Leading discussions at the United Nations Security Council on challenges posed by increasing terrorism cum extremism and mechanism to eradicate the scourge across Africa, Mozambican President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi unreservedly shared his country’s unique experiences, progressive approach and success story with the gathering in New York.
President Filipe Nyusi, who chaired the lengthy discussions attended by leaders from the Africa and top diplomats, strongly suggested that a better approach in preventing violent extremism must necessarily be through stronger cooperation between the UN and regional organizations in Africa. Mozambique, southern African country, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency in April, has been battling a deadly insurgency in the north for more than five years.
“The expansion of terrorism is quite threatening, and it is driven by factors that vary from context to context. On one hand, radicalization based on identity variables fuelled by intolerance and, on the other hand, the manipulation of socio-economic factors have accelerated recruitment to terrorist groups, particularly of the youth,” he said.
Citing the 2022 Global Terrorism Index, President Nyusi reported that some 48 per cent of terrorism-related deaths occurred in Africa, while the Sahel is the “new epicentre” of terrorist attacks. He further said African countries, the AU and regional organizations on the continent – such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the West African bloc ECOWAS, and its East African counterpart, IGAD – have accumulated years of experience in conflict resolution.
A SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) has been fighting terrorists in the northern province of Cabo Delgado for nearly two years – an example of “African solutions to African problems” and an approach that could be replicated elsewhere. “For Mozambique, this experience is vested with an added value, as, presently we are fighting terrorism combining SADC regional multilateral efforts with bilateral efforts between Mozambique and Rwanda, and together we are successfully fighting terrorism,” President Nyusi said.
Secretary-General António Guterres has, several times, expressed deep concern over the gains which terrorist groups are making in the Sahel and other parts of Africa. “Despair, poverty, hunger, lack of basic services, unemployment, and unconstitutional changes in government continue to lay fertile ground for the creeping expansion of terrorist groups to infect new parts of the continent,” he said.
“Just as terrorism drives people apart, countering it can bring countries together,” said Guterres, pointing to several initiatives across Africa, including in the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin and Mozambique. “The United Nations stands with Africa to end this scourge. Above all, it includes our ongoing close collaboration with the African Union (AU) and regional and sub-regional African organizations,” he added.
According to Guterres the UN is delivering tailored assistance to African countries in areas that include prevention, legal assistance, investigations, prosecutions, reintegration and rehabilitation. “Evidence shows that counter-terrorism efforts that are solely security-focused rather than human-rights based, can inadvertently increase marginalization and exclusion, and make the situation even worse,” he explained.
Long before chairing the UN Security Council meeting in April, President Filipe Nyusi has been very outspoken, shared valuable experiences about the use of well-constituted regional military force for enforcing peace and security in Mozambique. Creating regional military forces to fight threats of terrorism will absolutely not require bartering the entire gold or diamond mines for the purchase of military equipment from external countries.
Mozambique has relative peace and stability after the 16-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) had finally approved the deployment of joint regional military force with the primary responsibility of ensuring peace and stability, and for restoring normalcy in the Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique.
It involves troops from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community Military Mission (SAMIM). Rwanda offered 1,000 in July 2021. South Africa has the largest contingent of around 1,500 troops. External countries are, of course, enormously helping and contributing to stabilize the situation in Mozambique.
The Joint Forces of the Southern African Development Community are keeping peace in northern Mozambique. The rules, standards and policies, provision of the assistance as well as the legal instruments and practices are based on the protocols of building security stipulated by the African Union. It, therefore, falls within the framework of peace and security requirements of the African Union.
The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), a policy think tank, has published a special report on Russia-Africa. The report titled – Russia’s Private Military Diplomacy in Africa: High Risk, Low Reward, Limited Impact – says that Russia’s renewed interest in Africa is driven by its quest for global power status. Few expect Russia’s security engagement to bring peace and development to countries with which it has security partnerships.
While Moscow’s opportunistic use of private military diplomacy has allowed it to gain a strategic foothold in partner countries successfully, the lack of transparency in interactions, the limited scope of impact and the high financial and diplomatic costs exposes the limitations of the partnership in addressing the peace and development challenges of African host countries, the report says.
The report authored by Ovigwe Eguegu, a Beijing-based Nigerian Researcher on Politics and International Affairs, focused on the use of private military companies to carry out ‘military diplomacy’ in African states, and the main research questions were: What impact is Russia’s private military diplomacy in Africa having on host countries’ peace and development? Why has Russia chosen military diplomacy as the preferred means to gain a foothold on the continent?
His report was based on more than 80 media publications dealing with Russia’s military-technical cooperation in Africa. He interrogates whether fragile African states advance their security, diplomatic and economic interests through a relationship with Russia.
Overcoming the multidimensional problems, especially extremism and terrorism, facing Libya, Sudan, Somali, Mali, and the Central African Republic will require comprehensive peace and development strategies that include conflict resolution and peacebuilding, state-building, security sector reform, and profound political reforms to improve governance and the rule of law – not to mention sound economic planning critical for attracting foreign direct investment needed to spur economic growth.
The United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the entire international community have expressed collective concerns about any use of private mercenary forces, instead strongly suggested the use of well-constituted regional forces approved by regional blocs or organizations, as a means of addressing conflicts in Africa.
Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, has earlier acknowledged a few difficulties on the part of the international community, donors and partners to reach a consensus on the most effective support mechanism for a collective security response in the Sahel.
“It is perhaps time to rethink our approaches and change the way we do our work,” she added. “We need innovative approaches in the face of the constantly evolving tactics of terrorist groups, whose influence keeps expanding.” She, however, called for a holistic approach that honours the primacy of politics, addresses the causes of poverty and exclusion, and provides opportunities for young people in the region.
During the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) held in Addis Ababa, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE), interestingly used the phrase – “African solutions to African problems” – seven times during his speech delivered on February 18. Besides that, he offered the suggestion that existing conflicts and disputes on the continent, it necessary to mobilize collective efforts to resolve them and “must be confined to this continent and quarantined from the contamination of non-African interference.”
The African Union is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Its vision is focused on an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena. It has designed a continental development programme, referred to as the AU Agenda 2063, which is Africa’s development blueprint to achieve inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development over a 50-year period.