The main reason for Kenyan defense forces going inside Somalia was to defeat
Al-Shabaab militant group which has threatened its national security and main
economic activity tourism.
The decision to send Kenyan military into southern Somalia for the linda
inchi operation Swahili word for defending the nation came when a British
and French tourists were kidnapped by suspected Al-Shabaab militant
group members from the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa in mid 2011.
The announcement was made in a press conference by minister for internal
security the late George Saitoti sitting next to minister for defense Yussuf
This was Kenya’s first ever military incursion in a neighboring country and
as soon as the Kenyan defense forces advanced on the Al-Shabaab stronghold port
city of Kismayu than jubilations and praise poured by patriotic Kenyan media on
the achievements on the frontline.
Many assumed that the fall of the port city of Kismayu the Al-Shabaab
stronghold will be the end of the game and by doing so Kenyan defense forces
will go down to history for defeating organized and multinational terror
organization something the mighty US military has failed in recent years even
by the use of the most sophisticated weapons thus drone strike.
Nearly two and a half years since the incursion Kenya is now facing one of
the most delicate security threats in the continent.
The number of terror attacks linked to the group for retaliation against the
presence of Kenyan troops in Somalia has doubled and more than before the
In the first week of May alone six attacks were executed by the group inside
Kenya in which at least ten innocent civilians lost their lives while scores
others were wounded.
All attacks seemed to be strategic and change of tactics; four out of the
total six were targeted at congested bus stations and public transport in
Nairobi and coastal city of Mombasa where as the other two were stressed on
power generating companies in North Eastern Muslim dominated border towns of
Mandera and Wajir respectively.
One month old usalama watch operation which was launched in the
predominate Somali neighborhood of Eastleigh in Nairobi aimed at netting the
members and the sympathizers of the Al-Qaida linked group to prevent further
terror attacks has attracted widespread criticism from the right groups.
More than 4000 suspects’ majority Somali refugees were arrested and 200
other undocumented refugees were deported back to Somalia.
No one was investigated, charged in a court of law or found guilty of
harboring terror activities and off course no grenades or explosive making
materials were found in the ongoing operation.
Actually this has not reduced or stopped attacks, two police officers lost
their lives when car full of explosives detonated in police station in
Eastleigh last week.
Mistrust and double standards
Muslim politicians in Kenya particularly those of Somali origin have warned
the government of Kenya the unprecedented repercussions and consequences if
Kenyan troops go inside Somalia but the government disobeyed the advice and
Muslim leaders also went ahead and overwhelmingly passed the anti terror law
despite criticism from Muslim population, they were doing all this to convince
the government that Muslims support war against terror.
Ironically the government of Kenya is now accusing Muslim community for not
doing enough as far as fight against terrorism in the country is concerned.
It is absurd to blame Muslims for not cooperating with security agencies and
to be insincere on fight against Al-Shabaab when the families of Muslim
soldiers fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia are facing abuse and discriminations of
the highest order back home.
It is also ridiculous to hold responsible Muslims who are themselves victims
of Al-Shabaab for not doing enough in the proxy war.
Likewise it is impossible to talk about winning war against terror when
you’re not ready to end the donor funding attached to it, British and Americans
fund Kenya anti terror police unit which has been accused by right groups of
extra judicial killings of terror suspects.
Until then Kenyan government should blame itself for Al-Shabaab blowback.
Mohammed Kahiye is a freelance journalist and International
Relations and Diplomacy student in Nairobi.