Southern Africa: Looking Ahead In Cabo Delgado: How Might Military And Economic Intervention Shape The War?

Pressure is growing to attempt a military solution to the Cabo Delgado insurgency. Initially this would ensure that liquefied natural gas (LNG) production can be started as planned largely off shore, and thus that the war could be ignored. Only the Afungi peninsula and a small base in Pemba need to be kept secure and all access can be by sea and air. The gas companies do not need Mocimboa de Praia or the road. Planes up to 737 size can land at Afungi and the LNG trains and gas wells can be built with material brought by sea from Nacala.

Next, and much more complex, would be significant foreign military invention to try to stop the war itself.

A three part military plan is currently under discussion.

+ Marine security around the gas wells and along the coast would be provided by a foreign navy, probably French, but with possible United States involvement.

+ Land security would initially involve up to 500 Mozambican special forces controlling villages near Afungi, with funding and supplies from the gas companies. A second phase would involve up to 750 more special forces patrolling the road south from Palma, protecting a Pemba base, and perhaps attacking insurgents.

+ Third would be the use of private military companies (PMCs, mercenaries) in two ways. The limited air support currently provided by Dyck Advisory Services (DAG) would be expanded. The ground units of Mozambican special forces would probably be accompanied by PMC "advisors" both to try to reduce abuse of civilians and to increase the effectiveness of attacks on insurgents.

It sounds good on paper, but agreement, implementation and effectiveness face a host of local problems. Mozambique has become a "resource curse" state, with declining levels of democracy and a predominate party ruling an increasingly corrupt state through a patronage system, and with powerful and unchallengeable party barons. Inequality is increasing and in recent years there has been little economic development. Debate continues about the origins of the insurgency, but growing inequality and failure to share the resource wealth is agreed to be fuelling the insurgency. The Integrated Development Agency for the North (ADIN) launched on 31 August may be a first attempt to bypass the party barons and get some money to disillusioned young people.

Powerful special interests not only prevent the amelioration of inequalities, but are also blocking the proposed military response. In a special study, we look at how blockages on the path of military intervention might be removed and what shape the war could take.

The full special report is attached as a pdf to this newsletter and for smart phone readers is also available here

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