Musalia Mudavadi: Kenya must not shoulder Somalia alone


Kenyan forces went into Somalia under the military doctrine of ‘hot pursuit’ of Al-Shabaab terrorists who were kidnapping and attacking tourists after piracy in the Indian Ocean was disrupted by international coalition forces.

The terror group then re-located to Somalia in a vain attempt to create an Islamic state. Kenya’s incursion into Somalia wasn’t an invasion. Our objectives were one; to pursue the enemy far from our borders as possible; and two, wipe out both its military capability and compatibility by destroying the illegal trade in charcoal and sugar trade. Kenya’s intention was not to be an occupation force. It however remains hazy whether we had an exit strategy.

It may, therefore, be this lack of an exit strategy that made Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) remain in Somalia. Of course ensuring a working government in Somalia was in our national interest of warding off terrorist from our territory.

A stable working government in Somalia would take control of security and stave off the insurgents. Hence in 2012, Kenya embarked on an odious political process of helping the people of Somalia establish a government out of the fractious civil wars since the deposed Siad Barre regime in 1991.

But have we accomplished the task we set out to do in 2011 of neutralising Al-Shabaab No. The combination of terrorists mutating into a rag-tag army deploying guerrilla tactics to augment their hold on Somalia, make deadly raids into Kenya and slow efforts to form a transitional government combined to force our stay longer.

Al-Shabaab mutated into a terror army at home, even as refugees streamed into Kenya. This made early exit an act of defeat. To make our stay comfortable from the earlier unilateral incursion, the United Nations (UN), through the African Union (AU) sanctioned the absorption of our military into AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia), under which Kenyan forces would operate and be funded. Our stay would then take longer to take care of newer developments on the military and political fronts.

But under-funding within AMISOM and lukewarm cooperation by regional and international interests in commitment to pursuing the goal of a stable government in Somalia has been the greatest impediment to withdrawing when the Al-Shabaab threat has morphed into an internal existential threat to Kenya.

But the truth, supported by authoritative expert reports, suggests that the political objective has been an abject failure. The international community has kept off the ball on the political front and underestimated the military threat of the terrorists.

So, should Kenya quit in ignominy or not I don’t want to address the allegations of our forces turning a blind eye to their mission by indulging in charcoal and sugar smuggling pacts with the enemy because I don’t have the facts. However, to quit or not to should be determined on whether the twin military and political objectives have been achieved or not, and what that means for our security.

Foreign powers have never policed a country forever. Worse, Kenya continues to shoulder the burden of Somalia with dire consequences to the economy and social stability, meaning we should embark on an aggressive diplomacy to get Somalia under a working and stable government. This will relieve us the burden of direct military engagement with our neighbour.

We must tell it to our regional and international partners that experiments with what ought to work in Somalia must be abandoned in favour of what should work. Our partners against terror must soil their hands in rebuilding the State of Somalia by helping us dismantle local, regional and international cartels that see a dismembered Somalia, just like the terrorists, as a business opportunity rather than a burden to Kenya.

ANC party leader Hon Musalia Mudavadi is a former Deputy Prime Minister



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