The Zimbabwe Independent

Military interventi­ons failing to counter extremist insurgenci­es

- Sapien Sapien.

„ Military interventi­ons have manifestly failed, time and time again, to be effective as regards counter insurgency (Coin). These interventi­ons are adopted under the guise of some multilater­al arrangemen­ts or with the disguised blessing or direction of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

For context purposes, let’s start the discussion with the African Union (AU) peacekeepi­ng mission in Somalia, held under the blessings of an entire UNSC resolution, Resolution 2472, that authorised AU member states to use military force to intervene and counter the Al Shabaab insurgency in 2007.

This military-centric approach was to last, ostensibly for six months, but has been renewed time and time again whilst the level of violence in Somalia and troop contributi­ng countries has only but increased.

The recent Global Terrorism Index (2020) shows that Somalia is beset with instances of terrorism whilst numerous forays by Al Shabaab into Kenya (Westgate Shopping Mall and Garisa University asymmetric terror attacks) prove that retributiv­e violent incursions into troop contributi­ng countries is a menace that can be seen to be a direct by-product of military-centric approaches to regional crisis.

The events in the Niger Delta where France, probably per the Responsibi­lity to Protect (R2P) doctrine has been militarily entangled highlights that this one-size-fitsall approach to Coin is not as effective as it is parroted to be.

The communique released by Sadc in Botswana also sought to address issues of troop contributi­on to Mozambique.

Therein lies the challenge. The trio of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola, under the auspices of regional integratio­n and national sovereignt­y intervened, militarily, in the DRC (Operation Sovereign Legitimacy) in 1998.

The interventi­on was directly responsibl­e for the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy, descent into anarchy and chaos of the hybrid post-colonial state, escalation of violence in the Great Lakes Region and a rise in fragile states within the greater Equator zone.

The proliferat­ed increase in arms of war resulted in the emergence of warlords (eg Bosco Ndagana and Wamba dia Wamba) and subsequent assassinat­ion of Laurent Desire Kabila.

The Sadc-led interventi­on did not manage to bring peace and stability into the war-ravaged country yet 18 years after Zimbabwe pulled out of the Congo at the behest of Sadc, the country is part of an agenda and internatio­nal conspiracy to intervene again — this time in Mozambique. No lessons learnt!

Any involvemen­t of foreign troops in a Coin initiative is guaranteed to be a cataclysmi­c failure. The rapture and related chaos to follow gives traction to this analogy.

Hyper-nationalis­m is clear. People generally despise foreign military presence.

The Sunni insurgency of 2003-2013 in Iraq gave us good lessons. Despite being told and made to believe that foreign troops under the guise of the Bush Doctrine were going to be seeking to restore democracy which was alleged to have been desecrated by Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq said no to foreign occupation, rose, took up arms and the resultant anarchy led to the emergency of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, founder of modern-day Islamic State (IS).

The by-product of military interventi­on is clear: more gangs; more anarchy; less stability; more chaos; more deaths; and regional escalation.

I will not even mention Libya and that Nato-led interventi­on.

For context, the insurgency in Cabo Delgado is clearly localised (emphasis mine) with the direct risk of escalating into a Boko-Haram kind of scenario once foreign troops are involved.

Definitely, Mozambique needs help, but that help must be in the form of capacity building and enhancemen­t programmes aimed at ensuring that the country has got institutio­ns and systems capable of nipping in the bud the escalating violence.

There are many ways of engaging in Coin. Clearly, there is a need to mix Coin approaches with those of the Mozambican­s themselves, the thrust being to put more emphasis on civilian-centric approaches and gelling it with a law-enforcemen­t thrust.

Cost of co-operation must be made high, meaning that decapitati­on measures of attrition ought to be successful­ly implemente­d whilst respecting human rights. This has been done before.

We saw this in Sri Lanka. The 26-yearold Tamil Insurgency was muted by a home-grown Coin thrust as directed by the Rajakpaksa Model.

No foreign troops were involved. The death of Prabakaran signaled the end of the insurgency. This is what Sadc ought to appreciate.

Reprisal attacks in many of these porousbord­ered Sadc states will make economies collapse. Imagine the negative ramificati­ons to tourism if, say, one tourist resort centre is attacked.

A more pragmatic way of doing it outside of the usage of guns and tanks is the institutio­nal/law enforcemen­t thrust.

Definitely, the Sadc communique represents a dedicated belief in the efficacy of multilater­alism to resolve domestic challenges, but that again, has got its limits.

To understand these limits and thence predict prognosis, the Asymmetric Warfare Equation shall be used:

The asymmetric warfare equation is thus: AW = Asymmetric Threat (AT) + Asymmetric Operations (AO) + Cultural Asymmetry (CA) + Asymmetric Cost (AC) (Simplified: AW= AT +AO + CA+AC).

Are there any asymmetric operations currently underway in Mozambique? Yes!

• Diplomacy (European Union, etc.)

• Military (Wagner Group, Dyke et al)

• Economic sabotage (eg take-over of Mocimba de Pria port)

The last two aspects of the equation paint a gory picture as to the cost of interventi­on.

Definitely, IPB (intelligen­ce preparatio­n of battlefiel­d) already is making it clear that military-centric Coin even per country with strong defense budgets, shall be extreme.

Use Afghanista­n and Boko Haram for there are definite similariti­es. As regards that, Zimbabwe does not have capacity, for example, it needed South African engineers to help it rehabilita­te broken infrastruc­ture brought about by the asymmetric event, Cyclone Idai.

What are the cultural issues per cultural asymmetry in the restive region of Cabo Delgado?

• Values (Islamic)

• Norms

• Rules

• Target population (demographi­cs and structural issues indicate sympathy to the insurgency cause)


Is there an asymmetric threat in Mozambique?

Yes What form/kind?

• Terrorism

• Insurgency

• Informatio­n warfare

• Disruptive threats (Idai)

• Unknown threats eg climate change-induced.

We are alien to Islamic values. It will quickly escalate into a religious conflict. Check Armenia vs Azerbaijan and related alliances that are emerging.

What are the likely costs to be incurred by any interventi­on (AC)?

Cost of action (Indonesian incursion into East Timor cost an equivalent of 50% of its GDP. Forced to quit. Same as the Rhodesians and also Operation Sovereign Legitimacy by Zimbabwe in DRC).

• Cost of defence

• Prognosis of interventi­on: Poor

Our border with Mozambique (+/1 000km) is too long and too porous for guerilla warfare to be defeated.

Our capacity is ravaged due to sanctions and amplified vices such as corruption. Per doctrine we are ok, but anything post that nothing.

 ??  ?? The Mozambique problem ... An Islamic insurgency linked to Islamic State has gripped the province of Cabo Delgado in the north of the country.
The Mozambique problem ... An Islamic insurgency linked to Islamic State has gripped the province of Cabo Delgado in the north of the country.
 ??  ?? Islamic State fighters ... Military interventi­ons have manifestly failed, time and again, as effective counter insurgency
Islamic State fighters ... Military interventi­ons have manifestly failed, time and again, as effective counter insurgency

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