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The East African : Jan 21st 2017
JANUARY 21-27,2017 The EastAfrican NEWS 11 Somalia and secu≥ity in g≥eate≥ East Af≥ica of Somalia — the 2012 successor to the Transitional Federal Government. But a weaker Somali government would, ironically, tighten Kenya’s grip on Somali affairs even as it deepens Somali distrust of Kenya. Left the top dog by the exit of its allies, Kenya would be tempted to play the advantages of dominance. That would be a mistake; it would only add fuel to the mouldering resentments that Al Shabaab appeals to every time it attacks Kenya. Bluster and bullying would imperil Kenya’s security without removing the sources of threat. Kenya invaded “to stabilise Somalia so that state-building could start.” Instead, by relying on imprudent and self-serving advice from politically connected Somalis, it exported Somali clan politics to Jubaland. Some security experts now of Amisom. This charged matters profoundly. All considered, it would be best if Ethiopia withdrew from Somalia and stayed away for good. What of Kenya? A US and Ethiopian withdrawal would weaken the Federal Government Policing the sea: Incidents of piracy have dropped but cannot be ruled out. Picture: File argue for Kenya’s extended stay in Somalia pointing out that since 2015, Al Shabaab, attacks on Kenyan soil have dropped sharply. This, they say, is proof that military intervention has paid off. Not so fast: it is just a year after the deadly El Adde attack. A more convincing explanation is better intelligence gathering, thanks to the new Director-General of Kenya’s National Intelligence Service, Maj-Gen Philip Kameru. Kameru’s quiet and methodical style — a sharp contrast to the style of Maj-Gen Michael Gichangi, his predecessor — appears to be paying off. He has restored professionalism. It is important that Kenya does not become complacent because terror groups are often most lethal when they seem weakest. More important, the military’s triumphalist account of its mission doesn’t match with events in Somalia. Since September 2016, Al Shabaab has stepped up attacks, in part to disrupt presidential elections in Somalia. Premature announcements that it is dead are ill-informed. If, in fact, Ethiopia and the US do pull out, Al Shabaab will, in the shortrun, grow strong again. That is a strategic menace to Kenya: an Al Shabaab re-energised may be tempted to attack Kenya this year, an election year, which would make credible elections impossible. What to do? Kenya has no good options in Somalia. It really is the “Devil’s Alternative.” Kenya could stay on, engaged in an inept military mission that continues to inflame Somali nationalism and stoke Al Shabaab resentment. Or, it could withdraw and fret sleeplessly that Somalia will collapse back into the lawlessness that bred terror in the first place. Kenya’s ability to do good in Somalia has been eroded by partisan politicking in Jubaland. It is now reaping the very things it dreaded: A border as porous as before and a Somalia no safer than before. It is time for Kenya to leave. That leaves matters to the Apart from geopolitics, a US retreat from Somalia would inevitably change the politics of the Horn. It must, for instance, lead to a retreat by Ethiopia, too.” pussyfooted AU, which must urgently rethink Amisom’s design. Amisom is congenitally defective. Five countries have contributed troops — Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Burundi and Uganda. Three of these — Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya — have territorial interests at odds with those of Somalia. Ethiopia has shown imperial tendencies in its interventions in Somalia and it also holds Ogaden. Djibouti was annexed by the French from Puntland and was then granted Independence totally delinked from Somalia. Kenya’s (now former) Northeastern Province was part of Jubaland and was hived off by Britain in 1925. In 1960, Britain lied that the province would be re-unified with Somaliland but promptly handed it over to Kenya even though an overwhelming majority of the population there wanted to secede to Somalia. So three of the troop contributing countries — Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti — sit on land that Somali nationalists make claims to. Since 2015, a fourth country, Burundi, has routinely suppressed its own people and brazenly cocks a snook at both the AU and the East African Community, daring either or both to take action against it if they will. It has no legitimacy to intervene in Somalia. It is a moral blot on the continent’s leaders that Burundi has been threatening to withdraw its troops from Mogadishu, because the European Union has imposed sanctions on its government, cutting off pay to its soldiers. The solution to this mess has long been clear: Amisom needs a credible intervention force with a clear mission, tight timetable and definite milestones: To stabilise Somalia by taking control of key infrastructure, improve policing to provide civilian rather military security, rebuild the state to deliver basic services, create a framework for an inclusive national dialogue including rewriting the Constitution, hold elections to establish a legitimate government and, once done, leave Somalia to the Somalis. Wachira Maina is a constitutional lawyer.
Jan 14th 2017
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