Kenya-Somalia border tension risks strengthening Shabaab
Somalia was Monday fighting itself after its national forces ambushed Jubbaland regional troops allied to a fugitive minister near the border with Kenya.
Experts say the move could potentially aid Al-Shabaab militant group in spreading terror.
The fight broke out a day after 11 Kenyan parliamentarians secretly travelled to Somalia and met President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo.
The eruption of violence on the border threatened to negate claims by the Kenyan MPs that they were seeking solutions against the Somalia-based militant group.
Fighting broke out between special troops of the Somali National Army (SNA) deployed to Gedo region to guard the border and Jubbaland forces loyal to Abdirashid Janaan, who reportedly fled prison in Mogadishu with the help of some officials in President Famrajo’s government.
It occurred mostly on the Somali side but civilians fled into Kenya.
This is the opposite of what was expected after MPs from the three North Eastern counties of Wajir, Mandera and Garissa toured Mogadishu.
The MPs claimed they were knocking on any door to seek help.
But a split between those who went and those who remained behind exposed clan differences.
The leaders led by Mandera North MP Bashir Abdullahi said they had informed the National Intelligence Service (NIS) bosses about their trip and refuted claims that they had sneaked out.
Most of the MPs who visited Somalia are from Garre and Degodia clans.
Those left behind are mostly Ogadenis, who support Jubbaland President Ahmed Madobe, whose leadership is not recognised by Farmaajo.
Former Lagdera MP Farah Maalim denied claims that they sneaked out, suggesting that details of the trip were leaked to the media by those opposed to it.
“This narrative that the MPs’ trip to Mogadishu was clandestine is hogwash. We have a government where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.
“The Director General of NIS, the Inspector-General and a host of other officers were aware of the trip and they even sanctioned it,” he said.
On Monday, experts warned that the tension at the border risked strengthening Al-Shabaab rolling back the gains made in the fight against the militants.
The terror group has recently launched attacks in North eastern region, attacking villages, targeting teachers and police stations.
“The fighting reported in Baled Hawa is not only an unacceptable crime. It is also stupid,” said Mr Adam Aw Hirsi, Jubbaland’s former planning minister and former governor of Gedo region, where the fighting occurred.
“Al-Shabaab is the enemy, focus on them,” he added
Mr Idd bedel Mohamed, a former Somali diplomat, said the “winner is Al-Shabaab”.
“Gedo region has been most peaceful and stable region after it was liberated from the terrorist group many years ago.
Instead of fighting Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu and other regions, President Farmaajo has deployed forces to Gedo and made it a conflict region,” he said.
Sources: Daily Nation