September 01, 2020

Meanwhile, in Mozambique

The Islamic State (remember them?) has seized the Mozambiquean port of Mocimboa da Praia. This is significant for three reasons:

1: This is a major achievement for a defeated organization. (and I'm not being sarcastic, they were thoroughly trounced in Syria). 
2: It is FAR outside the usual stomping grounds of The Islamic State and its affiliated groups. (West Africa, The Levant, North Africa, Afganistan and neighboring countries, and the Philippines) 
3: The city in question is a particularly strategic node, being a deepwater port and also very close to natural gas fields.
4: The actual defeat of the army and seizure of the town took place 19 days ago. The Jihadists have HELD the city and are moving on the nearby gas fields
 
The Islamic State had, at its height, expanded into or incorporated into itself, many similarly motivated organizations worldwide from Boko Haram to the Sultanate of Sulu. Many of these federal arrangements seem to have actually survived the collapse in Syria and  to have given the organization redundancy and staying power.  Moreover the Islamic State has a history of growing and moving very quickly. It is, after all a revolutionary religious movement and is quite charismatic in ideology to a certain segment of Dar al islam. The fact that they are this organized has implications going forward. While the IS is of little apparent direct threat, particularly at the ass end of the planet, they are an active and enthusiastic sponsor of terrorism. The organization has a history of financing themselves via creative smuggling of petrochemicals and have proved adept at bypassing blockades. If they secure the gas fields they may be able to turn that into financing to purchase weapons and support terrorists in the U.S., Europe and other places. The Islamic State and its confederated "Caliphates" are known to have close ties with certain Latin American drug cartels including technical assistance. The group can conceivably use their smuggling infrastructure to insert agents, and or weapons into the U.S., perhaps to contribute to our current domestic urban chaos. A safe haven for The Islamic State allowing them time to build infrastructure has other implications as well, though mainly in the longer term. 

Sallying forth to slay dragons in some awful land war in Africa is a dubious and daunting prospect with no political support here. It also would take attention off the primary strategic goal of deterring China.  Certainly the locals need to be given ample time to take care of the situation themselves, but this is a situation that should be watched carefully. 

For one thing 1500 Civilians are dead and 250,000 are displaced. The last time The I.S. did this it caused a humanitarian crisis that had notable effects in Europe, Mozambique is more isolated, but the effect on such  countries as Botswana, and South Africa, (the former one of the few stable Sub-Saharan states, the latter with its own problems) could be quite disruptive. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 12:42 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 494 words, total size 5 kb.

1 The port city is in Mozambique, not Angola.  I know they are both former Portuguese colonies but each is completely across the continent from the other.

This news is even more alarming since it the city is located near the border with Tanzania and is right on the Indian Ocean.  If you want a secondary location for some enterprising and far reaching Somali pirates to relocate to, Mocimboa de Praia is not a bad choice.  Former colonial power Portugal has neither the ability nor the inclination to pull the bacon of one of its' former colonial holdings out of the fire.  The UK will not intervene unless the IS invade Tanzania and the Tanzanians ask for help (Though the Tanzanians are on of the few powers in Africa to have won a war by itself in living memory.).  On the other hand, France might, since the fields are being worked on by a consortium led by Total S.A. and the French has always been interested in expanding their influence and client relationships in Africa, like they did with Zaire during Shaba 2.

This has the potential for a lot of excitement.

Posted by: cxt217 at Wed Sep 2 15:12:58 2020 (4i7w0)

2 What the...HELL?
How did I DO that? 
Every single article said Mozambique.  I looked up Mozambique ports on World Port Source.  I can't even..... Well, I went back and changed EVERYTHING to avoid confusion so....now your....um....comment is invalid. 
Hey everybody, his comment refers to a "mostly peaceful" typo. 
Nothing to see here. 
http://brickmuppet.mee.nu/images/1318460190954.jpg

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Wed Sep 2 16:02:50 2020 (5iiQK)

3 It's location on the Indian ocean  west of Madagascar is far enough out of the fashionable zip codes to easily be ignored by the west (the west has become quite proficient at ignoring that area). But it gives some potential for a base of operations with IS assets in the region. There are IS affiliates in Indonesia, Pakistan and around the horn of Africa and a LOT of small dhows that travel up and down the east coast of the continent that provide cover to supply runs, requiring a very large naval presence if western powers were to try and interdict them.  There's also the potential for income/liquidity from the nearby gas/oil fields. Northern Mozambique also has gems and gold, which are even easier to turn into liquidity. Assuming good roads and no checkpoints, Goma is only about a 4 hour drive and a ferry-ride away. Obviously it's much farther than that now but that region across the rift vallet 200 miles north is the awash in weapons from the ongoing insurgency as well as Ebola and Rift Valley Fever, which IS is probably not equiped to weaponize, but might well try nonetheless.  
As you say, potentially exciting. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Wed Sep 2 16:32:21 2020 (5iiQK)

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