Santos Silva: “EU, send military and security support to Mozambique”

Mozambique soldiers (Photo: Press OACPS)

Augusto Santos Silva, Portugal’s foreign minister, has called upon the European Union to increase both its military and security support for Mozambique. The African country continuous to struggle with a jihadist insurgency. 

The insurgency is not only affecting Mozambique, but also neighbouring country Tanzania. The jihadists are primarily active in and around Cabo Delgado, a coastal town in the north of Mozambique. So far, a number of 310,000 people have been displaced by the ongoing violence. 

Although tensions were rising over the entire course of 2020, the government of Felipe Nyusi did not come up with an adequate response and remained reluctant to ask for help. This has not positively affected the relationship with Mozambique’s neighbouring countries. So far, the government placed their trust into the hands of military contractors Dyck Advisory Group and South Africa’s Paramount Group, with little success.

Santos Silva, Portugal’s foreign minister whose government currently holds the rotating six-month presidency of the EU, has called upon the EU to step up in a recent interview. Silva said the EU should strengthen security cooperation with Mozambique, with a focus on training local forces.

“The intensity of our cooperation in terms of security is very low. What we have to do is increase our cooperation with Mozambique in the three dimensions, which means significant enhancing of the security dimension. What Mozambique is asking for is training facilities. I think it’s manageable to contribute this way,” according to the minister. 

Silva stressed that the EU should however not make it a bilateral cooperation, but work closely with partners in the Southern African Development Community and the African Union. 

“The phenomenon of terrorism and Mozambique has to be addressed. It is a European interest to participate in managing that situation and addressing that challenge. We cannot accept that the radical Islamism, and the terrorism inspired by the radical political Islamism can extend its influence in eastern Africa”. 

If the European Union meets Silva’s request remains to be seen; the mixed successes of the G5 Sahel taskforce launched back in 2014 has raised scepticism in both European and African countries. It therefore remains to be seen whether the EU is ready for another military assistance program on the African continent.