Analysts told Lusa press agency that the US Government’s expression of interest in supporting Mozambique in fighting the armed insurgency in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, reflects the country’s geostrategic importance for Washington.
On Thursday, the US Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Nathan Sales, said in Maputo that his government is ” keenly interested” in partnering with Mozambique to “jointly confront the challenge of terrorism” in Cabo Delgado province.
“The United States is keenly interested in partnering with Mozambique,” he said, “deepening our friendship while we jointly confront the challenge of terrorism,” Sales is quoted as saying in a statement from the US embassy in Maputo.
In statements to Lusa, professor at Joaquim Chissano University in Maputo and specialist in peace, conflict, defence and security Calton Cadeado, considered Washington’s availability as a sign.
“The United States has never hidden the geostrategic and geopolitical interest that Mozambique has always assumed, due its position in the Indian Ocean,” said Cadeado, recalling the alleged interest expressed years ago in installing a US military base in Nacala, Nampula province.
Cadeado also noted the presence of US oil major ExxonMobil in natural gas projects in Cabo Delgado and the risk that the chaos caused by the insurgency in the province would favour the intensification of various types of traffic, including in drugs, as among Washington’s concerns.
“The USA is one of the largest donor countries, and this is not just due to altruism. That country (the US) is interested in the stability” of the country (Mozambique), he stressed.
Adriano Nuvunga, professor of Political Science and director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), a civil society organisation, said that the interest shown by the United States was part of what Washington sees as a global war on terrorism.
“From the perspective of the USA, what is happening in Cabo Delgado is terrorism, and deserves the same vigorous prosecution as the war against the Islamic State and Al Qaeda,” he said.
The US authorities have always followed events in Mozambique closely, both before and after independence, as evidenced in the hostility from Washington regarding the alignment of the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo – the party in power) with the former communist bloc led by the former Soviet Union, Nuvunga said.
The economic importance of Mozambique, especially since the discovery of natural gas in the Rovuma basin, also justifies US concern about the situation in Cabo Delgado, and likewise that of the European Union (EU).
Nuvunga however noted that the effectiveness of international support for Mozambique would depend on Maputo’s seriousness in managing this solidarity.
“It will be interesting to see the extent to which the [Mozambican] Government is going to collaborate with the international community in combating the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, because it may be that it is afraid that they will unveil the internal dimensions of the conflict, which are the fault of the Frelimo Government itself,” Nuvunga said.
Fernando Lima, political commentator and chairman of Mediacoop, a private media company, also advocates “an unambiguous posture” on the part of the Government of Mozambique, so that international solidarity in the matter of Cabo Delgado is properly capitalized upon.
“The Government should not issue contradictory positions if it wants to count on support such as that expressed by the USA and the European Union in combating violence in Cabo Delgado,” Lima said.
The will expressed by Washington, he continued, marks a significant shift in international attention on the problem of Cabo Delgado.
“The political, military and economic weight of the USA gives the issue of Cabo Delgado greater visibility in international eyes, but it is necessary that this expression of interest has practical effect,” he stressed.
Fernando Lima said that, more immediately, cooperation between Mozambique and the USA could be at the level of information exchange, given the North American experience in monitoring the movements of groups associated with jihadism.
“At the moment, I don’t see US troops on Mozambican soil, but cooperation at the level of information exchange is more credible,” he said.
Armed violence in Cabo Delgado has been going on for three years and is causing a humanitarian crisis with around 2,000 deaths and around 500,000 displaced people, without housing or food, and mainly focusing on the provincial capital, Pemba.
.@StateDeptCT Amb Sales: The Govt of Mozambique is taking this treat very seriously. They recognise that the U.S. is in a position to assist with training and equipment to help counter this threat. #AFHubPress
— US Africa Media Hub (@AfricaMediaHub) December 8, 2020
Source: Lusa via Club of Mozambique