:09 AM
A South African newspaper article that asks what is going on. Id'd via Twitter where author, Simon Allison points out:
No one has a clue what is driving the violence in northern Mozambique. But mixing Islamist militants, trigger-happy soldiers, vast reserves of natural gas and Erik Prince (of Blackwater infamy) seems like a terrible idea.

It ends with:
Northern Mozambique is a powder keg. Whatever is behind the conflict in the area, there is no doubt that it is a toxic mix. The combination of radical Islamists, American mercenaries, brutal armed groups and trigger-happy soldiers is one we have seen before, in Iraq and Afghanistan and Somalia and Libya, with devastating consequences.Vast quantities of high-grade hydrocarbons won’t help either, nor will a government that is as corrupt as it is dysfunctional. But before anyone can begin to grapple with the problems, they need to understand the nature of the threat. So far, the rumours far outweigh the research.

07-02-2018, 03:26 PM
A short open source paper 'The Uberization of Mozambique's heroin trade' by a known SME, Joseph Hanlon, via LSE, London. His conclusion opens with:
Mozambique is an important heroin transit country, with a heroin trail that goes Afghanistan-Pakistan-Mozambique-South Africa-Europe. An estimated 10-40 tonnes or more of heroin passes through each year. This could be adding $100 million per year in corrupt money to the local economy, and is clearly having an impact on an already corrupted state.The trade seems to be increasing as crackdowns in Kenya and Tanzania are diverting heroin through Mozambique.

This helps to explain several large seizures of heroin on dhows along the East African coast which appear in the thread for Tanzania.

It may contribute to the reported insurgency as a corrupted, weak state is likely.

08-27-2018, 08:21 PM
An update on the situation by a local, though not from Mozambique:https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-08-27-mozambique-counting-attacks-and-arrests-diverts-quest-for-stability-and-development-in-cabo-delgado/

10-09-2018, 09:49 PM
A new article from The Wilson Centre (in the USA).

A few passages:
The experts, meanwhile, have warned against repression and advocated for ‘soft measures,’ to little discernable effect. The sum total is discouraging. One observer recently compared Northern Mozambique to Northeastern Nigeria (http://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2018/08/09/a-bubbling-islamist-insurgency-in-mozambique-could-grow-deadlier) at the beginning of the Boko Haram uprising.

Mozambique may represent a new pattern as well. As Islamist militancy continues to spread across Africa, it is moving beyond hotspot countries—Nigeria, Somalia, Libya, Mali—and their immediate neighborhoods. Violent extremism is now reaching peripheral Muslim communities that, as a small fraction of an overall national population, are ancillary political players and something of an afterthought for the central government.


10-20-2018, 04:54 PM
A Reuters report on Tanzanian action, based on official statement(s) and includes this, possibly new information:
Earlier this month, Mozambique put 189 people, including foreigners, on trial on accusations of involvement in Islamist attacks in Cabo Delgado.

Interesting to note Tanzania has a large natural gas field offshore that awaits investment.

12-12-2018, 01:35 PM
Eleanor Beevor is a new analyst @ IISS and has given permission to use part of a recent note on the global jihad. I have bolded one significant aspect:
One of my concerns is that many of today’s struggling youth will recognise this fact. That is, when trying to advance their own localised struggles – be they social, political or economic – they will face the temptation of using jihadist allegiances and tactics for maximum reaction and effect. I therefore don’t think that we will see a decline in the declarations of jihad among marginalised youth around the world, or at least not for as long as that provokes an unmatchable reaction by national and international powers. We should certainly not dismiss youths’ attraction to jihad as a danger. But we should carefully consider our responses so as not to fan the flames of jihad’s symbolic power.

To illustrate some of the vulnerabilities of marginalised youth, but also to make the point about the instrumental value of jihad to local struggles, I wish to zoom in on a violent Islamist movement gathering steam in northern Mozambique. It goes by a number of names, but is increasingly known as Al Shabaab, despite having dubious if any links to the Somali organisation. Radical preachers moved into the towns of Cabo Delgado northern Mozambique in 2015, and began establishing their own mosques, and also engaging local people – particularly youth – in complex business arrangements. They gave youth loans to start-up businesses of their choice, but later made clear that those they had lent to will have to perform services, including passing on profits for the group to fund attacks, which have rocked Cabo del Gado province for just over a year now. Those who did not make their agreed payments to the group were later targeted in attacks. Those who joined the sect could well have had ideological sympathies too. Islam in Mozambique is predominantly Sufi, but it appears that there is a radical network that has taken sufficient hold in the area to spread its ideology.

However, what is also worth bearing in mind is the established grievance around inequality, lack of opportunity and natural resources in the region. In May 2018, several hundred young men protested against the lack of jobs available to them with the Andarko Liquefied Natural Gas company that had recently begun operating in the area. Their protest was more or less ignored by the authorities, and the outside world might never really know about it. Yet in June 2018, Anadarko’s foreign staff were evacuated because the staff were afraid of attacks from the group commonly called “Al-Shabaab”, and now the area is a matter of national and international concern. There is thus a troubling question here. What will those men protesting a lack of jobs have learned from this incident about political action? For one thing, they will have learned that violence gets attention. And it is also fair to ask whether a violent movement that did not ally itself with the jihadist cause would have gotten half as much attention as this one has now.

The fact that this particular group has lured recruits with promises of start-up capital is also telling. They have found a way to exploit unemployed young people who are frustrated with their prospects. As anyone who has been unemployed for any length of time knows, there is a tremendous temptation to take the first opportunity that comes along, even if it is appears risky. To clarify, we need to be careful about seeing unemployment as a direct path to terrorism – evidently there are huge numbers of young men around the world who are unemployed and still do not engage in violence. But unemployment is a problem, and it is one that has solutions – solutions which international counter-terrorism efforts can support in a development capacity.

Her bio:https://www.iiss.org/people/conflict-security-and-development/eleanor-beevor

She has also provided a pointer to an October 2018 report on Northern Mozambique:https://globalinitiative.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/TGIATOC-North-Mozambique-Report-WEB.pdf


01-13-2019, 03:38 PM
Somehow this May 2018 report appeared today on Twitter, citing a Mozambique-based news website and it appears to be part of the jigsaw to understand the situation. It opens with:
A group of 30 to 40 members of the armed gangs that have attacked villages in northern Mozambique received training outside the country by militias with links to terrorist organisations, according to a study presented yesterday in Maputo. “These were the ones that were trained by groups operating in the Great Lakes region of Congo, mainly, and others such as Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Kenya,” said researcher João Pereira, the co-author with Salvador Forquilha and Saide Habibe of the first systematic investigation into the link between recent violence and that type of organisations.
Together, the three authors of the study, “Islamic Radicalisation in Northern Mozambique”, conducted 125 interviews during three visits to Cabo Delgado after the attack on the village of Mocímboa da Praia on October 5, 2017.

I cannot readily find the original report, which may not be in English being written in Mozambique.

Google did provide this August 2018 open source risk profile by a London-based private company:http://www.assayerisk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/20180830_Ansar-al-Sunna-Mozambique-terrorism-article.pdf

04-28-2019, 01:44 PM
Two contributions. The first from February 2019 which I missed by a academic SME and he starts with:
Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province has been held hostage by insurgents for nearly 17 months. Armed attacks, decapitations and the destruction of property have become common (https://theconversation.com/mozambiques-own-version-of-boko-haram-is-tightening-its-deadly-grip-98087). Many are worried that the violence may escalate and destabilise the country’s economy further. One of the biggest problems is that nobody really knows who the insurgents are. They don’t make public statements, so their motives are unclear.


Then via Twitter a South African newspaper report and as a "taster":
the people who normally have answers to these kinds of questions are even more confused than before.The bottom line is that no one knows what is going on in northern Mozambique — and that anyone who has attempted to properly investigate has been threatened or arrested.....(Later) nobody has been able to speak to anybody involved.

06-08-2019, 09:49 AM
First there is an IS announcement that they are active in Mozambique and second a list of articles on this 'small war'. Cut & paste did not work, so read on:https://jihadology.net/2019/06/06/wilayat-wasat-ifriqiya-extends-its-presence-to-mozambique/

06-21-2019, 07:13 PM
A CSIS event, with two panels, on June 6th 2hrs 49mins long and yet to be listened to!

07-14-2019, 07:25 PM
It is a mystery to not only those closer. A very slim story that open with:
Seven people including a policeman were killed in northern Mozambique this week in a jihadist attack claimed by the Islamic State group, local sources said Saturday.

07-27-2019, 05:14 PM
From a previously unknown source, Global Voices NGO, and I have viewed the short video. It also provides an update on the situation which is so rarely reported, in part as few can visit the affected region.


08-07-2019, 08:56 PM
Most readers I expect will recall Mozambique has been blighted by a civil war for a very long time; no, not the current insurgency in the northern provinces.

Here is a shock, with my emphasis in bold:
A newly agreed deal could end 42 years of armed contest between the Mozambique Liberation Front-led government (FRELIMO) and the armed opposition party Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO). The agreement, due to be signed in August, is the third attempt and if it is to last, it will require political good will, compromise and an acceptance of more inclusive national politics by both parties.

To be fair there has been ceasefire between the government and RENAMO since 1992, but violence flares up, especially when elections are due and RENAMO has an estimated 5k fighters out in the bush.

I recall that RENAMO long ago had support from Rhodesia, after 1979-1980 support from South Africa for a long time and then IIRC no-one officially gave them support.

Two summary reports and the later has a fuller report (not read yet):https://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFKCN1UW0WY-OZATP and https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/prospects-sustainable-elite-bargain-mozambique-third-time-lucky