The African country has been struggling against terrorism and poverty for ten years, albeit to no avail.
For Mozambique, 2021 was a watershed year in terms of the struggle for national security. Terrorist activity in the country has reached its climax, which forced the authorities to resort to assistance from foreign countries.
Editors of The Vek newspaper, together with the head of the Foundation for National Values Protection, Maxim Shugalei, looked into the causes and participants of the crisis in Mozambique.
More than a half of the population of Mozambique practice Christianity, whereas the number of Muslims barely exceeds 20 percent. There are also traditional religions with elements of the cult of ancestors, totemism, animism, etc.
Preachers from the neighbouring state of Tanzania brought radical Islam to Mozambique in the early 2010s. This led to the formation of the Ansar Al-Sunna group that swore allegiance to the Islamic State (terrorist organisation, banned in Russia).
"It is always easier to commit atrocities under the guise of religious purposes,” said Shugalei.
The group was growing stronger, and the number of its attacks on military men was increasing over the years. In the course of time, the group managed to obtain weapons and military hardware.
Nowadays, Ansar Al-Sunna militants control the province of Cabo Delgado in the north of the country. This area is rich in natural gas, which makes it attractive not only to militants, but to foreign investors as well. French and US companies competed for a chance to build a liquefied gas terminal. French Total won the competition, but the project had to be kept on ice due to terrorist attacks.
Thousands of the residents of the province were forced to abandon their homes and flee to neighbouring regions. After the capture of the city of Palma, it was decided to attract foreign forces again to fight the radicals. Servicemen of the Rwandan Armed Forces and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) arrived in Mozambique for the purpose. Official military personnel from South Africa came to replace the Dyck Advisory Group. The European Union is to send its military instructors in autumn. However, the arrival of Russian specialists is considered to be the most effective experience in attracting foreigners to deal with problems in Mozambique.
"As far as I know, Russian forces were indeed attracted to stabilise the state of affairs in the country in 2019 during the presidential election. Local authorities turned to private contractors from Russia. Radicals still tried to advance inland, towards the capital, but they came across resistance from a serious enemy. The Russians showed themselves to the best of their abilities, having completed the mission with minimum losses. Several cities were liberated at a time. Only one specialist was killed and several were wounded, while the Mozambican military simply escaped from the battlefield so that the radicals do not capture and kill them," Shugalei said.
Rumour has it, judging from publications in Western media, that it goes about PMC Wagner fighters. In any case, Mozambique's foreign allies will have to make tremendous efforts to cope with the critical situation in Cabo Delgado.