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Mozambique’s The Newest Front In The US’ So-Called Global War On Terror

30 MARCH 2021

Mozambique

Many observers missed the US’ designation in early March of Mozambique’s “Al Shabaab” as an ISIS-affiliated global terrorist organization and its subsequent dispatch of roughly a dozen Green Berets to the country to aid the national military in its counter-terrorist operations, but this development signals that the Southern African state has importantly become the newest front in America’s “Global War On Terror”.

The US’ newest front in its “Global War On Terror” has officially opened in the Southern African state of Mozambique following the State Department’s designation in early March of the country’s “Al Shabaab” as an ISIS-affiliated global terrorist organization and the subsequent dispatch of roughly a dozen Green Berets there to aid the national military in its counter-terrorist operations. Many observers missed these developments, perhaps because they were too busy paying attention to the latest twists and turns of what I describe as World War C, or the world’s uncoordinated attempt to contain COVID-19 which catalyzed full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes across every sphere of life. I warned last September that “Mozambique Might Require Foreign Military Assistance To Clean Up Its Hybrid War Mess” after it became clear that the country couldn’t tackle this pressing task on its own, nor were its previously reported private military contractor (PMC) partners able to sufficiently assist it to this end. That prediction ultimately came to pass in March.

American interests in Southern Africa are varied, but they share the common objective of pushing back against regional multipolar trends, particularly China’s rising influence there. In the Mozambican case, the country stands the chance of becoming one of the world’s top LNG exporters in the future should its vast northern offshore gas deposits that are uncoincidentally in close proximity to the current terrorist-afflicted zone be fully tapped. There had hitherto been some serious concerns on the US’ part that Chinese influence in Mozambique could indirectly shape the global energy industry, as well as facilitate Beijing’s efforts to more closely connect the landlocked countries beyond to its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) through trans-Mozambican commercial corridors. These fears are now somewhat more manageable as the US expands its own influence in the country through its close military cooperation with its partner’s armed forces for the purpose of jointly defeating this newly designated ISIS affiliate.

History attests, however, that the US’ motives aren’t ever truly benign and that it always takes advantage of anti-terrorist pretexts in order to pursue ulterior objectives. The evolving anti-terrorist situation in Mozambique is no exception since it deserves mention that the earlier cited State Department designation also imposed the same label on the anti-Ugandan “Allied Democratic Forces” (ADF) that have been operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for a few decades already. That group is responsible for carrying out large-scale killings and other acts of terrorism, and its pairing with Mozambique’s “Al Shabaab” as part of ISIS’ larger “Central African Province” proxy network creates the pretext for the US to turn the entire Central-Eastern-Southern African theater into the latest front of its more comprehensive anti-terrorist operations should the Pentagon have the political will to exploit the situation to this end. Once again, the true objective would be to roll back China’s rising influence in this strategic space.

To be absolutely clear, genuine terrorist groups – especially those connected to ISIS – must be thwarted at all costs lest they continue carrying out greater acts of carnage and thus catalyze an uncontrollable chain reaction of destabilization that ultimately risks turning this transregional space into a black hole of chaos similar in a sense to what previously happened in parts of the West Asia (especially along the Syrian-Iraqi border) and is currently unfolding in West Africa. That said, while anti-terrorist cooperation with the US might achieve short-term military goals for America’s partners such as Mozambique, it might eventually be against their long-term strategic interests if the US exploits its “military diplomacy” over these increasingly desperate governments to impose political strings to continued security cooperation upon which those states might soon become dependent. In a perfect world, no such fears would credibly exist, but as previously mentioned, history proves that these concerns are completely founded by established precedent.

With this in mind, the ideal solution would be if terrorist-afflicted states didn’t have to rely on the US for anti-terrorist assistance, but the reality is that they seem to have little choice. China doesn’t partake in anti-terrorist operations abroad though it does train some of its BRI partners’ military forces, presumably also sharing its own domestic anti-terrorist experiences in the process. As for Russia, it’s developing bespoke “Democratic Security” solutions (counter-Hybrid Warfare tactics and strategies) for Global South states such as the Central African Republic, the Congo Republic, and most recently Togo, but its model is still far from perfect and thus requires plenty of improvements before such services are exported more broadly. This difficult state of strategic affairs compelled Mozambique to eventually request the US’ anti-terrorist assistance as its Hybrid War mess in Cabo Delgado Province spiraled out of control over the past few years, though it remains to be seen exactly what political strings America will attach to its continued security support in this respect.

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By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: Mozambique, ISIS, Terrorism, Hybrid War, US, China.


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Is The Quad Plotting To Provoke A Proxy War With China In The Solomon Islands?

Is The Quad Plotting To Provoke A Proxy War With China In The Solomon Islands?

4 SEPTEMBER 2020Solomon_Islands

The leader of the Solomon Islands province of Malaita announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’s recognition of Beijing last year as the legitimate government of China, which could dangerously plunge this underdeveloped nation back into a state of civil conflict that could then be exploited by the Quad as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.

From The Global Periphery To The Center Of Attention

The South Pacific, long regarded as a far-flung region that’s largely irrelevant to all major countries apart from nearby Australia, has increasingly figured more prominent in global media reports over the past few years as the West has sought to portray this part of the world as the latest theater in the West’s New Cold War with China. The narrative goes that China’s recent inroads through its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and some regional states’ decisions to recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China has given the People’s Republic the opportunity to expand its influence there, which is being portrayed in a zero-sum manner as supposedly being a threat to Western interests. Political tensions have been building over the past year as more pressure was put upon these countries by their traditional Western partners to either reverse their relations with Beijing or at the very least “balance” them out by re-engaging with the Australia and/or the US, two of the four countries that comprise the so-called “Quad” alongside India and Japan which are collectively accused of seeking to “contain” China. Although concerning, this tense state of affairs had yet to destabilize the region, but that might soon change after the latest news coming from the Solomon Islands.

On The Precipice Of Civil War

The leader of the Malaita Province — the most populous one in the country that’s home to approximately a quarter of the Solomon Islands’ less than 700,000 people — announced earlier this week that his region will seek independence from the central government due to its disagreement with the capital over the latter’s recognition of Beijing last year. This is especially troublesome because the Solomon Islands’ de-facto state of civil war that lasted between 1999-2003 and prompted a nearly 15-year-long Australian-led peacekeeping intervention directly concerned an ethno-regional dispute between Malaita and the neighboring island of Guadalcanal which hosts the country’s capital. The Capital Territory and Guadalcanal Province collectively have more people than Malaita does, which means that any possible exacerbation of their former conflict with one another over the China-Taiwan issue could immediately plunge approximately half of the Solomon Islands back into civil conflict. That, however, might be exactly what the Quad is hoping for since it could then easily exploit this unrest as a proxy war for “containing” Chinese influence in the South Pacific through “Balkanization”.

The Quad’s Hybrid War On The Solomon Islands

What’s important to point out is that the China-Taiwan issue is simply a trigger for thawing this unresolved conflict between the two islands and their people, one which predates the Quad’s formation by over a decade but could potentially be encouraged by them for the aforementioned reason. It’s extremely unlikely that the leader of Malaita Province would make such a dramatic announcement had he not already secured support from this bloc’s American and Australian members, both of whom have an interest in pushing back against what they’ve portrayed as the “aggressive” expansion of Chinese influence in the region that they’ve historically regarded as falling within their joint “sphere of influence”. The external exacerbation of preexisting identity conflicts for geostrategic reasons — especially those related to disrupting, controlling, or influencing transnational connective infrastructure projects such as BRI — fits the author’s definition of Hybrid War. That means that this scheme can rightly be described as the Quad’s Hybrid War on the Solomon Islands, which could become the catalyst of geostrategic change all across the New Cold War’s South Pacific theater if the “Balkanization” process that’s being unleashed in that country uncontrollably spreads throughout the region.

Formalizing The “Asian NATO”

Any resumption of civil war-like unrest in the Solomon Islands as a result of Malaita’s attempted secession will almost certainly prompt another international peacekeeping mission there, one which might be led not just by Australia like last time, but jointly by it and its other three Quad partners. After all, US Deputy Secretary of State Biegun declared his country’s intention earlier this week to create a NATO-like military bloc in the so-called “Indo-Pacific” in order to “push back against China in virtually every domain” there. He strongly hinted that the Quad could play such a role, and another conflict in the Solomon Islands might be just what’s needed in order to provide the impetus for formalizing this structure to that point. The previous Australian-led peacekeeping mission wasn’t all that difficult compared to others across the world so a forthcoming one possibly led by the Quad’s four members could serve as the perfect opportunity for strengthening their military interoperability with one another in a real-world mission instead of just another exercise. It wouldn’t entail as much of a cost as doing so elsewhere in this transoceanic region should another Hybrid War be manufactured for that purpose, and the benefits to their bloc could be tremendous in terms of their grand strategic impact.

Perception Management”

Special attention should be paid to how this scenario is already being sold to the public. Reuters quoted Malaita’s leader as evoking the UN principle of self-determination, which in this context could easily be spun in a way to sympathetically present him and his people as “freedom-loving democrats” opposed to the “Chinese-controlled tyrannical central government”. Considering how preconditioned many people across the world are to suspect China of ulterior motives through BRI, it wouldn’t be surprising if they fall for this emerging narrative. To make it more believable, unverified claims could be made about alleged human rights abuses carried out by the central government with Chinese support. Reports could also be spread fearmongering about the environmental consequences of any potential BRI projects on the island. Since the nearby Papua New Guinean Autonomous Region of Bougainville just held a non-binding UN-recognized independence referendum that overwhelmingly passed last year, the legal precedent has been established for arguing that Malaita deserves the same opportunity to choose its own destiny as the only lasting solution to the Solomon Islands’ similar ethno-regional conflict.

Proxy War Scenarios

It’s impossible to predict in detail exactly how a Quad-China proxy war in the Solomon Islands could play out, but the initial conditions are such that one can nonetheless identify the broad contours of this conflict. Violence would probably be concentrated mostly in Malaita and among migrant communities on Guadalcanal, which would thus make them the two most likely places for a Quad-led peacekeeping force to deploy. If the central government successfully secures the capital region and its surroundings, then the peacekeeping mission might only concern Malaita and thus set it along the trajectory of seemingly inevitable independence pending a UN-recognized referendum there overseen by the Quad. If the authorities lose control of parts of Guadalcanal, however, then a regime change is certainly possible with or without a Quad-led military intervention there, one which could still result in Malaita’s eventual independence but also the reversal of the country’s recognition of Beijing back to Taipei. In the course of events, China might be compelled to evacuate some of its citizens if they’re targeted by the separatists, who might also attack them systematically in order to prompt China into deepening its political, financial, and perhaps even military support of the authorities through “mission creep”.

Concluding Thoughts

The news that the leader of a South Pacific island nation’s province announced his separatist intentions might have seemed so irrelevant to the rest of the world at first glance as to not warrant any serious attention, but the fact of the matter is that this event is actually extremely important because it’s poised to turn the South Pacific into the latest hot spot of the New Cold War. The author predicted three years ago in September 2017 that “it’s impossible to speculate on exactly what could set off a renewed round of violence in the [Solomon Islands], but the most probable scenarios have to do with a continuation conflict between the people of Guadalcanal island and neighboring Malaita, which was at the core of the ‘The Tensions’ in the first place.” That’s exactly what seems slated to happen after the leader of Malaita used the central government’s recognition of Beijing as the pretext for thawing this unresolved conflict, all with the very likely support of the Quad for the purpose of “containing” China in the region through “Balkanization”, which in turn could serve as the regional security impetus for formalizing the bloc into an “Asian NATO”. The calm waters of the South Pacific might therefore soon give way to a tempest of Hybrid War trouble with global strategic implications.

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American political analyst

Tags:Quad, Solomon Islands, China, BRI, Australia, US, Regime Change, Hybrid War, Taiwan, Separatism.