We Must Support Mozambique To Overcome Terrorist Forces, Protect Lives And Restore Hope
NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, calls for heightened support from the international community in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Mozambique.
“You may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise.” Maya Angelou was so right. These profound words do ring true today when we look at the recent coward attacks by terrorists against defenseless Mozambicans. There’s so much at stake in Mozambique, where the separatist militia known as Haul Sunnah Wa-Jamo (ASWJ) has stepped up its campaign to seize territory in Cabo Delgado, the country’s northernmost province.
On March 24, more than 100 ASWJ fighters attacked Palma, a town in Cabo Delgado, from three sides. Mozambique’s Defense and Security Forces, known locally as SDS, moved in quickly and mounted a counter-attack the next day, but they were not able to regain control immediately.
Moreover, they did not arrive in time to prevent Palma’s residents from violence and death. As of the time I’m writing this, the number of exact casualties is still unknown, but credible sources have reported that there are dead bodies on the streets of the town — and that some of the corpses have been beheaded.
Mozambique’s government has strong incentives to push back against ASWJ, which has been staging deadly attacks in Cabo Delgado since 2017.
From a diplomatic and political standpoint, it is keen to preserve the territorial integrity of the country and quash the threat to the central government’s authority. (This is a sensitive issue, since many residents of Cabo Delgado feel marginalized and ignored by the government, even if they don’t view ASWJ as a viable alternative.)
From a geopolitical standpoint, it is intent on prevailing against a group that is serving as the local arm of the Islamic State, also known as Daesh. It’s not interested in letting the country become a haven for terrorism. And yes, this is terrorism – not fighting, not unrest, but terror. Sometimes we in the energy industry have to call it for what it is, no matter how careful we may want to be.
Mozambican leaders understand very well that launching a counterinsurgency push in Cabo Delgado against these extremists will not just defeat the tiny and desperate bands of armed terrorists. Instead, if experience in the rest of the world is any guide, it could transform these zeros into heroes. It will embolden them and strengthen their resolve. And it will enable them to excel in their favorite role, that of persecuted martyr. We must win them over with carrots and sticks and transform communities. Pretty smart thinking. They want to do this right and they want results and to still keep the country together. We should support them.
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