Written by 6:48 pm European Union

European Union weighs funding Rwandan troops in fighting Islamic State

The European Union is considering providing financial support to Rwandan troops fighting an armed Islamic State-linked insurgency in Mozambique’s gas-rich northeastern region.

An insurgency by Islamist fighters that began in the region in 2017 has left more than 3,000 people dead and displaced nearly a million people, and prompted French energy company TotalEnergies to suspend a $20 billion natural gas project. Once production begins, it will offer Europe an alternative source of supplies at a time when Russia is restricting gas sales to the continent.

The EU is “discussing the provision of support to the Rwandan deployment in Mozambique,” said Nabila Massrali, spokeswoman for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. “We will not comment on it until a decision is taken.”

Talks with member states are at an advanced stage, with the proposal receiving strong support from France, Germany and Italy, said two EU officials, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. The rationale for the deal aligns with the bloc’s desire to help the continent provide African solutions to African problems, while simultaneously upholding peace and security and securing a huge gas reserve off the Mozambican coast, the people said.

Last month, the EU agreed to provide €15 million ($14.6 million) to the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique under the European Peace Facility, a €5-billion fund that enables Europe to arm African armies bilaterally.

Securing EU funding for Rwanda troops would give Rwandan President Paul Kagame further international backing and legitimacy as he seeks to increase his nation’s military footprint across Africa and become a go-to force to help settle regional disputes.

Kagame deployed a contingency of troops to Bangui in Central African Republic in 2020 to help protect the government from rebel forces, and is in talks to provide military support to Benin in its fight against Islamist insurgents.

United Nations experts have also documented that Rwandan troops have infiltrated North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo to arm and fight alongside members of the M23 rebellion, an insurgency formed in 2012 that claims to defend the interests of Congolese Tutsis, the ethnic group that Kagame belongs to, against Hutu militias.

Yolande Makolo, head of communications in Rwanda’s presidency, didn’t immediately provide comment on questions sent by email and text message. Stephanie Nyombayire, Kagame’s press secretary, didn’t respond to questions sent by text message.

A motorist passes by a flag of the Islamic State group in central Rawah, 175 miles northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, July 22, 2014. The European Union is considering providing financial support to Rwandan troops fighting an armed Islamic State-linked insurgency in Mozambique’s gas-rich northeastern region.

A motorist passes by a flag of the Islamic State group in central Rawah, 175 miles northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, July 22, 2014. The European Union is considering providing financial support to Rwandan troops fighting an armed Islamic State-linked insurgency in Mozambique’s gas-rich northeastern region. (AP Photo)

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