Rwanda helps Mozambique to dislodge Sunni Islamist forces in Mocimboa da Praia
Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The increasing Sunni Islamist insurgency in Northern Mozambique led to several African nations sending military forces to support Mozambique. At first, Mozambique sought to utilize private security networks to train and support the armed forces. However, after little progress, Mozambique turned to regional nations that are equally concerned by events.
Hence, the news that Rwandan troops have helped military forces from Mozambique to dislodge Islamists in Mocimboa da Praia will cement ties further. Indeed, since the contingency of Rwandan troops entered the fray, positive results have emerged.
Mocimboa da Praia is an essential port and town to hold. Thus, with Islamists being driven out of this key port area, the momentum is finally with the armed forces of Mozambique, courtesy of support from Rwanda.
Voice of America reports, “The port town, from where the first Islamist attacks were staged in October 2017, has since last year become the de facto headquarters of the Islamic State-linked extremists, locally referred to as al-Shabab.”
Northern parts of Mozambique are blessed with rich gas deposits. Indeed, the province of Cabo Delgado is home to the biggest gas fields on the continent of Africa. However, for the majority of local people, poverty runs deep. The same applies to the basic infrastructure and the feeling of neglect. Therefore, Mozambique needs to focus on various angles to the conflict and not just the military angle.
The BBC focuses on the recent successes of the 1,000 Rwandan military force that is assisting Mozambique. This news agency says, “Highly trained, well-disciplined troops from a small African nation have, in some ways, achieved more in a few weeks than the Mozambican army has in four years.”
It is too early to say that the tide is fully turned because Islamist forces often melt away and then regroup. However, the signs are promising. Therefore, it might be in the interest of Mozambique to focus on military support from only a few nations – notably Rwanda – rather than an array of nations that have struggled in the Sahel and other parts of the world.
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