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Further militarisation will not end Mozambique’s insurgency

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The recent raid by supposedly ISIL-linked insurgents on the northern Mozambican city of Palma, which left dozens of civilians dead and displaced 30,000 others, has given rise to a narrative that Africa is now a hotbed for international terror groups and should be the next main front in the global “war on terror. Such sweeping framing, if uncritically embraced, could result in the further militarisation of the region. But militarisation would not resolve, and may even exacerbate, Mozambique’s insurgency problem.

North, East, and West Africa have been suffering from different forms of insurgency for more than a decade. Since the very beginning, international and regional bodies and Western and African governments have been trying to address the issue by increasing their military presence in these regions.

The United States, for example, has 29 bases in 15 different countries or territories across Africa, mostly in the restive Sahel and Horn of Africa regions. France has been leading its largest overseas military operation, Operation Barkhane, in the Sahel region since 2014. The 4,500-person anti-insurgency operation covering Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger has an annual budget of more than $700m. Meanwhile, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been supporting the Federal Government of Somalia’s forces in their battle against al-Shabab for more than a decade.

But this extensive military presence is yet to deliver a decisive victory against the continent’s myriad insurgent groups.

In northeast Nigeria, for example, the Nigerian security forces have long been conducting military operations against Boko Haram with external support. Still, the group continues to wreak havoc in the region to this day. Meanwhile, in East Africa, al-Shabab retains the capacity to conduct cross-country attacks despite AMISOM forces on the ground, American drones in the skies, and increasing Western military support to countries in the region.

From Somalia to Nigeria and Kenya, governments across the continent repeatedly failed to identify and address the underlying socioeconomic drivers of insurgency within their territories. Instead, they swiftly labelled all insurgent activity as “terrorism”, exaggerated loose links between local insurgents and international terror groups, and tried to contain these groups militarily.........

© Al Jazeera

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