This special edition of the Eastern and Southern African Risk Bulletin focuses on the Mozambique crisis.
The first of three articles on the subject describes the recent shift in insurgent tactics and how comparisons may be drawn to tactics used by al-Shabaab a decade ago.
The second looks at the political response to the crisis, and how this seems to have been shaped by the government’s view of the region primarily through the lens of natural-resource extraction.
The third story provides a unique analysis of current dynamics in the illicit economy of the region, how major trafficking networks are adjusting to the conflict and how far the insurgents may be implicated in these illicit markets. This draws on recent fieldwork in the region and inputs from people who are currently based on the ground. We believe it is important to understand all three elements – conflict, governance and illicit economies – and how they interconnect.

This issue also provides analysis of new trends elsewhere in East and Southern Africa, by looking at the emergence of Addis Ababa’s Bole airport as a transit hub for trafficking routes, and the dark implications of the attempted assassination of a prominent attorney in Cape Town.

Lastly, we encourage you to read the forthcoming Global Initiative report, ‘A triangle of vulnerability: Changing patterns of illicit trafficking off the Swahili coast’ for an in-depth look at how trafficking connects disparate locations across the eastern African seaboard, and the political and security risks this carries.


  • Insurgent tactics are shifting in Cabo Delgado, following the pattern of other insurgencies in Africa.
  • Government neglect and corruption in Cabo Delgado have strengthened the insurgency’s hand.
  • The Cabo Delgado insurgents may be poised to increase their control over trafficking routes.
  • Ethiopia’s Bole International Airport has emerged as a trafficking hub for wildlife and narcotics.
  • Violence aimed at lawyers threatens to undermine the criminal-justice system in South Africa.

Image: Armed insurgents pose with an Islamic State flag outside a municipal building in Quissanga in early April.


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