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Cabo Delgado: ‘Al Shabaab/ISIS’ and the Crisis in Southern Africa

Chris Alden , Sérgio Chichava | May 12, 2021

This paper argues that the crisis in Cabo Delgado, while cast in terms of the incendiary rhetoric of armed religious extremism, in actual fact has its origins in systemic neglect and regional inequalities that plague this ‘forgotten’ northern portion of Mozambique. The onset of a resource scramble has introduced an influx of economic migrants, spurred on elite rent-seeking with multinationals and as a consequence further marginalized local communities. In this context, Mozambique’s own self-styled ‘Al Shabaab’, as it was initially called, and the government’s inept security crackdown, have further prepared the ground for localized grievances to deepen into longstanding structural problems. Without a strong coordinated national, regional, and international response, this crisis is continue to threaten stability in Mozambique and is likely to spill over into neighboring countries.