Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Kenya’s entry changes Somalia war

 By Mubatsi Asinja Habati

Kenya is not known for military expeditions but it has surprised many by joining the 20 year-old war in Somalia.   From October 16 the Kenya military has been shelling areas it says are controlled by Somalia's al-Shabaab fighters  following the kidnapping of foreign tourists and aid workers it blames on the  al-Shabaab. The islamic al-Shabaab fighters deny the kidnappings arguing it's Kenya's a pretext to join the complex Somalia war.  The conflict in Somalia is complicated by several clan warlords who are surviving on violence. The Somalia war, in my opinion, should be left to Somalis to sort themselves out, establish their own government so that they have themselves only to blame for its failures or appreciate its successes.
 Kenya’s entry into Somalia is on grounds that the al-Shabaab has threatened its tourism industry. International tourists from France and Britain have been attacked in hotels near Kenya’s border with Somalia. And Kenya has deployed its ground, air and navy forces in Somalia especially the south where the al-Shabaab are said to have stronghold.

Kenya military tank and helicopter

 With entry of Kenya in the battle against Al Shabaab, the war in Somalia seems to have changed its face. AU forces from Uganda and Burundi have got a rare supporter in Kenya. Yet Mwai Kibaki's government insists it presence in Somalia aims at creating a buffer zone. This is the same argument that Ethiopia made in 2006 but ended up spending nearly 2 years in that war-torn country. Local analysts say Kenya risks ending like previous interventions by the U.S. and Ethiopia that ended in retreat and failure. Kenya’s target now seems to be capturing the port of Kismayo, a base of al Shabaab. The Kenya media and some western media are awash reporting the successes of Kenya’s advances against the al-Shabaab. The Uganda media whose soldiers have played an enormous role in capturing Mogadishu are conspicuously silent as Kenya is stealing the show. Kenya's defence minister was in Mogadishu yesterday meeting the embattled Somalia President Ahamed Sharif in which Kenya promised a continued joint military operation against the al-Shabaab.

The al-Shabaab have warned Kenya to withdraw its military the rebels dismissively described as not-combat-tested and vowed to make it  “ feel the pain of bullets”. However, so far the Kenya forces say 75 al-Shabaab fighters have been killed. Kenya’s forces together with forces allied to Somalia’s western-backed transitional government secured the towns of Tabda and Afmadow, which are 120 kilometers east of the Kenyan border. The al-Shabaab spokesman has warned Kenya to withdraw its soldiers from Somalia or face bombardment at home. Yesterday a bomb explodes at Somalia Foreign Ministry compound leaving four people dead. The al-Shabaab, who control most of south Somalia, claimed the attack.


  1. Kenya's decision to deploy into Somalia reportedly to destroy the al-Shabaab fighters has picked lots of space and airtime in international media especially the BBC. Does Kenya's military intervention change the face of Somalia war?

  2. It could, now that no other country, under its own arrangement, could do so. If it means defending our territorial integrity from Somalia, we will simply do so. With the support of TFG on the other side, al Shabaab is no doubt a lesser threat (read dog that barks loudest).

  3. @Josh my view is that you guys (Kenya Government leaders) are rushing into Somalia's complex clan war,where others have failed, and you could fail too. Follow my tweets @Asinja