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Stain on Kenya’s regional policies or the architects of ethnic genocide

by Prof. Liban A Egal
Sunday, August 04, 2013

I here acknowledge and want pay my highest gratitude to AMISOM’s extraordinary heroic work they’ve been doing in order to bring peace and stability in Somalia. One of the fundamental reasons for AMISOM's success in reacting to emergencies is their abundant supply of contingency funding from international donors. The African multination armies have courageously demonstrated an increased willingness to take responsibility to contain turmoil in the region. However, since the inception of AMISOM 2007, Kenya forcefully tried to play a major role of these multination armies for geopolitical and strategic interest in Somalia.

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Kenya Defense Force, who is now part of AMISOM contingent, earns more than ten folds of their normal salaries.  Recently, Kenya was recognized as a regional economic powerhouse; and attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) for being a regional hub as foreign aid and commerce conduit therefore any serious threat that hinders such prosperity will be confronted radically.

According to Adan Mohamed the Industrialization and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary “the proposed Mombasa Free Trade Zone, will be benchmarked against some of the World’s best Free Trade Zones including the Dubai Airport Free Zone, China’s Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone (WFTZ) and Malaysia’s Iskandar Free Trade Zone.” http://www.nation.co.ke/business/news/-/1006/1930076/-/pthm9z/-/index.html

The East African economic integration has served Kenya well; their regional foreign policy should not undermine the 6 pillar policies of the recognized Somali Federal Govt. if ignored inevitably will upend foreign direct investment, prematurely halt counter-terrorism operations, reduce foreign aid projects, depresses domestic stability and jeopardize its military presence in Kismayo-port, Somalia. What threatens Somalia threatens its neighbors and what strengthens Somalia strengthens its neighbors. Kenya must be aware that it hosts more than half a million displaced Somalis inside Kenya at the Dadaab refugee camp, additionally the Somali business owners in Eastleigh district in Nairobi who generate billions of Shillings per year, is part of Kenya’s revenue parcel which is considered Kenya’s GDP. Somalia does not export terrorism to its neighbors but resilient innovative entrepreneurs. Kenyan troops are already accused of multiple human rights violations in Somalia. Evidently, inexperienced Kenyan troops continue to face resistance and political intricacies to stabilize Kismayo, for it is worth remembering that it should cultivate matured political leadership to retain its trump card as a hub for regional trade, and foreign investment recipient than a peace spoiler.

KDF with Somali clan-Militia on the move                              Exporting Charcoal

The global transformation of religion, indicate that it can help shape the dynamics of emerging powers. Kenya is dominated by a large Christian majority; moreover the influx of foreign Islamists in the region stimulates Kenya and its counter-terrorism partners to fight against terrorism. In spite being an essential partner in US counter-terrorism missions, it continues to receive large funds, unfortunately the  operations in Somalia do not seem to be protecting civilians from Al-Shabab’s phantom organization. In the contrary, it is perceived as an inept military incursion who indiscriminately exercises air-strikes to spark destruction, rain of rockets from the sea, torture, rape, causing displacement and economic recovery crisis. On the other hand, the Somali Federal Government’s legitimacy is undermined. Inevitably, Kenyan Air Force bombarded blindly numerous times, such as Jilib refugee camp during October 2012, killed innocent families and early 2013 conducted more air strikes in Gedo region causing instability and destructions.

KDF Helicopters hovering over Kismayo Town             KDF with armor and high caliper weapons

In Garissa district, one of the country's most deprived districts in Kenya, a Somali-Muslim majority town that borders Somalia, youth unemployment is at an alarming 90 percent due to the authorities that turned blind eye to development sector.  Experts assumed that al Shabaab's recruitment in Kenya was targeted to the Somali-Muslim minority due to economic and political marginalization. Those problems created attacks on churches in order to breed religious confrontation. The plots were foiled when Kenya brutalized its own Somali-Muslim entrepreneurs in Garissa, hindering Somalia’s recovery and risking opening the flood gates of hatred and economic setbacks. http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-96593/mps-investigate-claims-military-brutality-garissa If Kenya carefully recognizes and utilizes the region’s religious spring, it can harness its stability to improve national security and better the lives of Kenyans. If it fails to confront the implications of such a trend properly, then the dangers for religiously motivated violence across the region may escalate rapidly. Somali’s take pride in the coalition of AMISOM which their Somali National Army have assembled, but no pleasure in the hardship that Kenya’s choices have caused its own Somali-Muslim citizens to endure. It should not deprive their freedom to exercise free trade.

Kenya's defence minister Mohammed Yusuf Haji says he did not authorize the army crackdown - Garissa's main market destroyed

Kenya's late internal security minister, George Saitoti who orchestrated the invasion while labeling Kenyan Muslims and Somali ethnic as enemy sympathizers, uttered, "Kenya has been and remains an island of peace, and we shall not allow criminals from Somalia, which has been fighting for over two decades, to destabilize our peace." he claimed that he had no option, after a series of cross-border raids by the phantom Islamist militant group. Even if the western world support the transition of democracy in Kenya, it should make clear that rights and freedom come with responsibilities. To redeem the promise of their democracy, Kenya will need to implement a constitution that protects the rights of all, that reflects inclusive process. Democracy is not winning elections, democracy is respecting minority rights, democracy is free and independent media, democracy is independent judiciary, and democracy requires commitment and begins not ends with elections.

Since 2007 Kenyan paramilitary unit have armed, trained and organized Somali-clan militias as proxy to fight militants on the border prior their military incursion to Kismayo. Definitely, Kenya’s situation will be unstable on the border than its ultimate expansion. Thus, to abate these internal tensions and past fraudulent political elections in 2007, it has to direct military incursion to secure its boots inside Somalia.

KDF portrayed unwillingness to join AMISOM’s command and control center. Instead, it reports to Wajir/Nairobi military bases for their daily covert operations to cleanse Somali National Army and pro-government supporters. Besides, KDF assists clan militia forces to export charcoal from Kismayo port illegally, which is a flagrant violation of Security Council ban; similarly it continues the violations of arms embargo. /images/2013/July/UN_Report_PDF.pdf Kenyan-backed militia intends to undermine the involvement of the Somali Federal Government to exercise its authority over Kismayo’s port prior to the full formation of its local regional Administration “Jubbaland”.  

Sources confirm that KDF leverages Kismayo’s port resources, earning 45% the port’s income as protection budget. Sector 2 Commander of KDF, Brigadier Anthony M. Ngere, repeatedly denies clearance for Somali Federal Government’s fact finding officials visiting Kismayo town. East African regional leader’s predicament infers that Somali Federal Government has lost its faith to KDF’s presence in southern Somalia “Sector 2”. http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-126260/somali-minister-calls-expulsion-amisom-kismayo Recently, Somalia’s Deputy Minister of Information and Telecommunication H.E. Abdishakur Ali Mire has appealed to AMISOM’s headquarters that KDF contingent committed atrocity by using high caliber weapons killing 65 and injuring 155 civilians including Somali Army, destroying Somali National Army’s command and control posts, while flying and detaining Colonel Abass Ibrahim Gurey, the deputy brigade commander of the Somali National Forces in Wajir, Kenya. Kenya’s next move is in question and their boots on the ground is becoming problematic. The residents of Kismayo retain every right to defend against such indiscriminate and adamant attacks. http://radiomuqdisho.net/cabdi-shakuur-cali-mireciidamada-amisom-waxa-ay-la-safteen-dhinac-kamid-ah-dhinacyadii-ku-dagaalamayay-kismaayodhageyso/

KDF committing atrocities in Kismayo                                  Patroling Kismayo port

To some, Kenya invaded Somalia to secure its eastern border to create a security buffer zone or the ambitions to develop the port of Lamu while UN Monitoring group believe that there is a potential conflict of interest between Norway’s oil concerns and its support for the establishment of an exclusive economic zone that would almost certainly lead to a modification in Somalia’s maritime boundary in favor of Kenya.

When it comes to a region with uncertainty and upheaval, Kenya and Somalia should be in it together. Somalia lives in a complicated and dangerous world in the midst of transformative moments in the region. Therefore, Kenya should support the regional peace and the ongoing international efforts to deescalate the conflict and work closely with H.E. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and maintain strategic daily dialogue. It would be well worth the price of patience and careful diplomacy with H.E. President Kenyatta. Both Presidents must play essential role on establishing concrete ceasefire and lasting calm, including all stakeholders (the elders of good faith) in District of Kismayo and its outskirts. When it comes to Kenya’s military threat, Somalia does not have the policy of containment. Instead, there is a policy of prevention built on dual tracks of diplomatic pressure and engagement, keeping all options on the table. We see post-conflict Somalia trying to work peacefully with its neighbors and protect its people. Apart from diplomatic challenges, Kenya should make a commitment not only limited to dialogue of strategic political interest, but encourage their business entrepreneurs on free trade agreement. This can come when Somalia feels a sense of peace and security. It also benefits on securing Kenya’s future to sustain its position in the region as an economic hub.

There is a viable diplomatic deal and Kenyans should be ready to engage seriously on such negotiations. When Kenya is prepared to take confidence building measures that are verifiable, Somalia should be prepared to reciprocate but not to talk indefinitely; the window for negotiations will not stay open forever.

Given the disappointment of the past and uncertainty of today, Somalia’s goal is also to change KDF’s arithmetic in Kismayo. Kenya and Somalia need to work together to find path forward in their current talk that can deliver on a Tuesday solution and become full partners in Kampala, Ugandha.  The dynamics of ideology, religion, and demography should not stir or make these negotiations impossible and without progress towards peace the extremists will grow stronger and moderates will be weakened. To honor the obligations does not lessen these negotiations to respect fundamental rights build with strong checks and balances.

Prof. Liban A Egal is an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University. He can be reached at [email protected]


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