For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Sep 15th 2014
20 The EastAfrican OPINION SEPTEMBER 13-19,2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP Region must ≥emain ale≥t ove≥ al Shabaab SOMALIA ISLAMIC militant group al Shabaab is wounded after the American drone recently killed nearly 50 top commanders including its overall leader Ahmed Godane. Yet, the question remains how the countries in the region, especially those contributing troops to Amisom like Kenya, Uganda and Burundi are preparing to counter the retribution that is likely to follow. A joint regional operation that overrides national sovereignty considerations — among them unfettered intelligence sharing — could be the only option as the militant group tries to regroup. Reports indicate that al Shabaab has embarked on recruitment across the region. The new leader Ahmed Umar alias Abu Ubaidah, is likely to employ attacks on key installations or populated civilian areas through small cells that are difficult to control. Amisom should now find ways of starving al Shabaab of hardware such as armament and protect civilian targets that give the group opportunities for propaganda scores. Despite Al Qaeda forging links with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the biggest threat is that extremists have recruited a sizeable number of foreigners — especially from Western countries — who can be used for information gathering and planning while posing as tourists. On September 21, Kenya will be marking the first anniversary of the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi that left nearly 70 people dead and marked the biggest al Shabaab success story since Kenya Defence Forces entered Somalia in October 2011. It is our hope that the East African Community Protocol on Peace and Security that EAC partner states have signed should be used as an entry point in the effort to contain the al Shabaab threat. Tanzania’s welcome change of hea≥t Tanzania, long considered the reluctant partner in EAC integration, has made significant moves over the past two months that could go some way in debunking this stereotype. It has promised to review the current account to allow its citizens move money freely across the borders. Foreign investors will also benefit from up to 100 per cent shareholding of companies listed on the Dar es salaam securities exchange. Now Tanzania has joined Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda in expediting measures to confront dumping in the region by starting trials under the Single Customs Territory. It is not clear what has prompted this welcome change of heart. What is clear is that with political goodwill, the wheels of integration can be rolled faster for the benefits of people and corporations. This momentum should be maintained if the more testing single currency and political federation goals are to be realised sooner rather than later. A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer TOM MSHINDI: Acting Editorial Director PAMELLA SITTONI: Managing Editor Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, P.O. Box 49010-00100 G.P.O. Nairobi. Tel. 3288000, 2221222, 337710, Fax 214531, 213946. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org © Nation Media Group So what has changed? In all probability, it is the success of the extremist groups.” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo its ambiguous attitude toward the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Rwandan “Hutu” militia that includes perpetrators of the 1994 genocide based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and seeks to overthrow the T In mid-August everyone turned against Machar... even formerly sympathetic leaders were wagging fingers at him and casting him as the villain government in Kigali. In early August the UN chief of mis- sion in DRC warned that the FDLR must disarm or face military action. It is a hard line that the UN, perhaps because of its peacekeeping mission in DRC, had largely avoided. The US special envoy to the Great Lakes region, Russ Feingold, was even firmer, calling for the FDLR to be flushed out, and arguing that it had no justification to demand negotiation with the Rwanda hree seemingly unconnected events came to pass in eastern Africa over the past four weeks. The United Nations abandoned This isn’t the time to be a ≥ebel, ≥ebel-backe≥ in EA government — a position that had been championed by Tanzania. He demanded the group demobilise by “no later than end of the year.” Even Angola, that was thought to be the real firepower behind the “Tanzanian option” on FDLR, shifted position dramatically. Angolan Defence Minister Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco, said he was “concerned by the slow progress of the voluntary surrender” of the FDLR. The second event was the reversal of fortunes for South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar. When South Sudan went up in flames in December, in power fight between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Machar, whom he had sacked a few months earlier, the world and the regional grouping IGAD blamed the two sides almost equally for the ensuring atrocities. They also held them similarly culpable for the failure to enforce ceasefire agreements. Indeed the view was that Ethiopia, and the US, were leaning toward Machar. In mid-August everyone turned against Machar, and everywhere he looked even formerly sympathetic leaders, were wagging fingers at him and casting him as the villain. The third event was the US airstrike on a convoy in Somalia the other week that killed feared sl Shabaab militant and terror leader Ahmad Abdi Godane. Accountability o≥ a sac≥ificial lamb? to not just gather and analyse information but to detain and extract information as well. The Nyayo House torture chambers are a testament to that abuse. As are the many successful claims lodged against the Kenyan state by those who had the misfortune to pass through those chambers — for simply challenging the Kenyan state. Reform then was to, first, remove the A powers to detain and extract information. And to, second, professionalise what became National Security and Intelligence Service. It was meant to be a modernised intelligence service, fit for purpose, ushering in a brand, new day. No more staff whose educational quali- fications and skills-sets came solely from military or police training institutions. Graduates and post-graduates were sought out from a range of fields. It was meant to be a modernised intelligence service, fit for purpose, ushering in a brand, new day. The withdrawal of the powers to detain and extract information implied, however, that the NSIS would have to better coordinate with the police — particularly criminal investigations. The NSIS was meant to keep tabs, in a preventive sense. The Criminal Investigations Department was meant to pick up its baton. And nobody was meant to waste their time any more on the repression of legitimate dis- nother era has come to an end for our intelligence service. The Special Branch was notorious for its abuse of its powers sent. All of this was then meant to be supported by anchoring security sector reform in the new Constitution. What happened? For starters, time-wasting on the re- pression of legitimate dissent crept back in. Which brings us to the bigger question — as to co-ordination between the now National Intelligence Service, the CID and, given its increased deployment within Kenyan borders, the Kenya military. Clearly, that isn’t happening either. Again, two cases suffice to make the point — Westgate and Mpeketoni. The mutual blame-game and finger-pointing has been appalling and not confidenceinspiring. NSIS was meant to be a modernised intelligence service, fit for purpose, ushering in a brand, new day The NIS says it gave ample warning in both instances. The police says its warnings were so broad as to not be ‘actionable.’ The military undeniably ran in roughshod in the immediate aftermath of both instances. Rumours fly as to the personality clashes between the Executive and the NIS, between the NIS on the one hand and the police and military on the other. Rumours fly too as to the love-in between the Executive and the military. Meanwhile, all the public cares So what has changed? In all probability, it is the success of the extremist groups. Until about three years ago, the “terror divide” was the Sahel and the tip of the Horn of Africa. But extremist groups are prevailing in Libya, have taken root in Egypt, have spread further south into West Africa – Mali, Nigeria, the Nigeria-Cameroon border area, and even into Central African Republic (CAR). The view had always been that extremists were pushing eastwards and Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda were the “frontline” states preventing them from linking up with the terrorists in Somalia through Sudan. The westward sweep and successes means that the frontline has shifted, and now the most critical point defence line is in central Africa. The new push against al Shabaab and the killing of Godane, presumably, is hoped to free up resources from the eastern flank and focus them in central Africa and toward West Africa. In this new reality, Machar and FDLR are flies in the soup. Generally, it’s not a good time to be a rebel or rebel-backer in East Africa. They are all being served as starters now. A year is, indeed, a very long time in politics. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥:@cobbo3 Let us see whether the drift back to Special Branch tendencies is halted ” L. Muthoni Wanyeki about is why these two instances were not prevented, why there has been no accountability for both their non-prevention and the unbelievable ways in which they were handled. All the public cares about is why we are not safe. It is unclear how the resignation of Major-General Michael Gichangi resolves either the counterclaims or the running roughshod. Structure was ostensibly sorted out with the raft of legal and constitutional changes these institutions have undergone. Agency and personality clashes alone do not suffice to credibly explain what exactly happened with coordination in both instances—or how and why the military is so often now being deployed internally. It is a new era at the NIS. Let us see whether the drift back to Special Branch tendencies is halted and whether NIS stops wasting its time on bogey (wo)men. Let us see whether coordination improves. Let us see whether Gichangi’s departure was a form of genuine accountability or just the serving up to us of yet another sacrificial lamb. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty Inte≥national’s ≥egional di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica, cove≥ing East Af≥ica, the Ho≥n and the G≥eat Lakes.
Sep 8th 2014
Sep 22nd 2014