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Southern African Forces Withdraw from Mozambique Amid Mixed Results in Anti-Jihadist Efforts

In a significant development in the fight against jihadist insurgency in Mozambique, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) military mission is set to conclude its operations, marking the end of a contentious chapter in the region’s security landscape.

The mission, known as Samim, was launched in response to the escalating violence perpetrated by Islamist militants in the northern Cabo Delgado province. Led by SADC member states, including South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Lesotho, Namibia, and Angola, the initiative aimed to neutralize extremist groups, restore stability, and facilitate humanitarian efforts in the affected region.

Since its inception in July 2021, the Samim mission has encountered a series of challenges and achievements, prompting a mixed assessment of its effectiveness.

Challenges Faced by the Mission:

  1. Limited Resources: Despite initial commitments from SADC member states, the mission faced constraints in terms of funding and logistical support, hampering its operational capabilities.
  2. Coordination Issues: Coordinating joint operations among different military contingents, as well as with Mozambican security forces and other international actors, proved challenging due to communication barriers and divergent strategies.
  3. Intelligence Deficiencies: Inadequate intelligence gathering and sharing mechanisms contributed to operational setbacks, exposing troops to heightened risks and hindering counterinsurgency efforts.

Achievements of the Mission:

  1. Reduced Extremist Threat: The SADC mission succeeded in degrading the capacity of jihadist groups operating in Cabo Delgado, leading to a notable decline in the frequency and intensity of attacks in certain areas.
  2. Humanitarian Impact: By creating a more secure environment, the mission facilitated the return of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons to their homes, alleviating humanitarian suffering and restoring a semblance of normalcy to affected communities.
  3. Capacity Building: Through training and advisory support, SADC forces enhanced the operational capabilities of Mozambican security forces, bolstering their ability to combat extremism independently.

As the SADC troops prepare to withdraw from Mozambique by June 2024, questions loom over the sustainability of security gains and the resilience of local institutions in the face of ongoing threats. The Mozambican government’s role in addressing governance issues, addressing root causes of conflict, and fostering inclusive dialogue will be paramount in securing long-term stability in the region.

In conclusion, while the departure of SADC forces marks a significant milestone in the fight against jihadism in Mozambique, the complexities of the situation underscore the need for continued international support and concerted efforts to address the underlying drivers of extremism and instability.

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