Africa a political powder keg; multiple security and resource crises

Insecurity has plagued Mozambique off and on since the 70s. Photo taken in a refugee camp in 1977.

S.Africa seeks military action for Mozambique crisis as insurgency threat grows across the Continent

At the center of resource concerns lies the Tigray conflict and the GERD debate

By Rachel Brooks

May 21, 2021 

On Friday, Reuters reported that South Africa motions for urgent military action by the regional body of the SADC against the Islamist insurgency crippling Mozambique. The crisis in Mozambique threatens to destabilize neighboring countries. Bloomberg noted that Mozambique has not called on its neighbor nations directly for intervention against the insurgents, a fact that is puzzling to its neighbor states.

The war in Mozambique is driven by campaigns of the Islamic State to access resources, including oil. World Oil noted the adverse impact on the economy, as Mozambique’s LNG boom was turned into a “bust” as a direct result of the Islamic State attacks. The U.N. predicts a “large, likely long-lasting” crisis over Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region as a result of the Islamist insurgencies. While Mozambique has been “plagued with insecurity since 2017”  dramatic escalations occurred in March. Since March, more than 17,000 people have been “on the move” adding to the compounded forced displacement crises in Africa. 

This comes at a time of grave peril in African politics as a Continental collective, as the U.S. Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa stated that the Nile region states were at an “inflection point” over the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam and Tigray conflict crises. The Tigray conflict, in addition to creating a massive influx of human displacement into territories border Ethiopia, is also a politically charged issue. 

France 24 reported on May 11 the risks associated with “anti-farming campaigns” that were “deliberately” attempting the prevention of farming in the Tigray region. Issues of agriculture and the use of natural resources strain both Ethiopia’s domestic and foreign policy, as it continues to contend its right to fill the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam this summer. Ethiopia’s agriculture and natural resources debates have directly engaged Sudan and Egypt, both Nile-dependent states, who warn of water-related crises such as artificial droughts, floods, and water pollution, should Ethiopia persist without contingencies.  Egypt Today reported on Thursday that Ethiopia’s recent GERD statements “disclose bad intentions.” The Nile-dependent nations are deadlocked over the GERD debate, with international mediators feverishly attempting to break that deadlock before political escalations reach the point of armed conflict. 

On Thursday, Relief Web published a humanitarian relief report describing the fall out of the Tigray conflict. The report states that humanitarian agencies are facing “increased obstacles” in attempts to access the at-risk population. Over two million people have been displaced by the conflict. The report states that of the 5.2million civilians who are at food security risk due to the conflict, only 1.8 million received food assistance since late March. The report described humanitarian access as “unpredictable.” 

Likewise, Islamist insurgencies continue to wreak havoc in West Africa. In Nigeria, Boko Haram and ISWAP are warring militias fighting for the dominance of Nigeria’s Borno State as well as nearby West and Central African states over which these insurgencies have either taken de facto control or continuing to create severe security crises in their domination efforts. 

Reports by The Guardian (Nigeria) state that Boko Haram’s leader has attempted suicide to avoid capture by rival Islamists. The journal described the descent of Boko Haram, a group formed to protest Westen education into “extreme violence”, and stated that Boko Haram’s insurgency has trickled into Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. More than 40,000 people are dead as a direct result of the insurgency’s onslaught, and more than two million people have been displaced. The journal also stated that Boko Haram inspired the splinter group that is affiliated with the Islamic State, which is known as the Islamic State West Africa Province or ISWAP. ISWAP is notably active in Chad and Niger since July 2018. 

Analysts speaking in a recent interview with Baptist Press noted that Boko Haram has the potential to form a caliphate in the territories it occupies. 

The Nigerian President Buhari has sought the assistance of French President Emmanuel Macron over the growing threat of Islamist insurgencies in Nigeria, The East African reported on Thursday.