Written by: Garrett Halak
With Syria and Iraq witnessing the end of ISIS, an insurgency conducted in the northern province of Mozambique has immobilized thousands and sparked the re-emergence of ISIS-affiliated violence. On March 24th, Palma became victim to a horrific ambush that has caused major concerns.
At the height of this ambush, 17 vehicles were headed for safer land away from the instability in Amarula. Tragically, only 7 vehicles escaped from the ISIS assailants. More than 60 people died in the 10 vehicles that didn’t make it – many of whom were foreign citizens. Tragically, the people who fell victim to this horrific attack are all presumed dead.
With Islamist militants contuining to roam the streets enforcing strict new rules, countless foreign workers and Mozambicans have been left with little knowledge of the current situation, left to fear for their lives .
While current knowledge about the situation abroad is limited given communication issues, it is understood that the Al-Shabab and Al-Sunna wa Jama’a groups remain in control of this region. It is reported that the streets are lined with bodies and much of the infrastructure has been encroached upon or destroyed.
ISIS is known for conducting franchise-like expansionary techniques in which affiliates invade and overtake foreign lands. These affiliates are vulnerable young adults and often fall victim to the persuaisonary techniques of ISIS leaders. Fears have become heightened as this insurgency brings forth more supporters and potential militant and terrorist attacks in other parts of the world.
This insurgency raises many questions regarding motives and the insurgents themselves. The attacks that took place in Palma occurred less than 24 hours after the Mozambique government confirmed continued operations on the Afungi industrial project, a lucrative liquified natural gas project for Total SE, a French-based global “supermajor” energy corporation. While not entirely proven, it is likely that the attacks may have occurred as a direct result of this project’s renewal. One militant leader even conveyed disapproval of the government’s agreement with Total and claimed that “it humiliates the poor and gives the profit to the bosses.”
Many insurgents are said to have been influenced at a young age and forced to join the ISIS-affiliated cause by threat of death. Similar to the Boko Haram crisis in northern Nigeria, this international oil company has faced complaints regarding discrimination and exploitation of the marginalized within Mozambique. Moreover, the towns surrounding this multibillion-dollar project have seen little improvement or benefit from this proposition despite its fruitful nature. Because of this , many unemployed and uneducated youth, especially those discriminated against because they are northerners, are easily influenced to revolt. Younger insurgents are said to be infuriated by the dereliction of the government and corruption faced by Mozambicans.
Despite the small region in which violence has occurred, the international world remains both fearful and cautious because of the potential this situation has to reinvigorate ISIS. Additionally, given the network that once plagued many countries in the Middle East, insurgencies of this scale could arise in a random network of smaller ISIS-affiliated groups.
Evidently, many of these brainwashed youth are the victims of low socioeconomic status, lack of formal education, and general neglect by international powers and regional governments. Although the state is a long way from it, bettering the conditions in many of these instability-prone nations may decrease the prominence of revolt and ambush by citizens and ensure that innocent people are not indiscriminately killed.
While no resolution is clear, Mozambique is part of international industries related to resource use. Despite foreign operations utilizing the resources of Mozambique, the 31 million residents remain impoverished. Nevertheless, money should be more effectively allocated to bettering schooling conditions. Further, this monetary aid may take shape in the form of food and water. This would reduce the citizens disapproval of corrupt government practices and unfair pay, reducing the vulnerability of young and undereducated people joining ISIS.