Currently, forces of the Southern African Development Community's (Sadc) mission in Mozambique (Samim) are confronted with a new and lethal danger that kills without warning: landmines and improvised explosive devices (improvised explosive devices) (IEDs).
An RDF Ratel mine-resistant vehicle was struck by a landmine south of Mbau in Cabo Delgado province, where the RDF's troops are helping Mozambique's military in the fight against radicals. The vehicle was destroyed.
Since 2017, jihadist militias in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado have waged an armed insurgency against the Mozambican government, according to the United Nations. The declared goal of this organization is to establish Sharia rule across northern Mozambique. In reaction to the persistent poverty, unemployment, and poor public services in the area under the Frelimo-led administration in Maputo, this is claimed to be a solution.
The Mozambican rebels constitute a new armed Islamic front with completely local motives and command structures, as opposed to the previous armed Islamic fronts. Their propaganda, on the other hand, makes use of themes that are common to both regional and global jihad.
They often claim credit for assaults under the moniker "Al-Shabaab," which has been given to them by the local people. However, there is no proof that they have any direct ties to the Al-Shabaab terrorist organization in Somalia.
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The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for a series of terrorist assaults in Mozambique.
The Islamic State, on the other hand, seems to have little direct relationship with the jihadists in Mozambique, which is not surprising. On prior occasions, ISIS has tried to claim credit for assaults carried out by unaffiliated Islamist organizations in other parts of Africa, for example, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
What kind of a danger do they constitute?
Cabo Delgado is under siege by jihadists who represent a major danger to local people as well as foreign commercial interests in the area. More than 3,000 people have been murdered and 800,000 have been displaced as a result of the four-year low-intensity civil conflict, which has also created severe food shortages.
Meanwhile, the energy behemoths ExxonMobil and Total have decided to put their liquefied natural gas projects in Cabo Delgado on hold until further notice. ExxonMobil is putting $30 billion into the project, while Total is putting $20 billion into it.
The rebels have highlighted the notion that local people would not profit from government agreements with international corporations as a motivating factor in their assaults on government facilities.
A patchwork of international military and security operations has resulted as a result of a mix of widespread violence and threats to foreign companies. This contains reports on the following topics:
The employment of mercenaries by the Mozambican government, including Russian and South African nationals
The total has hired a former French foreign legionnaire to manage security for its gas facility on the Afungi peninsula, which is located on the island of Madagascar.
Additionally, Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)—which includes South African special forces—have sent troops to Cabo Delgado to maintain stability.
This raises serious concerns about what seems to be a lack of cooperation among the armed players in the region.
What is the motivation for the Rwandan government's involvement?
There is a heated discussion going on regarding this.
The Rwandan government refers to this as a mission with the "duty to protect." In its argument, the International Criminal Court's inability to protect people in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi served as an inspiration for the current legislation.
A visit to Kigali by French President Emmanuel Macron in May 2021 coincided with Rwanda's involvement in Mozambique, which occurred soon after. It has been claimed by some observers that Rwanda, which has received funding from France, has interfered to protect France's interests, which include the gas reserves of French-owned Total.
The Rwandan government has taken exception to the notion that it is merely carrying out France's neocolonial agenda in the country. It has emphasized the humanitarian motivations for its involvement in the Syrian conflict.
There is little indication of direct French support for Rwanda's military operations during this period. Nonetheless, in the months before their involvement in Mozambique, France conducted a series of high-level discussions with Rwanda and South Africa regarding the Cabo Delgado war, which were attended by French officials. This indicates tight cooperation between Paris and these players, which is consistent with the huge French interests at stake in this situation.
President Macron met with a number of African leaders of state in May of this year at a conference in Paris to explore military options for dealing with the situation. Presidents Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, and Paul Kagame of Rwanda were among those who attended the gathering. This was followed by similar discussions with Kagame and Ramaphosa in Kigali and Pretoria a few weeks later, respectively.
Growing connections between Rwanda and Mozambique, which were established after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two nations in 2018, are critical to Rwanda's participation in Cabo Delgado.
A short visit to Kigali earlier this year was undertaken by Nyusi in order to request Rwanda's military help in the Cabo Delgado conflict. Nyusi has previously indicated that he preferred bilateral military action over multilateral military engagement in the past. He may be worried about surrendering too much authority to a South African-led SADC mission, which would be a significant loss of control for him.
The President also referred to Rwanda's track record of conducting highly disciplined and successful peacekeeping operations. The Rwandan battalions fighting in the Central African Republic outside the larger UN peacekeeping operation, comparable to Rwanda's present assistance to Mozambican troops acting outside of the SADC, have been among those mentioned.
In addition to its humanitarian goals, the Rwandan government expects to gain in terms of security and diplomacy as a result of its participation in Cabo Delgado's operations.
Rwanda's'responsibility to protect' involvement in peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Mali, Central African Republic, and Haiti follows a pattern established in previous missions. These have helped to improve its worldwide image while also providing it with significant international leverage. Kigali, for example, threatened to remove its troops from Darfur in 2010, when international donors were considering prosecuting Rwanda and withholding assistance to the country as a result of suspected atrocities in eastern Congo.
The Cabo Delgado effort is also consistent with Rwanda's recent statements about the need to combat Islamist threats both at home and in the surrounding area.
In terms of regional geopolitics, Rwanda would have been pleased to hear news that its soldiers in northern Mozambique had proved to be more successful than those of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), with whom it has had a tense relationship in the past.
Finally, Rwanda's involvement strengthens the country's bilateral ties with Mozambique and the United Kingdom. The fear that exiled Rwandan dissidents were using Maputo as a launching pad for their return home has been a major driving force for Rwanda's diplomatic drive with Mozambique in recent years. Members of the opposition Rwanda National Congress have been included in this group. Rwanda's desire that Mozambique rein in opposition members on its territory has contributed to the strengthening of security relations.
Kagame has been critical of France for years, claiming that the country has refused to apologize for its role in the 1994 massacre. As a result, several genocide survivors were taken aback when he expressed his appreciation for Macron's comments on the subject. It was unclear to them if Macron had recognized and apologized for France's involvement in the Holocaust to the fullest extent possible.
The announcement of a fresh €500 million French development package for Rwanda came shortly after Kagame's warm words were spoken.
What are the ramifications of the organization's involvement?
Rwandan security forces have so far proved to be successful in their fight against Islamist militants. As a result, the Mozambican government asserts that Rwanda's entry into the war has fundamentally changed the course of the conflict and has improved the security environment for civilians and international businesses.
The simultaneous operations of Rwandan and SADC troops, on the other hand, may cause difficulties in the coming months. Several SADC officials, as well as the head of Mozambique's biggest opposition party, Renamo, have expressed their displeasure with the deployment of Rwandan soldiers. They believe that this should have been a joint effort between SADC and other regional organizations.
Vincent Biruta, Rwanda's foreign minister, was obviously thinking about these problems when he visited Pretoria in early June to explore bilateral collaboration in Mozambique with South African counterpart Jacob Zuma. This occurred soon after Rwandan military leaders embarked on their first reconnaissance mission to Cabo Delgado, in the Dominican Republic.
However, armed power can only do so much. This has been shown in instances of Islamist violence in the Horn of Africa, Nigeria, and the Sahel, which are similar.
In order to overcome years of Frelimo neglect in northern Mozambique, systemic political and socio-economic reforms are required. These have resulted in the impoverishment and marginalization that serve as the foundation for the insurgency.
The Mozambicans themselves are unquestionably the most important players in this scenario. Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should, however, utilize their diplomatic power to urge Nyusi to address the structural roots of the conflict rather than just the violent manifestations of it. In particular, it is essential to ensure that the enormous natural gas riches that will flow after the war are beneficial not just to Nyusi's administration and international companies, but also to ordinary Mozambicans.
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