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AfrOil                                       COMMENTARY                                                AfrOil

                         After several days of combat, it was able to expel   Islamic State. Several hundred members of the
                         the militants with air support from Dyck Advi-  group staged an attack on Kitaya, a village in
                         sory Group (DAG), a private South African   Tanzania’s southern Mtwara region, in October
                         security firm that has been aiding the Mozam-  of this year. Since then, it has claimed responsi-
                         bican government.                    bility for three more attacks in the same region.
                           The fighting was intense enough to force   Meanwhile, recent events have led officials
                         Total to suspend construction for several days,   in Harare to fret about the possibility that the
                         AFP reported on December 11, citing Mozam-  conflict may also spread across Mozambique’s
                         bican sources. The French company did not con-  north-western border into Zimbabwe. They
                         firm the report, but it did tell the news agency   have also led hundreds of thousands of peo-
                         that it was “closely monitoring” the situation in   ple to flee Cabo Delgado Province in the hope
                         northern Mozambique.                 of escaping the conflict. Valentin Tapsoba, the
                                                              head of southern African operations at the
                         More conflict likely                 United Nations High Commission for Refugees
                         Meanwhile, the conflict is hardly over.  (UNHCR), said earlier this week that the num-
                           Despite its recovery of Mute and other sites,   ber of refugees now stood at 424,000 and was
                         FADM has not been able to deprive of ASWJ of   likely to rise.
                         control over the entirety of the Cabo Delgado
                         province. This is not likely to change any time   Seeking a solution
                         soon, especially since Mozambique’s military   Tapsoba told Reuters he believed that Mozam-
                         forces are not trained well and are not respected   bique ought to have help from neighbouring
                         enough in Cabo Delgado to win much sympathy   states in addressing the insurgency and all of the
                         from the local population            disruptions that have emerged from it. “This is
                           At the same time, the Islamist group has   a situation starting in one country, but if all the
                         remained determined to seize as much terri-  countries don’t get their act together to tackle  Total reportedly
                         tory as possible – and has shown that it is will-  it and wait too long, it could spread within the
                         ing to inflict severe violence to achieve its aims.   sub-region,” he said.  suspended work
                         Indeed, some observers believe more attacks are   Mozambique  has  made  some  efforts  to   on its LNG plant
                         likely within Mozambique in the short term.  secure assistance from nearby states. For exam-
                           For example, Janes, a UK-based military   ple, in mid-November, it signed an agreement   last week amidst
                         intelligence consultancy, attached a pessimistic   with Tanzania on joint operations against
                         headline – “Growing confidence of ASWJ mili-  ASWJ. Later in the same month, the Mozam-  new clashes
                         tants presages increasingly sophisticated attacks   bican Minister of Defence met with senior offi-
                         over expanded area of operations in Mozam-  cials from five member states of the Southern   between ASWJ
                         bique’s Cabo Delgado” – to a comment pub-  African Development Community (SADC) to   and FADM
                         lished online on December 14. It did so shortly   discuss responses to the Islamist group’s attacks.
                         after AFP quoted unnamed military sources   Mozambican officials then held additional talks
                         as saying that the Islamist group might mount   with their counterparts from Botswana, South
                         another campaign soon.               Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe earlier this
                           This means that Total and other IOCs have   week.
                         good reasons to remain worried about security   So far, though, these discussions have not led
                         – and not just the security of their own construc-  to the signing of any agreements or the formula-
                         tion sites and facilities, but also the security of  tion of any strategies. As a result, there is a very
                         ports, roads and other infrastructure used to  real chance that the conflict will not only con-
                         support their gas projects.          tinue but worsen to the point where it threatens
                                                              to hamper the activities of the companies that
                         A regional problem                   hope to start extracting and processing gas from
                         The companies may also wish to prepare for the   fields located offshore Mozambique within the
                         possibility of more widespread instability in East   next few years. Total and other IOCs ought
                         Africa.                              to start considering, then, how to respond if
                           Mozambique is not the only country in the   their projects – Mozambique, Rovuma LNG
                         region to be affected by ASWJ’s attacks, which   and Coral South LNG, which are expected to
                         are meant to bring the whole region under   require up to $60bn worth of investments – are
                         the control of an Islamist government loyal to   disrupted by ASWJ attacks. ™

                                                                                       (Image: CSIS)

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