The “path” chosen for about a year in the fight against rebel groups in the province of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique is “the right one,” Brigadier General Nuno Lemos Pires said in an interview with Lusa.
“Now, while the situation is not fully under control, we all understand that, as in any other counter-terrorism situation in the world, it will take a lot of time,” added the head of the European military training mission, although he acknowledged that this “ does not mean that sometimes there are no fears and failures.
However, “this is part of what constitutes an action taken against terrorists who operate in a very wide area, who in themselves have the initiative and the ability to hide in a very wide area,” he said.
In fact, he stressed, many of the recent attacks that have taken place in the south of Cabo Delgado in recent weeks are due to the fact that Islamist extremist rebels had to “flight from the north” of the province.
“Because this was a consolidated military operation carried out in close cooperation between the Mozambique Defense and Security Forces (FSS), [e com as forças d]Rwanda and SAMIM (Southern African Development Community Mission (SADC) in Mozambique), who were clearing out the intervention areas that existed in the area, the reaction of many terrorists was to flee the area, go further south, where they were not pursued. , and make new attacks,” he explained.
“In such cases, the initiative almost always belongs to the terrorists. There are few of them, they hide among the population, they move over very large territories, with a lot of dense vegetation, it becomes very difficult to find them, but you can easily move,” he continued.
On the other hand, the Portuguese general emphasized, “it is now difficult for these groups” “to concentrate power and forces for large-scale operations, as was the case three years ago during the conquests, such as Mocimboa da Praia or Palma.” ,” he said.
“They don’t have that ability. Many of these attacks even demonstrate [estratégias] survival [clássicas das guerrilhas]. They’re looking for food, they’re looking for supplies, they’re searching deep down for a place where they can survive, because the area is already under quite a lot of control. [por parte] Mozambique FSS, Rwandan forces and SAMIM,” he explained.
In this context, Nuno Lemos Pires highlighted the “quick response” of the Mozambican authorities to each of these developments, starting with head of state Filipe Nyusi.
“I think it is exemplary that the moment there is a movement or a series of significant attacks in other areas, we immediately see the President of Mozambique heading north, linking up with his Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (CEMGFA). , with the Minister of Defense, with the Minister of the Interior, and outline plans on the ground for a quick change of equipment and the ability to respond to such movements,” he said.
During one such trip to northern Mozambique in mid-June, Mozambican Interior Minister Arsenia Massingue said that Mozambican police were informing the “enemy” – the rebel forces in Cabo Delgado – about the positions of the FDS and allied forces on the ground.
However, Lemos Pires downplayed the situation. “We must be aware that there are infiltrations in any political system. It’s happening everywhere. Ignoring this dimension is tantamount to ignoring what is happening everywhere,” he said.
“I don’t know of a single case of insurgency, counterinsurgency, terrorist or counter-terrorist combat where these leaks didn’t happen frequently. You need to be careful. .
In addition to the vastness of the territory that has been the scene of conflict and the topography favorable to insurgent guerrilla strategies, the porous borders with Tanzania to the north of Cabo Delgado and Malawi to the northwest also pose a danger. challenges the SDF and allied forces of SAMIM and Rwanda.
Lemos Pires also relativized this question. “We are talking about transnational terrorism, and it is good to understand that the situation in the north of Mozambique, in Cabo Delgado, is not limited and is not limited – and has never been limited – exclusively and exclusively to this region. A phenomenon that exists throughout Africa. , namely in Central Africa,” he said.
The UETM commander even took advantage of this circumstance to formulate an “extended response” to “a broad problem, a regional one, and the solution must also be a broad regional one.”
Therefore, “it’s very good what we see here on the ground, in fact, this is the unification of the efforts of regional African forces to try to deal with a problem that really worries everyone,” he concluded.
“What happens in one region can affect another. That is why it is in everyone’s interest that these groups be fought, detained and that the narrative that they are currently spreading can be counteracted – we hope that there are fewer and fewer successes,” the Portuguese general stressed.
NPS // PYAA