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Who are the rebels in northern Mozambique?



Johannesburg (Associated Press)-Fighting in the northern town of Palma in Mozambique lasted more than a week of fierce fighting, including decapitated bodies, which highlighted the rebellion in the southern African country and the threat of billions of dollars in investment.

The following is the understanding of the rebel groups and the challenges facing Mozambique.

Who is the rebel?

Most of them are unemployed young Muslims from Cabo Delgado, the northernmost tip of the country̵

7;s long Indian Ocean coastline.

For centuries, most people traded with Swahili dhow sailors and coexisted with Catholicism brought by Portuguese colonial rulers.

Despite its abundant natural resources, the province is one of the least developed countries in Mozambique, with low levels of education, health services and nutrition.

In recent years, some unemployed youths have studied abroad with scholarships from Muslim organizations, and locals say that many have returned to China to promote more radical forms of Islam. In 2017, some small groups broke out violent incidents against government targets, often using machetes to kill police and officials.

The rebels have grown to hundreds of people. They use motorcycles and are now equipped with automatic weapons and mortars. Military experts say that many weapons come from abroad.

What are they called?

They are known locally as al-Shabab (“youth” in Arabic), but it seems to be just a convenient nickname because they have no affiliation with the jihadist rebels of the same name in Somalia.

For several years, these insurgents did not seem to have contact with any group, but in 2019, the Islamic State group began to claim responsibility for their attacks, calling it the Islamic State Central African Province.

IS will also post photos and videos of militants, usually standing next to the organization’s black flag. The video released this week showed them wearing camouflage uniforms, black shirts and red scarves, speaking Swahili and some Arabic.

Are they grounding?

According to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Incident Data Project, the number of attacks has risen to more than 838 since 2017, and there have been more than 500 attacks in the past year.

More than 2,600 people have been killed. According to the United Nations, humanitarian crises have also increased sharply, from 90,000 displaced people in early 2020 to 670,000 now. According to the World Food Program, more than 900,000 people in the region need food assistance.

After years of bombing and raids, the rebels captured the port city of Mocimboa da Praia in August and have been detained ever since. They attacked small towns in the surrounding area.

According to a report confirmed by the Catholic Bishop of Pemba, the capital of the Catholic province, in a massacre, they beheaded 50 people on a football field, where hundreds of thousands of people fled. The insurgents targeted government offices, killed local officials and robbed banks.

How does the government respond?

The government of the President of Maputo, Filipe Nyusi, in the southernmost tip of Mozambique, has launched a counter-terrorism offensive launched by the national police and military.

It also uses the Dyck Advisory Group, a private military organization based in South Africa, which has sent helicopter gunships and other aircraft to find and attack the rebels.

Because the insurgents often mingle with civilians, military operations are difficult.According to the report on March 2, the rebels, government forces and mercenaries all committed atrocities Provided by Amnesty International. The government and Dyke Group denied the allegations, saying they are investigating.

Does Mozambique help?

The United States declared the Mozambican rebels as a terrorist organization last month and sent special operations forces personnel for two months of training Mozambique Marine Corps.

Portugal said it will send 60 officers to provide training, and said that the EU is considering providing military support.

Mozambique is a member of the Southern African Development Community composed of 16 countries, which has been closely monitoring the turbulence of the situation. The organization has held several rebel meetings, but Mozambique has not yet requested direct military assistance from neighboring countries, including South Africa and Zimbabwe.

What is the economic impact?

The violence of the rebels caused the French oil and gas company Total to suspend work in January.

On March 24, Total stated that the security situation has improved and can be restored. But within a few hours, the rebels attacked Palma, and Total once again evacuated the workers from the fortified construction site.

Experts say it will take a long time to fully restore stability so that Total can resume work. According to reports, the huge reserves of natural gas are one of the largest in the world, and the government hopes that these projects can bring much-needed economic growth.

Exxon Mobil is also planning an investment, but this investment seems to be shelved.

Joseph Hanlon of academia wrote in the newsletter “Mozambique News Report” and “Clips”: “The whole bet is on the guarantee of safety, Nyusi and Mozambique. Lost the bet.”

What are the prospects for Mozambique and Africa?

The size and organization of the insurgents continue to expand. Once regarded as a group of dissatisfied young people, their attacks are more strategic and extend their influence to most areas of North Delgado.

Military experts say that restoring stability will be a long, violent and challenging process. Analysts and military experts believe that the longer-term solution will be to improve local governments and provide better services and living conditions.

But this will be difficult because the rebels are already deeply entrenched. The arc of extremism in Africa-from the Sahel in West Africa to the Boko Haram rebellion in Nigeria in Central Africa and the entrenched conflict of Al-Shabaab in East Africa and Somalia-it will be difficult to have a new foothold in Mozambique and southern Africa Evacuate.


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