On 26 July it was announced in Angola that the Parliament approved the sending of 20 military advisors: 2 officers linked to the Regional Cooperation Mechanism, 8 force commands and 10 aircrews.

On 27 July it was announced that South Africa will spend just over R984 million on the deployment of 1495 SANDF troops to help Mozambique. The amount was confirmed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who wrote to Parliament informing the legislature that he had authorized the deployment of soldiers. It’s been a busy month for the defense force, which recently deployed 25,000 members to help quell the unrest and looting that ravaged Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The South African deployment will be for a 3 month period from 15 July to 15 October in Cabo Delgado, an intervention which will bolster the troops that are there, the local troops and the troops from Rwanda and Botswana who recently arrived, as well as the training troops from the USA and the troops from the EU. President Nyusi of Mozambique has welcomed the additional troops, saying “Rwandan forces are in our country under the bilateral security agreement between our two countries. Rwanda’s participation is part of the principle of solidarity for a noble and common cause. That is why it is priceless. It is about saving human lives, preventing the decapitation of people in Cabo Delgado, and the destruction of public and private property and infrastructure, but not only that. The mandate of foreign forces is to help Mozambican forces restore peace and stability. We should not fear the presence of foreign forces in our country, we should be afraid of being alone in fighting terrorism”.

Experts have said the influx of foreign soldiers may lead to reprisal attacks across southern Africa and possibly beyond, which weak local security services will struggle to prevent. There are also concerns that the deployment of significant forces with limited knowledge of the local environment, languages and culture could be counterproductive unless balanced by a broad range of social, political and economic initiatives.

Jasmine Opperman, a respected expert on the conflict based in neighboring South Africa, said it was clear that something needed to be done to stem the advance of the insurgents.

“Mozambique needs help and that is a definite,” she said. “But will the presence [of the international troops] translate into an overall defeat for the insurgency … I don’t think I can be optimistic. If there is an over-reliance on an unaccountable military, the causes will remain.”

Dino Mahtani, an expert on Mozambique at the International Crisis Group, said military assistance could be useful if “done in a measured way”. “Authorities need to reckon with what needs to be done to incentivise the militants to reconsider violence as the best means to resolve grievances. If they simply think they can defeat and dismantle the group then they may get themselves involved in an unwinnable war,” he said.

Foreign troops have a limited record of success against Islamist militants on the continent. The expensive and dangerous deployment of French and other international forces in Mali has had only limited success, and military gains have been undermined by continual political instability and poor governance in the region. A regional east African force in Somalia has been unable to win back much of the country from al-Qaida affiliates over more than a decade of operations. Analysts also point to the shortcomings of interventions in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and elsewhere in recent years. “Military pressure can degrade and erode [the insurgency in Mozambique] but ultimately this is a conflict that needs resolution dialogue,” said Mahtani.

The multitude of different nation’s troops deploying in Mozambique also brings significant command and control issues, experts say. Col Omar Saranga, a spokesperson for Mozambique’s defense ministry, said detachments would be “led by their respective commands but the chief coordinator is the Republic of Mozambique”.

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