Who are the rebels in northern Mozambique?

Johannesburg (AP) — A fierce battle over a week or more, including a corpse holding a head on the street, over the town of Parma in northern Mozambique highlights South Africa’s rebellion and threat to billions of dollars in investment. I made it.

Let’s take a look at what is known about rebel groups and the challenges facing Mozambique.

Who are the rebels?

They are primarily unemployed young Muslim men from Cabodelgado, the northernmost state of the long coastline of the Indian Ocean.

For centuries, most people traded with Swahili Dow sailors, and there were Catholics coexisting with the Catholics brought by the Portuguese colonial rulers.

Despite its abundant natural resources, the state is the most underdeveloped in Mozambique, with low levels of education, medical services and nutrition.

In recent years, some unemployed youth have studied abroad on scholarships from Islamic organizations. Locals say many young people have returned by preaching more radical forms of Islam. In 2017, violence against government targets broke out by several small bands, often using machetes to kill police and officials.

The rebels have grown to hundreds, use motorcycles, and are now fully armed with automatic weapons and mortars. Military experts say many weapons come from abroad.

What are they called?

They are locally known as al-Shabaab (Arabic for “youth”), but they seem to be a convenient nickname because their relationship with the Somali-named Jihadi rebels is unknown.

For several years, armed groups did not appear to be involved in any group, but in 2019, Islamic State groups began calling them Islamic State of Central Africa and claiming responsibility for their attacks. ..

IS also posts photos and videos of extremists, often standing by the black flag of the group. A video posted this week showed him speaking Swahili and Arabic, dressed in a combination of camouflage, a black shirt and a red scarf.

Are they on the ground?

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, the number of attacks since 2017 has exceeded 838, of which more than 500 have occurred in the past year.

Over 2,600 people were killed. Humanitarian crises have also increased dramatically, from 90,000 evacuated in early 2020 to more than 670,000, according to UN organizations. According to the World Food Program, more than 900,000 people in the region need food aid.

After years of hit-and-run attacks, rebels occupied the port city of Mosinboada Praia in August and have held it ever since. They attacked a small town in the surrounding area.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled, according to a report confirmed by the Catholic bishop of the state capital, Pemba, who led 50 people on the football field in a single massacre. Rebels target government agencies, kill local civil servants and rob banks.

How is the government responding?

President Filipe Nyusi’s government in Maputo, the southernmost part of Mozambique, has launched an anti-terrorism attack by national police and the military.

He also used the Dyck Advisory Group, a South African-based private military organization, to dispatch helicopter gunships and other aircraft to find and attack rebels.

Rebels often associate with civilians, making military action difficult. Atrocities have been committed by all aspects, including rebels, government forces, and mercenaries. In the report on March 2 By Amnesty International. The government and the Dyck group deny the accusation, saying they are investigating them.

Is Mozambique getting help?

Last month, the United States declared Mozambique’s rebels as a terrorist organization and dispatched special operations forces officers. Conduct two months of training Of the Marine Corps in Mozambique.

Portugal said it had sent 60 officers to provide training, and said the European Union was considering military assistance.

Mozambique is a member of the Southern African Development Community in 16 countries that have carefully watched over instability. The group has held several meetings on rebels, but Mozambique has not yet requested direct military assistance from neighboring countries, including South Africa and Zimbabwe.

What are the economic implications?

Rebel violence stopped work by French oil and gas company Total in January.

On March 24, Total said security was sufficiently improved and could be resumed, but within hours rebels attacked Palma and Total evacuated workers from the fortified construction site again. It was.

Experts say it will take a long time for Total to regain sufficient stability to get back to work. Huge natural gas deposits have been reported to be one of the largest in the world, and the government hoped the project would deliver the coveted economic growth.

Exxon was also planning to invest, but it seems to be on hold.

“The whole gas gambling was bet on a promise of safety, and Nushi and Mozambique lost the bet,” wrote scholar Joseph Hanlon in the newsletter Mozambique News Report and Clipping.

What is the outlook for Mozambique and Africa?

The rebels have expanded in size and organization. Once considered a mixed group of disgruntled young people, their attacks are more strategic and extend their reach to much of northern Cape Delgado.

Military experts say the restoration of stability will be a long, violent and challenging process. According to analysts and military experts, the longer-term solution is to improve local governments and provide better services and living conditions.

But that will be difficult because the rebels are already well established. From the Sahel region of West Africa to the Bokoharam rebellion in Nigeria in Central Africa to the persistent conflict of Alshabab in Somalia in East Africa, the arc of African extremism is difficult to build and remove new footholds in Mozambique in southern Africa. Probably.