1. Increased Middle Eastern Involvement in Cabo Delgado


President Filipe Nyusi’s non-responsiveness over Cabo Delgado has prompted the Saudi and UAE ambassadors to work together to protect their interests in Mozambique.

The envoys of crown princes Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan (MBZ) of Abu Dhabi and Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) of Saudi Arabia are coordinating their operations in Mozambique. Saudi ambassador Abdulmalek Alyosfi received his Emirati counterpart Khalid Ibrahim Shohail on 26 January to discuss the country’s security and economic woes.

The two diplomats have met several times since Saudi secretary of state for African affairs Ahmed Kattan visited Maputo two months earlier. Organized by the governor of Cabo Delgado Valige Tauabo, the meeting was arranged to allow Riyadh help Maputo’s war effort.  Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, however, is blocking all Cabo Delgado-related issues and has yet to provide a clear roadmap for his various allies – including the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the European Union.

While Saudi Arabia has kept a low profile in the Mozambican business world, the UAE has been trying in recent months to establish itself as one of Maputo’s new key partners in the gas sector. Persian Gulf logistics specialist Zakher Marine International partnered in August with the parastatal oil company Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH), with the aim of supplying some of Cabo Delgado’s gas logistics. The project is still on track.

Ambassador Shohail has also begun discussions with the state-owned Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) to expand the Emirati presence in the sector. Emirates airline’s business is struggling to take off, however: the Covid-19 pandemic is still delaying the launch of the Dubai-Maputo line, originally scheduled for July 2020.

Saudia Arabia and UAE are worried about the growing influence of Qatar, which is buying into gas projects operated by Total, EXXON and ENI. Qatar is also a major shareholder in Rosneft, which holds exploration concessions, together with EXXON and Quarter off the coast of Angoche and further South of the Zambezia coast. And Priminvest, based in UAE (Abu Dhabi) is investing in Mocimboa da Praia, in collaboration with AEG.



  1. Situation Update

Following Cyclone Eloise, it seems that the insurgents’ progress has slowed down. There has been little activity from them, as the government and allied private forces use the time to beef up their efforts to rout out the problem.

There have, though, been a few attacks. On 1 February, there was an insurgent attack on Lijungo, in the Nangade district. Reports seem to confirm that most civilians had already fled the village, leaving it mostly empty. On 5 February, a large scale offensive by the government was reported in Mocimboa da Praia district. Information is slow to confirm whether the operation was successful in holding the district, as the residual rain from the cyclone makes reporting slow.

Although the situation seems, slightly, to be turning in the governments favor, this cannot be assumed to be true, as the usual season of slow and little harvest, together with the rain, might be what is slowing down the insurgents. Furthermore, they might be taking the time to regroup. The progress made will only be assessed in a few weeks, once the rains have passed, the floods subsided, and the usual season harvests begin.




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