Mozambique: Insurgency In Cabo Delgado

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi has reported that armed groups have launched an attack on the town of Macomia in the northern region, marking an alarming escalation in violence. This incident, occurring on Friday 10th, is part of a disturbing trend that has intensified since the beginning of 2024. Macomia, situated in the gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado, has been a focal point of unrest linked to groups associated with the Islamic State (ISIL) since the insurgency began in 2017. The ongoing conflict in this region has raised concerns about the security and stability of Mozambique, with over 700,000 people displaced and thousands of lives lost due to the violence.

As international oil companies, such as TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil, seek to resume operations in the region, the attack on Macomia underscores the fragility of the security situation and the urgent need for a comprehensive response to address the crisis. Following the attack, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres expressed deep concern, stating, “We stand in solidarity with the people of Mozambique and call for an immediate end to the violence.” The African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, echoed these sentiments, emphasising the need for a coordinated regional response to address the crisis.

Experts warn that the escalating violence in Cabo Delgado threatens to destabilise the entire region, with the International Crisis Group urging the Mozambican government to prioritise civilian protection and address the underlying grievances that have fuelled the insurgency. The surge in attacks by Islamist insurgents in Mozambique’s northern town of Macomia has undoubtedly posed significant challenges, threatening the security and stability of the region. While President Filipe Nyusi’s acknowledgment of the situation is crucial, the response to such violence requires a comprehensive and coordinated effort.

Regional and international responses play a pivotal role in addressing the root causes of the conflict and providing support to affected communities. However, there is a pressing need for a total energy plan that goes beyond immediate security measures to address the underlying issues fuelling the insurgency. This plan should encompass sustainable development initiatives, economic empowerment, and social cohesion efforts to create a more resilient and inclusive society that can withstand the influence of extremist ideologies. Only through a holistic approach can long-term peace and stability be achieved in Mozambique’s conflict-affected regions.

The current crisis in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has its roots in the emergence of an Islamist insurgency in 2017. Groups affiliated with the Islamic State (ISIL) launched attacks on government and civilian targets, capitalising on local grievances and the region’s poverty. The violence escalated in 2021, forcing the French oil company TotalEnergies to halt its $20 billion liquefied natural gas project in the area. Despite the presence of Rwandan and Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops, the insurgency has continued to wreak havoc, with the latest attack on Macomia being the latest in a series of assaults that have displaced hundreds of thousands and disrupted the region’s economic development.

The conflict has also drawn the attention of international oil companies, such as ExxonMobil, which are seeking to resume operations in the gas-rich province, underscoring the high stakes involved in resolving the crisis. The attack on Macomia highlights the complex interplay between economic interests, security challenges, and humanitarian crises in Mozambique. The resumption of major energy projects amidst ongoing violence underscores the delicate balance between development and stability. The involvement of international actors like Rwanda signals a broader regional response to the insurgency. The future implications are profound, with a need for sustainable solutions that address root causes and promote inclusive development. The outcome in Cabo Delgado will not only shape Mozambique’s trajectory but also set a precedent for managing conflicts where resource wealth intersects with security threats, shaping peace and security paradigms in the region for years to come.