Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, Angola, Tanzania… Many SADC countries, as well as Rwanda, are participating in the fight against terrorism in Mozambique. What is playing in Cabo Delgado?
It only took twenty days between the signing of an agreement by the leaders of the southern African countries and the military deployment of the countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the province of Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique. It is at an impressive speed that the troops joined the Rwandan soldiers already present there.
Of course, the intervention of Filipe Nyusi's allies could be summed up as a simple operation to protect Mozambican gas resources, which are essential for the region. But the stake is also security: the region of Cabo Delgado, in the north of the country, threatened to become a new rallying point for the armed groups in Africa. Enough to require rapid international intervention.
Yet, according to the United Nations, the Cabo Delgado conflict is nothing more than an insurgency. But for the European states, the United States and Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique, it is a war against global terrorism. Although the relationship between the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Islamic State is still not proven, Mozambique believes that a major intervention was needed to end a humanitarian crisis that has been going on since October 2017.
Rwandan deployment galvanizes troops
Against the ADF, the Shebabs and other armed groups in the region, the Mozambican armed forces, the SADC soldiers - who are still organizing - and the Rwandan troops are advancing with great strides. Lesotho was the latest country to provide troops to the SADC mission in Mozambique, which was officially launched on Monday as Rwandan and Mozambican forces already retook several strategic towns from armed groups. Angola announced last month that it would deploy 20 officers and a transport plane to Cabo Delgado as part of the SADC mission, in support of South Africa.
For Filipe Nyusi, however, the key player in the intervention in Cabo Delgado remains Rwanda.. "We reaffirm our common commitment to fight against violent extremism with the Rwandan forces", declared Monday the head of state. "The control of the city of Mocimboa da Praia and the gradual return of the movement towards Palma are the product of the bravery and the concerted efforts of the forces with the aim of quickly restoring stability in the region", continues the president of Mozambique, who also commends the work of his troops.
Who will benefit from Cabo Delgado's gas resources?
At the launch of the SADC mission, SAMIM on Monday, Major General Xolani Mankayi of the South African army said that "the mission will do everything possible to restore peace to the region". "We must facilitate the creation of a secure environment, to ensure that the state authority fully controls the affected areas in Cabo Delgado and that normal life can resume," he announced. A day earlier, Rwandan forces announced that Mocimboa da Praia, a major stronghold of the insurgency for more than two years, had been taken over by Rwandan and Mozambican security forces. A strategic victory, the region's airport being in this city.
With the ADF and the Shebabs at bay, the pacification of Cabo Delgado seems only a matter of weeks. While the SADC deployment agreement was late, its swift execution gives Mozambique room to be optimistic. However, one question remains: who will benefit from the spoils of war. With five countries in SAMIM, as well as Rwanda, there will be no room for everyone. Paul Kagame has already positioned himself. Close to Nyusi, he has already signed several contracts with his counterpart. But what about South Africa, whose paramilitaries have been entangled in Cabo Delgado since 2017? Each country is already eyeing Mozambican gas resources.