US delegation visits South Africa for talks on regional security

Nathan A. Sales, the US State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, will today meet with South African officials in Pretoria. The

nathan sales SA

Photo: Yara Nardi/Reuters

Nathan A. Sales, the US State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, will today meet with South African officials in Pretoria.

The visit directly follows a trip to Mozambique where Sales discussed counterterrorism assistance with Mozambican leadership. An ISIS-affiliated terrorist organisation, al-Shabab—distinct from the Somalian terrorist group—has recently captured significant territory in Mozambique’s northeast.

South African officials have emphasised the insurgency’s destabilising effect on regional partners and its private sector has financially supported Mozambique’s counterinsurgency; many South African companies retain interests in Mozambique’s oil industry and stand to lose considerable profits if al-Shabab succeeds.

Sales will likely suggest South Africa, a long-time US partner in counterterrorism, increase defence spending to support Mozambique, but the country’s deficit will likely prevent this. This week’s meetings represent the US’ most direct response to the Mozambique crisis, though they are likely to be its current extent, as the US has remained reluctant to aid Mozambique. The incoming Biden administration is more likely to support multilateral stabilisation pathways by engaging regional development blocs such as the Southern African Development Community. Expect the Biden administration to undertake capacity building and interoperability exercises with partner militaries as well as increase US financial assistance for anti-radicalisation programs.

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