Stemming the Insurrection in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado

Militant attacks and security force operations in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province have claimed nearly 3,000 lives, while displacing hundreds of thousands of people. Insecurity has prompted the suspension of a massive gas project. The Islamic State (ISIS) claims ties to the insurrection. Southern African governments are lobbying to send troops. Mozambican militants have been motivated by grievances against a state that they see as delivering little for them, despite the development of major mineral and hydrocarbon deposits. Tanzanians and other foreigners have joined up, fuelling the insurrection. The country’s historically weak security forces have been unable to stem the onslaught. Unaddressed, the insurrection could spread further, threatening national stability just as Mozambique is fulfilling a peace deal with the country’s main opposition group and heading into national elections in 2024. It could worsen instability along East Africa’s coast and present ISIS with a new front to exploit. Maputo should accept targeted assistance for security operations to contain the insurrection, and avoid a heavy external deployment that could lead to a quagmire. Authorities should deploy aid to build trust with locals and open dialogue with militants. Regional governments should redouble law enforcement efforts to block transnational jihadist involvement.