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Monday, October 17, 2011

Why Kenya's Foray into Somalia is Counterproductive and Destined to Fail

 It remains to be seen whether Kenya will stay in Somalia for any considerable length of time but its pretty obvious this latest military move is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction.

Elements in Somalia whether allied with the dreaded Al-Shabab or profiteering bandits have been relentlessly provoking Kenya by violating its territory and staging brazen daylight kidnappings. It is natural for anyone to react violently when tested by a bully. However, what needs discussion here is whether Kenya's inexperienced military with its antiquated hardware has any long term plans for combating the Al-Shabab threat.

A quick bombing raid of outlying Somali villages will not do away with the threat that is posed by Al-shabab. Neither will a prolonged ground combat which will only serve as a recruiting blitz for the terrorist movement. We all know how antagonistic Somalis are to any form of foreign occupation; even from what has been up to now a benevolent neighbour.

In an era of near economic crisis, with inflation this high and the shilling tanking at rates reminiscent of the Zimbabwean dollar, getting bogged down in a guerrilla war with an entrenched and highly mobile enemy is nothing more than inviting disaster.

The unintended consequence of this military campaign might be forcing the drought battered population into the arms of the Shabab all over again. Also, if Kenya's intentions were to protect its tourism, suicide bombings in Nairobi and Mombasa will do not much to encourage visitors to come to Kenya.
Given how amateur and corruptible our security and intelligence apparatuses are, the Shabab will be able to attack within Kenya with significant ease.

Kenya's own indigenous Somali population will also become the subject of unnecessary vilification and will be seen by the rest of the country as having divided loyalties, wrongly of course.

So What is the best answer in this scenario? Certainly its not just sitting back while your citizens are terrorized by foreign thugs.

My own thinking is that Kenya should beef up security around its border with Somalia and improve its intelligence gathering. Surgical strikes against militant groups suspected of being behind kidnappings, covert operations and commando raids within Somalia to kill the leaders of the bandits/terrorist groups that are behind cross-border raids into Kenya and closing up all revenue streams coming to Al-Shabab through money laundered into Kenya.

Al-Shabab is an evil organization that has perveted Islam and Somali culture to cause indescribable pain and suffering but its not an entity that Kenya alone can eradicate.

For Somali Speakers, here is a lecture by Sh. Umal about the group

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