Kenya military occupation of Somalia enters 20th Week

Posted on 26/01/2012

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Al Shabaab and Kenya’s Somalia Invasion ” Professor David Anderson Lectures on Kenya’s invasion of Southern Somalia

The Kenya–Somalia Bizarre War — and Here Comes Israel!

From the Dadaab Refugee Camp and Nairobi  

Kenyan troops invaded Somalia on 16 October 2011. The OFFICIAL VERSION given by Nairobi was that it began chasing al-Shabab, a powerful Somali Muslim organization which controls large parts of southern Somalia and which is ALLEGEDLY linked to al-Qaeda. The Western-backed Somali government at first protested the invasion, but then changed its rhetoric and ‘AGREED’ to work with the Kenyan troops.

Considering that Kenyan troops undertook a major military excursion to a neighboring country, Kenyan media showed extraordinary discipline and restraint – there has been no criticism of the action. Journalists from two major newspapers – The Nation and The Standard – have, since the beginning, been ‘EMBEDDED’ with the troops, firing zealous and patriotic dispatches. Independent media has absolutely no access to the battlefield.

There were TWO OFFICIAL REASONS GIVEN  FOR THE INVASION: the KIDNAPPING OF SEVERAL WESTERN TOURISTS  from the coast and the DISAPPEARANCE OF FOREIGN and LOCAL  Medecins Sans Frontieres staff members from the refugee camp Dadaab near the border with Somalia in October.

But AL-SHABAB STRONGLY DENIED ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE KIDNAPPING and even some members of international organizations based at Dadaab camp (who want to remain anonymous) confirmed that there is absolutely no proof that foreign groups were involved in the kidnapping: “THERE ARE RUMORS THAT KENYANS PERFOMED THE KIDNAPPING OF RELIEF TO JUSTIFY THEIR MILITARY ACTION. A large military invasion is always planned long in advance, especially if performed by a poor country with bad infrastructure. Kenya invaded Somalia only few days after the alleged kidnapping of relief workers. It is simply not adding up…”

All over Nairobi there is talk that the West in general and the United States in particular are behind the invasion, but nobody is willing to go on the record. Kenyan elites are, one way or the other, linked to and dependent on US and European policy-makers: through funding, employment, ‘training’ or various travel perks. It is clear that nobody wants to risk having his or her name added to the visa blacklist.

And so there is silence. Even once outspoken voices like those of the head of the Social Democratic Party of Kenya – Mwandawiro Mghanga – are surprisingly muted these days, althoughMr. Mwandawiro confirmed that: “Kenya’s open collaboration with Israel complicates matters.”

There is hardly any criticism even as the evidence is mounting that the Kenyan invasion is having a terrible effect on the civilian population in Somalia.

On October 31, 2011, BBC News Africa reported:

In a statement, MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) said aerial bombardments in Jilib – a stronghold of al-Shabab – had hit a camp for displaced people on Sunday.

Three children, a woman and a man, were killed in the attack and another 45 people were treated for shrapnel wounds, MSF-Holland Somalia mission head Gautam Chatterjee said:

As a result of war, the dire situation in refugee camps in Kenya deteriorated even further; humanitarian crises now seem to be inevitable. There has been an outbreak of cholera in Dadaab – the largest refugee camp on earth with close to 500,000 people.

Refugee camps in Northern Kenya, mostly swollen with Somali refugees escaping sporadic fighting and insecurity in their native land, are restless, and so are Somali neighborhoods in Nairobi.Kenya is a country with a long and deep history of racially motivated violence, the worst recent example being gruesome ‘post-election violence’ in 2008 that left thousands dead. Anti-Somali feelings in Kenya are on the rise.Since the beginning of the latest conflict, threats are being uttered by government officials and by ordinary citizens.One of the employees of an international agency operating in Nairobi –  US citizen of Somali origin – claims that she had been harassed on several occasions simply because of her appearance.

One of the threats pronounced, in a dark whisper, is to ‘clean up’ Eastleigh, a neighborhood predominantly inhabited by Somali immigrants and often nicknamed ‘Little Mogadishu’ (unlike refugees in the camps, immigrants in Eastleigh are ‘legal’ in Kenya – these are often people with money, many of whom managed to bribe Kenyan officials and as a result had been issued either Kenyan passports or permanent residence permits).

Naturally Dadaab remains the biggest problem, although Kakuma, in the Turkana district, which in Swahili means ‘nowhere’, is also experiencing overcrowding. While recently working there, I was repeatedly reminded by the refugees and members of international organizations about the fact that people there have already lost all their hope that one day they could go back or to be allowed to move forward. War in Somalia prevents them from returning, while Kenya does not give them opportunities to resettle on its territory, or even to travel outside the camps. There are hundreds of thousands of young men and women in the camps who never saw the mountains, meadows, ocean or a city. They were born in a camp, brought up there, and probably will never leave. Now after the Kenyan invasion and the constant linkage of the al-Shabab and Somali immigration issue, it is obvious there will be no improvement for the refugees in any foreseeable future.

In the last two weeks, international news agencies carried reports that Ethiopia, another staunch Western ally, sent troops to Somalia to back the Kenyan invasion there. The last time Ethiopia invaded Somalia, there was bloodshed and increased support for al-Shabab.

After the invasion, Prime Minister Raila Odinga visited Israel, which offered to help Kenya to secure its borders. It was reported by the BBC that, Kenya got the backing of Israel to “rid its territory of fundamentalist elements” during Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s visit to the country.

Israel has been regularly playing a destabilizing role in East Africa, particularly in Uganda but in other countries as well.

The tactics Kenya began employing against the Somali minority and against its own population became outrageous: thousands of families in Nairobi – both Kenyan and Somali – fell victims of what officials often describe as the Kenyan war on terror.  In the last days and weeks, police and army — who are accompanying heavy equipment that consists of excavators and bulldozers — had invaded slums and absolutely legal multi-story buildings.

At night, people, crying and screaming, are dragged from their dwellings, often in the rain. Workers then begin immediate demolition of their houses, making homeless even those who still did not finish paying their mortgages.

The official explanation? The houses, slums and apartment buildings are on the approach path of military planes. Nairobi has three major airports (including Moe Air Force Base) and given the fact that planes could approach from two directions, the government insists it has the right to destroy dwellings of tens of thousands of people.

Visiting one of the demolition sites in Eastley, I was told by Gilbert, a former resident: “There is no discussion and no negotiation. That’s how it is in Kenya. They call it democracy but in fact the government can come and throw us to the street and if we protest, they just shoot to kill.” As he spoke, the police and army were making their presence felt, holding machineguns while their germen shepherd dogs were struggling on their leashes.

Whatever is the truth behind the adventure in Somalia, Kenya appears to be playing an extremely dangerous game, endangering millions of lives for the benefit of the few members of its elite. 

Source: ZComunications-By Andre Vltchek-02.12. 2011

ANDRE VLTCHEK(http://andrevltchek.weebly.com/ ), writer, filmmaker, investigative journalist. His latest non-fiction book Oceania (http://www.amazon.com/Oceania-André-Vltchek/dp/1409298035) is showing the impact of Western neo-colonialism on tiny island nations in South Pacific. He is presently working on documentary film on Rwanda and Congo/DRC and on 1.000 pages political novel “Winter Journey”. Andre can be reached at andre-wcn@usa.net. 

 Somalia may be Kenya’s Afghanistan, but its army doesn’t get it

Kenya just doesn’t seem to get it. Lost in the minutiae of military detail, a Kenyan army colonel claimed they were at the halfway point of their mission to rid Somalia of Al Shabaab. Have they learnt nothing from Afghanistan? Iraq? Vietnam? Weapons don’t win wars any more, and until Kenya and its African allies figure out a political solution, Al Shabaab isn’t going anywhere.

Colonel Cyrus Oguna was in a confident mood as he spoke to the media outside the headquarters of the Kenyan department of defence, a building conspicuously far from the frontlines of Kenya’s war against Al Shabaab, the Islamist militant group that controls much of southern Somalia; this might explain Oguna’s hopelessly misplaced faith in what his military has achieved: “As we are speaking now, Al Shabaab is halfway in the pit. The targeting has been on logistics bases and command centres, and (these) are crucial in any operation. And if you cripple a logistics base and command centre, the war is halfway won.”

Colonel Oguna’s confidence was born of a successful few days of action as far as the Kenyan military was concerned. An air strike destroyed an important Al Shabaab base in the town of Bibi, while another took out six Al Shabaab commanders and a number of foot soldiers. Among the bodies was that of Bilal El Berjawi, considered one of the group’s most senior figures. And also in the last week, a new offensive from the African Union troops in Mogadishu consolidated even more of the capital under the control of the African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom).

But Colonel Oguna’s confidence is mistaken. Even just militarily, the task ahead of Kenya and Amison remains daunting. Kenya’s troops, invading southern Somalia from the west, have made little progress in the four months they’ve been there. And Amisom’s gains reveal its weakness: not even Somalia’s capital is completely secure, despite the presence of Amisom’s 9,000-plus soldiers. Meanwhile, Al Shabaab has not been quiet. It launched a little invasion of its own when around 100 Al Shabaab fighters overran a police post in Kenya itself, destroying it and kidnapping three men. And it’s been fighting hard to overturn Amisom’s gains in Mogadishu, although so far Amisom has been able to retain its position.

More importantly, Al Shabaab continues to control most of southern Somalia, including the vital port city of Kismayo, its de facto capital, and the transit town of Afmadow, which is reported to be littered with hastily dug trenches and bunkers in preparation for a major showdown. The group is also bolstering its ranks by press-ganging young men into military service. One report claimed 200 “young boys” had been abducted from a town near Mogadishu and commanded to participate in Al Shabaab’s “jihad” against Kenya, Amisom and the internationally recognised government of Somalia.Clearly, there’s plenty of fight left in Al Shabaab, making Oguna’s “halfway” estimate look nearly as silly as George W Bush’s infamous “Mission accomplished” speech.

But this war is not just about military might. Iraq is a rather instructive example. War has changed in the last century and possession of the biggest guns is no longer sufficient to guarantee victory. America went into Iraq in 2003 with the most fearsome military this world has ever seen, effortlessly swatting away Saddam Hussein’s ill-equipped and poorly motivated army. But, as Bush was to discover, this conventional dominance couldn’t win the war and certainly couldn’t keep the peace. Instead, opponents of US involvement in Iraq, which included a broad range of dissatisfied players from Shia Muslim clerics to al Qaeda’s Iraqi offshoot, waged a modern guerrilla war which made Iraq almost impossible to govern and killed hundreds of thousands of people. Suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices and routine abductions were the weapons of the new conflict, and they proved almost impossible to defend against. Similar tactics were used in Afghanistan by the Taliban, and much earlier in Vietnam.

What ties these three contexts together is each has been characterised by a foreign invading army seeking to destroy an ideology that it finds threatening. In Iraq and Afghanistan, this was the US trying to eliminate Islamic fundamentalism as practised by the Taliban and al Qaeda, in Vietnam it was trying to stop the spread of communism. And in Somalia, it’s Kenya and Amisom (with some rumours of tacit US support) seeking to wipe out the radical beliefs of Al Shabaab.

But history has shown us that foreign military intervention is a notoriously poor tool at eliminating a strong ideology. Men with principles will fight on, even when battle after battle is lost. Even if Kenya and Amisom advance swiftly through southern Somalia, marching all the way to Kismayo, the threat from Al Shabaab –already trained in suicide bombings, IEDs and abductions – will continue. While Al Shabaab is not universally loved, it does command some strong support, and will be able to easily disappear into local communities, to plan its next assault. And all the while, Somalia will remain in chaos, unable to develop its economy or build lasting institutions of governance.

The solution lies not in guns and bombs, but in politics and negotiations. Al Shabaab, for all its sins, cannot be completely demonised because like it or not it represents a significant chunk of the Somali population. And remember, its radical and violent streak was an almost direct result of a previous foreign intervention in Somalia which dismantled the government of the Islamic Courts Union. For Kenya’s involvement in Somalia to really be halfway over, it would need to be sitting across a negotiating table from Al Shabaab and the other main actors in Somalia’s fragmented political space, thrashing out the details of a functioning state and government that represents all Somalis.

Perhaps Kenya will be able to use its military prowess to force Al Shabaab into such an arrangement. This is the only outcome that could provide immediate peace and order in the country. It’s unlikely to even be an option, however; Kenya appears determined to destroy Al Shabaab completely, an almost impossible goal, and has bought into the dangerous international narrative the notion that groups like Al Shabaab cannot be negotiated with or included in unity governments. If it intends to see this goal through, Kenya’s military should expect to be occupied in Somalia for many years to come and, eventually, Colonel Oguna will look back on his claim that “the war is halfway won” as a moment when Kenya’s pride and ambition exceeded its grasp of political reality.

Source: Daily Maverick-By SIMON ALLISON 26.01.2012 

 

Haji says no to Kismayu attack without back-up

Kenya is unwilling to capture the port city of Kismayu without the financial and logistical backing of the international community.

Defence Minister Yusuf Hajitold The EastAfrican that the country’s military incursion into Somalia had created conditions that would allow the international community to help create lasting peace, but Kenya is unwilling to continue underwriting the financial burden of an open-ended war.

It is now emerging that Kenya considers its intervention in Somalia in October last year as a major service to the global War against Terror and expects logistical and financial support to complete the job of smashing the Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda networks.

The admission by Mr Haji seemed to reverse Kenya’s stated military objective, which was predicated, on capturing Kismayu in order to undermine the financial base of Al Shabaab.

Mr Haji said the notion that Kenya’s ultimate goal was Kismayu was imaginary. He said the Kenya Defence Forces had indicated that their main objective was to create a buffer zoneby pushing Al Shabaab far enough from the country’s borders to assure its national security.

“The Kismayu question is for the international community to decide. Kenya was not going to fix the entire Somalia problem since it has been a failed state for 20 years. We did not have the intention of going into Somalia if we were not provoked.

We feel we have attained our intention of pushing Al Shabaab away from our borders,” said Mr Haji.

His comments appear to be timed to take advantage not only of the approval by the UN Security Council of the African Union request that Kenya join Amisom, African Union Mission in Somalia, increasing the latter’s troop levels to 17,700, but also of the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

The US is said to be offering military hardware donations to friendly countries as it draws troops out of Iraq. Countries contributing troops to Amisom are likely to benefit.

The cost of deploying 17,700 troops is likely to double Amisom’s budget from the 2011 figure of $247 million to between $450 million and $500 million, putting pressure on the UN to find money to pay for the mission.

Kenya’s intervention in Somalia, said the minister, has changed the perception of the international community and has opened a window of hope in Somalia. However, if the international community does not support Kenya to stabilise Somalia, Kenya cannot do it on its own.

Prior to the approval by the UN Security Council on Thursday, which will see Kenya’s troops incorporated in Amisom, Mr Haji had indicated Kenya was not keen to attack Kismayu alone.

The UN Security Council gave Kenya the go-aheadafter Foreign Minister Moses Wetang’ula, who also chairs the AU Peace and Security Council, presented the Kenyan case in New York.

But both the US delegate Jeffrey DeLaurentis and Lynne Pascoe, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, called for clarifications on the command and control arrangements for the added Amisom troops.

Diplomats conversant with the ongoing negotiations over the “rehatting” of Kenya’s troops hinted that Kenya is reluctant to accept Ugandan commanders’ authority over KDF.

Uganda has the majority troops and Ugandan commanders have key operational responsibilities for the AU troops in Somalia.

Washington has confirmed that it is helping Kenya with satellite images that give the real-time movement of the militants, but has denied any military involvement.

Mr Haji clarified that Kenya has not contacted the US for assistance but is in talks with the African Union and the Inter-Government Authority on Developmentto provide the “enablers” that Kenya requires.

Enablers means heavier weaponry and air support for Amisom troops on the ground.

“The Kenyan military is the best trained in the region; in every aspect, we are equal to the task. We also have special forces with the military training college in Karen, which trains soldiers from many countries in the region. Once Kenya joins Amisom, we believe all the enablers will be provided,” he said.

While Al Shabaab is no match for Kenya militarily, there are fears that even after crushing the militia, the country will be faced with the prospects of continuing suicide bombings.

Source: The East African-By FRED OLUOCH and MWAURA KIMANI-15.01.2012

Kenya Defence Force Apologise “TWEET MISINFORMATION”

The Kenya Defence Forces are asking the public to trust the information coming from them. The plea came on the back of an apology for a gaffe earlier in the week when the KDF tweeted pictures that turned out to be incorrect.

Kenya: Security Forces Abusing Civilians Near Somalia Border

Press Release

The Kenyan security forces are beating and arbitrarily detaining citizens and Somali refugees in Kenya’s North Eastern province, which borders on Somalia, despite repeated pledges to stop such abuses, Human Rights Watch said today.

On January 11, 2012, in the latest of a series of incidents documented by Human Rights Watch since October 2011, security forces rounded up and beat residents of Garissa, the provincial capital, in an open field within the enclosure of the local military camp. A Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed the incident.

“When military officers can beat civilians in broad daylight without fearing repercussions, it’s clear that impunity has become the norm,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Repeated promises by both the police and the military to stop these abuses and investigate have amounted to nothing.”

The Kenyan police and military have been responsible for a growing number of serious abuses against civilians since the Kenya Defence Forces entered southern Somalia in October,with the stated aim of eliminating al-Shabaab, an Islamist militia. The same month, suspected al-Shabaab sympathizers initiated a series of attacks against police, military, and civilian targets in Kenya.

In response, members of the security forces have been responsible for rape, beatings, looting, and arbitrary arrests of civilians. The crackdown has largely targeted Somali refugees and Kenyan ethnic Somalis,but residents of other ethnic backgrounds in North Eastern province have also been victimized.

The incident in Garissa on January 11 involved Kenyan citizens who told Human Rights Watch that they had been arbitrarily detained by the military. One of them, Ali Ibrahim Hilole,was at a shop across from the military camp buying items for a hospitalized relative when a military officer said to him:Why are you standing here? So you’re al-Shabaab.” Soldiers forced him to accompany them to the camp, where they kicked him and told him to roll around on the ground.

Yusuf Khalif Mohamed, a long distance truck driver, stopped in Garissa for a soft drink on his way from Mombasa to Dadaab, where he was to make a food delivery for UNICEF.He parked his truck near the military camp, not knowing that parking was prohibited there.A military officer forced him to come to the camp, where soldiers threw a 20-liter container of water on him, forced him to roll on the ground, kicked him on the side, and hit him on the head with the butt of a gun. Mohamed told Human Rights Watch that one of them said, “I think you are al-Shabaab. You are bothering us in Somalia, and now you’ve come to bother us here.”

Both men, along with at least five to seven others who were similarly detained and mistreated – most of them truck drivers, and all of them Kenyan citizens – were released after 30 minutes. They were not interrogated or charged with any crime.

A Human Rights Watch researcher who attempted to visit the military camp to speak to the officer in charge witnessed soldiers forcing several men to lie down in the dirt and forcing another man to frog-jump across the field and to assume various gymnastic positions. Military personnel refused entry to Human Rights Watch, one of them stating, “There are no human rights here.”

The military spokesperson, Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, said by phone from Nairobi that the people held at the military camp were being questioned because they had tried to build an illegal structure to sell things outside the camp. Chirchir said he did not have knowledge of any abuses, but assured Human Rights Watch that the military would investigate the allegations.

The events in Garissa follow a series of human rights violations by security forces against ethnic Somalis and others. On November 11, soldiers in Garissa rounded up ethnic Somalis arbitrarily on the basis of their appearance, beat them, and forced them to sit in dirty water while interrogating them.

On November 24, following two grenade attacks on civilian targets in Garissa and an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on a military convoy in Mandera,police and soldiers rounded up hundreds of suspects in both towns. Some were beaten so severely that they suffered broken limbs. In the days following the attacks, suspects were arrested at random. Human Rights Watch interviewed some who were taken to Garissa military camp and forced to do humiliating exercises, such as standing on their heads, and were beaten if they could not comply.

Explosions in the town of Wajir in early December were also followed by arbitrary arrests and beatings. A local activist in Wajir told Human Rights Watch that after an IED went off on December 12, injuring an intelligence officer and several others,police and soldiers rounded up and beat ethnic Somalis over the next three days.

“They criminalize all Somali people,” he said. “Whenever a crime is committed, detaining and torturing people doesn’t seem like a good security strategy. It is creating a barrier between the people and the security forces.”

The worst abuses took place at Dadaab, home to over 460,000 mostly Somali refugees.A police officer was killed by an IED at Dadaab on December 5, leading to arbitrary arrests of those in the vicinity. After further explosions targeting police vehicles on December 19 and 20, one of them killing a police officer,police reacted angrily, beating refugees, and, in several cases, raping women. The chair of the Supreme Council of Muslims of Kenya, which conducted investigations in the camps, said that Kenyan police raped at least seven women following the explosions. Other victims suffered broken limbs.

A Garissa-based organization, Citizen Rights Watch, found that on the same occasion police looted dozens of shops, stealing over 27 million Kenyan shillings (US$310,000) worth of property and money that refugee traders stored in their shops.

Garissa residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch complained that police have not conducted thorough investigations to identify the actual perpetrators of either the initial attacks or the subsequent abuses by the security forces.

“Kenya’s security forces are rightly concerned about attacks by suspected al-Shabaab members, and should be doing more, not less, to identify the attackers,” Bekele said. “But beating, raping, and humiliating innocent Kenyan citizens and Somali refugees accomplishes nothing. Those in the security forces who are responsible for these abuses should be investigated and prosecuted.”

Source Hiiraan Online-12.01.2012

We’re in Somalia for the long haul, Kenya asserts

Kenya is looking at a long-drawn war in Somalia in 2012 contrary to the earlier indications that it was going to be a swift operation.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesperson, Emmanuel Chirchir, admitted that the Somalia campaign is a long term investment and Kenya will only get out once the country becomes stable and joins other peaceful members of the region.

Mr Chirchir revealed that KDF will only get official permission to join the African Union Mission for Somalia (Amisom) in April or May, but by that time, Kenya shall have secured the towns of Afamadow, Kismayu and Baardheere in the central region.

The EastAfrican has gathered that the United Nations, under whose mandate Amisom is operating had earlier considered Garissa town as the base of operation for the Kenya troops once they join Amisom because of its infrastructure, like the airstrip.

But increased insecurity, characterised by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and grenade attacks in the north, has forced the UN Support Office for Somalia (UNSOA) to relocate to Lamu.

This is because the coastal town provides safe passage to Somalia through Kiunga and Ras Kamboni.

Despite optimism by the KDF spokesperson that Kenya will secure areas west of Juba River in due course, analyst are contemplating a stalemate where Kenya could be forced to quit without decisive victory.

One of the major indicators is that Kenya is now concentrating more on pacification before vanquishing the militants. There is also danger that the Somalia campaign will have a bearing on Kenya’s internal political dynamics on who will take the political blame should the war turn into a stalemate. The careers of three Ministers; Prof George Saitoti of Internal Affairs, Yusuf  Haji of Defence and Moses Wetangula of Foreign Affairs, are on the line.

However, Mr Chirchir insisted that there will be nothing like pulling out before a decisive victory. “The issue of pulling out prematurely is out of the question. We are in this business for the future of Somalia and so Kenya will only get out when Somalia regains the status of a normal nation,” said Mr Chirchir.

However, Al Shabaab recently indicated that it is going to change its name to Imaarah Islamiyah (Islamic Authority). Al Shabaab means ‘youth’ but many of them, including the leaders, are very old. This was an indication that the militia group is changing tactics and is preparing for a long-drawn war.

Kenya, through Mr Wetangula, has been trying to get the support of the entire region to help vanquish Al Shabaab.  But countries like Tanzania and Rwanda have just given moral support and have not shown any interest in supporting the Kenya military. After the Kampala bombing, in 2010, Al Shabaab proved that it is a threat to the larger Eastern Africa region, and Kenya’s bold move to enter Somalia is of great interests to other EAC members. If Kenya does not win the war, the Islamic hardliners will be emboldened to the extent of threatening the regional integration process.

However, the focus now shifts to Amisom, which has faced numerous challenges since its deployment in January 2007. Apart from insufficient troops and limited mandate, Amison has been lacking crucial war equipment to totally subdue Al Shabaab. Amisom spokesperson, Paddy Ankunda said that lack of choppers, marine assets, and combat and field engineers have been the main challenges facing Amisom. Kenya is expected to provide some of these missing items once the Force joins Amisom.

The African (AU) is also unable to single-handedly foot the bill and relies heavily on funds from the UN, United States, the European Union and several other Western states.

Source: The East African-25.12.2011-By Fred OLUOCH

Witness: Kenya air raid in southern Somalia kills at least 7 Somalis, including a child

A witness says that a Kenyan air force raid killed at least seven people, including a child, in a village in southern Somalia.

Town elder Ali Hashi said Wednesday that he saw the bodies in a clinic following a bombing raid in Hosingow. He says one jet appeared to target a base used by al-Shabab insurgents and another bomb hit elsewhere in the village on Tuesday.

A Kenyan army spokesman confirmed that two air raids had been carried out but says no civilians were killed. Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir says 17 al-Shabab fighters were killed.

Kenya has conducted numerous air raids in southern Somalia in the past three months. Kenya sent troops over the border into Somalia two months ago following a string of attacks by Somali gunmen on Kenyan soil.

Source: Washington Post 21.12.2011

The End of Somalia: Scenario of Partition  

“A sheep” says a Somali adage “sees the sky only when it is being slaughtered”. The proverb has anticipated the fate of the Somali people… The butcher has arrived. The knife is sharpened. The Somali is about to see the sky for the first time.This paper is about epiphanies the Somali will behold at the moment of truth, at the edge of the event horizon from which nothing ever returns, just before the riding whip of slavery bites his naked backside. It is a near-funeral situation; we should ponder what follows in a sombre manner, with thoughtfulness and grief.

The Epiphanies

I: The objective of those who fund the Somali wars is not to rescue Somalis.It was, and remains to be, about limiting Alshabaab’s freedom of action, degrading its capacity and containing it progressively to smaller and smaller territory. The era of America’s great wars is over. This is the diktat of contracting economics of the time. Wars will now have to be fought cheaper and smarter; with the help of allies, with predator drones in the sky and expendable proxies on the ground. The strategy has succeeded beyond expectations in the Somali theatre. That the Somali people have become victims of a permanent war in the process is the collateral damage and truly unfortunate in the eyes of the funders. But it is neither here nor there. War is ugly. The weak perish in it.

II: the Principle of IGAD in Somalia is not to recreate a Somali state (even a weak one, like the TFG); it is to prolong the state of disorder and chaos, to allow for the ripening of unclaimed real estate. IGAD’s ultimate purpose is not driven by the benevolence of a neighbour but by the base and more powerful human drives of greed and lust. I call a spade a spade: IGAD is primarily and almost exclusively driven by unstated yet obvious and macabre agenda of Kenya and Ethiopia. In this light Mogadishu is but a diversion and the TFG a sucker, a cover story, at best a patsy. To behold the stark reality as it stands on the ground look beyond Mogadishu.III: Ethiopia and Kenya have finally stumbled upon and mastered the most important lesson about the Somali people; a lesson that the British, French and Italians found extremely handy in the Scramble for Africa a couple of centuries ago. Somalia is not a nation in crisis but a group of desperate wild tribes each entirely focused in a life and death struggle against the neighbouring tribe.

The maxims that determine the life and death of any Somali tribes-man (read every Somali) are the evolutionary psychopathological products of a nomadic society where water and grazing lands are the raw materials in the struggle for survival. These rules set every tribe against its neighbour, divide every tribe into multiple subunits each fighting against one and all. Nowhere in human society are the blind forces of Darwin and the raw evidence of the destructive potential of the selfish gene more evident than in tribal society. 15% of all tribal societies routinely die of the effects of permanent tribal wars (compare this to 3% of the affected societies that died in World War I and World War II). The tribe is a ferocious and primitive construct that has lived in the past of every human society as the archaeology of the dead tells us. Most unfortunately the tribe remains alive as a vestigial form of social organization in Somali society and it continue to reap a heavy harvest in death and destruction. And Ethiopia and Kenya finally got it.

IV: Truth of Partition: Partition of Somalia is no longer a fear, a theory but a reality that can be demonstrated on the ground.

Ethiopian and Kenyan states have mastered the Maxims that govern Somalia’s tribal society and they put it to effective use in the service of their strategic and national interest. These same maxims have been used by aid agencies to ensure their own safety in troubled spaces and it lead to the era of Somalia’s Warlords that peaked with Blackhawk down and Ethiopia’s 1st invasion of Somalia. The mafia, mercenaries and private contractors have all used the tribal maxims to get their way with the Somali people in pursuit of their own interest.

Ethiopia and Kenya governments have taken their exploitation of the Somali tribe to an altogether different order of magnitude. So in the last 3-4 years the two countries have been busy scrambling for parts of the dead nation creating spheres of influences that will function as buffer zones now and as the seedlings for territorial exploitation or outright annexation when the time ripens. A sphere of influence is a form of imperial rule in which one nation claims parts of another less powerful nation as being vital to its interest and enforces its “rights” through the use of force, corruption, intimidation and other tools of extreme persuasion. The Sphere of influence as the reincarnation of imperialism in Somalia has the following characteristics:

1) The creation of a series of subservient “state-lets” (Ximin iyo Xeeb, Dooxada, Cagaaran, Mareeg, Dhexe, Ceelbur, Galmudug, Azania) or shady movements (Raskambooni, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama) based essentially on a local tribe headed by a cooperative native (Somali) who profits from the relationship; a state/movement that cannot exist without the open or hidden support of either Ethiopia or Kenya, that is independent even inimical to the Somalia state and that can act as vessel of legitimacy for the Tribal Armed Militia

2) Armed Militia composed exclusively of members of one tribe. This is the central element of the spheres of influence that Kenya and Ethiopia have set up in Somalia. The reason d’être of this force is the survival of the tribe and the defeat of the enemy tribe. It is independent of the Somali state armed forces, controlled by Kenya or Ethiopia and absolutely essential for the continuation of the Somali chaos. Some people, in their extreme ignorance call these militias bottom up building blocks. In reality the name building blocks is nothing but the Orwellian language Ethiopia and Kenya use in securing funding from the UNPOS for their respective spheres of influence.

3) An essential feature of the Somali Spheres of influence is the necessity of maintaining a weak, corrupt, divided, Somali state. Such an ineffectual state is necessary because it can be forced to change policy and personalities that conflict with the spheres of influence. It can be forced to cede territorial waters and to make other concessions. And most important such weakling of a state can provide an international cover of legitimacy as the Somali people are gradually stripped of their resources, their seas and finally their lands. The Road Map of Somalia (that has been created by IGAD) is essentially for the purpose of creating such a vassal state.

V: the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) is not a friend of the Somali people and it is not the enemy of the Somali people either. It is a disinterested third party, populated as it is with interchangeable faceless bureaucrats, whose quintessence is self preservation through the process of writing voluminous reports, organizing empowering workshops and arranging Orwellian celebration days with illustrious titles (international Labour Day, mother’s day, anti oppression, anti-racism, anti sexism days ad ifinitum). Whatever harm or benefit that comes to the Somali people from the mechanizations of these gentlemen is secondary to its Kafkaesque process. The life and death of the leaders and foot soldiers of this organization is not dependent on developments in Somalia only their livelihoods do and that they guard like a lioness guards its cubs. The UNPOS is the senior and perfect partners to the globetrotting Somali speaking, Foreign Passport holding parasitic entity known as Diaspora Somalis. The two sides have produced the most corrupt set of circumstances known to man.

VI: the TFG is one of those mass delusions Somalis are prone to, for there remains many who, against all common sense and evidence, maintain there is a Somali government of some kind or the other working in this godforsaken hotel room or the other, paid for by the suitor of the day like any working girl in Craig’s List.

VII: Somaliland Walaalkii loo xiiryow soo qoyso adiguna

By Dr. Abdishakur Jowhar
Sunday, December 18, 2011-Hiiraan Online

UN-backed invasion of Somalia spirals into chaos

The famine camps with their domed shelters made of rags and sticks are now surrounded by fields of green. The survivors sit among the clouds of flies and mosquitoes watching the planting season pass them by, living on handouts. The drought in southern Somalia is over but no one is going home.

People who have endured civil war, oppression under a brutal religious sect and starvation now find themselves caught between the lines of a border conflict that is entering a new and dangerous phase.

Kenya’s invasion of Somalia, hailed by the West and the UN Security Council, was meant to deliver a knockout blow to the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab. Instead it has pulled Somalia’s regional rival Ethiopia back into the country, stirred up the warlords and rekindled popular support for fundamentalists whose willingness to let Somalis starve rather than receive foreign aid had left them widely hated.

Nuur Matan, with his camouflage cap and business suit, is part of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that the UN and the foreign armies are backing against al-Shabaab. With their help it has wrested back control of the capital, Mogadishu.

 An MP for Beled-Hawo, a lawless Somali town in the border triangle where the Horn of Africa country meets Ethiopia and Kenya, he talks gamely of defeating al-Shabaab. In reality his forces are little more than guns for hire and he has no money.

 “We’re trying our best to pay our soldiers,” he says, before admitting there’s been no money for four months.

The TFG “soldiers” include children as young as 14, who hire themselves out to all comers. Those who have joined up but haven’t been paid are selling their guns and uniforms at the local market. The yellow star of the Somali flag flies in the town centre but it is the Ethiopian army camped on the outskirts who are the real authority in Beled-Hawo.

The Ethiopians entered Somalia for a second time in late November – a move prompted, analysts believe, by the desire to assert their own interests in the country after Kenya’s incursion. The Ethiopians have so far resisted marching further into Somalia; their last incursion five years ago led to a fierce Islamic resistance movement that established al-Shabaab as a national force.

In many of the border towns, TFG soldiers have fallen under the command of former warlords. Before invading the country Kenya gave guns, uniforms and rudimentary training to any ethnic Somalis willing to cross the border and fight the militants. Now that al-Shabaab has been pushed back, these militias are meant to fill the gap. The result, says Abdullai Abdi from the Kenya-based Somali relief agency Northern Aid, is a rabble often more frightening to ordinary Somalis than is al-Shabaab.

 “When Shabaab was on the other side, yes they were brutal, chopping hands, but the criminal element was not there,” said Mr Abdi. “I know these people, I know their families – they are thugs and criminals.”

 Al-Shabaab, which retreated from the borderlands months ago, has switched to guerrilla tactics and melted into the population. Meanwhile in the interior of Somalia, in places like Buluk, 100 kilometres from Beled-Hawa, the militants have barged into schools and press-ganged entire classes into joining them.

Kenya’s first foreign war, which began triumphantly in October with embedded reporters sending breathless reports from the front, is coming off the rails. “The military operation is going nowhere,” says Rashid Abdi, a Somalia analyst with the International Crisis Group. “I’m not sure it has really damaged the Shabaab.”

He says that the Kenyan-TFG forces have moved no more than 70km into the country and only control the main roads. Kenya has had to admit that it cannot afford to fight on its terms. The war is costing an estimated £140m a month, which the country can ill afford amid soaring inflation and public sector strikes. Last week it was forced to ask the African Union to take over its operation in the hope that the international community would pick up the bill, as it does for the African peacekeepers guarding Mogadishu.

The consequences of the misadventure have already blown back across the border, where previously an uneasy peace reigned between the Islamists and their southern neighbours. Kenyan towns are coming under increasing attack from al-Shabaab assassination squads and roadside bombs.

The Kenyan defence forces, unprepared to fight a counter-insurgency, have in many cases turned on their own population. In Mandera, across the border from Beled-Hawo, another Kenyan soldier was killed by a roadside bomb last Sunday and four more were injured. Each time a bomb has gone off the army has gone house to house in the area doling out punishment beatings to local Kenyan-Somalis.

Abdi, who cannot give his real name for fear of reprisals, was among those beaten after an explosion in Mandera this year. He suffered serious head injuries, including a fractured eye socket, when soldiers smashed their way into his home and beat him in front of his wife. He spent two months in hospital.

“To them, Somalis are Somalis. It doesn’t matter that we’re citizens,” he says. “They can beat us when they like.”

An eight-year-old boy had his arms broken and a pregnant woman miscarried in similar assaults more recently.

Abdi worries that the beatings, in a town where the population is overwhelmingly Kenyan-Somali, will push some people into supporting al-Shabaab. Many in Mandera don’t know who to be more scared of, the Kenyan soldiers or al-Shabaab insurgents.Death squads have carried out targeted killings and one community elder known to be critical of the militants was shot six times at close range as he left the mosque last month.

District Commissioner Benson Leparmorigo has taken to carrying his rifle with him wherever he goes. He admits that some people have been “roughed up” in the “heat of passion” after bomb attacks but complains that security forces face an “invisible enemy” that hits and runs.

“You can’t tell the difference between a Kenyan-Somali and a Somali: they look alike,” complains Erick Okumbo, the deputy police chief.

He says the attacks, which are carried out using adapted land mines set off by mobile phones, are “psychological torture”. The militants are evading the Kenyan army, he says, and roaming up and down the borderlands looking for soft targets: “They come along the border and we are not enough to cover the whole border.”

As the human and financial costs of the war mount it has started to fade from Kenyan television sets. A local journalist who photographed wounded Kenyan and TFG soldiers in the northern town of Garissa last week – after a battle which authorities had denied happened – was arrested and had his images deleted.

The council of elders at the Beled-Hawo famine camp remember with distaste the rule of Somalia’s last central government, under the dictator Siad Barre. They recall the chaos and bloodshed of the warlords who took his place, and they have chafed more recently at living under the yoke of al-Shabaab.

Now they think Somali society’s clan system is too complicated for foreigners to fix even if they really wanted to. “We don’t know what the motives of outsiders are,” says one. “Only God or the Somalis can solve Somalia’s problems.”

Timeline: From famine to war

20 July The United Nations declares famine in southern Somalia, saying millions are at risk of starvation.

1 September Aid agencies estimate population at Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya reaches 450,000.

13 September British couple the Tebbutts holidaying on a Kenyan island in the Indian Ocean attacked by Somali gunmen. David Tebbutt, pictured, is killed and his wife Judith is kidnapped.

13 October Two Spanish aid workers with medical charity MSF abducted near Dadaab refugee camp by Somali gunmen.

18 October Kenya invades southern Somalia in a two-pronged offensive it claims will defeat al-Shabaab, who deny the abductions in Kenya.

18 November UN downgrades the famine in southern Somalia, says worst is over amid heavy rains.

20 November Ethiopia invades western Somalia sending troops toward Baidoa.

Source: The Independent-15.12.2011-Daniel Howden

Why Kenya is not making any strides in the war against Al Shabaab two months into incursion

The Kenyan Defence Forces in Somalia have not made any significant territorial progress over the past one month, but the military publicity department is not ready to reveal that they have stalled because of factors beyond their control — a situation that has left Nairobi rethinking its approach to the incursion against the Al Shabaab militia.The force on the southern front that entered Somalia through Kiunga is stuck in Burgabo, 60km from the Kenyan border, where they will have to cross a deep creek. The only advance being realised is on the central front, that recently took Bilis Qooqaani and is preparing to take Afmadow. The two teams are eventually meant to meet in Kismayu.

Investigations by The East-African have revealed that a number of logistical and political issues have forced the KDF to go slow contrary to the initial plan for a swift operation.

There are four major factors that have bogged down the military campaign. They are: Lack of finances to run a long-drawn war; the differences between interested parties over whether to divide Somalia into autonomous regions or maintain one united country; differences over the option to engage Al Shabaab in a political dialogue, and the ambivalence of Somalia’s President Sheikh Shariff Ahmed.

Already, the Kenya public and the politicians have started questioning whether the Kenyan involvement in Somalia is likely to last longer than was initially intended.

However, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesperson Maj Emmanuel Chirchir maintained that the reason the Kenyan advance has slowed down is because they are combining the offensive angle with humanitarian operations. “When we started the operation we had the offensive, defensive and humanitarian operations components. At the strategic level, the long term goal still remains but at the tactical level, things have to change every now and then because you are dealing with human beings,” he said. Still, Kenya has support around the world for entering Somalia. Experts on Somalia argue that it would be a disaster if Kenya came out of Somalia with egg on its face or without substantially crippling Al Shabaab, as this would embolden the militia group to such an extent that the international community would not be able to deal with.

The importance of Kenya’s intervention has been recognised by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who last week said in Nairobi that Kenya’s leadership role in efforts to stabilise Somalia, has presented an opportunity to the people of Somalia to realise stability and prosperity after 20 years of civil war.

The Kenya government has secured moral and political support from various nations and organisations including the Commonwealth, the AU, the EU, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the EAC, the ACP and Comesa.

But the war is not as simple as Kenyans were made to believe when the military entered Somalia in October. For a start, Kenya was not prepared for a long-drawn-out war, and is already finding its resources stretched. To maintain two infantry fronts, navy and fighter jets on the ground for this long is proving to be a major financial strain and sources revealed that Kenya has been reaching out to the United States and other Western allies for help.

It is estimated that it costs Ksh210 million ($233,000) per month to keep the soldiers in the battlefield. This amount comprises the cost of moving the troops and supplying them with food and water, communication and medical care.

That is part of the reason why the government last Wednesday sought the approval of parliament (and got it) to allow Kenyan forces to be placed under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) — to offset costs.

In parliament, a number of MPs questioned the country’s war strategy in Somalia, with others calling for a short war. Kenya’s military has no experience in counter-insurgency, and the country needs logistic support from its allies. Al Shabaab is fighting a classic guerrilla war by melting into the civilian population and forcing the KDF to fight on its terms. The United States is providing Kenya with satellite images of real time movements of Shabaab and deploying drones, but the militia’s tactics remains a challenge for a conventional army.

Part of the reason why the Ethiopians overcame the Union of Islamic Courts in two weeks in 2006 is because of a superior air force, especially helicopter gunships.

The second reason for the slow progress by the KDF is the differences among interested parties over whether to maintain a united Somalia with power concentrated in the centre or split the country into various autonomous regions. These interested parties include Kenya, Ethiopia, the TFG, a number of Western countries led by US, and the Somali people.

Kenya is proposing the division of Somalia into eight autonomous regions: Central region or Hiiraan; Somaliland; Puntland; Bay Bakool; Jubaland; Shabelle; Gedo and Mogadishu, commonly known as Banadir.

Sources revealed that the proposal involves various regions governing themselves but maintaining strong contact with the centre through a rotational presidency. However, President Shariff, who comes from Johar near Mogadishu, is strongly opposed to the idea of autonomous regions.

Currently, there are three autonomous regions — Somaliland, Puntland and the central region of Galmudug, commonly known as Hiiraan. Unlike the secessionist Somaliland region in northwestern Somalia, Galmudug, is not trying to get international recognition as a separate nation. It considers itself an autonomous state within the larger federal republic of Somalia. Galmudug was established on August 14, 2006 and Mohamed Warsame Ali “Kiimiko” was elected president.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula refused to be drawn into discussing the progress of the war. He also denied that Kenya is seeking to divide Somalia into autonomous regions, but argued that the Somalia Transitional Charter that created TFG says that Somalia shall be a federal government, but leaves how to go about it to the Somali people.

“If it is the process that will bring peace to Somalia, then Kenya will support it. But we want it to be Somalia-driven, not Kenya-driven,” he said.

Rashid Abdi, a specialist on Somalia with the International Crisis Group, noted that the international community has not yet learned the lesson that re-establishing a European-style centralised state based in Mogadishu is almost certain to fail, because for most Somalis, their only experience with the central government is that of predation.

“Since Independence, one clan, or group of clans, has always used its control of the centre to grab most of the resources and deny them to rival clans. Thus, whenever a new transitional government is created, Somalis are naturally wary and give it limited, or no support, fearing it will only be used to dominate and marginalise them,” he said.

Amisom spokesperson Paddy Asnkunda, told The EastAfrican that the peace process is expected to produce peaceful federated states, working more or less autonomously with a central authority in Mogadishu.He, however, maintained that the Somali political dialogue can go on even without the participation of Al Shabaab because, as he put it, “They have no support among the people and that’s what matters. They have lost political legitimacy by killing innocents.”

Autonomous regions aside, the focus is shifting to President Sheikh Shariff Ahmed and his role in the conduct of the war. After what appeared to be a misunderstanding in the early stages when he questioned Kenya’s intentions in Somalia, it is now emerging that Sheikh Shariff is a strong believer in Wahhabism, which is close to the Al Shabaab philosophy.

He is associated with the Salafi group that believes strongly in Sharia law. His kitchen Cabinet, called Al Sheikh, are mostly hardline Islamists, who blame him for appearing moderate. This group believes that the Djibouti agreement that brought together hardliners and secularists, is watering down the tenets of Islam.

While he remains ambivalent over the Kenya intervention, the TFG’s official mandate ends in August next year without initiating the expected Somalia national political dialogue. The concern for Kenya is that given the divisive politics and the short timeframe, it is unlikely the TFG will deliver significant progress on key transitional objectives, such as stabilising Somalia and delivering a permanent constitution.

That is why Kenya is looking at alternative ways of pacifying Somalia by trying to persuade the international community to concentrate its support on the more effective local entities, until a more appropriate and effective national government is negotiated.

The EastAfrican – 11.12.2011

Kenya shifts cost of Somalia war to the United Nations

The high cost of keeping troops in an open-ended war is behind Kenya’s latest decision to put its forces in neighbouring Somalia under the command of the African Union.

People familiar with the thinking in Kenya’s top security apparatus said the slow pace at which the troops have been moving and the high cost of keeping them in the battlefield is the reason behind the big shift for which Nairobi is also seeking the UN’s backing.

Putting the troops under the African Union command means Treasury will not bear the full cost of the war, but will benefit from the pool of finances available to the peace-keeping mission.

Parliament on Wednesday backed the Cabinet’s Tuesday decision to accept the Africa Union (AU) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) request for Kenya “to integrate its forces with the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom)”.

Concern has been rising over Kenya’s ability to finance war in the year of election winning the latest change in strategy easy support.

Kenyan forces invaded Somalia in late October after Al Shabaab militants staged a series of abductions targeting tourists and aid workers in Lamu and Dadaab Refugee Camp.

It is estimated that Nairobi is spending at least Sh200 million per month on the war, a staggering amount especially in a year of record Sh236 billion budget deficit.

Financing the war has already forced a reorganisation of the 2011/2012 budget that allocated the Ministry of Defence Sh50.3 billion, a 10.25 per cent drop from the previous year’s budget.

Treasury, however, increased the ministry’s allocation by nearly Sh7 billion in the revised budget released in July.

Kenya is said to be planning to seek the United Nations Security Council ratification of its decision to become part of Amisom, making a clear signal that it intends to benefit from the pool of funds that the United States, China and EU has provided for the peace keeping operation in Somalia.

“It is a good move that should help reduce the strain that this war has exerted on our economy,” said KDF spokesperson Major Emmanuel Chirchir.

KDF and Treasury officials could not reveal the cost of the war so far or the size of the budget that has been set aside for it. Support for the shift in Somalia war strategy was strong in Parliament where the matter was debated.

It is only fair that the cost of this war is shared, especially at this time when we are facing economic challenges of our own,” said Mutito MP Mr Kiema Kilonzo.

The MPs, however, demanded that the government provides additional information on the process of integrating Kenyan forces into Amisom, including the command system, number of troops proposed, the financing of the operation and how the government planned to win the support of citizens.

Traditionally, Kenya does not release details of its military budget, making it difficult to know the cost of the war.

John Mutua, an analyst at the Institute of Economic Affairs, however said the full cost of the war is likely to be known when the Treasury tables supplementary budget estimates in Parliament early next year. “If integration is not made soon, then we should expect a budget line for the war,” he said.

Financial markets have been pregnant with anxiety that the government could raise its domestic borrowing needs to finance the war, pushing the interest rates higher at a time when inflation is at 19 per cent.

Andrew Franklin, a retired US marine who works in Nairobi as a financial consultant, has estimated that it costs taxpayers Sh7,000 to keep each soldier in the battlefield everyday, adding up to more than Sh200,000 a month.

The amount includes the cost of moving the troops, supplying them with food and water, communication and medical care.

Kenya is estimated to have 1,000 troops in Somalia and at the price of Sh7,000 per day for every soldier adds up to Sh210 million per month or a Sh1 billion every six months.

Kenya has indicated that its mission in Somalia will end when the troops reach Kismayu, the port city that has been the commercial stronghold of the Al-Shabaab — the terrorist group with links to Al-Qaeda. Integrating with Amisom means Kenyan troops will operate under the command of the peace-keeping force, rather than as an independent entity.

The troops will also be bound by the United Nations peace-keeping rules that restrict use of force, a factor that is likely to affect pace of movement against the Al-Shabaab.

If Kenya chooses to donate its equipment to Amison, the peace-keeping force will gain a big multiplier against the terrorist group and give the force the numbers it needs to spread out of Mogadishu.

Integration also means the perception of a Kenya versus Al Shabaab duel will end in favour of an African offensive. Amisom has a shortage of more than 10,000 troops against a target of 20,000 set by the AU. All of the 9,700 troops currently in Somalia come from Burundi and Uganda.

Majority of AU members have failed to honour their promise to send troops in the war torn country that has had no government for more than two decades.

Kenya has been hesitant in joining Amisom mission partly because of concerns over possible heavy casualty in the hands of Al Shabaab’s suicide bombings tactics.

Troops from United States and Ethiopia have suffered severe casualties in different times in the hands of various Somalia armed groups.

But the reservations appears to be easing have changed dramatically with Kenya’s incursion in the country, with Gabon, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tunisia, Swaziland, and Zambia expected to be sending in peacekeeping forces in the next few months.

Business Daily-07.12.2011

Kenya-Somalie: enlisement militaire et offensive diplomatique

Le 18 novembre, l’Union africaine s’est déclarée favorable à la proposition du Kenya d’intégrer l’Amisom. Un rapprochemment qui reflète le changement de stratégie de Nairobi, alors que ses troupes sont en voie d’enlisement en Somalie.

En général, la diplomatie précède la guerre. Dans le cas du conflit opposant l’armée kenyane aux milices shebab, en Somalie, c’est un peu le contraire. Plus d’un mois après le lancement de l’opération militaire Linda Nchi dont l’objectif affiché était de créer une « zone tampon » au niveau de la frontière somalienne, Nairobi vient de lancer une offensive diplomatique visant à s’assurer un soutien régional, continental et international.

Le 16 novembre, les présidents Mwai Kibaki (Kenya), Yoweri Museveni (Ouganda) et Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (Somalie) se sont retrouvés dans la capitale kenyane pour une réunion tripartite à l’issue de laquelle ils ont prêché pour une meilleure coordination entre le Gouvernement fédéral de Transition (GFT), la Mission de l’Union africaine en Somalie (Amisom) et les forces militaires kenyanes.

Légitimation

Le même jour, le gouvernement kenyan dirigé par Raila Odinga proposait à l’UA sa participation à l’Amisom – ce qui viendrait légitimer l’action de son armée. Le 18 novembre, l’UA s’est déclarée favorable à cette initiative.

L’Amisom dispose pour le moment de quelque 9 700 soldats sur place, essentiellement ougandais et burundais. D’ici à la fin de l’année, environ 3 000 militaires djiboutiens et sierra-léonais devraient porter ce chiffre à 12 000, voire 14 000 si l’on compte les 2 000 soldats entrés en territoire somalien le 16 et le 17 octobre. Or l’Amisom laisse entendre qu’il en faudrait au moins 20 000 pour pouvoir contenir les Shebab.

Sur le terrain, les troupes kenyanes ralenties par les conditions climatiques n’ont guère avancé. Elles n’ont pas encore pu prendre la ville d’Afmadow qui ouvrirait la voie vers le port de Kismayo, financièrement stratégique pour les Shebab. Cet embourbement prévisible – chacun se souvient des précédents américain et éthiopien – explique sans doute les appels de l’administration kenyane en direction des Occidentaux. Si les soutiens américain et français sont un secret de polichinelle – selon le Los Angeles Times, le Kenya aurait reçu cette année quelques 700 millions de dollars d’aide militaire – l’ambassadeur du Kenya auprès des Nations unies Macharia Kamau a demandé un appui plus intense à Washington ainsi que la mise en œuvre d’un blocus du port de Kismayo.

Soutien d’Israël

Mais ce qui a sans doute été le plus remarqué, c’est le voyage du Premier ministre Raila Odinga en Israël. L’accord de principe obtenu auprès de l’État hébreu – lequel « fera tout son possible » pour aider le Kenya à sécuriser sa frontière, selon les mots du président Shimon Peres – a suscité une violente réponse des Shebab. Leur porte-parole, Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, a ainsi déclaré : « Nous voulons dire aux musulmans que nous partageons la même religion, la même foi et le même Dieu. Il est de leur responsabilité de soutenir leurs frères musulmans en Somalie parce que les chrétiens kenyans sont allés chercher le soutien des juifs d’Israël. »

Un message qui pourrait porter auprès des somaliens modérés comme auprès de la frange dure des musulmans kenyans. Et, partant, fragiliser le support dont bénéficie encore la périlleuse et couteuse opération Linda Nchi.

Source: Jeunes Afrique-par Nicolas Michel-18.11.2011

 

Kenya’s Premature Invasions of Southern Somalia Stalls Balkanization

During the second half of November, the process of dividing the territories of post-independence Somalia into a set of dependencies on regional powers (Ethiopia and Kenya) entered its first and tentative phase and immediately stalled. On November 25, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (I.G.A.D.), the sub-regional organization composed of Horn of Africa states, issued a communiqué in which it endorsed Kenya’s invasion of southern Somalia and encouraged Ethiopia to send its forces into central Somalia (which it had already done). The Kenyan and Ethiopian interventions were proximately aimed at attempting to break the control of the Salafist revolutionary movement, Harakat al-ShabaabMujahideen (H.S.M.), over the southern and central regions. The next step would be to replace H.S.M. with regional authorities that would be dependent on Kenya (south) and Ethiopia (center) giving those two states permanent dominant spheres of influence in the territories of post-independence Somalia. There is little prospect that the second step will be taken, at least in the short term.

Partitioning /Balkanizing/Cantonizing Somalia

Were the partition of “Somalia” into dependencies of Kenya and Ethiopia to succeed, the Somali people would be severely disadvantaged in their international standing; they would not have a single voice on the world stage, but would be, instead, beholden to their regional patrons and, beyond them, to interested external actors (primarily the United States and Western European powers – the “donor”-powers), which would work through Kenya and Ethiopia. The Somali people would be permanently weakened; they would be militarily powerless, economically fragmented, and political stripped of the ability to articulate and defend their interests against conflicting interests that would impinge upon them from external powers that were concerned for themselves, and not for the Somali people.

Partition means divide and rule. Djibouti would become the model for the fragmented territories of post-independence Somalia, only now a number of mini-states would contend for the favors, such as they were, bestowed by the patrons in return for economic concessions, diplomatic subservience, and military impotence. The Somali people would be deprived of a political community and their political self-determination. “Somalia” would no longer exist in a political sense, even – as it is now – as an aspiration.

The balkanization of “Somalia” is only in its earliest stages and there is currently no guarantee that it will succeed. What has become clear in the last part of November is how balkanization would occur and what form it would be most likely to take.

As a completed process, balkanization would take the form of proxy chains articulated in an order of increasing dependency as one moved down the chains. At the top of the chain would be the Western “donor”-powers, which would take care of their interests in anti-terrorism, anti-piracy, exploitation of natural resources, and trade and investment. Within the interest configuration laid down by the “donor”-powers, the regional powers –Kenya and Ethiopia – would take major responsibility for managing their spheres of influence in “Somalia,” and would receive a share of economic advantage and would no longer have to worry about the possibility of confronting a viable Somali state. At the bottom of the chain would be the partitioned and dependent Somali authorities – whichever form they took (“independent” states, autonomous regions, or de facto territories). The Somali authorities would be clients and their leaders would be beholden to their patrons.

That is how the completed process would look. It would be imposed on Somalis from the outside.It would not be the utopia envisioned by Western intellectual policy pushers of the “bottom-up” or “building-blocks” approach, in which a Somali political community would rise from the scattered grassroots. It would not be the Swiss model of cantonalism. It would be a form of neo-colonialism. Those who favor “building blocks” or “bottom up” are either naïve or disingenuous. They assume that the Somali people are surrounded by benevolent powers that would not take advantage of the Somali people’s division and resulting weakness. The reality of balkanization is the proxy chain.

At present, the proxy chains have not yet been formed. They are incipient. Kenya and Ethiopia have entered their presumptive spheres of influence, but they are far from having eliminated H.S.M. and they have not won the endorsement of balkanization from the “donor”-powers. They also confront contention between Somali actors for the client roles and some resistance by Somali actors to balkanization. The process has, however, entered its earliest phase.

The First and Preliminary Stage of Balkanization Stalls

The first step in forming the finished proxy chains that would structure balkanization of southern and central Somalia is eliminating H.S.M. from those territories. That is the explicit aim of the Kenyan invasion, which is shared by Ethiopia, I.G.A.D., the African Union, and the “donor”-powers.Balkanization cannot occur if the territory is not cleared of rivals to new administrations dependent on neighboring states. By itself, however, getting rid of H.S.M. does not necessarily involve balkanization. It is a matter of what political structure and which groups replace H.S.M. – client administrations of Kenya and Ethiopia, or local administrations tied to a Somali national administration, or some de facto mixture of the two.

At present, the political order of the southern and central regions that have been cleared of H.S.M. has not been determined and is a matter of contention among the presumptive members of the proxy chains.

The problem of what and who would replace H.S.M. is particularly acute for Kenya, which has no coherent policy due to the political complexity of the south and Nairobi’s poor planning for its invasion, which was executed before the political ground had been prepared for success. As a result, Nairobi is caught between three Somali “allies” – the presumptive Azania state, which Nairobi has nurtured as a proxy and has armed, and which would form the leadership of a buffer state dependent on Kenya and providing a cordon sanitaire for it; the Raskamboni movement (R.K.M.) on which the Kenyan Defense Force (K.D.F.) relies in its operations and which directly rivals “Azania;” and forces loosely and sometimes nominally linked to “Somalia’s” internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.).

Although Nairobi would have liked “Azania” to be its partner, that has proven to be impossible, stalling the balkanization of the south from the outset. The Azanian forces have proven to be inadequate and Nairobi has had to take in the R.K.M. More importantly, the T.F.G.’ president, Sh. Sharif Sh. Ahmad, did not endorse the Kenyan invasion, which led Kenya to call a meeting in Nairobi on November 16, between Sh. Sharif; Kenya’s president, MwaiKibaki; and Uganda’s president, YoweriMuseveni (Uganda plays the lead role in the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) in Mogadishu that protects the T.F.G.). The communiqué issued following the meeting registered Sh. Sharif’s endorsement of a “joint Kenya-Somali security operation,” not a joint Kenya-T.F.G. operation, certainly not a joint Kenya-Azania operation, and not a joint Kenya-T.F.G.-Azania-R.K.M. operation. Judgment day was deferred. Nairobi had more important things to think about than how the south would be run after H.S.M. was gone – its invasion had stalled and it needed all the help it could get on the ground and in the diplomatic conference rooms.

Having failed even to begin to build a proxy chain in the south, Kenya turned up the presumptive chain, launching an intensive diplomatic effort to win support for its invasion from I.G.A.D., the A.U., and the “donor”-powers. For the week and a half following the November 16 Nairobi communiqué, Kenyan officials pressed their plea for support at meetings of the A.U.’s Peace and Security Council, troop-contribution countries to AMISOM and interested states, and with Ethiopia. Kenya’s push culminated in a meeting of I.G.A.D. heads of state.

The communiqué issued after the I.G.A.D. meeting on November 25 “welcomed the joint security operation” of the K.D.F. and, now, “T.F.G. forces” against H.S.M., further diminishing the likelihood of Kenya securing a buffer-client state in the south. The communique also called upon “the Ethiopian government to support the Kenyan-T.F.G. and [now] AMISOM operation,” which Ethiopia was in the process of doing. In order to save its foundering operation, Kenya had to accept the lead of the T.F.G., at least nominally, in Somalia; coordinate with AMISOM and perhaps, according to the communiqué, fuse with it; and draw Ethiopia into the conflict in order to open up a front in the central regions. The dreams of a buffer-client state were long gone, at least for the time being.

After November 26, Ethiopian forces began to move into the central regions, where they coordinated with their existing proxies, the AhluSunnawal-Jama’a movement (A.S.W.J.), which controls parts of those regions, and local forces loosely or nominally affiliated with the T.F.G. Ethiopia’s aims are unclear. Was it reluctantly giving Kenya a hand, as some sources said; or was it making a bid, given the opening provided by Kenya’s plea for help, to gain a foothold for setting up its own sphere of influence in the central regions, as other sources reported? It is too early to know, but it is likely that Addis Ababa will tread carefully and will not make Nairobi’s mistake of mounting a major operation without political preparation on the ground.

Both Kenyan and Ethiopian forces are inside their presumptive spheres of influence in Somalia, but balkanization remains distant. There is time for domestic Somali political forces to resist partition.

At the top of the proxy chain, the “donor”-powers seem to have no appetite for imposing the no-fly zones and naval blockades being urged on them by Kenya, I.G.A.D., and the A.U./AMISOM; to increase AMISOM’S force level by folding the K.D.F. into the peacekeeping mission; or giving meaningful logistical support to the K.D.F. on the ground. On November 23, U.S. under-secretary of state for Africa, Johnny Carson, refused to endorse the Kenyan operation, recommending instead that “the best way to deal with al-Shabaab and address the security threat in Somalia is to use AMISOM as the core element in the fight and to work from Mogadishu in helping the Transitional Federal Government in extending its authority.” Carson “urged” Kenya and Ethiopia to “work through AMISOM to address the security challenges facing them from Somalia.”

It is clear that there can be no balkanization of southern and central Somalia, and no proxy chains as long as the “donor”-powers led by the U.S. remain wedded to the T.F.G. as the major instrument with which to effect a “transition” of Somalia to a permanent constitutional government implemented through a roadmap supervised by the U.N. and I.G.A.D., the latter of which has now been compromised for that purpose by its endorsement of the Kenyan and Ethiopian operations.

After the I.G.A.D. communique was issued, Reuters reported on a Western diplomatic source who said that it was “difficult to see” how the K.D.F. could be folded into AMISOM, “given that the salaries of the soldiers are paid for by the West. There’s no stomach for giving any money to AMISOM.” The Washington Post quoted a U.S. State Department official to the same effect: “I don’t see any increase [in AMISOM]. We’re already at a very high level.” A U.S. defense department official told the Washington Post: “We have always been very cautious, prudent, concerned about the neighbors getting involved.”

Conclusion: Obstacles to Balkanization

The diplomatic outcomes of Kenya’s efforts during the second half of November to gain support for its invasion of southern Somalia show the obstacles in the way of any attempt to balkanize Somalia in the short term. That attempt would originate with Kenya, Ethiopia, and the organization that they dominate, I.G.A.D. From that starting point in the middle of the presumptive proxy chain, the regional powers would have to work down to secure viable client administrations in the south and center, and up to get the backing of the international coalition, the “donor”-powers working through the U.N.

The regional powers have thus far not succeeded in moving either down or up the chain. There are no political structures and groups that have been prepared to replace H.S.M. – if it is defeated – and to function at the level of large regions. Instead, there are crazy-quilts of contending factions that have not been reconciled or displaced, making it currently impossible to designate reliable proxies.On the other side, the “donor”-powers appear to be sticking to the “transition” that they have set up and are not in favor of partition until and unless the “transition” to a permanent Somali state fails. Without Somali domestic actors to provide the bodies to run administrations and the “donor”-powers to provide the funds to make them viable, balkanization cannot get off the ground.Without proxy chains there can be no balkanization of sourthern and central Somalia, and there are no proxy chains; there are only Kenyan and Ethiopian military forces occupying parts of their presumptive spheres of influence.

In addition to obstacles up and down the presumptive chains, there is a lack of coordination among the forces that have intervened in Somalia. The I.G.A.D. communiqué called for “enhanced coordination between AMISOM, TFG forces, and KDF,” and now Ethiopia would presumably be included. “Coordination,” indeed, was the buzz word of the diplomatic activity in November, but coordination has not come to pass.

Although the A.U. and I.G.A.D. urge that the K.D.F. be folded into AMISOM, the “donor”-powers resist, so Kenya is left with a joint security operation with the T.F.G. on paper, and AMISOM is left to perform its mandate within the constraints laid down by the “donor”-powers. Ethiopia has refrained from signing on to any joint operation and is acting on its own “in support” of others’ efforts. Kenya remains isolated, the T.F.G.’s writ does not extend to the southern and central regions, AMISOM remains with the T.F.G. in Mogadishu, and Ethiopia is working with the array of proxies it has previously cultivated. The A.U. has been sidelined, and I.G.A.D. is limited in its support of Kenya’s and Ethiopia’s operations by its commitment registered in the U.N. “roadmap” to support the “donor”-powers’ transition process. The Kenyan dream of a joint force in which AMISOM would take primary responsibility and would be given robust financial backing and logistical support by the “donor”-powers has ceded to the reality of an inadequate Kenyan operation in a desperate quest for support that keeps running up blind alleys, while AMISOM is reined in, and Ethiopia keeps its options open.

The present situation in southern and central Somalia results from the indeterminate, confused, and unstable geo-political consequences of Kenya’s premature invasion. Kenya’s ineptitude and its desperate and failed attempts to draw other powers into its adventure has for the moment stalled the balkanization process in its very earliest stages. That gives those who are resisting balkanization some breathing space, but by no means does it take the partition of Somalia off the table.

Source Garowe Online -By: Dr, Michael A Weinstein -03.12.2011
Report Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, Professor of Political Science, Purdue University weinstem@purdue.edu

Kenya’s media in bed with the military

Pictures of Kenyan military tanks rolling into Somalia. Defence Minister Yusuf Haji flanked by his internal security counterpart George Saitoti and Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere explain the incursion. Unsmiling generals wag fingers at a live press briefing. Pictures of soldiers distributing relief food to starving Somalis. Female soldiers at the ‘frontline’. President Kibaki declares operation will go on until al-Shabaab militia is vanquished. TV reporters in helmets and bullet proof vests report from the ‘frontline’…

These are the daily media images of the Kenyan war in Somalia. A clean war. Not a drop of blood. There have been frequent reports of killings of al-Shabaab militiamen and bombing of their bases. But no one has seen any images of the ‘frontline gains’ as NTV once described the army’s progress.

The headlines on TV and in the newspapers have been entirely celebratory since the fighting began on 16 October 2011– except on those days when suspected retaliatory grenade attacks rocked Nairobi; the media has played down subsequent grenade attacks in other parts of the country.

Here’s a small selection from the front pages of Kenya’s two leading dailies, Nation and Standard, over the past month: ‘Nine shabaab men killed in fierce clash near border town’ (Nation); Kenya’s fearsome arsenal in offensive’ (Standard); ‘Al-Qaeda camp hit by Kenya’s jets and ships’ (Nation); ‘Kenya enters next phase in operation’ (Standard); ‘Allies hunt shabaab fighters door-to-door (Nation); ‘We will fight on to victory, vows Kibaki’ (Nation); ‘UN to punish al shabaab allies’ (Standard); ‘Spirits high as navy kills 18 shabaab’ (Standard)…

All the information carried in these stories – and many others on TV, radio and on websites – is from a single source: The military. No attempt has been made to verify independently the stories. The army holds frequent news conferences in Nairobi, but most of the time the media relies on emails and tweets from Kenya Defence Forces spokesman, Major Emmanuel Chirchir. There must be no other view of the war.

Very few people have questioned the war – or rather there has been little media coverage of opposing voices. One of these is former chairman of the Kenya National Human Rights, a state agency, Maina Kiai, who described ‘Operation Linda Nchi’ (Swahili for Operation Secure the Nation) as an ‘illegal and unconstitutional invasion of Somalia.’ The normally vocal civil society organisations, faith groups and other movements are unheard.

As Kiai says, the war is illegal because Article 95 (6) of the constitution says that, ‘The National Assembly approves declarations of war.’ Parliament never debated the Somalia invasion. Nor did the president as Commander-in-Chief of Kenya Defence Forces make the announcement. He only spoke about it subsequently as an operation against al-Shabaab terrorists. The invasion is touted as a joint security operation with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and not a war – although Ethiopian soldiers have already joined in and Kenya is supported by its Western allies, mainly USA and France.

Some observers believe Kenya decided to enter Somalia after a plan to create a new state (Azania) in the south of the country to act as a buffer between Kenya and al-Shabaab-controlled areas failed. The question that has not been openly asked – or answered in the military and political briefings – is why Kenya decided to pursue al-Shabaab inside Somalia and not the other militias inside other neighbouring countries which have for years attacked, killed and robbed Kenyans living near the national borders.The invasion was said to be in response to the kidnapping of some Western tourists by al-Shabaab. But the militia group never claimed responsibility for those kidnappings, but actually denied the allegations.In recent years, Muslim religious leaders repeatedly claimed that al-Shabaab were recruiting youths in Nairobi and Mombasa to fight in Somalia.The government did nothing about the reports – only for the internal security ministry to tell parliament when the military invasion was launched that al-Shabaab has its ‘head’ in Eastleigh district, Nairobi. How did the Kenyan security forces let that happen?There are claims of military adventurism as well. Kenya has never gone to war (everyone recalls Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s jibe that Kenya only had a ‘career army’);the invasion of Somalia is seen by politicians and the media here as an opportunity to demonstrate that the country is not only a regional economic power but also a military one. It is also seen as an opportunity to galvanise a country where ethnic divisions and rivalry is endemic. Only days before the inversion, the government had launched a six-month advertising campaign dubbed ‘Nitakuwapo’ (I will be here) to promote patriotism.

On the day the military incursion was launched, the military held an off-the-record briefing for senior editors in Nairobi. Did they hammer out a secret deal about how the coverage should be handled? That appears to be the case. Casper Waithaka, a senior reporter at Nation newspaper, says that announcement of the invasion generated a lot of excitement in the newsroom. Money may have changed hands as well.

‘I remember clearly that day. There was a lot of excitement in the newsroom. Some of my editors have been in the industry for 30 years but they have never had the opportunity [to cover war]. So they were saying, ‘why not?’ They were given a lot of money and they gave their go-ahead.’

The go-ahead was for reporters to be embedded with the soldiers in Somalia. Several journalists from major media houses were flown from Nairobi and are still with the soldiers. They supply daily dispatches about events in what the media here calls the ‘frontline’. Are the reports accurate representations of the reality as the reporters see it? The answer is no.

Nation has been running a disclaimer in its inside pages saying that, although its print and broadcast journalists are with the soldiers, ‘their reports are subject to military conditions.’ It is not clear what those ‘military conditions’ are and the implications for the veracity of the media reports. But other media houses (and indeed Nation’s television, NTV, and radio stations) have not carried any disclaimer

One could get an idea of what is going on at the ‘frontline’ by speaking to reporters who have been there. Patrick Injendi, a journalist with Citizen TV, spent three weeks with the soldiers. The media has been reporting that the Kenyan army has ‘captured’ or ‘liberated’ town after town in Somalia apparently with little resistance from al shabaab as the soldiers make their way to the militia’s stronghold in the port city of Kismayu. But Injendi says the only ‘towns’ he ever saw were settlements with two or three buildings.

How do the reporters get their ‘frontline’ stories? ‘There is no freedom of movement’, Injendi says. ‘You couldn’t just wake up and decide you were going to look for news in a certain place. You must be accompanied by soldiers for security.’ That means the media reports are merely what the soldiers tell the reporters.

There also was no adequate preparation for the journalists to report the invasion. Like many Kenya journalists used to reporting the antics of politicians at funerals and rallies around the country or their statements read out at press conferences in Nairobi, Injendi says he was not prepared for the distress that came with reporting on a war. ‘We had no helmets or bullet proof jackets on leaving Nairobi.’

Yet the Kenyan media has created the impression that their reports are the truth. But Kate Hold, a British photojournalist who has covered American and British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and was early this year embedded with African Union forces in Somalia (AMISOM), says military restrictions are so bad journalists sometimes report propaganda.

‘Every time I saw a body of a soldier being repatriated I wondered why it was not being reported,’ Kate says of her experience in Somalia. ‘One day 52 Burundian soldiers were killed. I had access and could photograph them but I wasn’t allowed to report it. And it became clear why the AU did not want this reported: they felt that it was a matter of national pride and they didn’t want to make it seem to al-Shabaab that they were losing, or that there was any indication of weakness. It was the same in Afghanistan: the Americans did not want reports about how many deaths there were.’

But the question of casualties is not only in relation to the soldiers. Are those figures highlighted almost daily in the media of al-Shabaab militias killed accurate? What about Somali civilians killed in the bombings? How many are they so far? No numbers have been published, or even the mention of civilian deaths.

Simiyu Werunga, director of the African Centre for Strategic and Security Studies, suggests that civilian casualties could be quite high inside Somalia. ‘I speak from some experience: when you are fighting an organisation that is amorphous, is fluid and mobile and they are using civilians as shields, it becomes a bit difficult for a military to minimise casualties. Secondly, African militaries are not digitised, so they don’t have ‘smart’ weapons. Now, most western countries have ‘smart’ weapons, which have seriously reduced collateral damage. African countries don’t have those kinds of weaponry and because the tactics of al-Shabaab – using people as shields – it makes it difficult for the military to reduce casualties’.Although Kenyans are being told that everything is going fine, civilian casualties are the reason why there is a lot of anger among Somalis against the Kenyan invasion, although all one sees in the media are happy Somalis welcoming their ‘liberators’. The vice-chair of the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights, Hassan Omar, says the anger may not be reported in the Kenyan media but it is there, boiling in blogs run by Somalis.Because of four tourist abductions, we have killed about a hundred Somalis – that is collateral damage. Because the Kenyan army has five jetfighters that have no night vision or digitisation, it is proper to kill 100 Somalis because we are bringing security to Kenya’, Omar wonders, adding that he has seen Somalis expressing bitterness about the killings in blogs. ‘There is a lot of anger there. Don’t ever underestimate it because of the fact that it is not reaching the Kenyan media.’

Because of civilian casualties, says Omar, the Kenyan army could end up facing charges of war crimes. Some groups, he said, are documenting the atrocities and could bring a suit against the military commanders. Yet there are no media reports in Kenya of Somali civilians killed. Omar poses: ‘Who is going to speak for the hundreds of Somalis who have died so far? And it is independent media that has reported this: Press TV, Al Jazeera. They have confirmed some of these deaths. Who is going to speak for them? Or are we only speaking about four tourists because our commercial interests lie there?’

The frustration is not limited to Somalia. Kenya has a large ethnic Somali population in the north of the country but also in Nairobi and other major towns. Because of the war in Somalia, Kenyan Somalis are now viewed with suspicion. There have been claims of police harassment of the citizens, supposing them to be al-Shabaab sympathisers. This violation of citizen rights has not received much media attention because of support for the war.Rage Hassan, a radio producer at Nairobi-based Star FM, which broadcasts in Somali, says that, whereas Somalis call in to say they support the war, they also report needless harassment by the police. He has even experienced it himself. ‘Yesterday I went for a driving test and a traffic officer called out to me: ‘Hey, you al-Shabaab, come in.’Despite such experiences, the impression created by the media is that Kenyans are united in their support for the war. ‘For whatever reasons – some could be about profits – the media since we started this incursion in Somalia has never reported the truth’, says Werunga of ACSSS. ‘If you cannot report what is happening on the ground, how can you expect the Kenyan people to start questioning what is happening?’ he wondered.Radio journalist Kassim Mohammed who has reported on Somalia echoes that sentiment. ‘The Kenyan media has failed in reporting this war. On the other hand, the Somali media has done very well: they question, they criticise a lot of the things going on. We are in bed with the army; not just the reporters, but even the news anchors. The other day I was really shocked when a well-known TV personality came on air and said: ‘Our men are at war. Can you please send them words of encouragement.’That pretty much sums up the Kenyan media’s attitude to the war in Somalia. But there is no doubt that the truth about what is exactly happening will eventually come to light. Trouble is, immense damage would already have been done.Source: PAMBAZUKA NEWS – Henry Makori
Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fault Lines – Horn of Africa Crisis: Somalia’s Famine

Kenya’s Somali Gamble

By any reckoning, 2011 was not a good year for Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Movement of Striving Youth) or al-Shabaab (the Youth) as it is more commonly known. This Islamist and al-Qaeda aligned group in Somalia suffered various setbacks.

In March, Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces together with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) recaptured the town of Bulo Hawo. In April, the town of Dhobley, near the Kenyan border, also fell under the control of the TFG. By August 6, al-Shabaab was driven out of Mogadishu as a result of the co-ordinated attacks from AMISOM and TFG fighters.

In the process, some senior and experienced al-Shabaab commanders were killed. On March 16 Abdelkadir Yusuf Aar who served as the group’s leader in the Juba and Gedo region was killed. On April 3 another senior al-Shabaab operative, Hassan Abdurahman, was killed in Dhobley. On June 11, Fazul Abdullah Mohamed was killed by security forces in Afgoye, north-west of Mogadishu. Not only was Mohamed an al-Shabaab commander but he was also a senior al-Qaeda operative.

In addition to this military pressure from AMISOM and the TFG, al-Shabaab was also suffering from a series of organizational problems. Tensions between the movement’s northern and southern commanders escalated on the ideological and tactical fronts; less money was entering al-Shabaab’s coffers from the Somali diaspora at the same time when support for the movement from the Somali business community was ebbing; and clan militias increasingly challenged al-Shabaab’s territorial hegemony in its heartland of southern Somalia.

Attempting to lure Ethiopia

It is in this context that the authorities in Nairobi embarked on an ill-conceived, badly planned and poorly executed Operation Linda Nchi (Swahili for “Protect the Nation”) which involved hundreds of Kenyan troops crossing the border into Somalia on October. The immediate catalyst for the operation was the kidnapping of several tourists from Kenya by ostensibly al Shabaab militants*. In doing so the government of Mwai Kibaki has played into the hands of al-Shabaab.

For some time now al-Shabaab has been attempting to lure Ethiopia, the US and Kenya into sending boots on to Somali ground. In having a foreign “occupation” force once more on Somali soil, al-Shabaab hopes to play the nationalist card and to unite all factions under its banner whilst simultaneously weakening the TFG which is then seen as the “puppets” of these foreign forces.

Washington, however, has refused to play by al Shabaab’s rules, preferring surgical predator drone strikes. Addis Ababa, having withdrawn their troops and having learned their mistakes from its earlier intervention see no reason to once more re-engage militants on their home turf. Unfortunately, Nairobi still has to learn this painful lesson. Far from using its armed forces to seal its borders with Somalia or using its air force to provide support to TFG forces as it did at Dhobley, Kenya chose to send troops into al-Shabaab’s heartland in southern Somalia to take on the movement directly. This will prove to be a costly mistake for Nairobi.

Objective not clear

In the first instance, the Kenyan authorities were not clear as to the objective of its military intervention. Thus whilst at first, Nairobi stated that their armed forces were pursuing al-Shabaab fighters across the border, subsequent statements suggests that the military objectives became ever more expansive. These expanded objectives included dismantling al-Shabaab itself as well securing Kismayo, an al Shabaab- controlled port, 155 miles from the Kenyan border.

Second, given the expanded objectives and the topography of the region the military force deployed was much too small to attain the avowed objectives.

Third, Kenyan military planners seemed not to have factored the weather when drawing up their plans. One reason for the offensive to have stalled was because of the heavy rains and mud which is slowing the advance.

Fourth, rather than fight the Kenyans in conventional terms, al-Shabaab is employing guerilla tactics – which the Kenyan military unfortunately did not anticipate.

Fifth, the intervention is exacerbating popular anger against Kenyans – especially when innocent civilians are being targeted. On October 30, for instance, the Kenyan air force, conducted an aerial bombardment of an internally displaced persons camp in Jilib which resulted in the deaths of five civilians, and the wounding of 45 others. Of the latter, 31 were children. Al-Shabaab has tapped into this popular anger as it recruits more fighters.

It is already clear that Nairobi is seeking a not too gracious exit from the Somali stage. Recently a Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said that if the TFG commits to fighting al-Shabaab (which it has been doing), Kenya will halt its military advance. This Kenyan misadventure in Somalia may well prove to have given al Shabaab a life line.

* It should be noted that al Shabaab never claimed responsibility for these abductions.

Source: News24-By Hussein Solomon 26.11.2011

 In Kenya, Somalis become casualties of Africa’s latest war

On a recent night, Kenyan security forces rounded up 43 people, including women and children, in the Somali enclave of Nairobi known as East­leigh. The ethnic Somalis spent five days in an overcrowded cell without access to a lawyer or being formally charged.

“They accused us of being al-Shabab sympathizers,” recalled Mohamed Noor, a Somali journalist, referring to the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militia. “They said they would chase us out of the country.”

Since entering neighboring ­Somalia last month to fight al-Shabab, Kenyan security forces have launched a parallel campaign on their own soil to diffuse the militia’s networks here. As a result of that crackdown, ethnic Somalis have been mistreated and in some cases beaten, arbitrarily arrested and deported, according to human rights groups, Somali community leaders and witnesses.

“The Kenyan authorities should not use the current military operation as an excuse to clamp down on the rights of people within [Kenya’s] borders,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director of Human Rights Watch, the watchdog group.

Today, many ethnic Somalis, mostly refugees who have fled Somalia’s civil conflicts, are living in a state of apprehension. Hate speech and xenophobia are on the rise, Somalis said in interviews. They are afraid to leave their homes at night, and some have even sent their children back to Somalia to prevent them from being picked up in Kenyan security sweeps.

The concerns come as anti-Somali feelings have been growing over the past year in this East African nation. Many Kenyans say Somalis, who make up roughly 8 percent of the country’s population of 40 million, have taken over the economy, driven up real estate prices and made Kenya less secure.

Now, the military operation has made the atmosphere even more tense, Somali community leaders say. Last month, Kenya’s assistant internal security minister, Orwa Ojode, informed the parliament that the offensive would be coupled with the “mother of all operations” in Nairobi to flush out al-Shabab members and keep the capital safe. He singled out Eastleigh.

“This is like a big animal with the tail in Somalia, and the head of the animal is here in Eastleigh,” he told lawmakers.

‘Fed up with the fanatics’

Some Somalis have welcomed the Kenyan raids on their enclaves. Al-Shabab loyalists, they say, have given their community a bad reputation. “People are fed up with the fanatics, those who harbor the terrorists,” said Mohammed Hussein Abukar, a spokesman for Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa, a Sufi Muslim force fighting al-Shabab.

The United Nations said in a July report that there were “extensive Kenyan networks linked to al-Shabaab, which not only recruit and raise funds for the organization, but also conduct orientation and training events inside Kenya.” In particular, U.N. investigators alleged that a Kenyan youth center, headquartered in a slum next to Eastleigh, was a front for the militia.

Somali community leaders acknowledged that there are al- Shabab loyalists in Eastleigh and other Somali enclaves. They quickly added, however, that most Somalis detest al-Shabab but nevertheless face discrimination because of their ethnicity.

The xenophobia is dividing two populations who have lived together peacefully for a long time,” said Ali Isak, 28, a leader of Somali Youth for Peace and Change, an activist group in Eastleigh.

Rashid Abdi, a Somalia expert with the International Crisis Group, said that while some Somalis have been mistreated and targeted by security forces, the Kenyans have mostly restrained themselves. Still, suspicions of ­Somalis have deepened, and a harsher crackdown could come in the weeks and months ahead, he said.

“The Somali community fears an al-Shabab retaliatory strike more than Kenya’s military operation,” Abdi said. “They fear that could provoke similar sort of ­attacks on their community by the Kenyan government.”

A strike inside Kenya is a real possibility. In July 2010, the militia orchestrated bombings in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, killing dozens watching the soccer World Cup. The group said the attacks were retaliation for Uganda’s backing of an African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Militia leaders have vowed to attack Kenya in a similar fashion unless it pulls its troops out of Somalia.

Growing scrutiny

Security now is tight around the capital. Guards are posted at malls, restaurants and bars, searching cars and frisking customers for bombs. Plainclothes intelligence agents patrol downtown, seeking out anyone who looks suspicious. That often means anyone who appears to be ethnic Somali,Somalis said in interviews.

Last week, two agents stopped Ismail Hassan, 28, in downtown Nairobi. Like most Somalis, he is a refugee who sought sanctuary in Kenya from the violence and warlords in his homeland. The agents grilled him, demanding what he was doing, where he was going. They checked his identification papers, and finally released him.

It was the second time that Hassan had been detained since Kenya’s military operation. The previous time, soldiers accused him of being a member of al-Shabab and gave him an ultimatum — pay an $8 bribe or go to jail. Hassan paid.

Sometimes, there are also other forms of humiliation. Two weeks ago, Hassan stepped into a minivan taxi. When the other passengers saw him, they demanded that he get out, Hassan recalled. One passenger asked the driver: “Why are you forcing us to travel with this al-Shabab guy?”

When the driver refused to kick Hassan out, all the other passengers stepped out of the taxi, he said.

Somalis have also been harassed in other areas of Kenya. According to a statement by Human Rights Watch, “Kenyan military personnel arbitrarily detained and mistreated civilians” on Nov. 11 in the town of Garissa.

A witness said “soldiers picked up people who looked Somali, beat them and forced them to sit in dirty water while interrogating them.”

In Eastleigh, scrutiny of Somalis is growing. Police have increased identification checks of Somalis. If they don’t have proper refugee documents, Somali community leaders said, they face deportation — unless they can afford a bribe. The Yahye Human Rights Foundation, a Somali activist group, said it has helped 85 Somali refugees get out of jail this month.

Most Somalis expect the crackdowns to intensify the longer Kenya wages war inside Somalia, and especially if many Kenyan soldiers die. That could drive angry and disaffected Somalis to support the militia, some say.

Noor, the journalist, said that while he was in jail he overheard some young Somalis who had been caught along with him in the sweep.

They said, ‘We are civilians. We are innocent. If we are prosecuted in an illegal way, the only way we can get revenge is to join al-Shabab,’ ” Noor recalled.

Source: Washington Post – By Sudarsan Raghavan 25.11.2011

U.S. intensifies its proxy fight against al-Shabab in Somalia

The Obama administration is intensifying its campaign against an al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia by boosting the number of proxy forces in the war-torn country, expanding drone operations and strengthening military partnerships throughout the region.

In many ways, the American role in the long-running conflict in Somalia is shaping up as the opposite of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: relatively inexpensive, with limited or hidden U.S. footprints.

While the White House has embraced the strategy as a model for dealing with failed states or places inherently hostile to an American presence, the indirect approach carries risks. Chief among them is a lack of control over the proxy forces from Uganda, Burundi and Somalia, as well as other regional partners that Washington has courted and financed in recent years.

All told, the United States has spent more than $500 million since 2007 to train and equip East African forces in an attempt to fight terrorism and bring a measure of stability to Somalia.

Kenya, for example, sent thousands of troops into Somalia last month to fight al-Shabab, a militia affiliated with al-Qaeda, despite U.S. concerns that the invasion could backfire and further destabilize a country ravaged by two decades of civil war.

This week, Ethi­o­pia sent its own, smaller force across the border, according to Somalis. The Ethio­pian government has denied these reports but acknowledged that it is considering a military offensive.­­­­­

These operations are reviving painful memories of an Ethio­pian invasion in 2006 that was backed by U.S. forces and preceded by an extensive CIA operation. In that case, the Ethio­pian army — with some U.S. air support — rolled into Somalia to oust a fundamentalist Muslim movement that had taken over Mogadishu, the capital. But the Ethiopians eventually withdrew after they became bogged down by a Somali insurgency.

“That effort was not universally successful and led, in fact, to the rise of al-Shabab after [Ethiopia] pulled out,” Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, told reporters Tuesday.

Al-Shabab, which means “the youth” in Arabic, has imposed a harsh version of Islamic law in parts of Somalia and organized attacks elsewhere in East Africa, including suicide bombings and kidnappings in Uganda and Kenya. While some foreign radicals — including Somali Americans — have joined the group’s ranks, U.S. counterterrorism officials say the movement is divided between those who share al-Qaeda’s global aims and others who want to confine their actions to Somalia.

The Obama administration has not directly criticized Kenya or Ethi­o­pia for entering Somalia, saying it is legitimate for both countries to defend themselves against al-Shabab attacks on their territory. But the administration has urged both to withdraw as soon as possible and instead help expand a 9,000-member African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu that is composed of U.S.-trained troops from Uganda and Burundi.

“We have always been very cautious, prudent, concerned about the neighbors getting involved,” said a senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon.

Millions in U.S. support

Over the past four years, the State Department has provided $258 million for the African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu. The Pentagon is spending $45 million this year alone to train and equip the force with body armor, night-vision equipment, armored bulldozers and small tactical surveillance drones.

In addition, the Pentagon this year has authorized $30 million to upgrade helicopters and small surveillance aircraft for two countries that border Somalia: Djibouti and Kenya.

The subsidies underpin the Obama administration’s strategy of building up regional forces so they can fight al-Shabab directly, while minimizing any visible role for U.S. troops.

Mindful of the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” debacle, in which two U.S. military helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu and 18 Americans killed, the Obama administration has steadfastly avoided deploying soldiers to Somalia, save for small clandestine missions carried out by Special Operations forces.

Instead, the U.S. military has gradually established a stronger presence around Somalia’s perimeter.

To the north, in Djibouti, a small country on the Horn of Africa, about 3,000 American troops are stationed at Camp Lemonnier, the only permanent U.S. military base on the continent. Many are engaged in civil-affairs and training programs throughout East Africa, but the camp is also home to a fleet of unmanned Predator drones and Special Operations units that conduct Somalia-related missions.

To the south, the U.S. military has a smaller but long-standing presence at Manda Bay, a Kenyan naval base about 50 miles from the Somali border. For several years, Navy SEALs have trained Kenyan patrols on the lookout for Somali pirates.

Other U.S. forces have helped the Kenyan army train a 300-man Ranger Strike Force and a battalion of special operations forces with about 900 personnel, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Even after years of American assistance, the Kenyan armed forces still have much to learn, acknowledged another senior U.S. defense official involved in the training.

“It’s not for the faint of heart,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to give a frank assessment. “It is tough. It’s time-consuming. But from a relative standpoint, it’s inexpensive.

“I’m not saying, ‘Do things on the cheap.’ But we accomplish two things: We create regional stability, and we don’t have large U.S. deployments.”

Kenya’s mission

Kenya sent about 2,000 troops into southern Somalia last month to attack al-Shabab. Two senior U.S. defense officials said they did not know if any of those Kenyan forces had received U.S training. Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, a Kenyan military spokesman, declined to comment.

Obama administration officials said that they did not encourage Kenya to take military action and that the United States was not involved in the fighting in Somalia. Chirchir said Washington was providing “technical support,” but he would not elaborate. U.S. officials declined to comment.

Roba Sharamo, the head of the Institute for Security Studies in Nairobi, said the United States may be sharing satellite imagery and other intelligence with Kenya. “Because of the political sensitivities around Somalia, the U.S. can’t necessarily say, ‘We are involved,’ ” he said.

Meanwhile, the United States has stepped up its aerial surveillance of Somalia. The Air Force is flying Reaper drones from the Seychelles, a tropical archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and from a newly expanded civilian airport in Arba Minch, Ethi­o­pia.

The Reapers can be armed with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. U.S. officials have said the Ethiopia-based drones are being used only for surveillance, not airstrikes.

But they have been vague about whether the drones flying from other regional bases are armed. Part of the reason is to sow confusion in the minds of al-Shabab fighters, said Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, the head of the U.S. Africa Command. The military has sporadically conducted drone airstrikes in Somalia but without public acknowledgment.

“I like it a lot that al-Shabab doesn’t know where we are, when we’re flying, what we’re doing and specifically not doing,” Ham said in an interview. “That element of doubt in the mind of a terrorist organization is helpful, not just to us but to the Somali people.”

Peacekeepers’ victory

Since 2007, the United States has been the primary backer of the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu. The contingent is composed entirely of soldiers from Uganda and Burundi, most of whom were trained by U.S. contractors or American military advisers.

The peacekeepers struggled for years to secure a foothold in Somalia but achieved a breakthrough three months ago when they chased al-Shabab fighters out of most of Mogadishu. The African Union force, however, is largely confined to the capital.

Some African countries are pushing for a rapid expansion of the peacekeeping force, more than doubling its size to 20,000 troops, but it’s unclear that the United States is prepared to underwrite such growth.

“I don’t see any increase,” said a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We’re already at a very high level.”

The United States has also been a primary backer of indigenous security forces loyal to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, contributing $85 million since 2007. Those forces, however, have been plagued by desertion and poor health and are widely seen as ineffective.

Analysts said that no matter how much the Obama administration invests in proxy or Somali security forces, it won’t be able to ease Somalia’s chronic instability without a political solution involving its many clans.

“The political track isn’t there to push back an insurgency,” said J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center. Even if the Kenyan, Ethiopian and African Union troops rolled up military victories against al-Shabab, he predicted, the Islamist movement would eventually return in some form.

“It’s like the tide coming back,” Pham said.

Source: Washingtonpost – By Craig Whitlock – 25.11.2011

 Special correspondent Alice Klein in Nairobi contributed to this report.

Ethiopia plans military mission to Somalia

Ethiopia will deploy troops inside Somalia for a “brief period” to help Somali and Kenyan forces battling Islamist militants expand their control in southern Somalia, Ethiopian officials said on Friday.

A government official also acknowledged for the first time that a small force had already rolled across the border to carry out reconnaissance missions. Ethiopia had previously denied that scores of military trucks and armoured vehicles had moved in on November 19 and 20.

“We are looking at a brief period of time, weeks. We don’t want our deployment to be used for propaganda by the extremists,” the government official, who declined to be named, told Reuters after a meeting of regional leaders in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The official said Ethiopia is yet to fully deploy its troops, with the mission in its preliminary stage and only reconnaissance and liaison activities carried out so far.

An Ethiopian military official confirmed the mission would be short to avoid “negative consequences”. Neither official gave any details on the size or scope of the eventual deployment.

Kenya’s incursion into southern Somalia, now in its sixth week, to crush the rebels who control much of the south and centre of the lawless country, has been plagued by heavy rains and the militants’ guerilla-tactics.

A military victory, though, is unlikely to end two decades of anarchy unless the country’s feuding politicians and clans want peace.

Mahboub Maalim, head of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) bloc, said Ethiopia had promised to “assist in the peace and stabilisation activities” ongoing in Somalia, during a heads of state gathering focusing on the war-torn country.

MORE TROOPS

The region’s leaders also called on the United Nations to change the mandate of African Union (AMISOM) troops that are currently limited to operations within Mogadishu, and to boost its ceiling of 12,000 soldiers.

The force — at present comprising Ugandan and Burundian troops — now has some 9,800 soldiers, but the African Union has requested the U.N. to authorise the deployment of 20,000.

IGAD “calls on the Security Council to enhance the mandate of AMISOM and to authorise its strengthening to a level and size that is appropriate for the consolidation of peace and security in Mogadishu and south and central Somalia and other secured areas,” said a statement released after the meeting.

Analysts, however, say there is little appetite for Western countries to stump up more funding for an extended mission.

“It’s difficult to see how that could happen anytime soon given that the salaries of the soldiers are paid for by the West. There’s no stomach for giving any more money to AMISOM,” said a Western diplomat working in the region.

The bloc also urged Somalia’s weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to take advantage of recent gains and offensives and move into newly liberated areas.

Experts say President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s government has done little to convince its neighbours it is capable of extending its sphere of power beyond the capital.

The unelected government’s legitimacy is already battered by internal power struggles and corruption. Its reliance on yet another foreign incursion might damage its credibility further if there is no swift political follow up.

IGAD “urges the TFG leadership to take advantage of the expanded liberated territories and populations to foster security, enhance national reconciliation, and consolidate political and administrative control,” the IGAD statement said.

 Source: Reuters – By Aaron Maasho – 25.11.2011

The battle for preferred proxy status: Ethiopia vs. Kenya

Ethiopia invaded Somalia, in 2006, in part encouraged by the United States, against series of warnings from regional analysts and strong domestic objections. The two years of occupation, despite handing the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) a swift blow, had an unintended and deadly consequence of bolstering a more radical movement, al-Shabab, which has since emerged as the most dominant militant group in the Horn of Africa. The U.S. once again is engaged in a fight against a new enemy – another monster of its creation.

Since its strategic blunder in 2006, the U.S. has acknowledged Ethiopia’s intervention in Somalia was highly counterproductive because it fueled Somali nationalism and boosted the support and legitimacy of militants. To circumvent the historical animosity between Ethiopia and Somalia, the Obama administration has chosen an alternative proxy, Kenya, culminating with an invasion a little over a month ago.

Ethiopia does not want to be left out either. It has once again invaded Somalia. For the last two decades, Ethiopia has been the primary accomplice for America’s involvement in the Somali conflict. The controversial and often covert marriage had great financial, military and political benefits for Meles Zenawi.

First, in exchange for services rendered (intelligence gathering, military actions, forming and arming friendly warlords, etc.), Ethiopia was happily compensated by the US and the “international community”. For instance, in addition to funding the 2006 Ethiopian invasion, th U.S secretly lifted arms embargo on North Korea allowing for Ethiopia to purchase spare-parts for its Soviet-made weapons. Second, by choosing to deal with Somalia, Zenawi maintained a “key strategic ally” image in the West – a position that helped him emerge as key African leader, and stifle domestic opposition with little scrutiny.

Ethiopia seemed offended by the United States recent decision to turn to Kenya. Zenawi’s displeasure is motivated by two main concerns.

a) Ethiopia is worried that Kenya might replace it as a key player in East Africa’s military and security affairs. Zenawi doesn’t want to lose the power and prestige the strategic alliance affords him in terms of consolidating power.

b) If Kenya succeeds in crushing al-Shabab, along with its backers, Kenya will have more leverage to influence the resultant political outcome. That of course reduces Ethiopia’s influence and will have a more immediate consequence for Ethiopia’s domestic politics.

The financial and political incentives provided by the U.S have always been a secondary motive for Zenawi’s meddling in Somalia.

Ethiopia has been battling Oromo and Ogaden insurgencies, both groups with kinship, historical, and political ties to the people of Somalia. Thus, Meles’ determination to prevent the reemergence of a stable and sovereign government in Somalia is a tacit maneuver to deny these rebels a possible ally.

If Kenya, seen as sympathetic to Ethiopian rebels, dominates the Somali conflict, the resulting political arrangement might not favor Zenawi. To allow that would be a disastrous blow; thus, he secured an endorsement from the African Union by exploiting the Union’s suspicion of western imperialistic ambitions in light of recent events in Libya.

At the moment, both Ethiopia and Kenya are working from two angles in the battle for Somalia’s control. Ethiopia’s decision to throw itself on this conflict is based on a simple strategic calculation that its military strength will tip the outcome in their favor.

The current invasion marks Kenya’s first serious internal or external war since independence. Kenya’s military is too inexperienced and too ill-prepared to wage a successful war outside its territory against a well-orchestrated insurgency. That is why its initial fanfare was easily halted by a ragtag militia, not even al- Shahab’s main brigades. They blamed their fate on bad weather.

In contrast, Ethiopia has an old and battle-tested military institution with a wealth of experience during its various internal and external wars. This military institution has an accumulated experience fighting Somalis – both the state army and various insurgent forces. Besides, the current army is commanded by generals who themselves were once rebels with clear predisposition to counterinsurgency strategies. Hence, there is little doubt that, the Ethiopians are capable of obliterating al-Shabab within days and re-occupy Mogadishu. That will deny Kenya the privilege of exerting more control.

Ethiopian military officials are mockingly-bragging, “while Kenyans send threatening text messages and tweets to al-Shabab from the border, Ethiopia will hand deliver it in Kismayu.”

Ethiopia’s mission is two-fold: to protect its prestige as key regional player by proving more capable than Kenya, the emerging competitor, and to preempt the possible installation of a less friendly Somali government. At the event its mission triumphs, Ethiopia will force the U.S. to reconsider its decision given Kenya’s inefficiency and unreliability.

While these political games are played out behind closed doors, the prolonged suffering of the Somali people continues. And Somalia hangs onto its failed state status.

Source: Opride – By Jawar Mohammed 22.11.2011

US official warns Ethiopia not to invade Somalia, but it’s too late

The State Department’s top Africa policymaker on Tuesday warned Ethiopia not to invade Somalia, but the warning came too late, with Somalis claiming that Ethiopian troops were already rolling through their villages in trucks.

 The statement from Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was a sign that Washington is growing increasingly wary of a month-old offensive against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab that was launched by Kenya and now appears to include Ethiopia. 

“We firmly believe that the best way to deal with al-Shabab and the way to restore stability is working with AMISOM militarily, using them as a vehicle to advance security,” Carson said in response to a question during a conference call with reporters.  

AMISOM is the acronym for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia, which is manned mostly by troops from Uganda and Burundi.

“I would remind the caller that Ethiopia went into Somalia some four and a half years ago and stayed for approximately two and a half to three years. That effort was not universally successful and led in fact to the rise of Shabab after they pulled out,” Carson said.

Carson’s remarks also could be viewed as a rebuke of Kenya, another U.S. ally in East Africa.Kenyan troops invaded Somalia last month, ostensibly after kidnappings along its border with Somalia.According to U.S. diplomatic cables made public by WikiLeaks, Carson was very critical in 2010 of a Kenyan plan to use proxy Somali militias to go on an offensive against al-Shabab and create space for a regional administration in southern Somalia.

U.S. officials say Kenya did not consult them before launching its recent incursion.

Now, Somalis say, Ethiopia has joined the fray.

Abdi Wehliye, 43, who lives in Gurieel town in central Somalia’s Galgudud region, says that fellow townsmen saw Ethiopian troops rolling up on Saturday evening. He saw them Sunday morning 5 kilometers outside town, where he says they have pitched camp. On Sunday, Ethiopian commanders, escorted by a small number of troops, came into the town to meet with local elders and officials, he said.

Somalis are notoriously xenophobic when it comes to outside interference in their own affairs, and Somalis view Ethiopia as a historical arch nemesis. That sentiment was used by al-Shabab during Ethiopia’s 2006-2008 occupation to rally support for its insurgency.

The U.S. is all too aware of that history, having backed Ethiopia’s military adventure in 2006. The U.S. itself pulled troops out of Somalia in the early 1990s after they became the targets of regular Somali attacks.

Wehliye said, however, that while people don’t like Ethiopians, their dismay has been tempered by their anger at al-Shabab for its brutal and ultimately disastrous administrative tactics, which many blame for the devastating famine that is expected to leave hundreds of thousands dead this year in central and southern Somalia. Al-Shabab banned most Western aid and recruits barely teenage boys to fight.

I thought some people would jump and start carrying guns against Ethiopia but it seems they are not yet sure what they want,” Wehliye said in a phone interview. “Many Somalis hate al Shabab for what they have done to them and their families.”

Ethiopian troops have also entered central Somalia’s Hiraan region, said a resident of Beledweynetown who asked to be identified only as Hussein for security reasons. He said that al-Shabab had treated Somalis like “slaves in our own country” and that he welcomed the Ethiopians, who he said had arrived near Beledweyne in five trucks in recent days.

I support anyone who helps us fight al-Shabab. We want to get our freedom back. Al-Shabab are the ones who brought this entire problem on us. They are the reason so many countries want to invade Somalia,” he said.

Not everyone reached by phone seemed keen on an Ethiopian presence, however, a fact that U.S. officials are certain to seize on to discourage a prolonged presence inside Somalia. The Ethiopian government has categorically denied that its troops have entered Somalia.

Waeys Ahmed, who is also from Gurieel, said he would be happy to see al-Shabab “wiped out.”

“But with Ethiopia and Kenya coming to fight al-Shabab, I don’t think it’s good for the interest of Somalis. They have their own agendas,” he said. “This is taking us back to where we were in 2007, when al-Shabab enjoyed more support from the population.”

The Somali government, which from its limited control in Mogadishu can do little about the arrival of foreign troops, has struggled to find the right tone in responding to the incursions.

On Tuesday, Somalia government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman said that while Kenya is welcome because it entered into an agreement with his government, Ethiopia is not.

We are a sovereign country, so foreign troops cannot enter without bilateral agreement or a legal mandate,” Osman said.

But he also said he was taking the Ethiopian denials at face value, despite what Somali residents say.

There are no Ethiopian troops on our soil,” he said.

Source: Miami Herald 23.11.2011

Ethiopia invades Somalia, Round 2

In an echo of 2006, Ethiopian troops are once again pouring across their eastern border into Somalia. This is round two of the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, and this time they’ve gone in to clean up the mess they made the first time round. Although the Ethiopian government haven’t confirmed their participation, multiple news agencies are reporting that eyewitnesses have seen 20 or 30 Ethiopian trucks filled with troops in and around the Somali town of Guriel. It’s unclear in what context Ethiopia is framing this incursion, and how significant their contribution will be, but the target is obvious: Ethiopia has joined Kenya and the African Union in the fight against Al Shabaab.

There’s an unmistakably historical irony to this. It was Ethiopia – with the tacit support of an overly-paranoid United States – that created the conditions for Al Shabaab to prosper. In the early 2000s, Somalia was mostly – but not completely – under the loose control of the Union of Islamic Courts, a relatively moderate Islamic group which was slowly bringing some semblance of stability and security to a country that hadn’t known peace for decades.  

But the Islamic Courts soon earned the wrath of the United States, which saw in its emphasis on Islamic law a strong link with terrorism. This was near the beginning of the War on Terror, and the United States still had not made the distinction between the moderate if conservative Islam of groups like the Islamic Courts and, to an extent, Hamas in Palestine, and the militant, almost anarchic fundamentalism of Al Qaeda.

Ethiopia, too, was unimpressed with Somalia’s new leaders. Ethiopia and Somalia have a long and bitter history, with the ethnically Somali Ogaden region a constant source of tension. Part of the Ogaden is in Somalia, part in Ethiopia. Historically, Somalia has wanted to claim the entire Ogaden, and Ethiopia continues to face resistance from rebel movements within their part of the disputed territory. Add this historic issue to the seemingly unstoppable recent increase in the number of Muslims in Ethiopia, ostensibly a majority Christian country. Ethiopia’s leadership is overwhelmingly Christian, but the rumour goes that there are now more Muslims than Christians in their country. This is a serious threat to the government of Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa, as it undermines their natural support. A strong Somalia defined in Islamic terms could only exacerbate this threat.

So Ethiopia decided to do something about it. In 2006, they sent their troops over the border, about 3000 of them. They were tacitly supported by the United States, although the United States denies this. The relatively well-trained and well-armed Ethiopian troops smashed the feeble resistance of the Islamic Courts, and installed a transitional government in Mogadishu. This transitional government remains the recognised government of Somalia today, even though they don’t even control all of Mogadishu.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Courts fractured. Some of the leadership were co-opted into the transitional government; Somalia’s current president was a leading figure in the Islamic Courts. But some thought that if they were going to be treated like militant fundamentalists, they might as well be militant fundamentalists. This was the genesis of Al Shabaab, the group which has gone on to forge links with Al Qaeda and still controls most of southern Somalia. Ultimately, the Ethiopian invasion of 2006 destroyed the fragile stability that Somalia was just beginning to enjoy, and created the conditions that created Al Shabaab. Not an enduring success for Somalia. But Ethiopia might not have been too fussed; the invasion left its dangerous neighbour in chaos, which greatly minimised their potential threat to Ethiopia.

But now, Ethiopia sniffs blood, and the chance to finish off what it started; they’re also concerned that Kenya will have too great an influence on a post-Al Shabaab Somalia, so need to stake their claim early. Al Shabaab is on the back foot for the first time in five years, dealing with the Kenyan invasion on one hand and a renewed push from the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) on the other. They don’t really have a hand to spare to deal with a third front opened by Ethiopia.

At least that’s the thinking. The weight of the military forces now stacked against Al Shabaab should be too much for them to handle. This becomes clear when you start looking at the number of countries involved: Burundi and Uganda, as part of Amisom, with Djibouti and Sierra Leone poised to commit trooops; Kenya and Ethiopia with their own military efforts; and various international actors remaining very quiet for now, although there’s plenty of speculation that the United States is contributing drones to go after specific targets.

But southern Somalia is Al Shabaab territory. They know it well, and if they really are in alliance with Al Qaeda they will have learnt a few lessons about how to fight an insurgents’ war. Look at how much firepower is and has been stacked against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and look at how effective it has been. In short, not effective at all. By using guerrila tactics, blending into the local population, and stirring up clan links to keep loyalties strong, Al Shabaab might be able to mimic the Taliban’s success. As one of Al Shabaab’s more hip spokesman commented: “Somalia is not a cool place to come and enjoy.”

The less Ethiopian forces enjoy themselves now, the more Ethiopia will be made to rue invading Somalia the first time round, which caused the mess they have to clean up now.

Source: Daily Maverick – By SIMON ALLISON 22.11.2011

Somalia Confirms Ethiopian Troop Presence

Somalia’s defense minister has confirmed Ethiopian troops are in Somalia to fight against Islamist al-Shabab militants.

Hussein Arab Issa told VOA Sunday the government welcomes anyone who will help fight against the al-Qaida-linked group. He said the Ethiopians will share intelligence and work alongside Somali government forces.

Residents in central Somalia told journalists they saw Ethiopian military convoys moving into the country on Saturday and Sunday.

Ethiopia has denied sending its forces across the border.

Last month, Kenya also sent troops into Somalia to fight against al-Shabab. Kenya has accused al-Shabab militants of crossing into Kenyan territory from Somalia and kidnapping several foreigners.

Al-Shabab has been fighting since 2008 to topple the weak central government. The group recently left the capital, Mogadishu, but still controls large sections of southern and central Somalia.

Ethiopian troops last entered Somalia in 2006 to defeat the Islamic Courts Union — an administration of Islamist courts that rivaled the nascent Transitional Federal Government. That intervention was widely unpopular

Source: VOA – 20.11.11

Ethiopian troops ‘cross border into Somalia’

Ethiopian troops have crossed the border into Somalia in significant numbers, eyewitnesses say.

They say they saw at least 20 vehicles carrying Ethiopian troops.

A few hundred soldiers were seen in Gurel town in Galgudud region and there were other sightings around Beledweyne.

Ethiopian authorities have denied the incursion. Their soldiers have not been in Somalia in large numbers since 2009 when they withdrew after a controversial three-year presence.

These reports come as Kenyan troops continue their efforts to defeat fighters of the Islamist group al-Shabab in the south of Somalia.

History of interventions

If confirmed, this appears to be the largest Ethiopian deployment since the 2009 withdrawal which followed an invasion that was very unpopular with ordinary Somalis.

If Ethiopian soldiers were to deploy deep inside Somalia, this would increase the pressure on al-Shabab.

Further south, the Kenyan army is working with Somali militias in what appears to be an effort to push al-Shabab away from the border and possibly out of the lucrative port of Kismayo.

One MP from central Somalia said he could not confirm exactly where the Ethiopian troops had reached or in what number. But he said their presence was vital in order to help defeat al-Shabab.

History shows that military intervention in Somalia is hugely unpopular and can act as a catalyst to unite Somali groups that had been enemies.

Although al-Shabab’s strict version of Islamic law is unpopular with most people,  that does not mean Somalis will welcome Kenyan and Ethiopian soldiers. This could hamper their effort to defeat the militants.

Aid agencies have warned that an escalation in fighting could further jeopardise the efforts to get food to victims of the drought and famine.

On Friday the UN said the humanitarian effort had improved the situation but we are told almost a quarter of a million Somalis still face imminent starvation.

Source: BBC – By Will Ross – East Africa corresponde

Cables show U.S. warned Kenya not to invade Somalia

U.S. cables made public by WikiLeaks show the United States warned Kenya two years ago not to launch an offensive in southern Somalia against al-Qaida-allied al-Shabab rebels, but a U.S. official also offered to check on the “feasibility” of a U.S. review of the plans.

Kenya went ahead with an invasion a month ago, saying it was a response to a recent series of kidnappings near the border between the two countries.

But the existence of the cables undercuts Kenya’s claim that the move had not been long planned.

The cables paint a contradictory picture of whether the United States encouraged Kenya’s invasion of its neighbor.

Taken as a whole, they seem to lend credence to Washington’s claims that it had neither encouraged nor supported the invasion.

 But one cable depicts a senior U.S. official asking Kenya’s foreign minister if Kenyan troops shouldn’t consider trying to take Kismayo, the al-Shabab stronghold seaport, on their own or with the help of Somali militias, and promising the review of the plans by an American team. The tactics described in that cable match the plan Kenya appears to be trying to execute.

The Kenyan offensive appears to have stalled one month in. The military has cited heavy rains and mud for slowing its movements, but Rashid Abdi, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, says the military is hesitating to proceed into al-Shabab territory because the Islamist group is refusing to engage the Kenyan troops openly.

Since Kenya’s invasion last month, U.S. officials have denied that the U.S. was involved in planning Kenya’s offensive or was providing assistance – a position that appears to be backed by the deep skepticism the cables show U.S. officials had for the plan.

“I don’t think it points to an American plot,” said Roger Middleton, an analyst in London for Chatham House, Britain’s premier foreign policy think tank. “For me, the cables make the case a bit stronger that Kenya went on this on its own.”

But Middleton also said that the United States, Britain and France now have a “begrudging acceptance” of the invasion and are likely to be providing intelligence and other covert forms of support now that the operation is under way.

Source Hiiraan online –  McClatchy Newspapers By Alan Boswell – 19.11.2011

Human Right Watch warns Kenya of abuse in Somalia

The Kenyan military may have mistreated prisoners at home and in Somalia during its fight against al-Shabaab, Human Rights Watch suggested.

Kenyan forces stormed Somalia in October following a series of high-profile kidnappings of Westerners from the border regions. The move came as al-Shabaab, a militant group with ties to al-Qaida, started to regroup in the south of the country.

Human Rights Watch said it had evidence Kenyan forces may have launched attacks that harmed civilians in the region and mistreated prisoners in Somalia and in Kenya.

“Kenya’s Somalia operation has resulted in apparent attacks on a camp for displaced people and a fishing boat,” Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “Kenya needs to find out exactly what happened and make sure that those responsible for any wrongdoing are punished appropriately.”

Somalia said it wanted the help of major military powers like the United States as it struggled to gain leverage against al-Shabaab militants, who at one point controlled most of Mogadishu.

Troops from Djibouti will join the 9,000 members of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. The AU aims to roughly double the number of troops backing the Somali government.

Source: UPI 18.11.11

Concern in Kenya over cost of Somalia operation

As hundreds of Kenyan soldiers hunt al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia, university students are growing angry that their government can afford a military operation but not raises for thousands of university lecturers.

Hundreds of University of Nairobi students began protesting after some 7,000 lecturers went on a week-long strike. Police fired into the air to disperse the students, some of whom had prepared for exams earlier this week only to be told they were being postponed.

Lecturers make around $800 a month in Kenya, and their salaries have not be raised in three years.

Kenya’s Higher Education Minister Margaret Kamar said she sympathizes with the lecturers, who decided Thursday to postpone their strike for two weeks to allow for negotiations. But the financial resources simply aren’t there, she says.

“We have sat down and discussed with the prime minister and finance minister, we cannot add anything because of our boys in Somalia,” Kamar said.

Hundreds of Kenyan troops moved into Somalia last month to hunt down the al-Shabab militants, who have threatened to strike inside Kenya in retaliation. Military budgets in Kenya are not publicly released, and the government has not said how much the operation will last or how long it will take.

It couldn’t come at a worse time for Kenyans: In October, inflation was nearly 19 percent because of skyrocketing food and energy costs, fueled by a depreciation in the Kenyan shilling against the dollar. Kenya’s Central Bank raised interest rates recently to stem the shilling’s decline, raising the costs of personal loans.

And the country’s critical tourism industry is being threatened by a rash of kidnappings inside Kenya blamed on the Somali militants.

Stephen Mutoro, an official of the Consumer Federation of Kenya, says the country should brace itself for hard economic times.

“Locally we are going to borrow from the private sector which is going to make it very difficult for the economy because when government is borrowing from the banks, the banks find it very difficult to deal with individuals,” Mutoro said.

Mutoro said there was little preparation for the military mission in Somalia and that’s why the government is now sending officials to Israel, the Middle East and Europe to ask for financial support.

Maina Kiai, a Kenyan lawyer and human rights activist, said the government violated the constitution by choosing to bypass parliamentary approval for the military operation in Somalia. Such a move removes oversight of how the funds are being used.

“Parliament needs to approve (the military incursion), as war always cost more money than is in the budget,” Kiai said. “It also helps transparency in these situations, where it is proven the world over to be an easy source of corruption and pilfering,” he said.

Oburu Odinga, the deputy finance minister, told parliament this week that the government will relocate surplus money from different government ministries to fund the operation in Somalia. He said that the government will seek parliamentary approval later.

Muga K’Olale, the secretary general of the University Academic Staff Union that launched the lecturers strike, said they’ve been demanding a salary review for two years. The military operation in Somalia cannot be an excuse now not to raise salaries, he said.

On Thursday, the lecturers agreed to postpone their weeklong strike to allow for negotiations. Students just want them to get paid, so they can sit for exams, graduate and find jobs.

“This issue of al-Shabab is a security concern, so whatever the government did is good, said Babu Owino, the chairman of the Kenya Universities Students’ Association. “But on other hand it should also pay the lecturers so that things can resume. … It is really wasting the time of the students.”

Source: Boston.com – By Tom Odula 18.11.11

5 Reasons Why Kenya’s Invasion of Somalia is a Mistake

Entering its third week, Operation Linda Nchi, the Kenyan army’s invasion into Somalia to fight terrorist group Al-Shabaab, threatens to devolve into the realm of the absurd. A military spokesman announced on Friday that large groups of donkeys in Somalia will be considered Al Shabaab “activity.”

Questionable military strategy aside, I fear this endeavor may turn out to be a huge mistake. Here are five reasons why:

1. Kenya may be underestimating the enemy

There seems to be a general impression that Al Shabaab is currently weakened and can thus be easily defeated. The recent spate of attacks attributed to the group in Kenya and Uganda, however, seem to point to the contrary. Additionally, Al Shabaab has proved extraordinarily resilient in the past. The whole mission rests on the assumption that the objectives can and will be achieved relatively quickly. However, the lessons of history suggest otherwise. Additionally, the Kenyan army has as yet failed to articulate a clear exit strategy. It is also important to note that the repeated abductions which prompted the invasion may not have been the work of Al Shabaab (who have categorically denied involvement), but rather that of smaller pirate groups or independent militias. In this case, then Kenya’s enemy in Southern Somalia is not Al Shabaab but general lawlessness in region, a much more formidable foe.

2. Similar operations (by better armies) have failed

In October 1993, American and UN peacekeepers suffered heavy losses at the hands of Somali militias, prompting a U.S. withdrawal. In 2006, the Ethiopian army, backed by the United States, successfully liberated Mogadishu from Al Shabaab and handed it over to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government only to see the city fall again to a new Al Shabaab. When it comes to military strength, Kenya is not Ethiopia, much less the United Nations or the United States. One therefore has to wonder how the Kenyan army hopes to succeed where these others have failed.

3. There is significant opposition from key stakeholders

Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed has been openly critical of Kenya’s presence in Somalia, fearing that Kenya intends to establish an autonomous region in Juba. It is rumored that Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki was also initially opposed to the invasion and had to be convinced by senior advisers in the administration. Reactions from the independent Kenyan press have been lukewarm at best, and public opinion is likely to turn as soon Kenyan soldiers begin to suffer casualties. Critically, Kenya does seem to have the support of the Somali population, however if the civilian casualties already sustained continue to rise, this is unlikely to hold. Further, Al Shabaab and other Somali militias have in the past proved successful at rallying the population against the interference of the West, so French and U.S. support for the operation (initially denied but now confirmed) could quite easily turn the tide of support against the invasion.

4. The timing is poor

This invasion comes after one of the worst droughts in 60 years and before the start of harvesting season in the region. It is unclear how the mission will impact the region’s ongoing food crisis. It is also occurring during the rainy season which, with the lack of infrastructural development in southern Somalia, presents a serious operational and logistical challenge for any army (hence the use of donkey’s to transport arms). It is also bad timing for Kenya, which has internal structural problems,has a struggling economy affected by the weak dollar, and is experiencing rising tensions ahead of next year’s elections. This mission will be difficult to sustain economically and politically.

 5. There is likely to be significant backlash

Destroying the group’s base in southern Somalia may have the counterproductive effect of splintering the organization and forcing it towards a more transnational method of operation which would mean increased attacked in places like Nairobi and Kenya. In fact, Al Shabaab, who pledged to respond in this way has already made good on its promise. Attacks of this kind are likely to increase the longer the operation is sustained.

Given the above, one wonders whether it wouldn’t be wiser for Kenya to leave the business of defeating Al Shabaab in Somalia to those currently tasked with it and focus instead (with the help of its international allies) on improving border security, improving internal monitoring and surveillance (a la the United States and Nigeria against Boko Haram), and cutting off Al Shabaab’s sources of funding in Nairobi.

Source: Policy Mic

Kenya seeks backing for Somalia invasion

A month after sending troops into Somalia, Kenyan officials are busily trying to win retrospective support for their action.

In the US, Kenya is pushing for a naval blockade of the Shabaab-controlled port of Kismayo and for a no-fly zone. Both have been rejected before by the UN Security Council.

The prime minister has signed an anti-terror pact with Israel in recent days while the vice-president has sought European Union support during a visit to Cyprus. Today the foreign minister will be wooing the Arab League.

Meanwhile, in Nairobi the presidents of Kenya, Somalia and Uganda have held a mini-summit after which they called on the international community to support what they said was a “historic opportunity” to defeat the Shabaab.

President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s administration is kept in place by 9,700 African Union soldiers, most of whom are from Uganda with others contributed by Burundi.

Kenya now says that it is also willing to contribute troops to the AMISOM mission if asked.

It is unclear whether Kenya will be asked to contribute any soldiers, however, because promises of troops have already been made by Djibouti and Sierra Leone, whose forces are supposed to arrive before the end of the year taking AMISOM to its full mandated strength of 12,000.

Source: Global Post 17.11.2011

US, France Blame One Another for Bombing Southern Somalia

Missiles Pounded Afgoye, But Attackers Remain a Mystery

On Sunday night the southern Somali town of Afgoye, densely populated with refugees since the famine broke out, was pounded with a number of missile strikes, sending civilians scrambling and fueling anger at the international community. Kenya, which is at present invading the region, expressed surprise at the strike, and al-Shabaab militants reported they came not from Kenyan forces, but from a warship off the coast.

But whose ship was it? We still don’t know for sure and the two nations who have warships in the region and had been firing missiles against targets in southern Somalia recent, the United States and France, are both denying involvement.

Indeed, they’re not just denying involvement, but both US and French spokesmen suggested that the other country was probably responsible for the attack, which didn’t actually appear to have killed anybody but caused considerable panic.

The US said it was likely France, citing French warships near the site of the attack. France, for its part, insisted that there were no warships in the area and the strike “appeared to be a US operation.” Kenya insisted that it wasn’t them (and indeed the Kenyan military isn’t believed to have the sort of precision needed to launch such strikes), but declined to speculate who it might be.

Source: AntiWar – By Jason Ditz 16.11.2011

Who’s bombing Somalia? French, US trade blame

When thundering explosions rattled a small Somali town during a meeting of Islamist insurgent leaders, it sent them scurrying for safety. An international military appears to have launched the powerful, well-timed attack, but no one will admit it.

The two top possibilities — the U.S. and French militaries — both deny responsibility. Officials from the two countries even suggested it might be the other.

Sunday night’s explosion in Afgoye, a heavily populated corridor along a main road leading out of the Somali capital came as Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia is fighting to defend itself on two fronts. African Union soldiers have taken over the capital of Mogadishu, and Kenyan soldiers crossed the border into southern Somalia last month.

But neither Kenya nor the AU force — known as AMISOM — was likely to have launched the attack, said Lauren Gelfand, the Africa and Middle East editor of Jane’s Defense Weekly.

“To have that kind of strike capability is completely beyond AMISOM. They have no air support,” said Gelfand. “The Kenyan F5s (jets) do have the capability, but whether they have the precision is unlikely.”

None of the militant leaders were believed to have been killed.

Kenya’s military spokesman said Kenya was not behind the Sunday strike. Kenya has acknowledged other bombing raids in recent weeks.

“The Americans do have the assets required for a targeted strike in the region, as do the French,” said Gelfand. “(The French) have a base in Djibouti from which they launch their tactical support to the European Union’s anti-piracy operations.”

Both the United States and France have motives for launching a missile at al-Shabab’s leaders.

The U.S. lists al-Shabab as a terrorist organization and has previously killed its leaders or al-Qaida operatives among them with either missile strikes or a special forces helicopter raid. U.S. officials are alarmed by al-Shabab’s recruitment of young Americans. Most, but not all, are the children of Somali immigrants.

Al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Mohamed Godane, also known as Abu Zubayr, was meeting other senior leaders in Afgoye when the explosion happened, said one senior Somali official. He said that witnesses said it seemed to “come from the sky” but that it was difficult to get information from the site because al-Shabab fighters blocked it off.

Godane has encouraged the militia’s ties to al-Qaida in the face of reluctance from other leaders.

The official, like the other officials interviewed for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Despite the U.S. concerns, a senior U.S. official at the Pentagon denied that America was behind the Afgoye attack. Another U.S. official suggested it was more likely to be France, which also has warships and military assets in the region.

The French are not known to have previously launched missiles into Somalia but have carried out commando raids immediately after the release of French hostages by Somali pirates. Last month Somali gunmen abducted an elderly French woman from her home on Kenya’s coast. She died shortly afterward. Another French hostage, a military official, has been held for more than two years.

But a French official said France does not have the capability to launch missiles from a drone and that there were no French warships in the area at the time. He said the strike appeared to be a U.S. operation.

Kenyan officials have said they are not receiving much international assistance for their operations in Somalia, although Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that he had received some promises of support from Israel during a visit earlier this week.

Al-Qaida tried to shoot down an Israeli jetliner in Kenya in 2002 and bombed an Israeli-owned luxury hotel on Kenya’s coast at the same time, killing 13 people.

Kenya previously bought three Herons, a type of unmanned aerial vehicle used for reconnaissance, from Israel in 2009. An international diplomat said one crashed several months ago over the port city of Kismayo, the insurgent’s main stronghold.

A Kenyan military spokesman said he was unable to comment.

Source:  Boston.com – Associated Press 16.11. 2011By Katharine Houreld

Why Kenya Invaded Somalia

When Kenya dispatched some 2,000 troops across the border [1] into Somalia on October 16, officials in Nairobi argued that they’d had little choice. After a series of cross-border raids by the Somalia-based Islamist militant group al Shabaab, Kenya’s internal security minister, George Saitoti, said, “Kenya has been and remains an island of peace [2], and we shall not allow criminals from Somalia, which has been fighting for over two decades, to destabilize our peace.” A recent spate of kidnappings of tourists and aid workers inside Kenya, Saitoti and others said, was the final straw. With its largely peaceful post-independence history, Kenya has built itself into a regional economic powerhouse, and a serious threat to that prosperity would have to be countered. Accordingly, Nairobi invaded its neighbor to secure its eastern border and to create a buffer zone [3] inside Somalia.

But this case for war is less than convincing, as it is difficult to argue that the threat from al Shabaab is substantially worse than it has been in years past. Kenyan troops have armed, trained, and organized proxy forces [4] to fight al Shabaab on the border since at least 2009, albeit to no great effect. For at least three years, al Shabaab has threatened armed attacks on Kenya [5]; cross-border raids [6] by al Shabaab fighters have been a fact of life in northeastern Kenya for some time. In fact, by some estimates, the overall threat from al Shabaab has declined in recent months: the UN’s envoy to Somalia said in August that Ugandan and Burundian peacekeepers had actually weakened [7] the al Qaeda-affiliated militants.

Nairobi’s incursion into Somalia was spurred less by the threat of al Shabaab and more by domestic military and political dynamics. Kenya will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its independence in 2013, and so far the country has never once gone to war with another state. But recently, as Washington has funnelled counterterrorism funds into East Africa and underwritten a stronger Kenyan military, the country’s military has grown more confident and combative.

The antagonistic shift suggests that Kenya could be opening a new, more aggressive chapter in its history. Since independence in 1963, Kenyan soldiers have been largely content to collect comfortable salaries in return for their non-involvement in politics. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the good life in the military became a valuable source of patronage [8] to ministers and other public officials. Recruitment and promotion was based on political connections, ethnicity, and loyalty, rather than merit. As a result, with the exceptions of a brief mutiny in 1964 and a failed coup in 1982, Kenya suffered none of the overthrows and militaristic rule that blighted African states such as Uganda and Nigeria. 

In recent years, however, Kenya’s armed forces have been trained and equipped to do much more than parade on national holidays. From Washington’s perspective, the rise of Islamism in the Horn of Africa put Kenya on the front lines in the global fight against terrorism. The State Department increased  counterterrorism [9] funding to Nairobi from $4.5 million in 2006 to an estimated $8 million in 2011. Senior officers regularly travel to the United States for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency training; such instruction has become a core part of the curriculum at the Kenya Military Academy.

Beyond military circles, the incursion has also turned out to be quite popular with the Kenyan public. “I can’t recall any action this government has ever undertaken that has received such unalloyed public support,” veteran Nairobi-based journalist Gitau Warigi [10] wrote recently. Public criticism has been virtually nonexistent. To the contrary, politicians are grandstanding. “This is a war,Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said late last month. “We will fight until the enemy is defeated.” The boasting stands in sharp contrast to Odinga’s past criticism of his predecessor’s aggressive counterterrorism approach. 

But the war in Somalia, and the public’s rally behind it, comes at a particularly vulnerable political moment in Kenya. Elections are scheduled for next year, and opportunists are trying to take advantage of a vacuum. President Mwai Kibaki is retiring. Two of the men once counted among his most likely successors, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, are awaiting an announcement by the International Criminal Court. In January they will find out if war crimes charges against them relating to the post-election violence of early 2008 will go to a full trial. 

Ambitious second-tier politicians, such as George Saitoti [11], the minister for internal security who helped bolster the case for invading Somalia, hope that tapping the patriotic fervor will further their own political aims. But Saitoti’s maneuverings are dangerous. Saitoti is responsible, too, for the internal security crackdown that accompanied the invasion — in recent weeks, Saitoti’s forces pressed into the country’s Muslim and Somali ethnic communities, arresting supposed al Shabaab sympathizers. Exact numbers of arrests are unknown, but efforts to crack down on groups like the Mombasa Republican Council [12], a vehicle for grievances held by coastal Muslims with little apparent connection to al Shabaab, suggest that the police are applying little discretion in using force.

Muslims in Kenya already have good reason to feel marginalized. Between 1963 and 1967, the new Kenyan nation-state fought a low-intensity war against Somali secessionists. Since independence, a lack of public investment in health and education and inequalities in access to land have left many Muslims along the coast feeling alienated. Meanwhile, Somalia’s decades of instability have sent shock waves across the border as guns and armed gangs flowed into Kenya. Nairobi has often met such threats with coercive and repressive measures, such as imposing movement restrictions against Kenya’s own Somali population. In return, Muslim communities have a long-standing suspicion of the Kenyan state and its motives. In recent years, the rising influence of Christian evangelism has introduced overt Islamophobia into the public debate [13].

All of this lends popular support to a war against Somalia today, but such enthusiasm may prove to be short-lived. The deaths of Kenyan soldiers or revenge attacks by al Shabaab on Kenyan soil would spark unease among the general public, which is unused to military action and its violent repercussions.

Kenya’s leaders have set no deadline for withdrawal — yet there is little reason to expect that the Kenyans will be able to succeed in stabilizing any part of southern Somalia where many others, including, most recently, the Ethiopians, failed just three years ago. 

This should give the leadership in Nairobi pause. Kenya has spent much of its first 50 years of independence worrying about its own problems. But there are now signs that the country is prepared to turn its economic influence into greater diplomatic strength. For example, Nairobi has threatened diplomatic sanctions against another of East Africa’s pariah states, Eritrea, in response to its support of al Shabaab. Moreover, there are other far more delicate issues of border security than just Somalia, as Kenya has long been at odds with Uganda over territorial claims to islands in Lake Victoria. 

From a tactical point of view, it appears that Kenya’s troop deployment has reaped no real benefit. Actual conflict inside Somalia has proved fleeting. Kenyan forces have engaged in only a handful of direct confrontations with al Shabaab fighters. More notable were the deaths of five people in the town of Jilib during the accidental bombing of a refugee camp [14] by the Kenyan Air Force on October 30. Kenyan military sources insist that the target of the attack was a nearby al Shabaab base. Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission, a government body set up to monitor inter-communal relations, has denounced the “fear mongering” [15] that is likely to “fuel xenophobic attacks” against Somalis living in Kenya. Nairobi’s aggression has seemingly sparked a new backlash by al Shabaab sympathisers within Kenya: two grenade attacks [16] hit Nairobi in late October.

Economic regional integration has served Kenya well, but a newly hawkish foreign policy that jeopardizes domestic stability threatens to undermine one of Africa’s foremost success stories. And while Kenyan troops continue to march on Somali territory, it is worth remembering that Nairobi plays a far more important regional role as a hub for trade and infrastructure than it ever could as a policeman.

Source: Foreign Policy By Daniel Branch 15.11.2011
DANIEL BRANCH is Associate Professor of African History at the University of Warwick. His is the author, most recently, of Kenya: Between Hope and Despair 1963-2011.

Kenya Seeks Israel Help, Kibaki says We won’t withdraw until the job is done, Defense minister and Foreign minister are in the Middle East for help 

Kenya’s political gamble in Somali border regions

Kenya’s hopes of creating a border buffer zone in southern Somalia called Azania have been raised by its military incursion there last month, but analysts warn of high risks of such a political gamble.

While the Kenyan government has said it sent its troops and tanks across the border to target Islamist Shebab rebels, analysts say the move appears to be aimed at setting up a proxy administration and region of control.

“It is understandable why the Kenyan government would want a buffer between themselves and the chaos in Somalia in general and any spillover of Al-Shebab?s militancy in particular,” said J. Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council think-tank.

Creating some stability in Somalia’s border region would also provide Kenya with a strong argument to relieve the vast Somali refugee population it hosts including Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee complex.

“I think that the strategic objective for Kenya is basically to see those camps shut down and the people go back to their country,” said Rashid Abdi of the International Crisis Group.

“Kenya is a signatory to the refugee convention and the humanitarian laws, so it cannot force refugees back home.”

For over two years Kenya has trained troops supposed to form the backbone of a new security administration inside Somalia, covering the southern regions of Gedo, Lower and Middle Juba, together also known as Jubaland.

The head of that administration in waiting is former Somali defence minister Mohamed Abdi Mohamed — also known as Gandhi — a French-educated academic.

He has a very huge challenge in front of him. … Gandhi has credibility and his name has not been tarnished, but he has not done enough grassroot political networking,” Abdi said.

“He is very much disconnected,” he said, adding: “Now there is a security reason for that: he cannot travel as much as he wants inside Somalia.”

The declaration of Gandhi as leader and the formal establishment of Azania was announced in Kenya in April, a month after Kenyan-backed troops failed to make military headway in southern Somalia.

But Gandhi, who not only comes from the diaspora but also a minority sub-clan in the area, faces potential reluctance of neighbour Ethiopia and the Somali government to back his efforts.

“This is not someone who has blood on his hands as others have, but in Somalia, I’m not sure he carries much political weight,” said Roland Marchal of the Paris-based National Centre for Scientific Research.

“The fact that he has been a member of the diaspora for many years, belongs to a minority clan and is very secular in what he says” could weaken his position in a Somali context, Marchal said.

“So Gandhi needs a helping hand from the Kenyan army,” he added.

Even if he can win a partial victory over the Shehab, Azania would face the rivalry of other powerful militias, including the Ras Kamboni fighters of Ahmed Madobe, from the main Ogaden clan branch in the region.

To complicate matters further, senior Kenyan military officials have close links with Madobe — who sees supporting minority clans, including the Tolomoge clan of Gandhi, as a potentially risky move.

Until Gandhi “actually raises a credible military force that can take control of the region?s claimed territory away from the militants, “Jubaland” remains nothing more than a fantasy played out by ineffectual Somali politicians marooned in Nairobi,” Pham said.

Then in Gedo, an anti-Shebab militia from the Marehan clan called Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa — backed financially and military by neighbouring Ethiopia — have indicated they would reject the authority of an Azania “government.”

In addition, the potential lucrative income from the Shebab-held port city of Kismayo could trigger fierce battles between rival militia armies — if ever the Shebab fighters are indeed driven out as Kenya hopes.

Pham also noted that even if a buffer zone is established, its creation is already too late, warning that the Shebab had operatives inside Kenya.

“Even if the ?government? of ?Jubaland? helps seal off the Kenyan border, how much that would actually improve the security situation remains to be seen given that the threat is already in place.”

Source: Hiiraan Online 15.11.2011

Alarming ramifications from the Kenyan war against Somalia

The Kenyan war against Somalia is producing alarming ramifications that would worsen instability, animosity and misery rather than promote peace and prosperity in the region. The post invasion shuttle diplomacy of the Kenyan Officials did not allay the deep opposition against its invasion of Somalia.

Facts indicate that Kenya planned since 2009 to take control of Jubba-Land (Gedo, Lower Jubba, and Middle Jubba) after it become convinced that the collapsed state of post independence Somalia will not recover as a State and will disintegrate definitively into 100 small clan Lands. The preparation and implementation of the Jubba-Land project has been in the hands of the Kenyan Minister for Regional Administration and Internal Security Affairs, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defense, the Chief of the National Security and Intelligence Services, and the Chief of Staff of the National Army. These leaders discussed the project several times with US Government.

Kenya has linked its war goals with IGAD’s destructive process against Somalia. The belatedly articulated goals of Kenyan invasion are to liberate the Jubba-land from the militant Organization Al Shabab and to hand liberated areas over to the forces of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for control until the United Nations peacekeeping forces will take over the operation from AMISOM. The withdrawal of AMISOM or Kenyan forces will depend on the arrival of UN peacekeeping forces. Local Administrations to be established later will support Kenyan and AMISOM forces. The foreign imposed Kampala Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (K-TFG) or its successor after August 2012 must comply with the IGAD’s domination.

The Communiqué recently signed in Nairobi by PM Abdiweli M Ali Gas of K-TFG with PM Raila Odinga of Kenya recognized Jubba-Land as a territory not part of Somalia. Article 1 of the Communiqué states the Kenyan security operation inside Somalia is in accordance with article 51 of the UN Charter. The article 51 permits the use of force as a self defense by a UN Member State when there is overwhelming imminent armed attack that threatens its sovereignty and independence. The forces of Jubba-land (Al Shabab) are the imminent aggressors.

Article 2 of the Communiqué labels Al Shabab as a common enemy (not armed opposition) to Somalia, Kenya and the entire region. However, K-TFG is allowed to negotiate with Al Shabab while Kenya wants to eliminate them. This contradicts the common enemy argument.

On the basis of article 51 of UN Charter, the Kenyan politicians and military commanders responsible for the success of the “operation protect nation” have no obligations to their baby (K-TFG) or to a ragtag Somali militia. It is playful to say that inexistent K-TFG forces will lead the Kenyan forces fighting inside Somalia.

The first two articles of the Communiqué make immaterial all of its other provisions. For example, there is no evidence about the support of the Government of Somalia to the activities of Kenyan forces in Somalia as mentioned in article 4, because, aside the general public and the parliament, the President has made clear his opposition against Kenyan invasion without retraction and the Speaker remains silent until now. In accordance with Kampala Accord, K-TFG power is shared by the President and Speaker. The PM Minister serves at the pleasure of both leaders.

K-TFG leaders are less concerned to think through on the implications from the course of complex actions underway in the context of the Kenyan invasionThe Speaker and the PM who had returned from a one month long trip in US, Europe, Ethiopia and UAE for their public relation left for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for personal Hajj (the pilgrimage). The President travelled to Kampala, Uganda, while the PM was in Kenya for the Communiqué. This is not the behavior of leaders of responsible government.

The majority of Somalis would like to see Al Shabab defeated and national government established, but the Kenyan invasion creates more grave ills. Here are some of the alarming ramifications:

  • Renewal of usual infighting between K-TFG leaders in competition to satisfy foreign interests for their self preservation in power.
  • Violations of Kenyan new constitution which will set a dangerous constitutional precedent for Kenyans. This action could pervert the advancement of democratic system in Kenya and the protection of minority rights in Kenya.
  • The quick erosion of the safety and hospitability Somali refugees enjoyed in Kenya.
  • Rise of human suffering in Somalia, especially in the regions under the military operation. Many civilians were forced to leave their homes and livelihood places when the Kenyan government announced the bombardment of 10 Somali cities.
  • Growing mobilization of marginalized clans hailing from Jubba-land against the creation of regional State under leaders of Azania or Raas-Kambooni or nameless pro-government militia. Ethiopia makes known that Raas-Kambooni is its preferred ally.
  • Deadly attacks in Kenya for retaliation by Al -Shabab or by their Kenyan supporters. These attacks have further scared tourists, a situation the Kenyan invasion was to eliminate.
  • Many innocent people were arrested or suspected after each terrorist attacks. Security roadblocks and personal searches have restricted public movements. Somalis and Somali Kenyans become natural suspects by non Muslim Kenyans. All these have increased the number of disaffected Kenyan citizens who will feel anger against their abusers.
  • Kenya has wittingly or unwittingly become part of the Somali civil war because Somali ethnic Kenyans share clan genealogy with their brethrens in Somalia. The botched Jilib airstrike and the planned bombardment of 10 Somali cities have touched Somalis.
  • Divestiture of Somali investment in Kenya for increased risks.
  • Distortion of truth and reality by the war propaganda engaged by warring parties.
  • Economic deterioration as a result of the war. Perceptibly, that deterioration sullies the public sentiment and perception and gives way to social animosity towards others.

Kenya needs an alternative realistic plan that ensures its security and reasonably prevents threats from Al Shabab. This will also enable Somalia to regain sovereignty and progress for stability. Kenya should stop becoming part of IGAD’s machinations and of the intractable Eritrea and Ethiopia conflict. The prolonged destabilization of Somalia will produce the emergence of unseen urchins and outfits probably worse than Al Shabab or Joseph Kony of Lord’s Resistance Army.

Source: Hiiraan Online By Mr. Mohamud M Uluso 14.11.2011

Kenya’s Political Failure in Southern Somalia

Kenya’s military operation in Somalia is a warning sign for the Somali people of the most probable political future that they will undergo: the partition of the territories of post-independence Somalia into a group of weak authorities that are beholden to neighboring states (Ethiopia and Kenya) that act for their own interests and as proxies for great external powers (United States, Western European states, and, increasingly, China).

For the first time since the collapse of Siad Barre’s dictatorship in 1991, there is a strong possibility that “Somalia,” which has existed in political limbo for twenty years, with decisions on its political organization on hold and deferred, will take on a more settled political definition. That settlement would be imposed by external powers using the tactic of divide and rule to create dependent client states, loosely based on dominant clans inhabiting Somalia’s regions. It is obvious that were that scenario to eventuate it would spell the end of any possibility that the Somali people could regain their self-determination and be able to defend their own interests on the international stage.

The partition of post-independence Somalia would not mean the end of the Somali people. Regardless of political organization, Somalis would continue to acknowledge one another as Somalis, as distinct from other peoples and ethnic groups. Somalis would simply lack an organ for articulating and asserting their interests. That, of course, would systematically disadvantage them in the competitive world of international politics. Partition would be a form of neo-colonialism. It would mean that the Somali people would be permanently weakened and they would not make the decisions determining their fate. Loss of self-determination is not death; it is dependency.

The Kenyan military operation is, to repeat, a warning sign of what is likely to come; as it has worked out thus far, the operation is not clearly an exercise in partition, it simply tends in that direction – but that is due to Kenyan incompetence rather than to Somali resolve. The basic dynamic remains in place.

The Geo-Political Dimension of Kenya’s Operation

The most frustrating feature of Kenya’s military operation from the viewpoint of analyzing it is the Kenyan government’s lack of clarity in defining the operation’s geo-political aims.At different times, from different officials, and sometimes in the same statement, the aim of the operation is said to be to secure Kenya’s borders, to create buffer zones in Somalia around its border,and to effect regime change in the regions of southern Somalia by eliminating the administrations of the Islamist Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen (H.S.M.).  Only the third alternative would involve (and necessarily so) Kenya in creating a political organization for the south, which it does not appear to be ready or able to do. Yet, Kenya keeps promising to press on to Kismayo, H.S.M.’s nerve center.

What seems to be the case is that Kenya has the maximum aim of carving out a client statelet for itself in southern Somalia and the minimum aim of border security, and that its operative aims fall between the two extremes, varying day by day depending on how the operation is faring. The maximum aim is Kenya’s wish (partition); the minimum aim is the last eventuality before failure. Nairobi does not seem to have figured out what it can reasonably expect to get with the resources it is willing to expend, which – if true – indicates that the operation is ill-conceived.

The lack of clarity and focus in Kenya’s geo-political aims shows that its operation was premature, that it failed to formulate a coherent political plan for southern Somalia, and, more importantly, did not do the work necessary to bring together the Somali political factions in the south that oppose H.S.M. Nairobi has put itself in the position in which the United States found itself after it invaded Iraq, with all the political work left to do on the ground. Yet Nairobi is not Washington: Kenya does not have the resources of a super-power.

It is not to be expected that Kenya will come anywhere near realizing its maximum aim,yet it is worthwhile considering Nairobi’s dream as indicative of the underlying tendency shaping Somalia’s political future.

On October 30, the Kenyan newspaper The East African published a suggestive article based on “diplomatic and intelligence sources”about the grand strategy of Somali’s neighboring states.The first step of the strategy would be to create three “areas of influence” in the central and southern regions that would provide “buffer zones” for Ethiopia and Kenya.One area of influence would comprise most of central Somalia and would fall under Ethiopian control, another would cover most of the south and would be in Kenya’s charge, and the third would comprehend Mogadishu and adjacent areas, and would be controlled by the African Union peacekeeping mission, AMISOM.Each of the areas of influence would be governed by Somali clients as a “semi-autonomous state” that could become part of a “federal Somalia” at some later date. That is what partition would look like.

The second step of the strategy escapes into fantasy. All “liberated areas” would be turned over to AMISOM, a move that would require that the United Nations Security Council (U.N.S.C.) increase the mission’s forces to 20,000 from the current 8-10,000 (and that the Western “donor”-powers pay for the expanded force). Finally, AMISOM would “hand over a pacified Somalia” to the U.N. That is all very unlikely to happen (to say the least) – it would be partition under ideal conditions for Ethiopia and Kenya. The “donor”-powers have not bought into it, nor has the U.N. Kenya is faced with more immediate and messy problems.

Kenya’s role in the grand strategy is to organize a “Jubbaland” state controlling the deep south – the Gedo, Middle Jubba, and Lower Jubba regions. According to the East African, the Kenyan government had not decided who would front for it.Among the contenders are Kenya’s protégé, Mohamed Gandi, who leads the Azania state backed by Nairobi and Paris;Sh. Ahmed Madobe, the head of the Ras Kamboni organization that broke with H.S.M. and opposes it; and local officials and forces affiliated with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (T.F.G.), which has formal international backing.Kenya is working with all three groups, but has done nothing to reconcile them. According to the East African, Kenya’s intelligence establishment is behind Azania, whereas Kenya’s military is behind the RasKamboni organization, which can “raise an army.”

On November 7, Great Britain’s Guardian newspaper published a strategy article similar to the East African’s piece. According to the Guardian’s sources, the Azania forces, which were most dependent on Kenya and were its favorites, had “not lived up to expectations” and were opposed by Ethiopia, because of Azania’s clan base – the Ogaden, which populate Ethiopia’s Somali region and harbor an insurgent movement against Addis Ababa. The demotion of Azania, according to the Guardian, leaves Kenya with the Marehan clan and the RasKamboni organization. The Guardian added that in order to avoid having to get caught in the web of clan and factional politics, Nairobi was hoping that AMISOM would deploy to Kismayo and that Kenya would join the peacekeeping mission.

The East African and Guardian articles indicate that Kenya will not be capable of executing a partition strategy due to Nairobi’s political incompetence –its failure to deal with southern Somalia’s factionalization (if that is possible for an external actor to accomplish). That failure became evident when the T.F.G. resisted the “Jubbaland” project and apparently succeeded in rolling it back.

The T.F.G. Resists Kenya

From the outset of Kenya’s operation in mid-October it was clear that Nairobi had not prepared a political strategy to accompany the military mission. On October 18, the Nairobi Star reported that Kenya had trained administrators to take over “liberated towns.” That did not prove to be the case. On October 19, Kenyan army spokesman Lt. Nyagah told the press that Kenya was leaving the towns it captured in the hands of “T.F.G. forces and local administrations.” According to Nyagah, Nairobi had no intention of occupying southern Somalia, but only wished to “flush out” H.S.M.

It also appeared that Nairobi had failed to inform the T.F.G. of its operation beforehand and, consequently, had not gained the T.F.G.’s cooperation. Whatever the reason was for Nairobi’s lapse, the T.F.G., which formally represents all the territories of post-independence Somalia (although it effectively controls almost none of them), stood to lose the most from partition in the south, which would create a statelet challenging the T.F.G.’s representation.

By October 17, T.F.G. officials were opposing Kenya’s operation as a violation of Somali sovereignty. Somalia’s U.N. ambassador, Omar Jamal, for example, called the operation “a serious territorial intrusion.” On the other hand, Nairobi found backing on the ground from T.F.G.-allied forces in the south; military commander, Abdi Yusuf, said that “Kenya is fully supporting us militarily.”

Expressions of opposition to Kenya’s operation by T.F.G. officials spurred Nairobi to send a delegation to Mogadishu led by foreign minister, Moses Wetang’ula, and defense minister, Yusuf Haji, to gain approval for and cooperation with the operation from the T.F.G.  After Kenya’s delegation met with the T.F.G.’s president, Sh. Sharif Sh. Ahmad, the two sides issued a joint communiqué on October 18, in which the T.F.G. appeared to acquiesce in the operation.

The agreement, however, did not hold; on October 24, Sh. Sharif came out against Kenya’s “military incursion,” telling Nairobi that its training of and logistical support for anti-H.S.M. Somali forces was welcome, “but not your army.”

Sh. Sharif’s statement created a diplomatic problem and embarrassment for Kenya, which quickly asked for “clarification” of the T.F.G.’s position towards the operation. On October 26, the T.F.G.’s defense minister, Hussein Arab Isse, issued a “clarification statement” in which the T.F.G. denied that there had been any agreement allowing Kenyan forces into Somalia,” but said that the two sides had now agreed on “cooperation in undertaking coordinated security and military operations spearheaded by T.F.G. soldiers trained by the Kenyan government.” The T.F.G. also said it would appoint a “joint security committee to work with Kenya.”

The “clarification statement” did not give Nairobi the endorsement that it wanted from the T.F.G., yet, on October 26, Nairobi went to the U.N.S.C. to justify its operation, claiming that it had acted “in direct consultation and liaison with the T.F.G. in Mogadishu,”  which appears to have been anything but the case. Also on October 26, the U.S. State Department said that Washington did not “encourage the Kenyan government to act nor did Kenya seek our views.”

With domestic Somali and international actors distancing themselves from the operation, Nairobi made another effort to get the T.F.G. on board in a meeting between T.F.G. prime minister Abdiweli Gas and Kenya’s prime minister Raila Odinga that resulted in a new communiqué, the core of which was an expression of the T.F.G.’s support for the operation in return for Kenya’s assent to the T.F.G.’s leadership of operations with Kenyan support.

(It must be said that nobody expects Kenya to surrender control of its operation to the T.F.G.; the communique’s provisions serve the political purpose of subordinating Kenya to the T.F.G. in a purely formal sense. That is sufficient, however, to block a Kenyan attempt at partition.)

After the communiqué was issued, Odinga stated that Nairobi did not support “the creation of an autonomous region in Jubbaland; we support the creation of local administrations.” Partition appeared to have been taken off the table, for the time being. It remains to be seen what might replace H.S.M. – if, indeed, it is displaced – except “local administrations.” Nairobi has been proved to have had no operative political strategy.

Conclusion

As it looks ever less probable that the U.N.-managed “transition” of Somalia to a permanent constitutional state will succeed, the alternative remains partition, balkanization, cantonization.

Kenya’s operation in Somalia might have been the beginning of the partition process had it not been for Nairobi’s political incompetence. In a perceptive analysis on October 31, the Indian Ocean Newsletter put it succinctly: Nairobi had succeeded in rubbing the “nationalism of some T.F.G. leaders the wrong way,” and “had not convinced the West that its aims are realistic.”

In terms of realizing its geo-political interests, Nairobi acted prematurely. It did not have a political order in place to take over from H.S.M. and, as an alternative to that, it did not gain the cooperation of the T.F.G. Nairobi also did not get the “donor”-powers on board, failing to realize that they have not yet abandoned the “transition” process in favor of partition.

Balkanization will become operative when and if the “donor”-powers definitively give up on a state embracing the territories of post-independence Somalia, or most of them – perhaps excluding Somaliland.

Kenya’s operation is a geo-political warning sign of partition, not the thing itself. Nairobi acted against the “transition” process and its “roadmap.” It isolated itself diplomatically and did not win whole-hearted support anywhere. It had no operative political plan. It did everything wrong politically. Nairobi cannot hope to provide a political formula for southern Somalia. Presumably, there will be another day.

Report Drafted By: Dr. Michael A. Weinstein, Professor of Political Science, Purdue University in Chicago  weinstem@purdue.edu

Source: Garowe Online 11.11.11 

L’objectif de l’intervention kényane demeure floue

«Nous devons aller jusqu’au bout de notre mission en Somalie», répète le président kényan, Mwai Kibaki. Cependant, plus de trois semaines après le début de l’intervention militaire dans le sud de la Somalie pour lutter contre les insurgés islamistes, des doutes surgissent sur la clairvoyance d’une telle aventure. D’abord sur la méthode. «Envoyer des chars en pleine saison des pluies est surprenant, estime Lazarus Sumbeiywo, ancien chef d’état-major. Mais surtout, en tant que professionnel, j’aurais déployé l’armée sur la frontière et ensuite opéré des frappes chirurgicales, avec des unités commandos, sur la base de renseignements efficaces.» L’ennemi est en effet volatil et va multiplier les embuscades typiques des guérillas.

Entité du «Jubaland»

Mais au-delà de la stratégie militaire, c’est l’objectif même de l’opération qui reste à définir. Comme l’Ethiopie voisine, le Kenya cherche à protéger son territoire du chaos somalien en installant une zone tampon, chasser les shebab de leur bastion du port de Kismayo, qui est également leur poumon financier. «La grande inconnue c’est que faire après la prise de Kismayo, s’interroge Rashid Abdi de l’International Crisis Group. Les Kényans, qui sont partis la fleur au fusil, vont finir très vite par réaliser leur erreur, d’autant que dans la région, chaque pays joue sa carte et préfère protéger ses intérêts plutôt que de réellement rétablir la paix en Somalie.»

Depuis deux ans, le Kenya soutient l’initiative du «Jubaland», consistant à mettre en place une entité semi-autonome autoproclamée, appelée l’Etat d’Azania dans trois régions du sud (Bas-Juba, Moyen-Juba et Gedo). A sa tête, Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, surnommé Gandhi, un Franco-Somalien, ancien ministre de la Défense. «Le projet avance bien, nous avons déjà désigné des députés, des gouverneurs… L’administration s’installe au fur et à mesure que les zones sont libérées, déclare-t-il. Mais mon succès provoque des jalousies et des accusations infondées.»

Depuis plusieurs semaines, Nairobi bruisse en effet de rumeurs sur un soutien français. En cause, sa proximité avec la société pétrolière Total. En février 2001, Gandhi avait servi d’intermédiaire avec le gouvernement de transition somalien de l’époque pour la signature d’un accord d’évaluation technique pour la prospection offshore sur une bande maritime du sud de la Somalie. «Total ne nous apporte aucun soutien, déclare-t-il, mais les relations sont bonnes et ils seront les bienvenus quand la paix sera de retour.» Il ajoute que l’accord a été reconduit en 2004, par le gouvernement de transition d’Abdulahi Yusuf, ce que la société pétrolière française n’a pas confirmé. «L’accord n’est plus d’actualité», répond Frédéric Texier, porte-parole de Total à Paris. Fin septembre, les soupçons ont repris de plus belle quand l’entreprise a acquis 40% dans cinq permis offshore dans le bassin de Lamu, jouxtant le sud de la Somalie.

Le 23 octobre, le porte-parole de l’armée kényane, Emmanuel Chirchir, avait affirmé qu’un navire français avait bombardé Kuday, un village au sud de Kismayo. L’état-major à Paris avait catégoriquement démenti ces déclarations, ajoutant que la France apportait uniquement un soutien logistique sous la forme d’un avion Transall effectuant des rotations de Nairobi jusqu’à Wajir, dans le nord du Kenya pour transporter du matériel de l’armée kényane. «Il s’agit d’une intervention purement kényane», renchérit le député Mohamed Affey, ancien ambassadeur du Kenya pour la Somalie affirmant que cet engagement n’obéit à aucun agenda international et vise «à jeter les bases d’un dialogue politique pour que les Somaliens puissent enfin bénéficier d’institutions viables».

Cet optimisme n’est pas forcément partagé dans les cercles diplomatiques. Peu de pays ont affirmé haut et fort qu’ils soutenaient l’intervention kényane, privilégiant la prudence. «C’est une situation fluide et complexe, dont nous ne connaissons pas l’issue. Il y a plusieurs risques: le vide, ou que celui qui prenne le pouvoir ne soit pas assez fort», estime un diplomate occidental basé à Nairobi.

Rivalités multiples

Kismayo est en effet convoité par plus d’un candidat et marqué par une rivalité historique au sein de la confédération clanique Darod: entre les clans Ogaden et Marehan. A cette première couche, s’imbrique une deuxième rivalité, celle des pays de la région. Actuellement, un chef de guerre, Ahmed «Madobe», qui a fait scission avec les shebab en octobre 2009, se bat en première ligne avec sa brigade Ras Kambooni soutenu par les troupes kényanes. Il est également soutenu par l’Ethiopie, qui voit les ambitions de Gandhi d’un mauvais œil et qui traite avec un autre chef de guerre, Barre Hirale. Des rivalités à plusieurs niveaux potentiellement explosives et il faudra plus qu’une réussite militaire pour instaurer une vraie stabilité dans cette région du sud de la Somalie.

Source: Le Temps 14.11.2011

America’s role in African strife

As Kenyan troops push their way into Somalia’s hinterland in pursuit of Al-Shabaab militants, several security analysts and observers allege an unseen hand behind Operation Linda Nchi.

The allegations have been riding on the wave of unconfirmed reports in the early days of the incursion that claimed that unmanned American drones had attacked several targets inside the lawless nation.

Both countries denied the reports, with Washington insisting that it had no plan of being actively involved in the war on Al-Shabaab.

An Associated Press reporter even intimated that the United States was actually “shocked” by the incursion of Kenyan troops in Somalia since Washington had not been consulted over the ingress in advance.

Andrew Franklin, an ex-US Marine now working in Nairobi as a financial and security consultant, agrees with the reported position of the US.

“My experience from the past tells me that it is very unlikely that the United States was aware of this spontaneous invasion and agreed to go with it,” he observes, adding that his position is informed by a number of factors, key among them being that the prevailing climatic conditions in southern Somalia will greatly hamper a quick and decisive attainment of the operation’s key objectives.

Special force in Uganda

Mr Franklin’s observations came a few days after US President Barack Obama announced that his country would be sending 100 Special Forces personnel to Uganda to help quell the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) and capture its leader, Joseph Kony.Although the unit will not hesitate to engage the enemy in self-defence, their key mandate, it was reported, is to provide information, advice, and assistance to their hosts and the armies of other neighbouring countries prone to attacks by the LRA like South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Whichever way one looks at it, the deployment of this elite US force to Uganda and the alleged drone attacks against targets in southern Somalia is not a surprise since Uncle Sam has always, directly or indirectly, been a key player in many post-colonial African conflicts.

From covert operations during the cold war era and the tragedy of “Black Hawk Down” in Mogadishu in the early 1990s to supporting the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia five years ago, Washington’s military adventures in Africa have been thick and fast, especially since 9/11.

In order to harness its military operations in Africa and, according to some observers, check the Chinese onslaught in the resource-rich continent, America established the controversial Africa Command (AfriCom) in 2007.

While pan-Africanists have claimed that AfriCom is one of the final steps in Washington’s quest to “re-colonise Africa”, the latter insists that the institution was set up to foster world peace.

According to the US Department of Defence, AfriCom was established to seek “more effective ways for the department to help prevent and respond to humanitarian crises, improve cooperative efforts to stem trans-national terrorism, and sustain enduring efforts that contribute to African unity and bolster security on the continent”, and “to oversee military operations on the African continent”.

As expected, the command was greeted with suspicion and mistrust by most African leaders. Perceived as an imperialist tactic against the continent by America, no country was willing to host the headquarters of this controversial military organisation except Liberia.

But the West African country, still rising from the ashes of a brutal civil war, apparently did not make the required mark, hence Pentagon decided to station AfriCom in the faraway city of Stuttgart, Germany.

According to the command’s website, it has approximately 2,000 assigned personnel, which includes military, civilian, and host nation employees, the bulk of whom work at the Stuttgart headquarters.

Others are assigned to AfriCom units in the US and Europe, while a small number of officers are posted at American embassies and diplomatic missions across Africa.

Since its inception in 2008, the command has received more than $730 million in budget allocations, excluding individual service expenditures and funding for military exercise.

The US is the only country in the world that divides the globe into military commands. Besides AfriCom, there are other commands in charge of Europe and the rest of the world.

In a bid to appease Africa, former US president George W. Bush appointed Gen William Ward, an African-American, as the first commander of AfriCom. He was replaced by Gen Carter Ham in March this year. During his two-year tour of duty, Gen Ward strived to sell the AfriCom gospel to African leaders by attending AU gatherings and state visits where he portrayed the European-based command as a partner of African national armies.

Responding to a question by a Voice of America journalist on AfriCom’s role in the Horn of Africa and Somalia in particular, the four-star general was categorical.

“We certainly support those who are supportive of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the African Union, and AMISOM missions,” he explained.

“In so far as any direct involvement in Somalia, that’s not the role of my command. Our activities on the continent, in Somalia, are widespread, and so there are probably things that occur that may be publicly as done by the United States Africa Command, but that’s just not the case”.

But, apparently, in recent times AfriCom has been doing more than just helping its partner countries through various training missions and developing the capacity to provide for their own security and protect their own borders.

The Stuttgart-based command was at the heart of Operation Odyssey Dawn that played a pivotal role in bringing down Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Coordinating the combat operations of more than 11 American warships and dozens of aircraft along the Mediterranean coast, AfriCom fired hundreds of cruise missiles into Libya and participated in many aerial bombardments in conjunction with Nato.

Although Operation Odyssey Down attained its key objectives, the active fighting role put AfriCom at loggerheads with African Union (AU) leaders, most of whom have questioned the US military motives in the continent.

This was further aggravated by fact that Western allies snubbed a suggestion by AU leaders to save Gaddafi through a ceasefire.

The current commander has stated that AfriCom will be working closely with the National Transitional Council government to assist in curbing the proliferation and smuggling of weapons into Libya.

But one of AfriCom’s darkest spots remains in Uganda, where a botched operation to capture Joseph Kony three years ago ended up doing more harm than good.

In an apparent quest to “enhance the ability of each one of our African partners to provide for their own security”, AfriCom, working with the Ugandan army, hatched Operation Lightning Thunder in 2008, a mission meant to crush LRA and capture its murderous leader.

According to the Star and Stripes, a US military independent news source, “the command provided the Ugandan military with maps, satellite phones, GPS receivers and about $1 million in fuel for vehicles, as well as a team of advisers who provided feedback on the plan”.

Civilian massacres

The LRA got wind of the operation and fled before the raiding party arrived. And since the operation made no effort to warn civilians — despite the fact that reprisals and civilian massacres are some of the barbaric standard operating procedures of the LRA — the group went on a retaliatory killing spree.

Describing the method of execution as “axing, cutting, slitting throats, and crushing skulls with wooden bats and axes”, the New York Times quoted a source from Doruma town in the Democratic Republic of Congo saying that, after massacring 300 people attending a Christmas party, the rebels “ate the Christmas feast the villagers had prepared and then slept among the dead bodies before continuing with their trail of destruction and death.”

The bloody orgy by the retreating LRA left 1,000 dead, more than 100,000 displaced, hundreds of minors conscripted, and thousands more raped, maimed, injured, and their homes destroyed. Far from being apologetic for triggering the catastrophe, both AfriCom and the Ugandan Government declared victory.

“The operation has been a success in that it left Joseph Kony naked,” then State Minister for Defence, Ms Ruth Nankabiriwa, told journalists.

Because of the surprise nature of the attack, he fled from his camp empty-handed. He left behind everything, including food, equipment, and other gadgets, so this has reduced his capacity.”

AfriCom’s biggest military base in the continent is located at Camp Lemonnier in the Red Sea nation of Djibouti. Established in 2002 under the name Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), the 2000-troop-strong base came under AfriCom in 2008. It assumes responsibility for the total airspace and land areas of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Sudan.

Other states which are under the watchful eye of the CJTF-HOA include Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania, and Uganda.Although one of its core missions is the provision of humanitarian mercy missions like medicine, most activities from the camp are more often than not towards military ventures.

It is through CJTF-HOA that AfriCom supported the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006. Addis Ababa is said to have received more than $20 million in military aid, which was by then more than any other country in the region except Djibouti.

Although the objective was to dethrone the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) from Mogadishu, the operation ended up sowing the seeds that led to the formation of the more radical and deadly Al-Shabaab.

“I can say with certainty that America’s actions, interventions, invasions, and grand meddling in African countries’ internal affairs have not only escalated but also created more conflicts in Africa,” observes Maj (Rtd) Imaana Laibuta, who currently runs a security consultancy in Southern Sudan.

“Africa does not need AfriCom…. It was another Hollywood blockbuster by America to win the war in the world arena after losing it in the operation theatre.”

Source: Nation By MWAURA SAMORA  13.11.2011

War fears: Somalis in Kenya afraid of xenophobia

The streets of Nairobi’s Somali community are no longer congested. A once-bustling trade in cheap imports is quiet, and the nightlife is almost dead. Many Somalis are staying inside out of fear of xenophobic attacks and police arrests.

Kenyan troops last month moved into southern Somalia in pursuit of al-Shabab militants. Those militants, in return, threatened to retaliate with large-scale terror attacks in Nairobi.

Ethnic Somalis — many of them Kenyan citizens — who live in Nairobi feel caught in the middle.

“There is that feeling of fear. There is fear of an outbreak of xenophobia if a large-scale event takes place, so we are like this — maybe the lull before the storm,” said Salah Abdi Sheikh, a Kenyan-Somali who wrote a book on the 1984 massacre of possibly thousands of Somali men by Kenyan government troops.

This time, Somalis have suffered ethnically based harassment and degrading put-downs, although no violent attacks have yet been reported.

Several email messages and postings on social media have been “demonizing Somalis,” said Mzalendo Kibunjia, the head of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, a government commission working to promote unity. He said the government is tracking down the people responsible and that his commission is planning to charge them with the use of hate speech, an offense that carries a $10,000 fine or a jail term of three years.

A Somali woman filed a complaint to the commission last week after she was spat on by a man because of her ethnicity, Kibunjia said.

Some Kenyans posted hate messages against Somalis on social media sites following two grenade attacks in Nairobi last month, but the messages died down after a non-Somali Kenyan was arrested and convicted.

Still, Nairobi’s Somali neighborhood — Eastleigh — has lost much of its bustling edge since the mid-October push into Somalia by Kenyan troops. Freelance journalist Ahmed Ogle lives in Eastleigh and says business of imported goods and clothes has slowed to a trickle. Merchants are waiting to see if the tension erupts into violence.

“When there is phobia, you know when there is fear for your lives and property, every investor will hold on and wait until this situation changes. So what is happening now is they are just watching,” Ogle said.

Fear has also curtailed social activities, he said, with people fearing that if they go out in the evening they could be arrested. Police raids have been carried out in North Eastern province and in Eastleigh. Somalis have also been accused of laundering millions of dollars of pirate ransom money in Eastleigh, which has seen a building boom in recent years. The allegation has never been proved though the government said in 2009 it was investigating it.

Kenyan authorities also suspect the militant Islamist al-Shabab group has clandestine networks in Kenya.

Joshua Orwa Ojode, a deputy minister for internal security, told parliament recently that al-Shabab is like a snake with its tail in Somalia and it head in Nairobi.

The journalist Ogle, however, said that since Kenya’s operation against al-Shabab began police have refrained from carrying out mass arrests in Eastleigh, despite threats by a top government official to do so. Police have targeted individuals they suspect of involvement with al-Shabab and arrested them without affecting the community, Ogle said.

Tensions between Somalis in Kenya and those of other groups date back at least to time the country won independence in 1963 from Britain, Sheikh said.

Between 1963 and 1967 ethnic Somalis in Kenya’s North Eastern province attempted to join Somalia. The Kenyan government violently clamped down on the secessionists, and many innocent people were caught up in the process, Sheikh said. This was followed by massacres in the region from 1978 to 1989. They were blamed on government troops as they clamped down on banditry in the region and interethnic clashes.

A Kenyan government truth commission is investigating the 1984 government killings in North Eastern province, at the Wagalla airstrip. The operation was meant to crack down on ethnic Somalis who were holding illegal weapons.

State sponsored killings, human rights abuses, economic crimes and political assassinations punctuate Kenya’s postcolonial history, creating animosity between communities. The tensions helped fuel 2007-08 postelection tribal violence, according to a government report, in which more than 1,000 people died.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle 11.11.11

Kenyan troops bogged down in Somalia one month on

One month into Kenya’s military offensive against Somalia’s extremist Shebab rebels, attacks have multiplied back home, aid agencies have expressed concern and troops are bogged down in mud.

Kenya, which has traditionally employed non-military means to try to solve two decades of anarchy in neighbouring Somalia, deployed forces across the border on October 14.

A series of kidnappings of foreigners on Kenyan soil and incursions by the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shebab, who control much of southern Somalia, triggered Kenya’s unprecedented offensive.

However, after initially pushing some 100 kilometres (60 miles) into Somalia, the forces have made little progress, fought few ground battles and are yet to attack many of the 10 southern Somali towns they singled out as Shebab strongholds and said they would strike.

The Kenyan army said on October 17 it was advancing on the town of Afmadow, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the Kenyan border.

Weeks later, they are yet to capture the town as heavy rains have hampered movement.

“Right now we are about 15 kilometres (nine miles) away from Afmadow,” army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir told AFP. “The biggest challenge is that it is raining, it is flooded.”

“It’s been tricky. For effective engagement with Al-Shebab we need the rain to subside,” he said, adding that waters were knee-high.

The slow movement could be an advantage to the Shebab, warned former Kenyan army officer Imaana Laibuta.

“It might give the militia enough time to reorganise their defences and move their finances and other movables to safe havens elsewhere,” said Laibuta, who now runs a security consultancy firm.

“Ensuring a quick and precise surgical incursion into Afmadow and Kismayo will deny the militia the chance to move out most of their facilities,” he added, referring to a key Shebab-held port city.

An air raid by Kenyan forces on a southern Somali town last month killed at least five civilians, aid agencies said. Nairobi denied civilians were killed, pledging a probe nonetheless.

The Shebab accused Kenya of targeting civilians and renewed its vows of revenge.

Meanwhile at home, grenade attacks attributed by police to Shebab operatives have increased, with two blasts rocking Nairobi soon after the operation began and at least six people killed in ambushes in areas along the porous border.

“I think it is clear that the Kenyan invasion of Somalia has raised the risk of attacks within Kenya,” said Laura Hammond of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

“Al-Shebab has been clear that they will retaliate, and I would take them at their word on this.”

Kenyans have also questioned their country’s incursion after grenade attacks in the capital last month, arguing that security forces should first tackle Shebab sympathisers within Kenya.

While Nairobi’s other motivation for crossing into Somalia was economic — to protect its key tourism industry after the abduction and killing of tourists — the cost of the offensive will soon begin to bite, analysts warned.

“The cost of the operation is likely to keep increasing with advances and protraction of the situation on the ground,” said a recent report by South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies.

“Against a backdrop of recent trends of inflation, rising cost of living and a depreciating Kenyan shilling, the government will have to dip further into its coffers in order to sustain the cost of the military operation.”

The offensive has also complicated humanitarian operations in southern Somalia, where some regions were declared by the United Nations to be facing famine following several months of failed rains.

Kenya’s threat to attack 10 Shebab-held towns in the south has also raised fears of civilian casualties which could further devastate a population already wracked by one of the region’s worst droughts in decades.

“There is a definite fear that despite the warnings, any bombing of towns is very likely to bring civilian casualties,” said Oxfam’s Alun McDonald, referring to the Kenyan army’s warning that civilians avoid Shebab camps.

McDonald said some aid organisations had scaled down operations, while locals were unable to flee due to floods and broken bridges.

They (civilians) are worried about fleeing towns that might see conflict into areas that are already facing conflict, or simply can’t move because the floods have cut off roads and left fewer vehicles available,” he said.

“The reports from our partners are that even seeds that have been distributed in the past are not all being planted, as farmers are too afraid to spend too much time in their fields because of the increased military threat.”

Source: TimeLive 12.11.2011

Kenya’s mud-mired trudge into Somalia

Kenya is blaming the rain for its army’s slow progress in Somalia. In a cruel irony, the weather in the Horn of Africa is compensating for the long drought which caused the famine in Somalia by bucketing down with rain. It’s no compensation though; it’s as difficult to grow crops in too much rain as in too little, and nothing about Somalia’s current political situation encourages complex agriculture. 

But the rain is making it very difficult indeed for Kenyan troops to advance. Somalia has poor roads at the best of times. Where there are roads, they are mostly ungraded dirt tracks that become nearly impassable mud at the first hint of moisture. And while Al Shabaab fighters, who know the area intimately, can use back routes and passes, the relatively clueless Kenyans are stuck on the main roads with their heavy vehicles, most of which appear to be old armoured personnel carriers from the 1980s.

There have even been some unconfirmed reports that the army has been reduced to using donkeys to move equipment.

Despite this, the Kenyan Defence Force is relatively sophisticated as far as African militaries go, commented John Stupart of the African Armed Forces Journal in an interview with iMaverick. But no amount of training and equipment, even the most modern and expensive, can make up for a flawed strategy which is at the root of Kenya’s problems. “The Kenyan incursion is strategically unfeasible,” Stupart said. “The offensive frankly makes no military sense. Two-thousand Kenyan troops trying to bloody the nose of anywhere between 2,500 and 20,000 Al Shabaab militants on their home turf will not end well.”

According to Stupart, Al Shabaab is pursuing classic military strategy in luring Kenya further and further into Somalia. By stretching the Kenyan military out, thinning supply lines and dragging the incursion on and on Al Shabaab will either make the Kenyan forces vulnerable to a direct attack, or force them to withdraw thanks to fatigue or cost or a combination of the two. “Ultimately, they’re trying to do too much with too few forces and during the wrong season. At best they can hope for a few firefights  where they’ll clobber the Al Shabaab militants in a standing fight, but they’ll never really defeat Al Shabaab in Somalia. Doing that would require 20,000 combat troops with all the trimmings (tanks, artillery, etc), not 2,000.”

Stupart’s is a disturbing analysis from the Kenyan point of view, but one which looks more accurate as their forces remain on the ground for longer. Already questions are being asked in Kenya about how much the expedition is costing and politicians are studiously avoiding answering these questions. And military spokespeople have set themselves the near impossible goal of remaining in Somalia until the threat to Kenya from Al Shabaab is neutralised; presumably, this means either establishing some kind of buffer state along with a border, or wiping out Al Shabaab entirely, perhaps by taking Kismayo and using the Kenyan troops as the basis for an African Union peacekeeping force there.

But none of this is possible as long as they fail to engage with the enemy. And, if it’s true that Al Shabaab is hosting seasoned al Qaeda fighters from the Afghanistan theatre, they might just know a thing or two about fighting a guerrilla insurgency. Kenya’s army might find themselves mired in the Somali mud for some time yet

Source: Daily Maverick  By SIMON ALLISON 11.11.11

Bleak Predicament of Kenyan Adventures into Somalia…! – Part One

Traditionally, war is accepted as an exacting macho business, and the more you have that staff the more you earn respect and privileges from your people and the foes alike. Circumstances vary.

It could be rustling someone’s herd of camels and becoming instant wealthy man. A bleeding ego caused by poetic slander may trigger long lasting inter-clan vendettas. It could be caused by canning someone’s prodigious she-camel, or it could be caused by inter-clan blood feud equation.

No lingering hard feeling after by party negotiations, which is followed by prompt reparations. Within days, genuine community elders and religious exponents broker peace in the land, which is offset by impartial retribution paid to the wronged party in camels-the yardstick currency of nomadic life. Courtesy and handshake seal the settlement with amiable coexistence in the land. The brokered peace could be temporary or a long lasting one according to the prevailing circumstance of the time. However, at the heat of foreign invasion all local issues are put on hold until they ward off the external enemy while fighting on the same side.

History should serve us a living lesson in real life. In 1992-1994, about 35 thousand UN contingents from 36 countries failed to capture Mohamed Farah Aideed-the chairman of USC and round up his supporters and bring peace to Mogadishu, let alone controlling all the regions of Somalia.

Defamed, they had to leave the country in defeat after becoming entangled into the clan-based conflict and becoming part of the political disharmony.Admiral Jonathan Howe, the strongman in charge of UNISOM mission commented wearily after giving up hope of the UN failure, “The Somalis run away from the rain and catch up in haste to lend a hand in cross-fire.” UN did not heed that background.

UN gave the green light to AU to handle the political conflict in Somalia and they deployed over 40 thousands of well-seasoned Ethiopian army to come to Somalia and support the rule of unpopular TFG establishment in 1996.After two bloody years of urban war, the Lions of Africa suffered the death toll more than half of their combatants, and departed home defeated and licking their wounds at the end of 2009. This Ethiopian experience did not serve the AU as a living lesson.

As that was not enough, the AU replaced the Ethiopian army with 9,000 AMISOM contingents from Uganda and Burundi in 2007 to bolster a weak TFG hastily coined by the UN and the AU liking and forged in foreign soil.This is failing too, because they could hardly dislodge al-Shabaab squads militarily from their backyards.

Now we have Kenyan army trying to install a regional authority of their creation in Jubbaland and decimating al-Shabaab from the land. Unfortunately, al-Shabaab is a moving target very hard to take out militarily unless we invite them to take part of round table negotiations and hammering out the fate of the country. TFG is not willing to share power with al-Shabaab, and al-Shabaab doesn’t want to 2nd to the TFG. They want even partnership.

Historical Reflections

In terms of traditional standards, local warfare had nothing to do with plotting political intrigues, land grabbing, displacement of native clans from their lands, aiding allied clan supremacy and exploitation of offshore oil deposits and other vital natural resources.

Somali nomads under the leadership of Sayid Mohamed Abdulle Hassan nailed down the British Empire garrison off the shores of northwest of Somalia for 21 bloody years in early 20th century. Only the British Royal Air force dislodged the Drawishes from their strongholds in the region.

Take theBiyamal resistancefought along the coastline of former Benadir region against the invading Italian army in the middle of 20th century that took another 21 years that ended in mutual agreement to peace and respect to each other.

The resistance fighters were only armed with bows, poisoned arrows axes and spades and they hold back the enemy back because they had the unanimous support of the people.After reconciling with the elders of the movement on mutual terms did the Italian army landed on shore. Such historical facts did not serve a lesson to any aggressive enemy against the sovereignty of the Somali nation.

Kenyan authorities are the midwife of the birth of Azania, or perhaps any other partner of their liking in the future. Kenya is there to consolidate Azania in the region as a buffer zone between her and the lawless Somalia. 

Mr. Gandi, the future President of Azania wears two hats. He wants the Kenyan army to get rid of Al-Shabaab and install him on power, while keeping a revolving backdoor with Kenyan Government for back up or bail out.

Kenya wants Azania in place and taking over the Jubba lands and be part of the exploitation of its oil fields and other commercial natural resources. Everything else is a pure political fabrication and excuse of convenience to launch such invasion.

However, there’s another temporary drawback that bogged down the invading army.The report we have received says that the Kenyan army has crossed the borderline without have prior intelligence to guide the army. It looks that the incursion was based on political showmanship instead of military push.

The move in the darkness had compromised the element of surprise attack. Such evitable failure gave a crucial head start time to al-Shabaab to flee, regroup, mobilize and refurbish weapons, retreat or fortify their strongholds. Also, the timing of the military operation was flawed.

It is in the heart of the raining season when transit on rough roads is impossible for one to two months, depending on the gravity of rainy season and the condition of loam and clay soil terrain very hard to drive by even with 4 wheel drive military vehicles.Such laxity is not an option for a military operation expected to be highly mobilized.

Layers of Lies

Let’s see the cross-cut layers of faulty intrigues at play in Somalia and identifying the stacks from the bottom up:There’s clan supremacy at play spear-headed by Gandi and his Kenyan clan loyalists.

Then there’s the unpopular political profile of the TFG handled by expatriate native Somalis who are instrumental of the balkanization of the southern regions.Then there’s the scrambling policy of EGAD countries who are partitioning Somalia on clan-based enclaves. Then there’s the polarizing policy of UN who rule Somalia behind the screen.There’s al-Shabaab menace, the killing machine of Somalia’s political reconciliation. 

Then there is the Kenyan, the French and Norwegian oil consortium who are leading the economic exploitation efforts and investing on expropriation of offshore oil deposits in the southern regions of Somalia. There’re Somali economic brokers of the natural resources of the country who are there to sale the wealth of the nation to global conglomerates. There’s a depopulation policy of East African countries that are undermining any political reconciliation to take roots in Somalia. And then there are the non-committed observers who are lurking at the corners and waiting until the Somali interest group partition the country to potential buyers, just to mention a few faulty layers at play in Somalia.

Money and power change hands, and everything are conducted under the mantle of secrecy. No justice, no peace, no stability, no transparency, no accountability and no one, however criminal he may be, was ever brought to the court of justice because no one wants a court of justice to be there in the first place.

Protracted conflicts are inevitable, but the Somali people would like to have an honest broker(s) on the ground, like USA or perhaps Turkey, who can glue the pieces together as America did in Europe after the 2nd WW. Perhaps it could be feasible to arrange a consensual marriage with respective Somali regions to USA counterparts for ten, twenty or thirty years, until Somalia become conductive to political reconciliation under the umbrella of a federal system. Could that be an everlasting Solution for Somalia…?

Forget about the UN policy guidelines that failed to bring forth a new beginning. Forget about the EGAD countries who are in the frontline of partitioning Somalia into spheres of influence. Forget about the lethargic involvement of Arab countries that Somalia is member of them. Don’t ever mention about Europe who is fighting with its economic survival.

Source: Keydmedia By Prof. Mohamoud Iman Adan 04.11.2011

Bleak Predicament of Kenyan Adventures into Somalia…! – Part Two

The so called al-Shabaab kidnappings of aid workers and tourists from north coast of Kenya were carried on by Azania itself, admit Somali analysts as a legitimate way of mobilizing Kenyan forces to cross the boundary line, defeating al-Shabaab and installing Azania in place and then legitimizing oil exploitation.

The Fiasco of Exclusive Economic Zone & Oil Exploitation

Mr. Gandi is a geologist by trade and consulted for Total- a giant French oil company prior joining the TFG as minister of defense. Opting out to play as an enlightened warlord,he resigned the ministerial position and struck oil exploitation deal with Total and Norwegian oil co. offshore oil fields of Jubba territorial waters.Somalia owns 200 nautical miles, which poses a legal hurdle to exploit the oil fields without the oversight of TFG.

To get a way out of that, Mr. Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, then Prime Minister of the current TFG made all necessary arrangements to rescind the 200 NM of Somali territorial rights into 12 NM and lobbied to pave the way for the adoption of 12 nautical miles in order to put the oil fields beyond the reach of the so called Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)- a neutral ground up for grabs. The motion got rejected by the parliament, but the temptation of the oil deal lingered long in the minds of the interest group spear-headed by the TFG.

Again Mr. Abdiweli M. Aligas– a stakeholder of the deal himself- introduced a copy of the same motion to the parliament as an integral piece of the Road Map imbroglio. The parliament felt the whiff of the fishy deal and rejected the motion with striking majority.The legislators took it as a dead deal, but not yet.

Somalia’s natural resources are up for grabs and the EEZ initiative is a sweet deal that corrupt politicians can hardly walk away. Somali-Kenyan and the TFG counterparts can easily share the pie, and a deal like this can hardly die in the minds of“Get Rich Quickly mentality of Somali Leaders”, and the only way to achieve such goal is to invade Jubba land, hand over the land to a proxy regional authority under the control of Kenya. 

Al-Shabaab is seen as a roadblock of the oil exploitation and a convenient scapegoat.

The Stakeholders

It is amply believed that the Somali major stakeholders of the oil deal include:Mr. Mohamed Abdi Gandi,the likely future president of the autonomous regions of Jubba lands and the progenitor of oil deal. Mr. Sherif Sheikh Ahmed,the President of the TFG. There is Mr. Omar A/Rashid Ali Sharmarke, then Prime Minister of the current TFG.Mr. Abdiweli M. Aligas, the current PM of the TFG andSherif Sheikh Aden and the Speaker of the Parliament.

It is also believed that the Kenyan counterparts include:Mr. Yusuf Moallim-the Kenyan Minister of Defense & close cousin of Mr. Gandi. Farah MoallimDeputy Speaker of the Kenyan Parliament and the mouthpiece of the Kenyan military incursion into Somalia.There is Mr. Mohamed Abdi AfeyMember of the Kenyan Parliament.And Mr. Aden Sheel– Advisor to the Kenyan Minister of Foreign Affairs.

This interest group belongs to Ogaden sub-clan(s) and plan to creating clan supremacy in Jubbaland before the end of the transitional period of the TFG. In fact, Ogaden clan supremacy and exploitation of the region’s natural resources are major components of Azania incorporation.

Native Clan and Sub-clan Composition in Jubba lands

Jubba land is home for 20 clans, and sub-clans that had always lived in harmony in Jubba lands for centuries. These clans are out of the Azania political framework, and include: Wagosha-Native Somali Bantu clans, the majority in the land, who are farmers by the banks of the two rivers-Jubba and Shabelle. Then there other farmers, fishing communities and pastoralist clans in the land, such as: Bajun, Dir, Shikhal, Biyamal, Awromaleh, Mareexan, Habargidir, Turdho, Murile, Jarirweyne (Samo), Tuni, Hawadle, Ashraf, Garre, Bajela, Ogaden, Dagodi, Ajuran, wardey and other sub-clan minority residents in towns and villages in the area.

All these clans are legitimate stakeholders of Jubba lands and no one had ever consulted with them. Without their full participation in the political process and no equitable power-sharing system formula in place, the future of Azania or any other one-side administration is bleak and Gandhi’s grandiose vision is likely to remain in draft books for long.Without that that system in place, foreign military incursion in Somalia will jeopardize Kenya political capital and compromises its military efforts in the long run.

On the negative side, in the absence of inclusive participation, we have the reason to worry that the marginalized clans may throw their allegiance to al-Shabaab and tip the political balance in the region in favor of a common enemy we are trying to get rid of it.

Al-Shabab’s Expected Profile

It is a well-known fact that Al-Shabaab brainwashes disgruntled young adults to fight for jihad- a misguided holy war tool that work for their benefit. They terrorize the public and make them believe that they are the vanguard of the true believers of the Islamic faith. They would say that the Christians are here to take your land, your religion, your women, your children and your natural resources.

They will urge people to take up the arms and defend the homeland. Al-Shabaab can easily sale a saleable trick where fallen martyrs earn the reward of everlasting heaven that has all the pleasures available in the gardens of Allah.This is a proven tool for al-Shabaab that can easily mobilize thousands of jihadists’ willing to sacrifice life and limb in order to uphold the righteous call of al-Shabaab, which likely swells mujahidin (jihad fighters) ranks without signing a contract sheet. For al-Shabaab, everything they get is cost free, including solid political profile and voluntary suicide bombers.

Unforeseen Spoilers

Unplanned spoilers may wreck the confidence of the people in the land and backstab the smooth running military operation.The invading Kenyan army and Gandi militia may humiliate residents of Jubba land. The soldiers may take their guns, rape their women, confiscate personal property and terrorize the people.

The Kenyan military fighters may inadvertently bombard innocent civilians and thus unleash the anger of uncommitted population to side with al-Shabaab.These actions and similar ones of the same nature could drive more volunteers to join in ranks of al-Shabaab insurgents.

Also, we are not sure whether the Kenyan trained TFG soldiers could remain loyal for the government.After failing to receive their pay, who can predict whether the soldiers will desert, sale their guns and ammunition and go home in peace, or joining into the ranks of al-Shabaab as a way of spiritual conviction or adhering to the call of a kin in distress.

We are not sure how the invading forces will confront al-Shabaab insurgents in their hiding turf. We don’t how the Kenyan public will react in case of defeat in Jubba land. So far, we are not sure how the war with al-Shabaab insurgents will play out. Just see and wait the outcome……?

Kenyan Drawbacks

Al-Shabaab is not short of declared archenemies. There are field force alliance of Kenyan and Gandi militia fighting from one side, and the TFG and HSWJ are clearing the remnants of al-Shabaab from their strongholds in Mogadishu and Central and lower Shabelle Districts.

Al-Shabaab may lose certain financial muscle from import and export earnings as they lose the ports of Kisimaio, Brava and Merka ports, but it is believed that they have enough financial resources to keep the fighting for a year, or so. The USD cash in their possession will help them pay their way out of any difficult situation.With such, they can buy firearms, ammunitions and intelligence, as well as bribing every govt soldier in short of cash in the pocket.

Inside Kenya, al-Shabaab may wreak havoc where hurts the most. It is believed that the economy, the security and stability of Kenya are the main targets. Al-Shabaab mentioned their targets through the media, and includes: The tourism industry, ports, airports, foreign embassies and business centers, just to name a few of them.

For Somalis, Kenya is the 2nd sweet home over half a million drought refugees and another half a million or so of externally displaced person settled in Kenya in the past twenty years who are running lucrative business almost in ever commercial center in Kenya. Al-Shabaab victory over the Kenyan and Gandi militia will have adverse repercussion on the Somalis life and their business in the long run.

The Kenyan Military Incursion & the Ambiguity of the TFG Leaders

The President of the TFG declared that only the Kenyan trained Somali soldiers can cross the border line and clear al-Shabaab from the country, whereas the Kenyan army has to carry on the logistic support. The Prime Minister said just the opposite. He recommended that Kenyan army, Azania militia and the TFG soldiers are allowed to cross into the Somali border and dislodge al-Shabaab from Jubba lands. Not only that but a good number of MPs who are sympathetic of Azania creation backed the stand of the Prime Minister; while a double of that number of parliamentarians are supportive to the position of the TFG President.

So far there’s only eyeballing and no one is budging, but below the surface the political crack is evident, and many are asking the survival of the TFG before August 2012.However one thing is sure. Azania, or any other political administration brokered by Kenya or Ethiopia will not have a safe landing in Somalia where 20 other clans and sub-clans call home and finding themselves marginalized by Azania promoters.

Azania is now on drafting book, but the genie is already out of the bottle and the offshore oil discovery in Jubba land may herald a new cycle of tragic conflict both for Kenya and Somalia. Things are planned on one way track, and no one thinks how to handle about a protracted war in the jungle.

Currently, Somalia is a victim on the cross-roads of contemptuous geopolitical scramble, where hypothetical slogans and political conjures give way to uncertainty and dilemmas that will cast a long shadow in the region for some time. The swords are already drawn, the beagle of the war reverberates in the land, yet everything stands on shifting sand.

Source: KeydMedia By Prof. Mohamoud Iman Adan 07.11.2011

Kenya’s Uncertain Campaign

When on Oct. 16 Kenya sent hundreds of troops into Somalia, its perennially problematic neighbor, it was going to war for the first time in three decades. The operation was ostensibly a response to recent raids by Somali militants into northern Kenya to kidnap tourists and aid workers. More likely, though, the Kenyan government seized the occasion to try to root out the Shabab, a group of Islamist insurgents, which has become increasingly meddlesome and dangerous. But it is stepping into a political mess, and for the moment the Kenyan government seems to be shooting from the hip.

Kenya has its fair share of problems – grinding poverty, in-your-face corruption, high crime rates. Outright war, however, has not been part of life here, and the invasion of Somalia has raised unfamiliar fears. Analysts were quick to spot inconsistencies in the justification for the military operation. Why doesn’t the Kenyan government take action when its own citizens are killed or kidnapped in cross-border raids? And why go all the way to Somalia to pursue the Shabab when the group has extensive money-making operations in the Kenyan capital? As Joshua Orwa Ojode, assistant minister for provincial administration and internal security, has put it, “Al-Shabab is like a snake whose tail is in Somalia, but the head is here in Nairobi.”

Still, since the first pictures of the Kenyan troops streamed across television screens last month, the mood on the streets of Nairobi has been largely supportive. “Let them get a beating,” my usually sedate taxi driver Peter said, “they can’t just come here and do what they want.” A poll taken this month on the popular local radio station Capital FM confirmed the sentiment: 87 percent of the 1,500 respondents supported the invasion.

One reason is that tourism brings in over $800 million to Kenya each year, and many Kenyans have worried that the kidnappings will hurt the sector. Reading between the lines, though, one can also detect a frustrated sense of pride. After the ugly post-election violence here in 2008, and in the face of recurrent corruption scandals, many have been eager to see decisive action taken against lawlessness.

But does the government have an adequate game plan? According to foreign diplomats here, it had been preparing for action at least since July, when U.N. investigators released a report detailing Shabab activities in Nairobi. Drawing on interviews with insurgents, phone recordings and bank transfers, the report described how Nairobi had become a hub of militant activity and financing. Shabab affiliates in the city had been planning bombings and other attacks. Similar accusations had been made before, but this time they were backed up with evidence.

By launching its operation last month, the Kenyan army was hoping to deal a fatal blow to the Shabab while it was weak. The group was reeling from having lost control over the Bakara arms market in the Somali capital of Mogadishu and up to $50 million in annual tax revenues. The famine that has decimated the Horn of Africa since July has also hit the militia hard: thousands of Somalis have turned on the group and left Shabab-controlled areas after it denied access to international aid groups. The Kenyan army’s main objective is to reach the port city of Kismayo, a Shabab bastion and the source of a $50 million in customs duties.

This is a risky gamble. There have been three grenade attacks in Kenya since the invasion. Footage on the evening news of the blood-stained floor at Mwaura’s, a drinking den in Nairobi, and of victims in hospital beds have prompted worries that the operation could make Kenya less secure. Police checkpoints have sprung up in the capital, and bars and shopping malls now conduct obligatory bag and body searches. Many Kenyans have started to wonder whether the government can clamp down on the militia without unleashing further attacks. “Lancing the abscess without killing the patient” is the way one Kenyan friend cast the challenge.

After quick progress at first, the Kenyan troops have been bogged down by heavy rains. Over the past week, they have hardly advanced toward Kismayo. And while Nairobi has been calm for the past two weeks, a grenade attack in the eastern town of Garissa has been blamed on the Shabab.

What’s more, in the medium-term the fallout from the Kenyan offensive could well exceed the risk of more attacks by Shabab. Even though it’s difficult to forecast how, the campaign will have an important impact on domestic politics, especially as Kenyan politicians ramp up for elections next year. Kenya has a history of opportunistic ethnic rabble-rousing, most notoriously after the contentious vote in 2007.

Some 2.5 million ethnic Somalis live in Kenya, and many have nervously thrown their weight behind the offensive. Somali clan politics reach deep into Kenya, and Kenyan-Somali politicians – such as Defense Minister Yusuf Haji and the deputy speaker of parliament Farah Maalim – are playing to their grassroots constituencies.

The Kenyan invasion of Somalia could also deepen existing rifts among the country’s Muslims – at least 10 percent of the population – who have been at odds recently over the creation of local Islamic courts and the perceived marginalization of the mostly Muslim coast.

As Christmas lights go up on the shopping malls in Nairobi, it is easy to relegate the war in Somalia to the policy backburner. But while the Kenyan tanks advance slowly toward Kismayo, important questions remain unanswered: What will they do once they get there? Can Kenya protect itself by occupying a foreign country? Will the government be able to keep a lid on simmering tensions at home?

Source IHT 09.11.2011

Jason K. Stearns, a political analyst working on Central and East Africa, is the former coordinator of the U.N. Group of Experts on the Congo and the author of “Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa.”

War games buffet Somalia

The sounds of war are roaring throughout East Africa as the U.S. and other western countries guide deadly drones, train troops and stockpile weapons in a build-up that had until recently been rejected by African heads of state.

Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, wrote last week that a combined force of U.S. Predator drones and French naval vessels had targeted four towns in the southern region of Somalia so that Kenyan military forces on the ground could seize Kismayo, a port city under the control of Al-Shabab.

At least 4,000 Kenyan troops are fighting alongside the Somali government’s troops, and fighters from the African Union, Uganda and Burundi, it was reported.

Firm African opposition to a U.S. military presence on the continent appears to have softened as Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia have all opened their doors to U.S. counterterrorism training and equipment of militaries to “preclude terrorists from establishing sanctuaries,” U.S. sources said.

With military strikes, however, come deadly errors such as the recent aerial bombardment of a camp in Somalia for displaced persons. Kenyan planes seeking to hit the base of the al-Shabab insurgents, strafed the camp, wounding 52 including 31 children, many with shrapnel, according to the relief group Doctors Without Borders.

The strikes have increased the angry threats by the Al-Shabab movement which vowed to avenge the deaths of civilians.

“Kenya has brutally massacred civilians already displaced by hardship… We will ensure that Kenya mourns more than we did,” said regional official Sheikh Abukar Ali Ada

Source: Frost Illustrated 08.11.2011

Kenya develops plan for satellite region of Jubaland on Somali border

Invasion success could see Kenyan port converted to oil terminal to ship oil from Sudan and road links from Ethiopia to Indian Ocean.

Operation Linda Nchi (Protect the Nation), which Kenya launched in mid-October, is already yielding poisonous fruit.

The army sent about 2,000 men across the border into Somalia to combat Islamist al-Shabaab insurgents who control much of the south.

There is more to operation Linda Nchi than just an incursion by a powerful neighbour.Until now Kenya has supported the Somali transitional federal government, which is backed by Ugandan and Burundian troops belonging to the African Mission in Somalia (Amison), and the US, without becoming directly involved.

Under rules set by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, formed by Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda, no other country is empowered to launch a military intervention in Somalia.

Several sources agree, however, that the Kenyan intervention plan was discussed and decided in 2010, then finalised with input from western partners, including the US and to a lesser extent France.Nairobi seems to have seized on kidnappings of foreign nationals by Somali groups on Kenyan territory as an excuse to launch an operation ready and waiting.

The final decision, taken precipitously, apparently surprised allies of Kenya,such as Ethiopia, which also has plans to intervene in Somalia.It is thought that both countries want to carve out zones of influence. Nairobi plans to set up a semi-autonomous region, Jubaland. A puppet government would be used to control resources and facilities, starting with Kismayo,a port used by smuggling networks with Kenyan links, according to a UN report published in July.

If the Kenyan army took control of Kismayo and established a satellite region in Jubaland, who would run it?The former Somali defence minister, a French-educated anthropologist, Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, seemed a good choice.In April he formed the Azania group, made up of Somali soldiers belonging to the Ogaden clan and trained by Nairobi at Isiolo in Kenya.

But plans for Azania have been cut down.Equipped by Nairobi with arms supplied by China, as revealed by WikiLeaks cables, Azania’s 3,000-strong force did not live up to expectations in the field.Ethiopia also objected to an Ogadeni principality being established on its doorstep: Addis Ababa is already combating a rebellion led by the Ogaden National Liberation Front, which finds recruits among this clan.So the task of governing Kismayo will be allotted to other influential clans, primarily the Marehan, and the most powerful armed groups in the region, in particular the Ras Kamboni militia, former Islamist combatants who have been “turned round” to fight al-Shabaab.

However, if Kenya does capture Kismayo, another solution is now being considered.Amisom forces from Mogadishu could be deployed there, at which juncture Kenyan troops could join the ranks of the African Union force.This would also pave the way for a major infrastructure project in the region. Lamu, Kenya’s traditional port, mainly used for luxury tourism until now, would be converted into an oil terminal, providing an outlet for the as yet unexploited oilfields of southern Sudan and northern Kenya. Radiating out from Lamu, a rail and road network would connect Ethiopia and Sudan to the Indian Ocean.

This scheme, which is still under study, would be supported by almost $10bn in Chinese investments. But it is obviously not compatible with a zone of insecurity maintained by al-Shabaab.

However, the advance by the Kenyan military is not going as well as hoped: it rained steadily for the first fortnight of the intervention and heavy vehicles were bogged down.

Further reading visit The Guardian 08.11.2011

Spirits high as Kenya Navy kills 18 Shabaab(The 18 slyed are Kenyan Fishermen)

The Kenya Navy has sunk a boat filled with 18 suspected Al Shabaab militants as the Kenya Defence Forces say they are confident of winning looming epic battles in Kismayu and Afmadow, despite the insurgents’ rearmament and reinforcements in both towns.

 “Let them bring as much [arms] as they can and we are going to reduce them as much as we can,” said Military Spokesperson Major Emmanuel Chirchir Thursday. He provided a video clip of the burning boat in the Indian Ocean and said the militia has now turned to using donkeys to ferry weapons.

Further reading visit Standard 03.11.2011

In pictures: Somalis flee north after Kenyan incursion

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Source: BBC 01.11.2011

Author vs warlord: Jubaland’s ‘governor-in-waiting’

If the Kenyan military incursion succeeds and the port of Kismayu is captured, the next item on the agenda will be choosing a man to put in charge of the liberated area that is likely to become the semi-automous state of Jubaland.

Will it be the prolific author and French educated PhD Dr Mohammed Abdi Gandi or the former warlord Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Islam, known also as Sheikh Ahmed Madobe?

It is widely held within the intelligence community in the region that the choice of either is of great interest to two regional powers, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Gandi, who is a former minister of defence of Somalia, and the current “president of Azania” (Jubaland) is said to be the candidate favoured by the Kenyan intelligence establishment. He is based in Kenya and is alsosaid to be a favourite with the French.

Nicknamed “Gandi,” Mohammed hails from the Ogaden sub-clan of the Darod, which is prevalent in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The choice of Gandi is said to make Addis Ababa uncomfortable, largely because of the notion that he could harbour the territorial ambitions of his people to carve out an Oromia super-state that unites the Oromo population in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Ethiopia’s ambassador to Kenya Shemsudin Ahmed however, says that his people know Gandi well and they have a good working relationship. Ethiopia also supports Kenya’s military incursion.

He said that Ethiopia’s worry is foreign powers such as Eritrea that have in the past supported Oromo insurgents.

Gandi holds PhD degrees in geology and anthropology and history.

In February 2009, Gandi was appointed Somalia’s minister of defense by the nation’s then head of government, prime minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke. He held the position until November 2010.

In April 2011, the new autonomous region in southern Somalia referred to as Azania (formerly Jubaland), was formed and Gandi took over as its first president. Gandi’s first stated policy initiative is to remove the Al Shabaab group of militants from the territory.

Ras Kamboni

Sheikh Ahmed Madobe is the chairman of the Ras Kamboni movement. As a member of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) he was governor of Kismayu in 2006.

This is the man favoured by Kenya’s military establishment and Ethiopians who have dealt with him.

The military view Madobe in a good light because he has commanded a militia in the past and he could easily raise an army.

When the ICU was overthrown by the Ethiopian National Defense Force, he fled towards the Kenyan border when he was wounded, and later received medical treatment at an Ethiopian hospital. He was later arrested by the Ethiopians.

When the Somali parliament expanded to 550 MPs, he was elected MP in January 2009 and released from Ethiopian prison. In April 2009, he announced his resignation fromparliament.

Sheikh Ahmed Madobe was the leader of Ras Kamboni Brigades (the predecessor to the Ras Kamboni movement) which was allied to Hizbul Islam. In October 2009, armed conflict between Hizbul Islam and Al Shabaab began in a dispute between a fraction of the Ras Kamboni Brigades and Al Shabaab over who was in charge of Kisimayu.

The Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia and Jabiso, which were aligned to Al Shabaab in Hiiraan and Mogadishu refused to support the Ras Kamboni Brigades.

This also led to a split within the Ras Kamboni Brigades, with a faction led by Ahmed Madobe starting the war against Al Shabaab and a faction led by Hassan “Turki” siding with Al Shabaab.

The battle of Kismayu was decisively won by Al Shabaab, which expelled Madobe’s Ras Kamboni forces from the city.

In the battles that followed, in November 2009, Madobe’s forces were overpowered by Al Shabaab and local allies and forced to withdraw from the Lower Juba region and most of southern Somalia. 

Source: The east African African 30.10.2011

Why Did Kenya Invade Somalia?

Kenya is in the third week of a major military offensive inside neighboring Somalia. Called “Operation Protect the Nation,” it is Kenya’s largest military operation since independence in 1963. Around 1,600 troops are sweeping through areas of Southern Somalia controlled by the extremist Islamist group, al Shabaab. The Kenyan air force has also been in action, launching bombing raids on insurgent bases. Kenya’s military spokesman has even used his twitter account to warn residents living near al Shabaab camps in 10 towns to take shelter against imminent attacks.

Q: Why did Kenya invade?

Richard Downie: Kenyans have gotten increasingly alarmed about Somalia’s chronic instability, which has spilled over its borders. One manifestation of this instability is Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya, which receives Somalis fleeing the humanitarian crisis in their own country. Numbers at this camp have swelled to almost 450,000 because of the famine conditions in parts of Southern Somalia.

The Kenyan authorities were dismayed in October when two Spanish aid workers were kidnapped from the camp and taken into Somalia, prompting relief operations to be scaled back. But probably the final straw was the series of raids on coastal resorts by Somali criminals that preceded the attack in Dadaab. First, a British man was shot dead and his wife snatched from a beach resort close to the Somali border. Second, a disabled pensioner from France was seized near Lamu and taken to Somalia, where she subsequently died. Her kidnappers have demanded a ransom for her body.

Tourism is critical to Kenya’s economy, and the country is entering peak holiday season. We don’t actually know if al Shabaab was responsible for these kidnappings. Indeed, the Kenyans claim they were planning a military incursion long before they happened. But it’s clear that they helped focus Kenyan minds on the seriousness of the Somali problem and underlined the need to take action.

What is the military objective?

In essence, Kenya wants to keep al Shabaab at arms’ length from its border. It has already experimented with the idea of carving out a buffer zone inside Somalia. Earlier this year, it backed the formation of an autonomous region called Jubaland, or Azania, providing money and supplies to a hastily cobbled-together local governing authority under the leadership of a former Somali defense minister. This initiative never really got off the ground so this time round Kenya is taking the lead role rather than relying so heavily on local partners.

What is the extent of U.S. involvement in this operation?

Kenya’s status as a long-standing security partner of the United States has given rise to speculation that the United States is participating in this operation. Certainly, both countries have a shared interest in defeating al Shabaab, which is a designated terrorist group in the United States. But U.S. officials are adamant that the decision to take military action was Kenya’s and Kenya’s alone. They say they were not even briefed beforehand about Nairobi’s intention to take action. They have, however, expressed strong support for the operation. Kenya has been coy about naming the international partners who are assisting with its military offensive. It is unlikely to be coincidental that a U.S. air base in Ethiopia recently became operational. The base is used as a launch pad for unmanned drones that conduct counterterrorism surveillance across the Horn of Africa. The Pentagon says the Reaper drones are unarmed, but they are capable of being deployed for offensive operations. Missiles from U.S. drones have previously been used to kill suspected al Qaeda leaders in Somalia.

What are the military risks for Kenya?

Kenya has swept into Somalia on a wave of public support, and all the talk so far is of big military gains. But Kenya should not be fooled: this is a risky operation, and the risks will get bigger the longer the operation lasts. Kenya has not clearly defined its military objectives; instead, it has issued vague pronouncements to rid Somalia of extremists, which raise fears of a long and messy engagement. The history of outside military intervention in Somalia should also give the Kenyans pause for thought. Somalis do not tend to agree on much, but one thing that is guaranteed to unite them is opposition to external interference. We saw this in 2006, when Ethiopia invaded Somalia to oust the Islamic Courts Union, a governing authority that achieved considerable success in bringing a semblance of order to Mogadishu but whose anti-Ethiopian rhetoric caused alarm in Addis Ababa.

The invasion turned into a brutal occupation, triggering an insurgency that has lasted to this day. The Ethiopians withdrew two years later. Kenya is not viewed with quite the same level of hostility as Ethiopia, which is Somalia’s traditional adversary. But it will have to tread carefully nonetheless. Civilian casualties are likely to intensify Somali hostility to Kenya. There have already been reports from an international medical organization that five civilians in a camp for internally displaced people were killed in an air strike on the town of Jibil. Mistakes like this will inflame local opinion.

Kenya also has a domestic community of approximately 2.4 million Kenyan Somalis to consider, mainly in Nairobi and on the coast. Concerns have been raised of a potential “fifth column” inside Kenya. Al Shabaab has played on those fears, promising terrorist attacks inside Kenya. There have already been three grenade attacks in the past 10 days. A man arrested in connection with two of the attacks admitted in court to being an al Shabaab sympathizer.

Another problem for Kenya is that its proxies in Southern Somalia are not reliable. Some of them were fighting with al Shabaab until fairly recently, before switching sides. There is also a danger of antagonizing its ally and neighbor, Ethiopia, which has been backing its own proxies inside Southern Somalia. The ethnic groups most likely to benefit from Kenya’s operation in Southern Somalia are from the Ogadeni clan, whose kin inside Ethiopia have long resisted the government in Addis Ababa.

Is al Shabaab on its last legs?

While it would be premature to declare the demise of al Shabaab, the group is undoubtedly weaker than it was at the start of the year. First, any public support the group may once have had has long since evaporated due to the callous way it has handled the drought in the areas under its control. Within al Shabaab, there are splits between the international jihadists and those who have a more nationalist agenda. These splits have been further widened by the famine. The leaders whose domestic constituencies are worst affected want to allow foreign assistance into their regions, but they have been opposed by hardliners from other parts of the country.

As well as political weakness, al Shabaab is under military pressure. In addition to the Kenyan challenge, it is being squeezed by the Ethiopians on its western border. Furthermore, it was forced to retreat from Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in August following an offensive by troops from the 9,000-strong African Union peacekeeping mission. (It described the withdrawal as “tactical.”) It has since retaliated with a string of suicide bombings, but this move to asymmetrical warfare has been interpreted by military analysts as a sign of weakness and desperation.

Until now, al Shabaab has been fairly robust financially. It has made a lot of money from taxes, port revenues, and exports of charcoal. For this reason, it will be interesting to see what happens if Kenyan troops are able to secure the coastal city of Kismayo, an al Shabaab stronghold. Control of Kismayo port is a significant revenue stream for al Shabaab, and if they lost it, they would suffer a big hit financially.

Having said all this, it is probably too early to write off al Shabaab. First, there is a risk that the Kenyan operation will backfire and that the invasion will help rally support behind al Shabaab just at a time when it was starting to look weak. Also, there is a big question mark over its main domestic competitor, the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which shows no sign that it can capitalize on al Shabaab’s frailties. The TFG has international support but is hated by most Somalis for its incompetence, corruption, and inability to provide public services. Even if al Shabaab is pushed out, the inadequacies of the TFG mean that the most likely outcome for Somalia will be a governance vacuum and another descent into warlordism.

Critical Questions is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Richard Downie is a fellow and deputy director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The views expressed in this piece are solely those of Richard Downie. 

Source: CNN 05.11.2011

Professor Axmad I. Samatar oo Ka Hadlay Faragalinta Kenya

Dood ku Saabsan Faragelinta Kenya ee Soomaaliya

Kenya-French Somali Oil War “must read”

Al-Shabab is Somalia’s enemy number one and they deserve punishment and condemnation for their atrocities and terrorist murders against innocent Somalis and their neighbors. I support the genuine efforts by the African Union and the Somali Transitional Federal Government to dislodge this violent group from power.

However, the recent Kenyan invasion of Somalia on the pretext that Al-Shabab threatened Kenya at this time is deeply suspicious and troubling for the following reasons.

On Wednesday September 21st 2011 The French Oil giant Total acquires “40% interest in five offshore exploration blocks in the Lamu Basin, blocks L5, L7, L11a, L11b and L12” ( see company press release here).  This is not actually in the Lamu Basin alone but encroaches on Somalia’s southern (Kismayo) Exclusive Economic Zone which is the target of the Kenyan Military occupation forces.

On October 8th 2011 the Somalia parliament overwhelmingly rejected and made illegal any attempt to meddle or change the Somalia’s Exclusive Economic Zone. This is an area where Kenyan officials were lobbying to reduce Somalia’s Exclusive Economic Zone from 200 to 12 nautical miles.

Ten days later on October 18th Kenyan military invades Somalia with air cover provided by French Navy’s Air Wing in a pretext that they are after Al-Shabab militia. Mind you Al-Shabab has been ravaging this area for years and Kenya even refused many attempts to contribute forces to African Union forces in Mogadishu. The Somali president made many trips to Nairobi and came back empty-handed. The French involvement is collaborated by the Kenyan defense ministry as noted by Kenyan military spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir said “the French navy bombed the town of Kuday near the southern al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo on Saturday night. A Nairobi-based diplomat told The Associated Press last week that France was carrying out military attacks in Somalia; French officials in Paris denied French forces were carrying out any attacks.” (See National Public Radio here). Why would France deny weakening Al-Shabab which is designated a terrorist organization by the United Nations, US and European Union while Kenya acknowledges it?!

The Kenyan military did not inform their intention to go after Al-Shaba to Somali TFG or the African Union Forces who are engaged fierce battles with Al-Shabab. The United States a close allied of Kenya was kept in the dark on this offensive as reported by New York Times “Kenya’s sudden incursion into Somalia over the weekend caught the United States “on its heels,” one American official said Thursday. A former American official with experience in Africa said Kenyan officers had given their American counterparts “zero” information before the offensive started.”

The Somali President condemned the Kenyan action and spoke against this illegal invasion “the strike degrades the trust built up between the two countries over the past few decades”  

The timing of the Kenyan invasion couldn’t have come at a worse time, in the sense that Somali Transitional Federal Government and supporting African Union Forces have cleared Al-Shabab from the capital Mogadishu in recent weeks and had the upper-hand militarily and financially. Clearing Al-Shabab from the Southern Somalia within months was a real possibility. The Kenyan invasion makes the job of the Somali Transitional Government and the African Union Forces much more difficult and may in fact reverse some of success they have had over the months.

Somali observers and specialists are perplexed why now and why do it in belligerently and disrespectful way towards the Somali Transitional Federal Government?  

There is a strong possibility Kenya and French governments in cahoots with oil giant was unsuccessful buying the Somali parliament and annexing Somali sovereign territory for oil has became impossibility. They realized the Somali Transitional Government was more assertive and freeing southern Somalia from Al-Shabab was likely scenario. A pre-emptive strike was plan B solution to carve a small mini-state so called “buffer zone” with a puppet leadership guaranteeing a free reign on southern Somalia’ Economic Exclusive Zone.

Kenya believes the revenue from the off-shore oil drilling from the Somalia’s Economic Exclusive Zone is more than what they would have made declining tourist industry and is ready to gamble on it. Apparently Kenyan leaders will remember too late the old saying “Don’t gamble the rent money or you’ll land up sleeping on the park bench” I hope I am all wrong and the Kenyans mean well but I am not optimistic.

Source Hiiraan Online-By Ali Osman 27.10.2011

The Quixotic Invasion of Somalia Will Devastate Kenya “must read”

Kenya’s military invasion of Somalia ostensibly to pursue the Al Shabaab terrorists is unconstitutional and unnecessary, argues Onyango Oloo.The war is part of a larger US/NATO geo-political agenda to ‘stabilize’ the Horn of Africa in line with wider imperialist interests.

Those forlorn, bloated young corpses roasting in the scorching Somali sun could very well be the remains of recently expired Kenyan combat troops. There has been a lot of fervent flag waving, agitated anthem intoning and cheesy chest thumping over the last few days all across the country. Nairobi-based television anchors have exchanged their ill-fitting suits for equally bizarre military fatigues in a pathetic attempt to reprise the recurring martial misadventures of CNN and BBC superstars like Christiane Anampour, Nic Robertson et al.

The hyped-up Kenyan jingoism, misplaced machismo and boisterous braggadocio has left an overwhelming feeling ravaging through my body: A sense of nausea and profound disgust.

As our preening neo-colonial chieftains, who get their talking points from Washington, London ,Brussels and other capitals of the West, try to out-bush Bush and out-blair Blair in banging the drums of war and clanging the cymbals of foreign intervention , the hapless citizens are reduced to an abject bleating national choir of meek sheep endorsing every propaganda sound byte of the cynical warmongers in cabinet and the self-serving parliament.

But first things first. This war is unnecessary. It is illegal. It is fake. It is doomed to fail.

WHY IS IT UNNECESSARY?

What ostensibly ‘provoked’ the impulsive invasion of Somalia by armed-to-the teeth Kenyan military troops was a criminal act involving the kidnapping of a couple of foreignersby bandits who could even turn out to be Kenyans,the assumption that they are definitely Somali born, bred and based Al Shabaab militants notwithstanding.

The response which could have been apt was a police response; not an uncalled for massive military operation for crying out loud!The details of this suggested police intervention need not have precluded covert coordination with our security organs – Kenyan and non-Kenyan.

WHY IS THE WAR ILLEGAL?

The supreme law in Kenya is the constitution. What does the Kenyan constitution say? On state of emergency: ’58. (1) A state of emergency may be declared onlyunder Article 132 (4) (d) and only when – (a) the State is threatened by war, invasion, general insurrection, disorder, natural disaster or other public emergency.”

Role of the National Assembly: ’95. (6) The National Assembly approves declarations of war and extensions of states of emergency.’

Term of Parliament: ‘102. (2) When Kenya is at war, Parliament may, by resolution supported in each House by at least two-thirds of all the members of the House, from time to time extend the term of Parliament by not more than six months at a time.’

Functions of the president: ‘132. (4) The President may – (d) subject to Article 58, declare a state of emergency; (e) with the approval of Parliament, declare war.’

Everyone knows what happened.The minister for internal security flanked by his ministry of defence counterpart informed Kenyans through a press conference that Kenya was at war, in total violation of the constitutional provisions.

WHY IS IT FAKE?

Because Kenyans have been lied to. Contrary to the impression that this is an angry national reaction to a recent provocation,the fact of the matter is that this military operation has been in the planning pipeline for quite some time. According to impeccable sources who are quite familiar with the inside workings of Kenya’s military, intelligence and security machinations, what is happening in Somalia is part of a detailed and coordinated Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGAD) joint intervention in Somalia with specific roles for Ethiopia, the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, the African Union troops and the Kenyan military.

A story published in the October 28, 2011 issue of the Africa Report cites the Kenyan political leadership at the highest echelons admitting that an earlier plan to go after Al-Shabaab covertly from Kenya using specially trained elite forces recruited from the Kenyan ethnic Somali population floundered after most of these recruits deserted after their training.

Far from this incursion into Somalia being propelled by a patriotic Kenyan desire to defend the country it turns out that we are just pawns in the larger US/NATO geo-political agenda to ‘stabilize’ the Horn of Africa region in line with the wider imperialist agenda of consolidating world monopoly capital which has of late been buffeted by a severe crisis in the United States itself, the meltdown of the Euro in Europe and growing protests by the burgeoning global Occupy Wall Street inspired citizen mass actions. There is a connection between the Kenyan military foray into Oddo, Kismayu and other towns and the NATO-led bombing of Libya and the ultimate brutal slaughter of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his loyalists in Sirte.

Closer to home, the military misadventure in Somalia may provide the excuse for some of these Kenyan political criminals in power to go for a horrendous cash grab to bolster the 2012 war chest for their various presidential bids.

Think about it: What is the least transparent aspect of the Kenyan budgetary process? Allocating funds to the military and national intelligence and security services. Using the guise and pretext of safeguarding some undefined ‘national security interests’, the mandarins in the Treasury, the well-connected technocrats and ‘securocrats’ at the Department of Defence (DOD), the backroom boys at State House, the apparatchiks at the various party headquarters and the merchants of impunity in parliament and the errand boys in the civil service could very well conspire to steal billions of Kenyan taxpayers’ money with the excuse that these funds are paying for the operations in Somalia.

On a related note, a close friend of mine told me the other day that some of the ICC connected players in PNU and ODM are blackmailing Prime Minister Raila Odinga into being part of this Somalia circus because they hope to delay or even postpone next year’s presidential and general elections hoping to buy time in case any of the Ocampo Six are confirmed for trial at the ICC.

By declaring a conventional military offensive against a loose militia with a penchant for guerrilla tactics, it is apparent that the Kenyan government has not learned anything from the last 50 years of contemporary conflicts – from Vietnam, through Northern Ireland, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Eritrea, Uganda, Iraq to Colombia.

The Kenyan regime could prove very gullible ideologically to the machinations of Al Shabaab. Remember, Kenyans in the north and among sections of the country’s Muslim population may be vulnerable and even receptive to overtures from pro-Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab elements who may portray the conflict with the Kenyan state in religious terms as a jihad against pro-Western infidels headquartered in Nairobi. There have been credible reports of Kenyans being recruited or acting as recruiters for both Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda.

Tactically it might not be very wise to unleash all this machismo and braggadocio with reckless talk of ‘bring it on’. Remember the kind of people who join outfits like Al Shabaab see themselves as martyrs to higher spiritual causes who are quite ready and more than willing to strap themselves with explosives and blow themselves up as suicide bombers, so it will take more than threats of tanks and fighter jets to cow them into abject submission.

Here is an excerpt from a Somaliland blog carrying an opinion piece by Dr Dirrir Ali, which might prove interesting reading for Kenyans:

Long before Restore Hope, the joint UN and USA humanitarian campaign in Somalia in early 1990s, a consultant to the UN on Somalia advised the USA administration to attempt everything else but not war with Somalis. In his opinion, war is the thing Somalis know best. The USA did not heed that precious advice and we all remember the way that campaign went wrong – it ended with the famous Black hawk down and that was the last USA chapter of waging war in Somalia – at least an open and all out ground war. That UN consultant is called Mr John Drysdale. He knew the closing stages of the campaign even before it was waged. He was not a fortune teller; Mr Drysdale was some one who had firsthand experience of what Somalis are capable of accomplishing in the war field. He was the British administrator of Somaliland more than four decades prior to the debut of that campaign.”

‘The Ethiopians were not dissuaded by the US experience in Somalia. They did not either learn much from their centuries-old wars with Somalis and with the help of the US air power, they too attacked and captured Mogadishu, but their victory did not last long and they were also compelled to a humiliating withdrawal after Somalis taught them a lesson in urban and guerrilla warfare.

‘Now it appears that Kenyans did not learn much about the history of Somali warfare. In my opinion they too have made very bad miscalculationsand do not understand that all Somalis are not the murderous Al-shabaab group and the Transitional Federal Government.The Somali population is not the weak and famine-devastated thousands that live in refugee camps in the old Northern Frontier District (NFD), which it self is a Somali region given to Kenya in the early 1960s, after Kenya gained its independence from Britain. NFD is one of the five Somali territories represented in the star on the Somalia flag. Besides NFD, the other four Somali territories are Somalia, The Republic of Djibouti, The self administered Somali region in Ethiopia and the Republic of Somaliland.

‘If Kenyans fancy to believe that they could win a war and defeat Somalis, it is passable for them to accept as true what they believe,but the truth of the matter is they are playing with inextinguishable fire – a greater Somali fire. Starting a war in this region can easily instigate Somalis to reclaim their Northern Frontier District (NFD).Therefore, it is my brotherly advise to Kenyans to withdraw immediately before Somalis beat the drums of war. Believe me that will not be a good sign for the Kenyans. To give you an example of what that could mean, the recent Kenyan civil unrest will feel just like a picnic in warm summer day on Mount Kilimanjaro.

‘Since its independence from Italy, Somalia is wounded by civil war, famine, terrorism and corrupt incompetent consecutive regimes, but Somalis are far from dead and are strong enough to inflict everlasting damage to an aggressor. They are also blessed with Muslim and Arab brethren, who will not hesitate to assist them to rebel all enemies from all Somali territories.

‘Kenyans have no business crossing the borders to Somalia; it is illegal under international law and it is morally wrong.If they have beef with Al-Shabaab then they must fight them in their own territory and not inside Somalia. Kenyans must not arrogantly over estimate their economic and military power and must keep in mind thatonly Somalis are capable of defeating Somalis and no body else.They must bear in mind that their country is very easily susceptible to fractures along ethnic lines. By starting a war with Somalis, the Kenyan economy and tourism industry can be devastated within hours.It must realize that it can not win the wars lost by super powers.Kenya must not be fooled by the guys who call themselves the TFG of Somalia; these guys lack morality, education, experience and live their lives under the protection of the Ugandan forces in their home – Mogadishu. They can be bought and sold in a junk yard. If the Kenyans trust the strategic analysis of these TFG guys then they are deficient in judgement.

‘Somalis know too well the illegal Somalia territorial waters concession made to Kenya by the illegal and morally corrupt TFG. Somalis are aware of the Azania project that is established by Kenyans through a mercenary force headed by Mr. Gandi, a power hungry opportunist.Somalis quite appreciate Kenya’s geopolitical ambitions, both short and long term strategies. By looking at realities on the ground, these Kenyan dreams are far from becoming true.Kenyan politicians must clear their heads of the myths and wrong assumptions. They are not able to conquer more territories from Somalis, but instead the Northern Frontier District might go back to the hands of Somalis.

‘In recent years Kenya has been enriched with the looting of Somalia in the pretext of international assistance through the NGOs mafia who consider the humanitarian assistance, war and drought confounded Somalis as their personal spoils of war.Not only that, but Kenya is also benefiting from Somalis who bring with them capital, technical and business expertise to that corruption-ridden East African country.Somalis have both directly and indirectly created jobs for millions of Kenyans. Thus, Kenya has benefited from Somalia more than any country in the world.For those simple reasons,Kenyans should be grateful to the Somalis and must not try to slaughter the goose that laid the golden eggs.

‘Kenya, and for that matter any other neighbouring country,must think twice before venturing to play with the Somali fire;it will never die out easily.Somalis might consider moving their businesses and investments from Kenya to neighbouring Republic of Somaliland and the Republic of Djibouti.Both Somaliland and Djibouti are eager to receive their Somali brethren and their investments with open hearts.The United Nations and the donor countries might also consider moving their offices to the more peaceful and politically stable Somaliland, since Kenya is not able to provide security to the foreign diplomats, expatriates and tourists in its country.’

On the broader geo-political front, the announcement by Saitoti, Haji and the warmongers in the Kenyan cabinet could be a stratagem signalled at the fascist US and NATO military-industrial complex that the Party of National Unity (PNU) side of the grand coalition government is gung-ho about the much discredited ‘war on terror’ with a view to gaining traction with the so called ‘international community’ (a convenient nickname for the Western powers) as a defender of ‘security’ and ‘stability’ of the restive East Africa and Horn of Africa region.

But this could backfire if the zealots in Al Shabaab appeal to their extremist allies in Pakistan, Afghanistan and nearby Yemen that they are under threat from a hostile client-regime in Nairobi, triggering a devastating wave of urban terrorist reprisals targeting civilian populations in places like Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nairobi and the like, not ignoring business, infrastructure and military targets.

There are those who will react with shock at my views in this essay. Some will find me ,unpatriotic’. Some will scream that I be prosecuted for treason. Well, I am in good company.

The Chief Justice of Kenya Willy Mutunga was once detained without trial allegedly because he was deemed ‘unpatriotic’ by our retired dictator. Prime Minister Raila Odinga was almost hanged after being accused of treason. I was among dozens of peaceful pro-democracy social justice activists who spent long years behind bars on sedition charges because we dared to speak the truth to power.

We counterpoise our genuine love for our Motherland Kenya to the fake nationalism of the warmongers. Our commitment to the freedom and emancipation of all Kenyans from neo-colonialism and imperialism preceded, and will outlast, these synthetic screeches covering up the local elite’s attempt to be the slaves of Uncle Sam and her NATO cousins in this part of Africa and the world. We will continue fighting for peace, democracy, equality, social justice and pan-African liberation in the spirit of internationalist solidarity and third world liberation.

Alutta continua!

Onyango Oloo, a Kenyan social justice activist, writer and former political prisoner and exile

Who is Kenya fighting?

ACCORDING to Kenya, it is not at war with Somalis but with the al-Qaeda-linked Shabab militia that controls most of south Somalia. Theoretically that may be true. But with several thousand troops on the ground, and with air, special forces and intelligence support from America, Britain, Ethiopia and France, the Kenyan message of peace for all Somalis rings somewhat hollow.

The Shabab are adept at propaganda. They lie about battle statistics. They have been accused of dressing up their own dead fighters to look like civilian casualties. Baobab recently asserted that in Somalia the untested Kenyan military needed to be competent and the jihadists inept. Kenya failed the first test by invading Somalia during the rainy season: its assault has already got stuck in the mud. The Shabab fighters are enured to the mosquitoes, thorniness and dysentry of bush fighting. The Kenyans may fare less well. None of this may matter. Kenya has geography and firepower on its side. Somalia has no Tora Bora in which the Shabab can hide. Even if its fighters scuttle to the mangrove swamps, they are likely to be picked off as they emerge.

Yet the Kenyans seem already to have squandered more of their advantage with their alarmingly muddled reporting of recent fighting. On October 30th, the Kenyan military spokesperson, Major Emmanuel Chirchir, announced that a Kenyan air strike on the Somali town of Jilib had killed 10 Shabab fighters and injured 47. He was adamant that no children or women among the casualties—just militants. The next day a report emerged from Médicins sans Frontières (MSF), a medical charity, stating they had attended five dead in their clinic in Jilib: three children, one woman, and one man. MSF said 45 people had been wounded, 31 of them children, 9 of them women, all with shrapnel injuries.

The Kenyan military explained that they had hit a Shabab lorry filled with ammunition, which had driven towards a crowd where Shabab officials were handing out food rations to displaced people. The Kenyans had no video to back up their claim, but even if true what matters is that the Shabab were handed a propaganda victory by dodgy Kenyan reporting. They will use the images of ruptured children for their ends.

Chastened, Kenya now says it will be in Somalia for as long as it takes to obliterate the jihadists, years, if necessary, say the senior Kenyan brass. Things will escalate further if Kenyans launch their promised assault on Kismayo and the Shabab respond by using weapons allegedly flown in by Eritrea and with threatened major terrorist strikes in Nairobi and beyond.

Economist 02.11.2011

Somali rebels say will subject Kenya to ‘endless war’

Somalia’s Shebab rebels said Thursday they were building defences that would plunge Kenyan forces battling them into an “endless war.”

The Shebab mujahideen will defend Somalia, and will put Kenya into an endless war,” the Al-Qaeda-linked rebels said in statement.

“We will defeat you like the other major countries that have suffered when they attacked Somalia, you will see the consequences.”

Since Somalia spiralled into civil war in 1991, several foreign armies — including US forces, UN peacekeepers and a 2006 Ethiopian invasion — have failed to create stability in the anarchic nation.

Further reading visit France24 03.11.2011

Kismayu Is Least Of Our Problems

Regular readers of this column will know that I regard our current military incursion into Somalia as little more than a distraction. Also that I have no doubt that it will all go very well for us in the initial weeks, given the nature of the terrain where the fighting is taking place, and the comparative resources of the two sides.

The outcome of modern wars, as anyone who followed the recent Libyan civil war will know, depends most on two factors. First, who has the bigger and better airforce; and, second, who has access to the best satellite-based intelligence, to offer guidance on where the airforce should drop its bombs for maximum effect.

If Somalia were mostly jungle, then a different set of dynamics would apply, and we would already be in very serious trouble. But as it is mostly semi-arid plains, the role of airpower will be decisive in Somalia, just as it was in the Libyan Desert.

Well, in the first place, the Al-Shabaab militias have no airforce at all; and then, although nobody will admit this openly, it is likely that Kenya is receiving some covert help from one or more Western nations, in this matter of satellite intelligence. So although there will be plenty of setbacks along the way, in the end this incursion is likely to prove to be a triumphant march towards the strategic target – the port city of Kismayu.

By my calculation, our troops should be there within two weeks. And it is at that point where everything will change. Kismayu is not some small hamlet that nobody had ever heard about, like some of those supposed “Al-Shabaab strongholds” that our forces have recently captured without much of a fight. It is a sizeable port, with a large civilian population.

And when an army occupies such a city, there is no telling who within this population are innocent civilians and who are Al-Shabaab militiamen who have thrown off their uniforms and hidden their weapons. It is at this point that the Al-Shabaab will likely begin to take their revenge for the ease with which they have been defeated in open battle. They will take every opportunity to launch sniper attacks at our soldiers, in the hope that the occupying force will respond by committing some atrocity which will turn the recently “liberated” citizens of Kismayu against the “foreigners”.

But, as I say, all this is but a distraction. We have more important things to worry about, such as whether or not we have learned our lessons well, from our post-election violence of 2008. Virtually all analyses of this post-election violence conclude that the election was merely the trigger of that violence, and that its root causes go much deeper. Above all, they point out to the dangers implicit in the existence of large numbers of unemployed youths within Kenya, who have despaired of ever getting ahead in life by legitimate means.

For it is such youths who – when the moment came – needed little excuse to embark on an orgy of arson, looting, raping and killing.

Further reading visit The Star 03.11.2011

US cautious over plans to blockade Somali port

Kenya and Somalia made the proposal after Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, the prime minister of Somalia’s Western-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG), met in Nairobi on Monday.

The United States reacted cautiously Wednesday to an appeal from Kenya and Somalia for international support to impose a blockade on the rebel-held Somali port of Kismayo.

 “Blockades are generally difficult to enforce and may have unintended consequences in the midst of a humanitarian crisis,” the State Department said in a statement.

Further reading visit Hiiraan Online

Source: Hiiraan Online 03.11.2011

Kenya’s blundering mission in Somalia

Kenya’s surprisingly brave march into southern Somalia, which began in mid-October, brings to mind the analogy of Kenya as a clumsy, overgrown, weak-muscled 17-year-old stumbling onto a rainy, muddy battlefield for the very first time. Weighed down by his kalashnikov and ego, he fiddles about to get his aim right, but his younger, more agile, bloodthirsty opponent is already waiting with his weapon cocked and ready to fire.

Until now, independent Kenya had never been to war or led a military intervention into another state. After 20 years of deftly avoiding resurrecting old neighbourly grudges and becoming directly involved in Somalia’s war, the Kenyan government finally decided to take the plunge.

On October 16, an estimated 3,000 Kenyan troops marched into Somalia to battle with the ‘terrorist’ and tourist menace that is al-Shabaab. On a mission to protect the nation’s “territorial intergrity”, Kenyan forces are attempting to secure the northern border with Somalia.

Buffers or proxies?

From providing intelligence support to recruiting and training Somali soldiers – even paying warlords to create a buffer zone between itself and its warring neighbour – Kenya has long sought to protect itself from Somalia’s mortars and missiles. So, too, has Ethiopia.

Since 1996, Ethiopia has tried to create a large safety belt to contain Somalia’s fighting and to block neighbouring Eritrea from gaining more ground in its border war with Ethiopia. Using Somalia’s crisis to wage its own proxy wars, Eritrea allegedly funds and arms anti-Ethiopian Somali Sufi factions while Ethiopia reportedly arms pro-Somali government militias. Currently, Ethiopian troops occasionally move in and out of southern Somalia’s Gedo region, a buffer zone. The troops are trying to contain the fighting between Ethiopian rebel separatist movements and Sufi Somali factions against Somalia’s interim government and Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s attempt at securing a safe space has largely resulted in propping up proxy militias, while Kenya’s dream of constructing a similar region has been focused on recruiting and dispatching Somali troops to man the border region. More concretely, support has been given to Somalia’s latest independent breakaway, Azania (also known as Jubaland).

The Juba Valley is home to 1.3 million people whose clans have clashed with each other, the Somali army and al-Shabaab insurgents. Jubaland is also the operational base of a separatist rebel movement, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, whose calls for the secession of the Ogaden region in Ethiopia have led to violent confrontations with the Ethiopian army. A 2010 WikiLeaks cable describes the Ethiopian government as “not enthusiastic about Kenya’s Jubaland initiative, but is sharing intelligence with Kenya and hoping for success”.

Abdi Gandhi, a professor and former defence minister who is currently the president of Azania, promised Kenya to “liberate Jubaland of extremists”, but has not quite made it to his office yet. According to Reuters news agency, Gandhi spends most of his time in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. Most of the progress made on Jubaland’s terrorist frontiers in recent months has been due to the efforts of the Somali and Kenyan national armies.

Already opposed to Azania’s partial autonomy, Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed openly disapproved of Kenyan boots on the ground.

History repeats itself

Commenting on Kenya’s intervention, last week, former US ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn said the best scenario would be for Kibaki’s forces to secure the towns and “try to replace al-Shabaab with Somali forces friendly to Kenya”.

History also shows that far superior armies have failed against al-Shabaab. In early November 1993, American and UN peacekeepers were humiliatingly defeated in a two-day bloody battle against Somali militiamen. Years later, Ethiopia tried too, and licked the same bitter wounds of defeat.

In 2006, a US-backed Ethiopian army marched into the Somali capital, triumphed over the original al-Shabaab, and handed Mogadishu over to the TFG. But local clansmen and clerics irked by Ethiopia’s invasion joined forces with the militant wing of the overthrown Islamic Courts Union, a collective of Sharia courts which formed a “rebel government” that, until Ethiopia troops’ arrival, had presided over southern Somalia, including Mogadishu. Driven by a mix of nationalist-jihadist sentiment, the new al-Shabaab marched into the capital and took back the city from one of Africa’s biggest and best-trained armies.

Militarily, Kenya is far weaker than Ethiopia. President Mwai Kibaki’s government does not have the budget for a lengthy fight as Zenawi did. After days of keeping up the official line: “The United States is not participating in Kenya’s current operation in Somalia,” the US alongside France are finally partners in Operation Linda Nchi (Operation Protect the Nation), as it’s officially known. The assistance is a welcome boost for the Kenyans, but whether air strikes and logistical support will be enough to defeat fervent anti-Western nationalists and extremists is another matter entirely.

An eye for an eye

Creating a buffer against al-Shabaab is a scary prospect for a country that’s never been to war. If Ethiopia’s record is any sign of what’s to come, then Operation Linda Nchi will be a difficult win. It’s been a hard sell to Kenya’s independent media, whose pages carry opinion editorials weighing up the costs and risks of intervention with each breaking news headline.

When 750,000 people are in dire need of humanitarian aid, there is no easy moral justification for what Kenya and its supporting cast of bombers, France and the US, are doing. Achieving stability in Jubaland is a noble goal, but this armed intervention risks displacing and starving even more people.

At the beginning of this week, Kenyan jets killed five non-combatants and injured 45 at a refugee camp near Jilib. According to international law, bombing camps for internally-displaced persons contravenes the rules of modern military engagement. The Americans and French are yet to kill, but when they do, more rules could be broken. The civilian body count will rise.

And when Kenyans start coming home in coffins by the dozen, the gravity of war will begin to sink into the hearts of rabid pro-intervention nationalists. Maybe then Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki might think back to the moment he ‘hesitated before giving the green light’ and do the unthinkable: consider negotiating with the terrorists.

Tendai Marima (PhD) is an independent researcher and correspondent currently based in Southern Africa.

Further reading visit Aljazeera.net

Source:  Aljazeera 02.11.2011

Parliament Didn’t Approve Incursion Into Somalia

Article 132(4)(e) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 vests the power to declare war on the president with parliament’s approval. Parliamentary approval is mandatory. It’s a condition precedent. A country cannot take our men and women in uniform to war and place them in extreme danger without our consent.

Sun Tzu cautions in The Art of War: “do not attack what cannot be overcome.” Ironically, the assistant minister for provincial administration and internal security, Orwa Ojodeh, made a remarkable statement in parliament last week. He said: “we are fighting a large snake with its head lodged deep inside Eastleigh estate in the City of Nairobi while its tail is in Somalia.”

So, what are our soldiers doing inside Somalia if the head of that snake is right here with us? When trying to kill a poisonous snake, do you first go for the tail or you strike the head? Why are we chasing the tail if we know where the head is?

Tragically, two Kenya navy officers who were pursuing the abductors of the French lady from Lamu drowned under mysterious circumstances. The abductors got away. About ten other soldiers have perished since the military operation began. Again, nobody has candidly explained how the terrorists – whoever they are – managed to breach our borders and entered deep inside our territory without detection. Similarly, nobody has explained why our security forces failed to apprehend or kill the invaders before they escaped.

Moreover, was this massive incursion planned over-night? If not, are the “reasons” being advanced by the government credible? Sun Tzu, the master military strategist and tactician asserts: “The superior militarist foils enemies’ plots; next best is to ruin their alliances; next after that is to attack their armed forces; worst is to besiege their cities.”

So, our military is clearly in the last category; isn’t it? All we have done is besiege Somali cities. We don’t know the true identity of the ‘enemy’. We don’t know its size. We don’t know its capacity. We don’t know its locations. It’s equally unclear how long the mission will last or how much it will cost. Clearly, we can’t defeat something we don’t know; can we?

We never budgeted for this war. Why was the war necessary when hundreds of Kenyans have been slaughtered by foreign militia and security agents in Migingo, Ugingo and Northern parts of the country without any response? Are we executing a war because those abducted are European or we are doing it because of tourism?

Further reading visit The Star BY MIGUNA MIGUNA 25.10.2011

The French link in the Somali war: Sarkozy extends sphere of influence in Anglophone Africa

France’s visible role in supporting Kenya’s military action against Al Shabaab is a significant departure, signalling the country’s ambition to expand its sphere of influence to the greater East and Horn of Africa region.

Last month, French oil multinational Total announced it had acquired stakes in key blocks off the coast of Lamu, strengthening a comeback by giant firms eyeing opportunities in Kenya’s oil exploration business. 

Further reading visit: The East African By MWAURA KIMANI  30.10.2011 

Kenya warns of attacks on 10 Somali towns

Kenya’s military spokesman has given warning, over the social media website Twitter, that the residents of 10 towns in Somalia, including the port city of Kismayu, the central town of Baidoa and Afgoye near Mogadishu, that they will come under continuous military attack.

Major Emmanuel Chirchir, the Kenyan military spokesman, said on his Twitter account that residents ofBaidoa, Baadheere, Baydhabo, Dinsur, Afgoye, Bwale, Barawe, Jilib, Kismayo and Afmadowthat their towns are under imminent attack.

The Kenyan military said that it will attack 10 Somali towns where it believes al-Shabab has a presence and advised civilians to stay away from al-Shabab camps or being used as conduits for weapons.

Military spokesman Chirchir said the Kenyan military has received reliable information that two aircraft landed in the town of Baidoa with arms consignment intended for the al-Shabab.

He did not say where the weapons originated from and could not be immediately reached for further comment.

Aljazeera 01.11.2011

Why capturing Kismayu could trigger proxy wars for Kenya

As the Kenya Army enters the third week of its military campaign in southern Somalia, the African Union peacekeeping force is upping its pressure on the Al Shabaab around the capital Mogadishu, with the plan of “bringing some order” to the war-ravaged country by the end of December.

According to these sources, Kenya’s military offensive was timely, coming as it did when the Al Shabaab militants are at their weakest and at a time when there is convergence of opinion in the wider East African region about what to do about the crisis in Somalia.

However, a clearer strategy crafted by Somali leaders and regional players in the conflict is also emerging. The first step, the sources say, is to create three new “areas of influence” in the rest of Somalia, beside Somaliland and Puntland, which now function as independent territories.

These territories would provide a buffer zone for Kenya and Ethiopia.

Already, Ethiopia has created a buffer zone spanning Galgadud, Hiraan, Bay, Bakool and Gedo (See map above).

Kenya’s military ambition is to create a buffer zone spanning Gedo El Wak, Middle and Lower Juba regions.

Ultimately, these regions will be governed as semi-automous states at first that could one day form part of a strong united federal government of Somalia.

The secondstep after the fall of Kismayu would to be to hand over all “liberated” areas to Amisom.

This, according to diplomats, would mean that the UN Security Council would be forced to reconsider upgrading Amisom into a full-fledged mission with the recommended minimum troop level of 20,000 soldiers.

So far, Amisom has about 9,500 troops in and around Mogadishu — and only two East African Community countries, Burundi and Uganda, have contributed.

There are plans to add 3,000 soldiers, but no one has offered to pay for them. Both Uganda and Kenya have been calling on the Security Council to upgrade Amisom.

The third step down the road, is for Amisom to hand over a pacified Somalia to the UN.

“If Kenya and other regional players can stabilise Somalia a little,” Ethiopia’s ambassador to Kenya, Shemsudin Ahmed, told The East-African last Thursday, “it will require more, not less, support from the rest of Africa and the international community.

Ethiopia’s foray

After Ethiopia made its foray into Somalia in late 2006 to fight the Islamic Union Courts regime led, ironically, by the country’s current President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, to prop up the more internationally recognised Transitional Federal Government that was then hiding out in Baidoa, it withdrew just over two years later in the face of international criticism.

Ethiopia then focused on creating a “buffer” zone with Somalia along the common border. .Amisom already controls the bulk of Mogadishu, and the plan is for it to also establish a sphere of influence in Middle and Lower Shabelle and the coastal area of Galgaduud.

Kenya would establish a sphere of influence in Lower Juba, Middle Juba, and Lower Gedo and, of course, gain access to the key port of Kismayu, which is also the economic lifeline and greatest strategic asset of Al Shabaab.

Managing victory

However, as Kenya’s military campaign in Somalia clocks two weeks, the major cause of concern among diplomats, military and intelligence experts is starting to turn from taking over the Port of Kismayu into how to manage victory.

“There is no doubt we shall get Al Shabaab out,” said a source within Amisom, “but the key problem for Kenya is management of victory.

The moment the city of Kismayu falls, who will control it? There is a major potential for conflict between Kenya and Ethiopia.”

This potential conflict is symbolised by two men who experts say are being fronted as potential leaders of Jubaland, the new semi-autonomous state Kenya wants to help establish.

One of the men is former Somali Defence minister and “president” of the Azania state, Mohamed Gandi, who is said to be favoured by the bosses of Kenya’s National Security Intelligence Service as well as the French.

Ethiopians are wary of Gandi because his clan, the Ogadeni, harbour territorial ambitions of one day creating a super-state carved out of southern Somalia, southern Ethiopia and a huge chunk of Kenya’s North Eastern Province.

Then there is Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Islam, known as Madobe, who is the leader of the Ras Kamboni Movement that is allied with the Transitional Federal Goverment.

Madobe is favoured by the Kenya military establishment because he comes to the table as a commander with troops, while Gandi is a politician with good business connections.

Managing local politics in Kismayu could easily see Kenya getting sucked into proxy fights with regional powers such as Ethiopia and Eritrea that have traditionally characterised the conflict in Somalia.

There is also the risk of getting entangled in clan politics that could easily turn the groundswell of support for Kenya by ordinary Somalis as a liberator and turn it into a foreign occupier.

A few days after the Kenyan incursion, Sheik Sharif threw a spanner in the works when he opposed Kenya’s military campaign. Everyone seems to have been caught by surprise, and the Kenya government wrote to the TGF to demand an explanation.

There was speculation that Sharif was playing to the Somali nationalist gallery, privately supporting the Kenya action, but maintaining his national credibility by publicly opposing it.

There seemed to have been widespread agreement too that Sheik Sharif was wary that the Kenyans were going to instal a regional government dominated by the Ogadeni clan in Kismayu, and that this would only create a Jubaland or Azania state that would operate like Puntland or Somaliland, and entrench the partition of Somalia.

Ethiopian hand

Some commentators saw the secret hand of Ethiopia, which was alleged to fear that Kenya’s Ogadeni proxy, with the lucrative Kismayu port and its revenues in its control, would back the Ogadeni National Liberation Front (ONLF), which is seeking to break away from Ethiopia and join a dreamed of Greater Somalia.

However, Ethiopia’s ambassador Ahmed denies the latter, telling The EastAfrican that he and other mission officials in Nairobi “talk regularly to… Gandi, the Nairobi-based Ogadeni leader and governor-in-waiting, who is likely to take over in Kismayu.”

However, diplomats close to Sharif said a Jubaland or Azania state is the least of his worries. 

For starters, Gandi is seen as “France’s an.” He is one of the very few Somalis who speak fluent French and is married to a Frenchwoman. In the past nearly 10 years that he has lived in Nairobi, most of his costs have been paid for, a source told The EastAfrican, with “French money.”

France now seems to have turned its attention to East Africa.

France is seen as more likely to be willing to soil its hands in Somalia than the Americans, who have preferred to use proxies and drones, since their invasion of Somalia in 1992 ended in disaster and humiliation.

This is particularly important for Kenya, as it will need someone who is willing to share the bill for what looks set to be a drawn-out and expensive campaign.

To read more visit The East African.

Source: The East African By: CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO and NICK WACHIRA

History Repeats Itself with Somalia Invasion

Kenya’s ill-advised incursion into Somalia on Oct. 16 after a rash of kidnappings in the tourist paradise of Lamu will most likely lead to a long and expensive quagmire. The escalation will further destabilize a region already reeling from war, piracy, famine, and international terrorism.

Kenya insist that it not at war with Somalia but only defending its borders and pursuing non-state actors, such as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, who stand accused of abducting and killing innocent civilians. 

“Our mission is therefore, based on a legitimate right to protect Kenya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Kenya’s president Mwai Kibaki told the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Pert, Australia last week.

Official Denials

Government officials initially claimed that the incursion was in response to the kidnapping of French and British citizens from tourist resorts near the Somalia border.

Kenyan forces met with little resistance as they quickly drove deep into southern Somalia before being bogged down in heavy rains. Military officials said the goal is to take Kismayu, a port on the Indian Ocean coast that is al-Shabaab’s headquarters in southern Somalia. 

The government initially announced that the United States and France were participating in the action, but both countries quickly denied the allegations. Nevertheless, U.S. ambassador Scott Gration indicated that the United States respects Kenya’s right to defend its borders. He said that the pursuit of hostile elements across international borders was allowed under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter on self-defense. 

The U.S. ambassador said the U.S. sold military equipment to Kenya and was providing logistical support and training to Kenyan troops involved in the invasion. “We have been providing our assistance in an overt way through the Kenya Navy, Army and Air Force for a long time and we will continue to do so,” Gration said during a visit to Kenya’s Department of Defense. 

France has also denied a report that its airplanes bombarded a town in southern Somalia but admitted its military aircraft were helping transport Kenyan troops to airstrips close to the Somalia border. 

Unofficial Cooperation

Despite the denials, it is clear that the United States and its NATO allies are in cahoots with Kenya in its current adventures in Somalia. They have funded, trained, and supported the Kenyan armed forces for years. They have admitted helping Kenya train and equip ethnic Somali fighters associated with clan-based militias in the lower Juba region that borders Kenya.

The West sees Kenya’s incursion into Somalia in the context of the global war against al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups. The U.S. African Command, AFRICOM, has identified al-Shabaab as a major threat to the United States. General Carter Ham, the commander of AFRICOM said at a defense strategy briefing on October 4 that his greatest concern is the threat to the United States from extremist groups in East Africa, particularly al-Shabaab. Ham praised Uganda and Burundi for contributing troops to the U.S.-backed peacekeeping mission in Somalia called AMISOM. Thus the Kenyan incursion into Somalia is clearly part of an escalating counterterrorism strategy in East Africa that includes the use of proxy military forces from neighboring countries.

Kenya government spokesman Alfred Mutua admitted on October 26 that plans for the invasion had been in the works for months.

The New York Times reported that the invasion was about long-term economic development plans that include an ambitious proposal to build a massive port in Lamu which would be connected to landlocked and oil-rich South Sudan and Ethiopia with roads, railroads, and an oil pipeline. The problem is that this infrastructure upgrade is in a province that is close to Kenya’s border with Somalia – a region plagued with frequent incursions by militants from that anarchic country. “This is about our long-term development plan,” a senior Kenyan official told The New York Times. “Kenya cannot achieve economically what it wants with the situation the way it is in Somalia, especially Kismayu.,”

Kismayu, a port on Somali’s Indian Ocean coast, is about 150 miles north of the border and is under the control of al-Shabaab. The port is a haven for arms and consumer goods smugglers. A recent report from the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea estimated that al-Shabaab earn up to $50 million a year in taxes collected from businesses at the port.

Since then, the United States and Britain have helped Kenya train hundreds of fighters associated with the anti-Shabaab militias. But the groups have failed to retake the port, hence the recent invasion by the Kenya Defense Force that has vowed to accomplish this mission and expel the militants.  

Kenya’s Long Involvement

Kenya has long sought to establish a buffer zone along its border with southern Somalia in a project called the Jubaland Initiative. A leaked cable from British intelligence, dated January 15, 2010, and published by Wikileaks, shows that Britain was aware of the initiative and considering whether to support it. For years, the Kenyan government has supported militias in southern Somalia associated with the Marehan and Ogaden clans to counter the ascendancy of al-Shabaab militants in the region.

In 2010, Kenya backed the formation of Azania, a breakaway province in an area known as Jubaland. This initiative seeks to establish an autonomous region in an area inhabited by the Ogaden and Marehan clans. Jubaland declared itself independent in the 1990s but al-Shabaab militants gained control of most of the region in 2006. Officials argue that the buffer zone would protect Kenya’s borders and allow international relief agencies to distribute food to famine stricken residents. Meanwhile there are reports of large deposits of oil off the Jubaland coast.

Quagmire Beckons

Kenya’s legitimate concerns notwithstanding, it is unclear whether the country can sustain a long and expensive campaign against a guerrilla force within Somalia. Even if the Kenyan forces capture Kismayu, they lack the resources to hold the port for long. The dream of establishing a stable breakaway state in Jubaland is also highly improbable given the vastness of the region and logistical challenge of building a government from scratch. The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia set up with Kenyan help is incapable of even controlling the capital city Mogadishu despite the support of 9,000 African Union troops.

The only option, it seems, is for the Kenyan forces to link up with the African Union’s peacekeeping operation AMISOM, but that would take years considering that AU troops are bogged down in Mogadishu.

Given the circumstances, the Kenyan adventure is likely to go the way of Ethiopia’s ill-fated invasion of 2006. Although the Ethiopian armed forces were able to take Mogadishu with ease, they were unable to pacify the country and were forced to withdraw after a few months. The campaign cost the Ethiopians hundreds of lives, drained their coffers, and demoralized their once proud military. The United States was also forced to retreat in ignominious defeat after its disastrous invasion in 1992. 

On the home front, Kenya risks further alienating its large ethnic Somali population and inviting homegrown and international terrorist attacks. Its economy will undoubtedly suffer in the midst of a global recession. The Kenyans would have been better off if they focused on shoring up their border defenses and continuing to use small groups of special forces to go after specific targets when necessary.

The current incursion is costly, ill advised, and will only succeed in compounding the misery in Somalia and further destabilizing the region.

Source: Foreign Policy in Focus, By Francis Njubi Nesbitt 31.10.2011

Kenya, Somalia seek support for war on Al Shabaab

A raid on a southern Somali town Sunday killed at least five civilians, including three children

Kenya insists it hit an Al Shabaab target but witnesses and aid sources said one bomb ploughed into a camp of displaced civilians.

“Kenya has brutally massacred civilians already displaced by hardship … We will ensure that Kenya mourns more than we did,” a regional Al Shabaab official Sheikh Abukar Ali Ada told reporters.

“They cowardly killed around 15 civilians. We will similarly target them and take revenge,” Ada said.

Doctors Without Borders said at least five civilians were killed in the air raid, which struck a camp hosting 9,000 internally-displaced Somalis in Jilib.

After meeting in Nairobi, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his counterpart from the Western-backed transitional federal government (TFG) in Mogadishu, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, said they were fighting a common enemy.

“Al Shabaab constitutes a threat to both Somalia and Kenya and is therefore a common enemy for the entire region and the world. This threat must be fought jointly by the two nations with support from the international community,” a joint statement said.

“The Somalia government supports the activities of the Kenyan forces, which are being fully coordinated with the TFG of Somalia and being carried out in the spirit of good neighbourliness and African unity.”

Last week, Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said he was opposed to Kenya’s raid launched a fortnight ago, insisting that his government would accept only military training and logistical support.

Kenya admitted on October 16 it had sent troops into Somalia.

Source: Daily Nation 01.11.2011

Death toll in Kenya raid in Somalia rises to five

A Kenyan air raid at the weekend that struck a camp hosting thousands of displaced Somalis has killed five people, after two victims succumbed to their injuries, an aid official said Monday.

A bomb on Sunday hit the camp, in the southern town of Jilib, where some 9,000 internally displaced children have sought refuge.

The Kenyan military denied it had killed civilians, but Gautam Chapperjee, who heads Doctors Without Borders (MSF-Holland) Somalia mission, told AFP that the latest death toll was five.

“The total death death is five now, according to figures we have. That would be three children, one woman and a man,” he said

A woman died while on her way for surgery in a hospital on the capital Mogadishu, while another patient died at a local clinic in the area, Chapperjee said.

Forty-four people were being treated at an MSF-run clinic in southern Somalia, the aid official said.

Daily Nation 31.10.2011

‘Civilians dead’ in Kenya air raid on Somalia militants

Civilians are reported to be among 10 people killed and 50 injured after Kenyan jets targeted al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia.

A Kenyan military spokesman told the BBC the planes had targeted the outskirts of the town of Jilib.

He said fighters of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group had been killed.

But Medecins Sans Frontieres said it was treating those hurt in a strike which MSF said struck a camp for displaced people, killing three

“We received intelligence that a top al-Shabab leader was to visit a camp in Jilib so we conducted an air raid,” Kenya army spokesman Maj Emmanuel Chirchir told the BBC.

“Confirmation from the human intelligence is that 10 al-Shabab fighters were killed and 47 others wounded,” he added.

He said that no civilian camp had been attacked dismissing reports that displaced civilians had been killed as “al-Shabab propaganda”.

But Medecins Sans Frontieres saidin a statement on Sunday that its staff at a hospital in Marere were treating dozens of injured civilians following an aerial bombardment in Jilib.

The group said the attack struck a camp for internally-displaced peopleat around 13:30 local time (10:30 GMT)andthat women and children made up most of the injured who were being brought to its facilities.

BBC Africa 31.10.2011

Let’s talk to the Shabaab, Somalia won’t be pacified by military means

Foreign Affairs assistant minister Richard Onyonka has taken a lot of flak for suggesting that the government will talk to the Al-Shabaab with a view to finding a settlement that could end the war in Somalia.

I would say that Mr Onyonka is right and his many critics are wrong. Here is the thing about Al-Shabaab. It is too simplistic to see it only as a “terrorist organisation”.

Its roots have nothing to do with terrorism. The Shabaab was the armed wing of the Islamic Courts Union, an organisation led by clerics who, fed up with the disorder and anarchy in Somalia, decided to take on the warlords and impose order.

What Somalis liked was the fact that when the Shabaab took power in 2006, for the first time there was peace and order in Mogadishu.

The streets were cleaned regularly and the extortionate warlords were forced to flee. The Shabaab were the main show in town and the masses were generally pleased.

Then the Americans came around and muddled it all up as they often do. The Bush administration in the wake of 9/11 developed a severe allergy for Islamists of any shape or form.

Unhappy with the Islamic courts’ ascendancy in Somalia, the CIA base station in Nairobi began financing con men known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism — a group of warlords – who assured the Americans they would topple the Islamists.

As the insightful Somalia analyst at the International Crisis Group Rashid Abdi told me in a conversation last week, nothing unites Somalis more than foreign intervention in their country.

Many warned that the Americans were setting the stage for disaster. If you look up an article published by Newsweek on June 4, 2006, the diplomat in charge of Somalia in the Nairobi embassy Michael Zorick, who was vigorously opposed to the CIA’s approach to Somalia, was transferred to Chad in the diplomatic equivalent of being sent from a posting in Nairobi to the Elemi triangle.

Given that background, Kenya would be wise to approach the Somalia issue in a highly nuanced fashion.

I would say there are two types of Al-Shabaab. There is the Shabaab led by Somali Somalis whose goals are mainly nationalist and which is the group that took power in 2006. Their aim is to capture power in the whole of Somalia and impose Islamic law.

Then there is the second group of Al-Shabaab which is heavily influenced and financed by Jihadis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and even America.

This wing of the Shabaab is very unpopular with Somalis and its aims have nothing to do with Somalia. They are fighting in Al- Qaeda’s cause.

I still believe that Kenya is right to try and create a buffer zone around the border and to chase away the militants that were holding territory too close to Kenya for comfort.

But we cannot afford the human and material cost of a long occupation of Somalia. We should engage Al-Shabaab figures such as Sheikh Dahir Aweys and seek to exploit the divisions over strategy among top Shabaab leaders.

The deal should be that Kenya will not meddle in Somalia as long as the Shabaab simply exists to impose order in the territories it controls and as long as it kicks out the foreign Jihadis in its midst.

Let us not be as blockheaded as the Americans who are still stuck in Afghanistan 10 years after the invasion of that country because they refused to talk to the more moderate elements in the Taliban.

Source: Sunday Nation – 30.10.2011

Oil And Interests – Shadowy Areas Lurking Behind Kenya Offensive

France has supposeldy given Kenya  ”logistical support in the form of transport of materials within Kenyan territory” according to a spokesman from the French military command, Thierry Burkhard, concerning French support to Kenya in its offensive in southern Somalia.

A Kenyan military officer in the early days of the offensive, had spoken of a “western country”, offering support in operations and specifying, at a later time, that the French navy had “bombarded” some rebel positions in Kuday, north of Ras Kamboni, on the Somali coast, raising several questions about French interests in the initiative. The French ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied this, promptly reduced the extent of the role played by French ships off the Somali coast.

“Despite the existence of a French military base in Djibouti, the sudden presence of the French navy in the waters facing Kismayo seems suspicious – observes Matteo Guglielmo, professor of Political Systems in Africa at the University ‘L’Orientale ‘Naples – but even more strange is the silence from powers that have typically been attentive and present in the Somali scenario, primarily Italy, concerning a possible Kenyan military intervention in Somali territory.”

In a conversation with MISNA, the expert on issues related to the Horn of Africa reminds us that “when in 2007, Ethiopia invaded Somalia, at the time of the Islamic Courts, the invasion met with almost unanimous international acclaim.

Today very few people have commented on the story that hides a lot more gray areas than at first imagined.” In recent days, the South African newspaper ‘Mail and Guardian’, quoted in The New York Times was first to raise the ’coincidence’ of Lamu – where two tourists were seized, but which is, at the same time, the terminal point for a 3600 km pipeline that would connect Kenya to Southern Sudan.

“The government of Nairobi – wrote the Times – has long had interests in the area that transcend tourism.” This is a pipeline, the estimated cost of $ 16 billion, which would allow the infant state of South Sudan to extract and refine oil without having to depend on the infrastructure of the Sudanese government.”

The new project, which would also involve neighboring Ethiopia, is being observed with interest by the French oil giant ‘Total’, which has recently acquired a 40% stake in the exploration blocks in Lamu, joining ’Anadarko Kenya’ in becoming the main operator in the area.

If it were to be developed, requiring the whole area to be pacified while large portions of the territory of Somalia would have to be taken over, says Guglielmo, “the pipeline would permanently isolate the regime in Khartoum, depriving it of valuable infrastructure that today makes it possible to export South Sudanese oil through the pipeline and the terminal at Port Sudan.”

About the author:
 
MISNA, or the Missionary International Service News Agency, provides daily news ‘from, about and for’ the ‘world’s Souths’, not just in the geographical sense, since December 1997

No exit date for Kenyan mission in Somalia

Army says it has no withdrawal date for Somalia operations, as African Union base in Mogadishu comes under attack.
 The Kenyan military has no firm date for a withdrawal from Somalia, where it is battling al-Shabab fighters, the country’s military chief has said.

General Julius Karanga was speaking to a news briefing in Nairobi on Saturday.

“When the Kenya government and the people of this country feel that they are safe enough from the al-Shabab menace, we shall pull back,” Karangi said.

“Key success factors or indicators will be in the form of a highly degraded al-Shabab capacity.”

“We acted as a country on the spur of the moment,” he said. “At no point did we plan to enter Somalia and annex territory there.”

The Somali president has criticised the intervention, but Kenyan officials said they expected “clarification” from a high-level Somali delegation on Monday.

So far, Kenya has suffered one fatality due to al-Shabab fire, Karangi said. Five personnel were also killed when a helicopter crashed.

He said that hundreds of al-Shabab fighters had been killed in Kenyan operations, though he was not able to confirm that, or provide an exact figure.

‘No allied involvement’

“There has been a lot of talk about other friends of ours participating militarily in what we are engaged in, and the answer is no,” he said.

“I think the American ambassador yesterday made it very clear … that they are not militarily involved in the campaign with us.”

Aljazeera 30.10.2011

Kenyan jets bomb southern Somali town, 12 killed

At least 12 people were killed on Sunday when two Kenyan jets bombed the southern Somali town of Jilib, residents and officials said, as the east African nation fights to rid Somalia of Islamist al Shabaab rebels.

“Twelve civilians died including six children and 52 others were injured after Kenyan jets bombarded an IDP (internally displaced people) camp in the town,” said Mohamud Ali Harbi, a local elder in Jilib, 120 km (74 miles) north of the port of Kismayu.

Emmanuel Chirchir, the Kenyan military spokesman, could not immediately confirm the raid when contacted by Reuters, saying they were waiting for an operational update from the ground.

“The jets bombarded two places, an al Shabaab base and a nearby IDP camp,” Hassan Abdiwahab, a resident in Jilib, told Reuters.

Reuters – 30.10.2011

Kenya invades Somalia A big gamble

SINCE Kenya became independent in 1963, its foreign policy has been determinedly non-interventionist. Its armed forces have seen little action at home and even less abroad. That changed this week when several thousand Kenyan troops invaded neighbouring Somalia.

The Americans claim that the offensive took them by surprise. That is hard to believe, especially since several of the missiles fired at jihadist fighters hidden in the mangrove swamps on the Somali side of the border seem to have been fired from American drones or submarines. France is also reported to have bombarded settlements near the Somali port of Kismayo, a base for the al-Qaeda-linked Shabab militia.

Kenya is frank about its military aim. It says it wants to push on from its positions in the Somali towns of Afmadow and Ras Kamboni to attack Kismayo from the west and south. It hopes to “inflict trauma and damage” on the Shabab.

And then what? The answer is fuzzier. Should Kenya take control of Kismayo or should it bash it and then leave quickly, in the hope that other Somali groups will then knock out the Shabab militants? No one knows how disciplined the Kenyans will be, nor how the Somalis will react to their presence. The Kenyan army has been accused of human-rights abuses at home. Some think it is soft and corrupt.

Many Somalis, not just Islamist ones, suspect that the Kenyan authorities want a semi-autonomous state in the south—a “Jubaland initiative”.

The Somalis’ fear that Somalia will break into more bits has already caused the president of its transitional government, Sharif Ahmed, to denounce the presence of Kenyan troops inside Somalia, even though the Kenyans say they crossed the border only at the invitation of his government. After all, Somaliland in the north has already broken away and Puntland, in the north-east, is tenuously connected to the rump of Somalia.

The invasion will certainly hit commerce. Kenya profitably exports qat, a leaf stimulant chewed by Somali men, into Jubaland.

The Economist 29.10.2011

Saitoti: Kenya doesn’t intend to annex Somalia

Kenya has no intention of occupying Somalia under the guise of fighting terrorism.
Internal Security minister George Saitoti Friday said that the government was only determined to secure its borders but not annex Somalia.

“We have never nursed territorial ambitions to annex Somalia or take their land. The Kenya Government is simply standing its mandate to defend the country and its people,” he said.

Addressing the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Perth, Australia the President stated that Kenya is not at war with Somalia but is carrying out action against the Islamic militia which is a non-state actor and perpetrating blatant attacks, abductions and killings of innocent civilians.

He said the country had no intention of keeping troops in Somalia longer than is necessary, but will undertake the mission established under the operation to protect its territory.

Speaking on the sidelines of a fundraiser at the Holy Family Basilica, Nairobi, Prof Saitoti explained the Kenyan troops currently pursuing Al-Shabaab in Somalia would come back home as soon as they are eliminated.

Source: Daily Nation – 28.10.2011

Are Kenyans seeking a buffer zone in Somalia?

As Kenya’s troops continue their incursion into southern Somalia in pursuit of Islamist militants, the BBC’s Will Ross considers the motives behind the deployment.

“I hope in three or four months, al-Shabab will have been removed from our region. Then one day I’ll invite you to come to Kismayo to see what’s going on,” said Abdullahi Shafi, personal assistant to the governor of Somalia’s Lower Juba region.

He is hopeful that with Kenyan military help, he can soon return home to a new semi-autonomous region in southern Somalia.

“We have been in hell for the last 20 years. We need a new Somalia,” he said, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with “Azania” – the name of the new region which comprises Gedo, Lower Juba and Middle Juba.

It already has a flag – blue, white and red – a parliament, a house of elders and a president in waiting.

But analysts point out that for several years Kenya, with international support, has been pushing for Azania, traditionally known as Jubaland, to be set up.

Kenya has trained and equipped Somali troops, as it would like a buffer zone to shield its territory from lawless Somalia.

So some analysts see the kidnappings as just a convenient excuse for carrying out the plan militarily.

The army has been giving unverifiable reports of success across the border.

The Kenyan media, which have scarcely questioned the motive for going to war, have told the country about captured towns that no one has ever heard of.

One front page article referred to the“imminent fall of Kismayo”.

For now, the cautious voices are being drowned out.

“It’s not going to be easy for Kenya to stabilise and pacify that part of Somalia, much less drive out al-Shabab,” said Rashid Abdi, of the International Crisis Group.

“I think the Kenyans are into a very long and messy intervention in Somalia.”

Rich in oil?

The man who hopes to soon end his absentee presidency says the creation of Azania, in April, came about following the consultation of more than 30 clans.

He says he is not a separatist, but speaks of a bright future for his people in a Somalia where power is devolved from Mogadishu.

“Our priority will be to consolidate the peace, set up the administration and re-establish education and health systems before we move on to development and infrastructure,” Somali MP Professor Mohammed Abdi Gandhi told me in Nairobi.

Asked where he got his last name from, he smiled and replied, “Because I’m against violence.”

A geologist with dual French and Somali nationality, he has critics who accuse him of imposing what some call the “Gandhi plan” without being all-inclusive.

“They met at a hotel in Naivasha where Professor Gandhi was proclaimed the president. Everybody clapped. The constitution was produced. They all clapped again, even though they hadn’t even read it,” one critic told me.

In response, Mr Gandhi says the process has been as inclusive as possible with dozens of consultative meetings.

There are reports that Azania – or at least the sea off its coast – is rich in oil.

Mr Gandhi, a former Somali defence minister, has worked as a consultant for the French oil giant Total. This and this has led some to conclude that countries including France and Norway have thrown money at the Azania project.

“These are all rumours. Not true,” he says.

“To my knowledge, there are no groups or companies that have come to us. When it’s peaceful, then we will open the door and all the international oil companies can come to explore. Nothing is under the table.”

Centralised power has not worked well in Somalia.

The war has kept the government confined to the capital Mogadishu and, more often than not, to hotels in Nairobi.

As Puntland and Somaliland and several other states break away, a devolved form of government is seen as better way forward, as long as it is well planned and not done through the gun alone.

“Ideally, Somalis should have been given the opportunity to plan for a federal state in a gradual, consensual way,” says Mr Abdi.

“Right now, we have clans competing among themselves to carve out clan enclaves or cantons in various parts of Somalia. I don’t think clan states are the way forward for Somalia.”

Ethiopian factor

Somali government officials have given mixed reactions to the Kenyan incursion.

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said the government was grateful for logistical support but said the Kenyans should stay out of Somalia – a comment which drew this response from the president of Azania.

“Sheikh Sharif doesn’t want change. To prolong his power, he wants the status quo. He wants al-Shabab to stay. He is a big obstacle to peace. He has done a lot to block our programme,” Professor Gandhi told me – without ruling out the possibility of this stance leading to armed conflict between the president’s and his soldiers.

“If he keeps the status quo, he can convince the international community that he is fighting al-Shabab. He needs more help and more time. For him, all he has in mind is to stay in power.”

The controversial issue of foreign troops in Somalia could complicate the Kenyan mission.

Some analysts suggest it could even help bolster al-Shabab, which has played the nationalist card before.

The Kenyans are fighting alongside a militia run by Sheikh Ahmed Madobe – a man who does not see eye-to-eye with Mr Gandhi.

As well as this potential source of tension, there is also concern that clan rivalries could break out if the common enemy of al-Shabab is dealt with.

Then there is the Ethiopia factor.

Analysts say Addis Ababa is strongly opposed to Azania being set up.

The fear is Ethiopian Somalis of the Ogaden clan may seek support or refuge across the border in Azania which is inhabited mainly by people of the Ogaden clan.

As for Kenya, it clearly had to act to secure its border – the question is whether that should have been done without crossing the frontier or at least without going deep into Somalia’s web of war.

“I think once the body bags come back home and the huge bill comes in at a time when the shilling is depreciating so fast, Kenyans will sober up. They will realise that this kind of foreign adventurism may have been ill advised,” said Mr Abdi.

Source: BBC 28.10.2011

US pledges Kenya logistical support

The United States government has denied involvement in the Somalia operation to flash out Al- Shabaab militants. 

 US has clarified that it is only offering logistical support to the Kenyan troops inside Somalia from within the Kenyan territory.

US ambassador Scott Gration told journalists in Nairobi Friday that his government will continue supporting Kenya to curtail any external aggression.

Source: KBC – 28.10.2011

US flies drones from Ethiopia to fight Somali militants

The US military has begun flying drone aircraft from a base in Ethiopia, as part of its fight against Islamist militants in neighbouring Somalia.

US officials have confirmed to the BBC that the base, in the southern city of Arba Minch, is now operational.

But they stressed that the remotely-piloted drones were being used only for surveillance, and not for air strikes.

News of the drone deployment was first reported by the Washington Post late on Thursday. US officials confirmed to the BBC that aircraft were now in Ethiopia.

The Ethio­pian foreign ministry has previously denied the presence of US drones in the country. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Ethio­pian embassy in the US told the Washington Post that remained Addis Ababa’s position.

“We don’t entertain foreign military bases in Ethi­o­pia,” Tesfaye Yilma, the head of public diplomacy for the embassy, told the Post.

The drones are used in a surveillance role against the al-Shabab militant group – based in Somalia, and already the focus of drone missions flown from other bases in the region.

Source: BBC 28.10.2011

Why Somali President wants Kenya army out

Somali President Shariff Sheikh Ahmed is opposed to the deployment of Kenyan troops in his country because he believes it is an attempt by Kenya to create an autonomous Jubaland.Communication from as far back as March 2011 between President Shariff and President Kibaki shows that the Somali leader asked Kenya not to deploy to Juba region an estimated 2,500 young Somali soldiers who had been trained and equipped in Kenya.

President Shariff was worried that the youth, if deployed in the Juba region, would help former Somali Defence minister Mohamed Ghandi whom Mogadishu suspects is attempting to create a separate state for himself between Kenya and the Juba River.

While Kenya wanted the soldiers it had trained to form a buffer between Kenya and the Al Shabaab-controlled regions around Mogadishu, the Somalia Transitional Government wanted them sent to Mogadishu to fight Islamist militia. Ethiopia too has objected to the creation of Jubaland mainly inhabited by the Ogaden and Merehan clans. Addis Ababa feels that would encourage separatist passion in the Ogaden Region of Ethiopia.

The decision by the Kenya government to recruit mainly from the Ogaden resulted in complaints from other clans.The Ogaden clan primarily lives in the Central Ogaden plateau of Ethiopia, the North-Eastern Province of Kenya, and the Jubaland region of Southern Somalia. They also inhabit Somalia’s major cities such as Mogadishu and Kismayo. The Marehan mostly live in Jubaland, Gedo and Lower Juba regions in Southwest Somalia and in Northeast Kenya.

In a letter dated March 21 and addressed to President Kibaki,the Somali President acknowledges the role Kenya has played in training and equipping the army of youths. “Excellency we are particularly indebted for the training and equipping our forces in Kenya. We pray that a peaceful Somali and region will enjoy Strengthened friendship and prosperity,” states President Shariff. The letter was handed to President Kibaki in Nairobi by Somali Prime Minister Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.

Due to suspicions against his former Defence minister Ghandi, President Shariff in the letter to President Kibaki transferred the responsibility of the coordination of the youth recruits from Ghandi to then Defense Minister Abdullah Boss. “I write to you this letter to inform you that the bilateral security responsibilities including the coordination and follow up of Somali force training in Kenya that we previously assigned to our former Minister of Defense and current Minister for Air and Land Transportation HE Mohamed Abdi Gandi is hereby transferred to our current Ministry of Defense,” the letter says. 

In late March 2011, Gandi hosted elders from the Marehaan and Ogaden – who are the main clans in Gedo and Juba regions of Somalia – at Chester House in Nairobi to discuss the stalemate in the deployment process. In the meeting Gandi discussed with the clan elders a possible withdrawal of support to the government.

Source: The Star of Kenya 28.10.2011

U.S. drone base in Ethi­o­pia is operational

The Air Force has been secretly flying armed Reaper drones on counterterrorism missions from a remote civilian airport in southern Ethi­o­pia as part of a rapidly expanding U.S.-led proxy war against an al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa, U.S. military officials said.

The Air Force has invested millions of dollars to upgrade an airfield in Arba Minch, Ethi­o­pia, where it has built a small annex to house a fleet of drones that can be equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. The Reapers began flying missions earlier this year over neighboring Somalia, where the United States and its allies in the region have been targeting al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group connected to al-Qaeda.

United States has relied on lethal drone attacks, a burgeoning CIA presence in Mogadishu and small-scale missions carried out by U.S. Special Forces.In addition, the United States has increased its funding for and training of African peacekeeping forces in Somalia that fight al-Shabab.

The Washington Post reported last month that the Obama administration is building a constellation of secret drone bases in the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, including one site in Ethi­o­pia. The location of the Ethio­pian base and the fact that it became operational this year, however, have not been previously disclosed.

The Air Force confirmed Thursday that drone operations are underway at the Arba Minch airport. Master Sgt. James Fisher, a spokesman for the 17th Air Force, which oversees operations in Africa, said that an unspecified number of Air Force personnel ­are working at the Ethio­pian airfield “to provide operation and technical support for our security assistance programs.”

The Arba Minch airport expansion is still in progress but the Air Force deployed the Reapers there earlier this year, Fisher said. He said the drone flights “will continue as long as the government of Ethi­o­pia welcomes our cooperation on these varied security programs.”

Last month, the Ethio­pian Foreign Ministry denied the presence of U.S. drones in the country. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Ethio­pian embassy in Washington repeated that assertion.

“That’s the government’s position,” said Tesfaye Yilma,the head of public diplomacy for the embassy.“We don’t entertain foreign military bases in Ethi­o­pia.”

But U.S. military personnel and contractors have become increasingly visible in recent months in Arba Minch, a city of about 70,000 people in southern Ethi­o­pia. Arba Minch means “40 springs” in Amharic, the national language.

Arba Minch is located about 300 miles south of Addis Ababa and about 600 miles east of the Somali border. Standard models of the Reaper have a range of about 1,150 miles, according to the Air Force.

The MQ-9 Reaper, known as a “hunter killer,” is manufactured by General Atomics and is an advanced version of the Predator, the most common armed drone in the Air Force’s fleet.

Ethi­o­pia is a longtime U.S. ally in the fight against al-Shabab, the militant group that has fomented instability in war-torn Somalia and launched attacks in Kenya, Uganda and elsewhere in the region.

The Ethio­pian military invaded Somalia in 2006 in an attempt to wipe out a related Islamist movement that was taking over the country, but withdrew three years later after it was unable to contain an insurgency.

The U.S. military clandestinely aided Ethi­o­pia during that invasion by sharing intelligence and carrying out airstrikes with AC-130 gunships, which operated from an Ethio­pian military base in the eastern part of the country.After details of the U.S. involvement became public, however, the Ethio­pian government shut down the U.S. military presence there.

In a present-day operation that carries echoes of that campaign, Kenya launched its own invasion of southern Somalia this month to chase after al-Shabab fighters that it blames for kidnapping Western tourists in Kenya and destabilizing the border region.

Although U.S. officials denied playing a role in that offensive,a Kenyan military spokesman, Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, said Kenya has received “technical assistance” from its American allies. He declined to elaborate.

The U.S. military deploys drones on attack and surveillance missions over Somalia from a number of bases in the region.

The Air Force operates a small fleet of Reapers from the Seychelles,a tropical archipelago in the Indian Ocean, about 800 miles from the Somali coast.

The U.S. military also operates drones — both armed versions and models used strictly for surveillance — from Djibouti,a tiny African nation that abuts northwest Somalia at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. About 3,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the only permanent U.S. base on the African continent.

The U.S. government is known to have used drones to mount lethal attacks in at least six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.

Source: Washington Post By Craig Whitlock 27.10.2011 

Kenyan Motives in Somalia Predate Recent Abductions

The Kenyan government revealed on Wednesday that its extensive military foray into Somalia this month to battle Islamist militants was not simply a response to a wave of recent kidnappings, as previously claimed, but was actually planned far in advance, part of a covert strategy to penetrate Somalia and keep the violence in one of Africa’s most anarchic countries from spilling into one of Africa’s most stable.

For several years, the American-backed Kenyan military has been secretly arming and training clan-based militias inside Somalia to safeguard Kenya’s borders and economic interests, especially a huge port to be built just 60 miles south of Somalia.

But now many diplomats, analysts and Kenyans fear that the country, by essentially invading southern Somalia, has bitten off far more than it can chew. 

Somalia has been a thorn in Kenya’s side ever since Kenya became independent in 1963. 

Kenyan officials said it was becoming impossible to coexist with a failed state next door.They consider the Shabab, a ruthless militant group that controls much of southern Somalia, a “clear and present danger,” responsible for piracy, militant attacks and cross-border raids.  

When Kenya sent troops storming across Somalia’s border on Oct. 16, government officials initially said that they were chasing kidnappers who had recently abducted four Westerners inside Kenya,two from beachside bungalows, and that Kenya had to defend its tourism industry.  

But on Wednesday, Alfred Mutua, the Kenyan government’s chief spokesman,revised this rationale, saying the kidnappings were more of a“good launchpad.”An operation of this magnitude is not planned in a week,Mr. Mutua said. It’s been in the pipeline for a while.”  

Many analysts wonder how Kenya will be able to stabilize Somalia when the United Nations, the United States, Ethiopia and the African Union have all intervened before, with little success. They argue that the Kenyan operation seems uncoordinated and poorly planned, with hundreds of troops bogged down in the mud during seasonal rains.  

Kenyan military officials also publicly said the United States and France were helping them, but both countries quickly distanced themselves from the operation, insisting that they were not taking part in the combat.

The invasion was a serious miscalculation, and the Kenyan economy is going to suffer badly,”said David M. Anderson, a Kenya specialist at Oxford.  

But Lazarus Sumbeiywo, a former leader of Kenya’s army, said the Kenyans were erringtactically.“It should have been surgical strikes,” Mr. Sumbeiywo said, arguing for small teams of special forces to hunt down militants and eliminate them quietly.

In 1990, before he became chief of staff, Mr. Sumbeiywo said, he ran special operations to kill Somali gunmen who had infiltrated Kenya. He said that his men had worked in small units and that Kenya had been bedeviled by Somalia for decades.“It was like that all the way from the beginning,” he said, describing how Kenyan forces fought Somali militants in the 1960s and 1970s, losing hundreds of men.

Kenya has tried to use proxy militias in Somalia to push out the Shabab and create a buffer zone stretching to Kismayu. But the militias have been struggling.

IHT – By Jeffrey Gettleman 26.10.2011

Somalia thanks Kenya after president’s criticism

Somalia praised Kenya Wednesday, thanking it for helping battle the Islamic extremist group Al-Shabaab, in an apparent effort to heal tensions sparked by the Somali president’s criticism of Kenya earlier this week.

“Kenya and Somalia have a long history of friendshipand cooperation, and that continues today,” the Somali government said in what it called a “clarification statement.”

It thanked Kenya for working together with the Somali transitional governmentto stabilize Somalia” and for training a “good number of Somali soldiers as well as hosting (a) huge number of Somali refugees.”

Wednesday’s “clarification statement” did not clearly address the question of Kenyan troops entering Somalia. It said the two nations “share the attitude that Al-Shabaab constitutes a common enemy to both countries” and that “the territorial integrity of both Somalia and Kenya should be respected.”

In order to “evolve a common security strategy, we agreed with our brothers” in the Kenyan government to cooperate incoordinated security and military operations” spearheaded by Somali soldiers trained by Kenya, the statement said. There will also be “cooperation and collaboration in sharing and exchange of information that is relevant to the fight against cross-border crimes and operations.”

Kenyan forces entered Somalia on October 15 in a strike on Al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group that Kenya blames for the recent kidnappings of foreigners from northern Kenya.

On Monday (24th October), Somali President Sharif Ahmed spoke out against Kenya’s military incursion into his country, saying the African neighbor overstepped its bounds.

To send forces into Somalia is not allowed by the government and the civilians,” Ahmed said. He also called Kenya’s actions “not good.”

Source: CNN 26.10.2011 

Somali govt says no agreement on Kenyan troops

Somalia said Wednesday it had not agreed with Kenya for its troops to enter the south of the Horn of Africa nation to fight Islamist rebels, but would form a security committee to work with Nairobi.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed objected to the 11-day Kenyan incursion in comments on Monday and Kenya in turn demanded an official clarification of the Somali government’s position on Wednesday.

“Kenya gives us logistic support and trains our troops, but we have not agreed for their troops to cross our border,” Ahmed told a news conference. “Our Somali troops have the ability to fight al Shabaab in Somalia.”

Kenya sent troops into Somalia 11 days ago to fight the Islamist rebels.

In a clarification statement, the Somali government said it had only agreed with Kenya to cooperate in undertaking a coordinated military operation spearheaded by Somali soldiers trained by the Kenyan government.

The Somali government said Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali had been assigned to appoint and head a joint security committee to work with the Kenyan government.

“Kenya will help us and there will be understanding,” Ali told the same news conference. “We have agreed with Kenya to coordinate with us in the operation against al Shabaab, logistics and information sharing.”

Reuters Africa 26.10.2011

 Kenya tells UN “Somalia approved its incursion”  

Kenya has informed the U.N. Security Council that it had permission from Somalia to cross their shared border and pursue Islamist militants attacking Kenya.

Kenya’s U.N. Ambassador Macharia Kamau saidin a letter circulated Tuesday that his government decided to take pre-emptive actions “in direct consultations and liaison with the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu” after an escalation of terrorist acts and incursions by al-Shabaab militants.

He attached an Oct. 18 communique in which Kenya’s Foreign Minister Moses Wetang’ula and Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Hussein Arab Isse agreed “to undertake coordinated pre-emptive action and the pursuit of any armed elements that continue to threaten to attack both countries.”

 Somalia’s President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed publicly told Kenya Monday to halt its military advance in southern Somalia. The appeal called into question his commitment to fighting his former Islamist allies and sparked dismay among American and European officials and some Somali residents.

The joint Kenya-Somalia communique states that Wetang’ula and Somalia’s president Ahmed held “crucial talks” on Oct. 18 “against the backdrop of the growing spate of armed attacks by the al-Shabaab elements on Kenya.”

Based on the discussion, it said the two sides agreed that al-Shabaab constitutes a common enemy to both countries” and therefore both countries should continue working together on a number of fronts.

These include “undertaking security and military operations,” stabilizing Somalia, and stamping out threats of al-Shabaab elements “especially terrorism, piracy, abductions, extortion, ransom demands and other international crimes,” the communique said. 
Hiiraan Online 26.10.2011 

Allies dismayed by Somali president’s call to stop advance against insurgents

American and European officials on Tuesday joined some Somali residents in expressing dismay over comments from Somalia’s president that called on foreign military allies to stop twin advances against Islamic insurgents.

The remarks called into question President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed’s commitment to fighting his former allies — Islamist militants.

Ahmed on Monday publicly told Kenya to halt its military advance in southern Somalia. Diplomats say he also privately asked African Union troops not to move beyond the Deynile neighborhood of Mogadishu, where they are fighting al-Shabab militants for control.

A U.S. official said there was concern and dismay over Ahmed’s comments. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.

Officially, both African Union and Kenyan officials are tightlipped in their response to Ahmed.

We are not responding to him in the media,” said Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua. He said the speech would not change Kenya’s military plans in southern Somalia, which aim to capture the port city of Kismayo,the main source of revenues for the insurgency. 

Kenya’s government has been calling for more than two years for a buffer state to be established along the border to help improve security. 

American and European officials in Nairobi said they were dismayed by the president’s remarks, although they declined to be named because the matter was diplomatically sensitive. The U.S. and the EU are the two biggest financial contributors to the AU mission. Neither is directly financially supporting the Kenyan operation although Kenya receives military aid from both powers.

Ahmed’s words seemed to contradict an agreement between the Kenyan and the Somali government last week to coordinate their security operations, a British official said.

They also appeared to catch his Cabinet by surprise. A senior Somali official said Somalia’s American-educated prime minister was not consulted before Ahmed spoke, but the official speculated that the president might be trying to take a popular public stand amid concerns that Kenyan bombing raids are causing civilian casualties and damaging Kismayo’s port.

The reason for the president’s request to halt the AU advance was unclear. He is believed to be in talks with some al-Shabab leaders, one Nairobi-based official said.

Hiiraan Online 25.10.2011

Somali President Warns Against Kenya Raid

Somalia’s president says his government opposes Kenya’s military incursion to chase down al-Shabab militants.

Speaking to reporters in Mogadishu, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said only African Union troops can legally operate in Somalia. The president said Somali government troops do need support from Kenya’s military, but he added, “not more than that.”

Sharif cautioned Kenya against doing anything that will harm the two countries’ relationship.

French embassy in Kenya has refuted media reports that France carried out attacks in the Somali city of Kismayo.

On Sunday, a Kenyan army spokesman, Emmanuel Chirchir, indicated foreign forces had joined Kenya’s pursuit of al-Shabab, and said a French naval ship bombed the southern Somali town of Kuday, near the al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo.

The embassy said Monday there are no French warships in the area. Voice Of America 25.10.2011

Somali President Ahmed opposes Kenyan troop incursion

Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed has said his transitional government is opposed to Kenya’s military incursion into Somalia.

Just over a week ago Kenya sent soldiers over its border into Somalia to pursue militants from the Islamist al-Shabab group.

Nairobi said the deployment was done with the Somali authorities’ approval.

Speaking to journalists at the scene of recent fighting in Mogadishu, Mr Ahmed said Kenyan support in terms of training and logistics was welcome but his government and the people of Somalia were opposed to the presence of the Kenyan army.

The BBC’s East Africa correspondent, Will Ross, says his comments put the Kenyan government in a very difficult position.

It is possible that the Somali authorities have spoken out because they are opposed to the idea of Kenya helping to establish a semi-autonomous region in Somalia known as Jubaland, he says.

This is seen by some as the main aim of the Kenyan government’s military incursion, our correspondent says.

Last week, a Somali general told the BBC his troops were working with Kenyan forces advancing from the border towards the port city of Kismayo.
BBC 24.10.2011

Uganda cautious as Kenya enters Somalia for Al Shabaab

 The EastAfrican-by RODNEY MUHUMUZA 23.10.2011 

Uganda People’s Defence Forces spokesman Felix Kulayigye said the decision by Kenya to make a military incursion into Somalia was proof that “this is a regional issue, an African issue.”

Kulayigye suggested that the Ugandan military had been aware of Kenya’s entry into Somalia before the rest of the world got to know. “We have been aware of what Kenya is doing,” he said.

Phillip Kasaija, a Somalia expert at Makerere University, asked,Even if security is for all of us, is it a legal intervention?” Mr Kasaija said the answer was dependent, to a great degree, on how long Kenya stayed in Somalia and what exactly it carried out while there.

It is not clear at this point if this will be a limited intervention or a long-term incursion that lasts months.Officially, Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia was hastened by a series of raids by pirates who threatened the safety of Kenya’s beaches and coastal resorts.

Kenya’s practical goal is to create some sort of buffer zone against militants from Somalia.

France to support Kenya’s incursion into Somalia

France will give logistical support to Kenyan forces pursuing Islamist militants across the border in Somalia, a French military spokesman says.

Col Thierry Burkhard said French planes would transport military equipment to Kenyan soldiers near the Somali border.

But he denied Kenyan military claims that a French warship had shelled a Somali town on Saturday.

Col Burkhard said the French operation was “limited in scope”, the AP news agency reports.

It would see French planes helping the Kenyan army to transport military equipment from the capital, Nairobi, to an airport close to the Somali border, he said.

On Sunday, Kenyan army spokesman Maj Emmanuel Chirchir told the news agency that the French navy had bombed the town of Kuda along the Somali coast.

Col Burkhard denied the claim, saying France had no warships in the area.

BBC 25.10.2011

If the head of the snake is right here in Eastleigh, why did we go to Somalia?

Daily Nation – 24.10.2011-by:Macharia Gaitho

Internal security assistant minister Joshua Orwa Ojodeh told Parliament last week that the extremist group has its head in Nairobi’s Eastleigh suburb and its tail across the border in lawless Somalia.

Why Kenyan soldiers are pursuing Al-Shabaab militants deep inside Somalia instead of taking out the nexus right here at home.

 Why, pray, did our military start the campaign against this dastardly snake by aiming for the tail instead of the head?

Why should we start by chasing the tail in Somalia when the head is right here in Kenya? Aren’t we in the process giving the head ample warning to take cover; also the time to plot some deadly retaliation on innocent Kenyans?

If it is true that the Al-Shabaab leadership and its command and control centres are in Kenya as suggested by Mr Ojodeh, then there is reason to be very afraid that those in charge of our national security should be so dumb.

Envoy pledges US support for Kenyan forces

The United States on Sunday declared its readiness to provide technical support for Kenya’s troops in Somalia.

The country’s ambassador to Kenya, Mr Scott Gration, said although Washington would not send its troops to Somalia, it would go out of its way to help Kenya to restore its territorial integrity.

Mr Gration, a retired major, said the US respected Kenya’s decision to go into Somalia to rout out Al-Shabaab militants.

“We respect the right of a nation to take any decision to defend its borders as per article 51 of the UN charter on self defence and pursuit of hostile elements across international borders,” he said. IHT – 23.10.2011

Kenya Says Western Nations Join Fight in Somalia, as U.S. Denies Role

Foreign military forces have joined the offensive against the Shabab militant group in Somalia as Kenyan troops advanced toward the rebel stronghold of Kismayu from two different directions, Kenya said Sunday.

A Kenyan military spokesman, Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, said that “one of the partners,” possibly the United States or France, had been behind airstrikes in the past few days, killing a number of Shabab militants. The French Navy has also shelled rebel positions from the sea, the Kenyan military said in a statement.

American officials in Kenya declined to comment. A French diplomat in the United States did not return phone calls.

“Everybody is in theater,” Major Chirchir said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “We know about the strikes. They are complementary.”

In 2006 and 2007, the American military cooperated closely with a large Ethiopian force that stormed into Somalia to oust an Islamist movement that had taken control of much of the country.

About a week ago, Kenya sent hundreds of its soldiers into Somalia to battle the Shabab, whom the Kenyans blame for recent kidnappings in Kenya; many independent analysts, however, doubt the group had a role in the abductions.  

Kenya’s military says it plans to remain in Somalia until the Shabab’s capacity is “reduced” and Somalia’s weak, American-backed transitional government is able to function.

Major Chirchir said the Kenyan Navy had also positioned ships along the coastline from the Kenyan border toward Kismayu.

On Sunday, Kenyan officials said that a French naval ship had shelled the city of Koday, south of Kismayu, and that casualty figures were not yet available. The French military has also launched small, covert strikes in Somalia in the past, aimed at terrorism suspects and pirates.

A possible motivation for French involvement could be the death announced last week of a 66-year-old French woman who was kidnapped on Oct. 1 from a beachside bungalow in Kenya and taken to Somalia.

Many Kenyans believe that the United States is helping in Somalia. A two-inch-tall front-page headline in The Sunday Nation, a leading Kenyan newspaper, blared: “US planes join assault.”  IHT  By JOSH KRON and JEFFREY GETTLEMAN – 23.10.2011

Jets pound Kismayu as forces gear up for clash

Daily Nation – 23.10.2011

The battle to capture Kismayu started on Sunday with jets bombing several Al-Shabaab bases in a final push to wipe out the militants.

Kismayu is Al-Shabaab’s nerve centre for operations and its main source of funding and its capture and that of Afmadow will significantly weaken the militants.

Maj Chirchir said that Lt-Col Jeff Nyaga, who is commanding the Kenyan forces, had reinforced his troops in readiness for what is expected to be a fierce battle to capture Afmadow following reports that Al-Shabaab had dug in to defend the town.

A French naval gunship patrolling Somali waters also bombarded the town of Kuday, south of Kismayu, as the battle to decimate the militants gained momentum.

It was not immediately clear how many militants could have been killed or wounded during the attack in Kuday with the French Navy promising to give damage assessment as soon as possible.

Kenya push into Somalia ill thought-out

“Kenya wants to show that it is taking action, but the intervention is not well thought-out,” said Roland Marchal, of France’s Centre for International Studies and Research.

Kenya’s frustration at recent kidnappings and attacks on its territory, “one really has to wonder if this response is based on solid, actionable intelligence, or merely an emotional reaction,” said J. Peter Pham of the Atlantic Council think-tank. “Reports thus far seem to indicate a less-than-surgical operation which will only inflame tensions, and risks allowing the Shabab and other militants, now at a low point, to once again rally Somalis around them under the banner of nationalism,” said Pham.

Afyare Elmi, a Somali academic at Qatar University, told AFP. “I believe this was a strategic mistake on the part of Kenya. Ethiopia used the same strategy and similar rhetoric but eventually failed,”

The Kenyan military have not said how many men have been deployed, but analysts’ estimates, based on talking to people on the ground, range from 2,000 to 3,000 men.

“Moving into Somalia just to find the kidnapped aid workers is a bad move. They don’t have the logistics, they don’t have the capacities,” Peter Lehr, a terrorism expert at Scotland’s St. Andrew’s University said.

Even if Kenya’s offensive crushed the Shabab, which the “current force is not equipped to do”, the assault increases the risk of “sleeper cells” or “lone wolf” sympathizers attacking Kenya, Pham said. “One hopes that the Kenyan government has taken adequate measures for internal defense. If not, the folly of lashing out would constitute near-criminal negligence,” Pham added.

EJ Hogendoorn, Horn of Africa Director at International Crisis Group said that even if Kenya did manage to drive the Shabab out of their main southern base of Kismayo port, the future after that is hazy.

I think that the Kenyan intervention is more problematic than many think. Even if Kenya is able to dislodge Al-Shabab from Kismayo – a big if – what happens next? Who takes over? Will Al-Shabab be defeated or, like the ICU (the Shabab’s forerunner), will it melt into the local population and carry out a guerrilla campaign?” He said it is likely Kenya will get dragged into a long military intervention that will be “hugely unpopular in Somalia.” That idea was echoed by CERI’s Marchal.

They have probably been encouraged by their allies,” he said, referring to two proxy groups Kenya has used to try to create a buffer zone along its border, Azania and Ras Kamboni. “As always, a military intervention is not the same thing as a strategy,” Marchal added. “What do they do afterwards? What is the aim of the war? To scare the Shabab? Seize territory? Free the hostages? We don’t know.”  Kuwait Times -20.10.2011

Following Troops, Kenyan Officials Go to Somalia

Kenyan officials made a surprise visit to Somalia on Tuesday to reassure the weak Somali government that Kenya was not harboring intentions to occupy Somalia, despite sending hundreds of troops across the border over the weekend.

Many Somalis are unhappy that Kenya sent hundreds of its troops streaming across the border over the weekend to fight the Shabab, a militant Islamist group, in Somali territory. It was not clear how much Kenya told the transitional government about its plans; as late as Monday night, several high-ranking Somali officials were still publicly denying that there were any Kenyan soldiers inside their country.

It was embarrassing, and undermined our credibility,” one Somali official said of the situation. “The Kenyans didn’t tell us much.”

Kenya has been involved — or as some say, has meddled — in the internal politics of Somalia for years. and, has covertly trained and armed clan-based militias along the Kenya-Somalia border.

In the 1960s, Kenya sent troops across the border during a conflict known as the Shifta War.

Many Somalis remain suspicious of Kenya.

If the Kenyans want to protect their people against the Shabab, they should protect their borders inside Kenya, not inside Somalia,” Mohamed Hassan, a land surveyor in Mogadishu, said on Tuesday. “Our country is not a no man’s land. Kenya is invading us to occupy these regions.”

The Kenyan government has been working hand in hand with clan-based Somali militias along the border, but those militias have expressed only tepid support for the transitional government, which has control over only a few square miles of the capital.

On Tuesday,the Somali government signed a communiqué with the visiting Kenyan delegation, emphasizing that the Shabab were a mortal threat to both countries. the communiqué said, to “defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries.”

IHT – 18.10.2011

Kenya’s offensive wins world support

Daily Nation – 22.10.2011

The diplomatic push, as well as the military incursion, has been fruitful as the world recognises the urgency to end the terrorist group’s grip on somalia.
key among the accomplishments was obtaining somalia transitional federal government’s (tfg) support that kenya did when foreign affairs minister moses wetang’ula and his defence counterpart yusuf hajji visited mogadishu last week.

all the strategic friends and partners of kenya have without exception expressed support for us as it(kenya) engages in self-defence and hot pursuit of the elements of al shabaab,” wetang’ula who has been leading the diplomatic offensive said.

On friday, french government threw its weight behind the military incursion by kenya into somalia.

like the whole international community, france is supporting the transitional federal government (tfg) and contributing to the training of its security forces,” the short statement sent through the french embassy in nairobi read

On the part of the great britain, kenya believes that their silence means approval. “in so far as they have not said anything difference, we presume they are with us,” said mr wetang’ula. The african union as well as ethiopia have also backed kenya’s military advance alongside the transitional federal government. this was resolved after a meeting with au commission chairman jean ping.

US planes join Kenyan battle

Daily Nation – 22.10.2011

Al Shabaab militants were on the back foot on Saturday evening as they faced heavy bombardment from multiple fronts from a combined force of Kenyan troops, US drones, African Union peacekeepers and Transitional Federal Government fighters.

There was progress on the diplomatic front, too, when the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) member states endorsed the military offensiveagainst the militants during a special conference held in Addis Abba Ethiopia on Friday

The Kenya army alone is reported to have deployed at least 4,000 soldiers backed by Transitional Federal Somalia Government troops for a ground invasion of Kismayu.

Navy ships fitted with heavy weapons are reported to have arrived in the Somalia territorial waters and set up base around Bajuni Islands of Kudai, Ndoa, Chuvaye, Koyama, Fuma Iyu na Tini and Nchoni Islands.

Reports which could not independently be verified emerged that at least 44 militants were killed following a deadly attack by US drones in Ras Kiamboni on Friday.

Al Shabaab war claims first casualties

 

The government has confirmed the death of five soldiers after a helicopter they were flying in crashed shortly after taking off from Liboi military base near the common border with Somalia. A brief statement from the department of defence stated that the helicopter was part of the ongoing mission to flash out Al Shabaab militants. 17.10.2011

 Cabinet endorses ‘Operation Linda Nchi’

The Kenyan cabinet has Tuesday supported the actions of the Kenya military to battle Somalia militia, the Al Shabaab.The cabinet has assured the military of its and Kenyans’ support on what they term as the most important duty of securing the Kenyan nation.  18.10.2011

Kenya: Region backs operation against Somali militants

 BBC – 22.10.2011

The regional grouping in the Horn of Africa has welcomed Kenya’s military incursion into Somalia. The organisation said it supported the move, and the agreement between Somalia’s government and Kenya to co-operate in the operation.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula said the Islamist insurgents were being pursued by the Kenyan army, were on the run and growing weaker by the day.

The Igad communique said the regionwelcomes and supports the up scaling of the security operation by Kenya” and backs the agreement between Kenya and Somalia’s Transitional Government to “co-operate on all aspects of the operation”.

Government hasn’t sold military campaign well 

Saturday Nation – 22.10.2011 by: KWENDO OPANGA 

 This government is uniquely talented at tying itself in knots. First,ministers explained on Wednesday that Kenya has not invaded Somalia.

Second,they said our military is in Somalia at the invitation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

Third, government says that having been invited into Somalia, al Shabaab cannot become our problem but remains the TFG’s. Last, government says our military is not an occupying force. Listen, this is damned diplomatic drivel.

Good people, to invade is to enter by force; to invade is to march into; to invade is to attack, overrun, assault, occupy or raid. We have invaded Somalia with the aim of over-running the Islamist militia called al Shabaab.

To succeed we must ensure a decapitated al Shabaab stays deep inside Somalia. Therefore, we must own and occupy the space from which we evict the militia.

The reason we will own and occupy the space from which we evict al Shabaab is simply that TFG is a limping weakling. Indeed, the best way to define TFG is to personify and picture it as a dead man walking.

To own and occupy this space means we hold that territory by having soldiers on the ground. Yes, when our neighbour invites us to help solve his problem, he and his problem become our problems.

Somalia is a problem because it is a lawless wasteland in which desperate militias establish all sorts of fiefdoms and enforce all manner of draconian and demonic laws by equally grotesque rules. Inland there is a bandit economy; offshore a piracy economy.

Indeed, the danger exists that we could be bogged down in Somalia for a long time. This could be the case especially if al Shabaab and al Qaeda decide to wage a guerrilla war against our military; TFG remains a dead man walking; Somali public opinion turns against Kenya’s military or if the military becomes a common enemy of the Somali.

Kenya had better find another reason as self-defence or hot pursuit won’t doSaturday Nation – 21.10.2011

Kenya’s invasion of Somalia poses quite a number of problems, including costs, possible reprisals, and even the danger of getting bogged down in a quagmire.

One of the reasons given for going to war is to safeguard the tourist industry. But the very thought of a country at war scares tourists.

In the joint press conference, Defence minister Yusuf Haji and Internal Security minister George Saitoti said Kenya had a right to self-defence.

The ministers invoked Article 51 of the UN Charter, which says that every state has an inherent right to defend itself.

However, Article 51 has traditionally been used to refer to a situation where a state is attacked by another.

Al Shabaab is not a state and the acts it has been accused of carrying out in Kenya are not of the gravity of say 9/11. They cannot be described as an armed attack in the context of Article 51.

In declaring war against Al-Shabaab, Prof Saitoti made reference to the recent armed incursions into Kenya from Somalia in which gunmen killed British tourist David Tebbutt and abducted his wife Judith from a resort in Lamu, another attack on a nearby beach hotel in which a French woman, Marie Dedieu, was kidnapped (she has since died), and the kidnapping of two Spanish aid workers from Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya. Al-Shabaab has denied carrying out the attacks.

The ministers also said Kenyan security forces would henceforth pursue the aggressors across the border.If you are attacked, you have the right to pursue that enemy right where he is,” Mr Haji said.

He was referring to the doctrine of hot pursuit, which has its origins in the law of the sea in which coastal states have the right to pursue onto the high seas a foreign vessel that, while within its waters, violates its laws, such as fisheries, customs, pollution and drug-trafficking.

However, the pursuit must be stopped if the vessel enters another country’s territorial waters. The pursuit must also be immediate and must not be interrupted. The doctrine is regulated by Article 111 of the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

Kenya, therefore, may not be able to use it to justify its incursions into Somalia unless it is applied in the context of Article 51 of the UN Charter on self-defence, which we have already seen may also be inapplicable in this case.

 Kenya Reportedly Didn’t Warn U.S. of Somalia Incursion

IHT.com – 21.10.2011

American officials said they had been taken by surprise by Kenya’s recent march into Somalia to battle Islamist militants. Kenya is one of the closest American allies in Africa, frequently cooperating on military and intelligence issues, and American officials have branded Islamist militants in Somalia a serious threat to the United States.

American official said Thursday. A former American official with experience in Africa said Kenyan officers had given their American counterparts “zero” information before the offensive started.

A senior American officer said there were no American military advisers or trainers with the Kenyan troops, but the officer would not comment on whether the United States was providing intelligence or reconnaissance information to the Kenyans.

Somali officials have likewise denied that they knew anything about the Kenyan offensive before it began.

Some analysts find it hard to believe that the American government, with a huge embassy and presence here in Kenya, would not have had an inkling of Kenya’s plans, which have precipitated one of the biggest military operations the Kenyans have undertaken since independence in 1963.

But the United States has acknowledged its involvement in Somalia before. During the Ethiopian invasion, for instance, American officials revealed that they had provided the Ethiopian military with intelligence and that they had even coordinated airstrikes alongside Ethiopian maneuvers.

Kenyan security forces have also been working hand in hand with clan-based militias in southern Somalia, and on Thursday one of those militias, the Ras Kamboni Movement, captured the town of Ras Kamboni, forcing Shabab fighters there to flee, the militia said. Fighting lasted for roughly one hour as about 300 militia soldiers infiltrated the town.

 KENYA TO STAY IN KISMAYU

the-strar.co.ke – 21.10.2011

THE Cabinet unanimously decided on Tuesday that Kenyan soldiers should capture the port city of Kismayu and remain there “for some time”.

The government has profiled various Al-Shabaab leaders, pointmen and financiers in Kenya with the intention of deporting them back to Somalia. “Intelligence officers have been deployed mainly in Eastleigh and South C where some al-Shabaab leaders are said to either operate from or have investments. We want to destroy their networks and their sources of funding,” said a senior intelligence official.  

According to the plans for Operation Linda Nchi approved by the Cabinet and seen by the Star yesterday, the Kenyan soldiers will remain in Kismayu until the Somalia Transitional Government or the African Union Amisom force takes over Somalia’s third largest city. “We are ready to go to all lengths to make sure al-Shabaab is ineffective in its use of weapons on Kenya.

The move to occupy Kismayu, according to the plan, would enable Kenya create a buffer zone between its territory and al-Shabaab militants. It would also allow the government to relocate Dadaab, the biggest refuge camp in the world, more than 100 km into Somalia.

Several Cabinet ministers said yesterday that the government will ask the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to relocate the Somali refugees into their country after the buffer zone has been created.

Al-Shabaab elements have even had the audacity to cross over into this camp and recruit the refugees who are now posing a security threat to us. We will create a safe zone for them and then the UNHCR and other agencies can take care of them inside Somali,” said a minister who helped prepare the plan.

“Kismayu has been the economic lifeline for the militants so what we want to do is cripple them there. Since the TFG and Amisom have forced them out of Mogadishu, they will not have any other viable place to help them fund their activities,” said another minister.

Kenya Navy is providing cover from the Indian Ocean and several Kenyan contingents are heading to the Port of Kismayu backed by the Air Force. “Our Navy is on the Kenyan waters and we are going to destroy anything in the Kenyan waters that looks like militants or pirates because we have information that it is piracy money that is partly funding al-Shabaab activities,” said Chirchir.

Kenya pushes to Kismayo in Somalia

Associated Press – 21.10.2011

Kenya intends to push its troops to Somalia’s insurgent stronghold of Kismayo and will stay until there are no Islamist insurgents left, a Kenyan military spokesperson said on Thursday.Somali government forces supported by foreign troops.

“We are going to be there until the [Somali government] has effectively reduced the capacity of al-Shabaab to fire a single round… We want to ensure there is no al-Shabaab,” Kenyan military spokesperson Emmanuel Chirchir told The Associated Press.We want to destroy all their weapons.”

His words were the clearest statement yet of Kenya’s intentions after it sent troops into Somalia last weekend. Kenya said it was retaliating for a series of raids by Somali gunmen who have attacked and abducted foreigners from Kenyan territory.

Kenyan troops head to Kisimayu after Ras Kiamboni take over

20.10.2011

The troops are now headed for Kismayu, where fierce fighting is expected in this port city that is the main base of the militant group.

Kibaki, Raila firm on AlShabaab war

source: newsinkenya.com 20.10.2011
 

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have hailed Kenyan troops fighting Somali militant group Al Shabaab. In their Mashujaa day speeches the two principals said the decision to send troops inside Somalia was driven by Kenya’s need to protect its sovereignty and economy.

Kenyan troops face tough slogging in Somalia

 Source: theStar.com 20.10. 2011

“The question to ask for me is, what are the Kenyans aiming for?” said International Crisis Group analyst Rashid Abdi in an interview Wednesday.

“A bit of muscle-flexing is fine. What worries me is if the Kenyans think they can occupy southern Somalia.”

Abdi argues that Kenya is ill-equipped to stay in Somalia long and need only look at Ethiopia’s disastrous 2006 military intervention, which effectively gave rise to the Shabab as Somalis joined forces to fight the country’s traditional arch-enemy.

Kenya sent 1,600 troops into Somalia on Sunday to hunt Shabab militants after four kidnappings, including the abduction of Marie Dedieu, a 66-year-old, quadriplegic Frenchwoman, who was taken from her Kenyan island home Oct. 1.

Somalia’s prime minister expressed condolences, saying it was an “inhumane act of that offends the dignity of the Somali people.”

Al Shabab has denied any role in the kidnappings.

While Kenya vowed Wednesday to overcome washed-out roads and flooding to push toward Kismayo, a Somali port town and Shabab stronghold.

Upon returning from a meeting with Somali officials in Mogadishu, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told reporters Wednesday that the intervention was coordinated at Mogadishu’s behest.

“First of all, there is no invasion, and Kenya has no intention of invading any country,”

Somalia’s government said earlier this week it had not been informed of Kenya’s actions and did not approve.

 AminArts:

Kenya Invades Somalia. Does it Get Any Dumber?

Global Spin -TIME.com  by: Alex Perry 19.10.2011

The last 20 years have also seen Somalia emerge with a particularly consistent record of chewing up anyone who arrives carrying a gun, including the U.N. and U.S. special operations troops (1992-3), Ethiopians (2006-9) and Ugandans and Burundians from an African Union peacekeeping force (2008-today).

So what does Kenya think it’s doing? On Sunday, a force estimated variously at a few hundred to 2,000 Kenyan soldiers crossed the border into Somalia into pursuit of militants from the Somali Islamist group, al-Shabab. But starting a war in which your invading forces are outnumbered from the beginning (al-Shabab has around 2,500 men at arms), and doing that just as the rainy season starts, is bat crazy.

Wednesday the Kenyans and their Somali allies were stuck in torrential rains and thick mud 20 miles short of their first objective of the al-Shabab-ruled town Afmadow. Even if the occupiers can extract themselves from the literal quagmire, analysts unanimously agree they will find it all but impossible to avoid becoming militarily bogged down. Faced with al-Shabab’s well-armed, experienced and more numerous guerrillas – fighters who two years ago saw off a far fiercer, better trained and bigger Ethiopian force –Kenya’s soldiers seem headed for deadlock at best and, at worst, bloody defeat.

  Kenya Faces Somalia Quagmire After US, Ethiopian Failures

By: Sarah McGregor – BusinessWeek.com 19.10.2011

Kenya’s military drive into neighboring Somalia to thwart attacks by the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab risks ending like previous interventions by the U.S. and Ethiopia — in retreat and failure.

While Kenya’s well-equipped army has been able to advance into southern Somalia, it may not be able to withstand attacks by a determined guerrilla force, according to Thomas Cargill, assistant head of the Africa Program at the London-based international-affairs institute Chatham House, who called it Kenya’s first foreign intervention.

“The problem comes with a counter-insurgency, that once you are there and become a target, do you have the skills to counter the increasing attacks against you?” he said by phone yesterday. “On that score, I think the Kenyan military is fairly untried.”

“I don’t know of any foreign intervention in Somalia that has had a happy outcome,” Cargill said. “It would be nice if Kenya’s intervention is able to impose some kind of security in southern Somalia but the precedents are not good.”

The Kenyans and TFG President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed issued a joint communiqué pledging to cooperate in:

 “undertaking security and military operations in the Lower Juba (border) regions of Somalia and to undertake coordinated pre-emptive action and pursuit of any armed elements that continue to threaten and attack both countries.” 

Somali’s ambassador to Kenya Mohammed Noor said:

immediately condemned the attack adding “any attempted move to attack Somali’s sovereignty” in the name of Al Shabaab is “unacceptable.” Noor said his country was saddened by the recent kidnappings of foreigners in the country said he also understood Kenya’s need to defend its territory and to pursue those who attacked its sovereignity.

He said his government was doing its best to fight Al Shabaab and had in the last two days launched “offensive raids” at Al Shabaab targets.

Somalia’s government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman said:

Kenya was only providing “logistical and moral support” and that it was the Somali forces who were battling the Al Shabaab. As a result of the offensive an Al Shabaab controlled town of Qoqani has been taken over by the Somali government.

Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti said:

” The Kenyan Government has decided to take robust measures to protect and preserve the integrity of the country and the national economy and security,”

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti vowed to attack al Shabaab“wherever they will be”.

 

Prof Saitoti said: 

 “Kenya had a right to self-defence, adding that the Constitution and the UN Charter were clear on the defence of borders.”

“We are ready to take any necessary action to preserve our territorial integrity,” Prof Saitoti declared.

He said the government had invoked Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, which pronounces self-defence as an inherent right, meaning the country can do whatever is necessary to keep its borders secure.

Prof Saitoti said:

 Somali refugees at Dadaab camp would be subjected to screening as there are suspected al Shabaab sympathisers residing there. There are currently 525,000 refugees in the camp, making it the biggest in the world.

Defence minister Yusuf Haji said:

“If you are attacked by an enemy, you have the right to pursue that enemy right where he is … they (al Shabaab) will be pursued,”

Article 51 of the UN Charter says:

 “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Defence Minister Yusuf Haji and his Internal Security counterpart Prof. George Saitoti invocating article 51 of the UN Charter and Article 111 of the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

 

Vidan Hadzi-Vidanovic writes about Kenyan invation of article 51 of the UN Charter:

Kenya invoked Article 51 of the UN Charter as a legal basis for these actions and pledged that all measures taken in the exercise of the right of self-defence will be reported to the Security Council. Additionally, they invoked the right to hot pursuit, although it is not clear whether it was regarded as a part of the right to self-defence or as a self-standing right.

He writes further the problem of Kenyan invocation of the Right of Self defence and says:

According to Article 51, every state has an inherent right to defend itself by employing military means if it has been subjected to an armed attack. The traditional view—which still has a significant support—is that an armed attack must be attributable to a state.

In attack carried out by non state actor he says

The attacks performed by non-state armed groups cannot be qualified as armed attacks, preventing the right to self-defence to become operational in such situations. This position is seen by many to have been confirmed in the ICJ 2004 Wall Advisory Opinion and in the DRC v. Uganda case.

He says about Al Shabab recent act in Kenya:

Al-Shabaab is obviously not a state, and their acts cannot be attributed to the Somali Transitional Federal Government by application of the general rules on attribution found in the ILC Draft Articles on State Responsibility. In fact, the TFG is itself engaged in a conflict with this armed group. If one accepts the traditional view, the Kenyan self-defence claim can only be rejected, as Kenya was not subjected to an armed attack by another state.

It is doubtful whether the activities of Al-Shabaab against Kenyan territory have reached such a high threshold in order to be qualified as an armed attack, or alternatively if the attack of this magnitude necessitated self-defence. They are certainly nowhere near the scale of the 9/11 Al-Qaeda attacks or the Hezbollah attacks that triggered the 2006 Lebanon War.

In its argument,  Kenyan government invoked nine separate incidents from 2009 to 2011. In respond to this allegation Vidan Hadzi-Vidanovic writes:

according to which a number of successive pin-prick attacks of lower intensity that show a distinctive pattern can constitute an armed attack when taken as a whole. But even if taken together, and if one could identify a distinctive pattern (bearing in mind that Al-Shabaab denied responsibility for the most recent abductions), it is doubtful if these incidents reached the required gravity threshold. There was no significant (if at all) destruction of property and no significant loss of life. The consequences that the Kenyan Government emphasizes are the infringement of security in the border areas and the severe economic losses due to the influence of the attacks on the Kenyan tourism industry on which the country heavily relies. There is, however, little support in international law that these would be sufficient, even in the cases of the attacks performed by a state, to reach the threshold of an armed attack.

In explaining its intention for sending Kenyan military into Somalia, the Kenyan governments invoked the right to HOT PURSUIT  in the Article 111 of the UN Law of the Sea Convention. Vidan Hadzi-Vidanovic writtes:

The right to hot pursuit on land is highly controversial and is generally rejected. In its original form, it is an institute of the law of the sea and it is regulated by Article 111 of the UN Law of the Sea Convention. The rule entails that hot pursuit must be uninterrupted and must commence while the offending ship is within the internal waters of the offended state. Most importantly, it does not allow for the incursion onto the territory of another state under any conditions.

If the Kenyan navy started its chase while the offenders were still in its territorial waters and if it caught them while on the high seas, the claim of hot pursuit would be legally valid – but it is too late for that now. In any event, the announced operations are to be performed by land and will include incursion onto Somali territory. Therefore, hot pursuit seems to be inapplicable.

David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia, remarked:

Al Shabaab has avoided attacks (inside Kenya) so far because it benefits too much from the illegal shipment of goods from Kismayu into Kenya and from financial supporters in the Somali community in Kenya,……Al Shabaab may conclude that the Kenyan action must be responded to, however, and the easiest way to do this is to carry out terrorist attacks inside Kenya. This would really ratchet up tension in the Horn.’ 

Thomas Cargill, assistant head of the Africa Program at London-based Chatham House, who considered the operation as Kenya’s first foreign military engagement, said:

While Kenya’s well-equipped army has been able to advance into southern Somalia, it may not be able to withstand attacks by a determined guerrilla force.

The problem comes with a counter-insurgency that once you are there, and become a target, do you have the skills to counter the increasing attacks against you?

On that score, I think the Kenyan military is fairly untried.’

Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director at the Ansari Africa Center of the Washington- based Atlantic Council, speculated:

 ‘My understanding is that they have at most 2,000 troops [and] they are trying to drive through to Kismayo,….I don’t think it’s feasible that they can get very far into Somalia, because 2,000 troops just aren’t enough.’

 

Assistant minister for Internal Security Orwa Ojode says:This Al Shabab issue is like a big animal , with the tail in Somalia, and the head of the animal is hidden here in Eastleight.”   

The minister proceeds and says:

” After the Somalia thing is over, I’m going to do a mother of all operations her in Nairobi to remove all Al Shabab and Al Qaeda.”

 

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula now says: “Kenya was prompted to send its troops to fight off Al Shabaab militants at invitation from the Somalia government.”

Wetangula told reporters “the military offensive should not be seen as an invasion into Somalia territory “because it is aimed at fighting a common enemy between the two countries.”

Wetangula said, When a neighbour is in a problem and invites you, it does not become an invasion. Somalia has been having problems with these militias called Al Shabaab and they reached a point and probably thought Somalia is not big enough and they decided to spill over to Kenya,” he said and warned that “we will fight them off and we are working with the TFG.”

Speaking to journalists on arrival from Mogadishu Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula accompained with Defence minister. In respond to critics about Kenyan military invasion into Somalia may strain the relatioships with fragile Somalia government. The minister said:

“How does it strain relationships between us and Somalia? How can it be said to be an invasion and here we have a government delegation that went inside Mogadishu to hold talks with the government of Somalia. We remain friendly nations with a common objective of driving off Al Shabaab,”

The minister said Kenya had also received the blessings of the African Union and neighbouring Ethiopia in its offensive “against the common enemy”

He said Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Melez Zenawi who also attended the talks in Mogadishu has announced his government’s backing of Kenya in the Al Shabaab attack.

“We also had a message from Kibaki to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi and he has given his unequivocal and steadfast support for any efforts Kenya is taking to protect its boundaries and its people,” Wetangula said.

Source: Capital News 20.10.2011