Kenya recently accused Somalia of deliberately misleading the world as it alleged Somalia to have auctioned oil and gas blocks in Kenya’s maritime territory and has called Somalia’s actions as an ‘act of aggression”. Somalia clearly responded to the Kenyan’s false allegation indicating that it has no plans to offer any blocks in the disputed maritime area until the parties’ maritime boundary is decided by the ICJ. Kenya’s expectations and miscalculation were met with cool, but resolute diplomatic response by the Somali Federal Government leadership.
Kenya remains unsatisfied with the Somali response and continues to pursue an aggressive campaign undermining Somalia’s sovereignty. Kenya’s expansionist plan has led Monica Juma, Kenya Minister of Foreign Affairs to embark into a diplomatic shuttle visiting several countries with the objective of selling their own story on the sea dispute and labelling Somalia as an aggressive neighbor.
Kenyan’s open war with Somalia started in 2011 when it decided unilaterally to send its troops to Somalia without consulting with the TFG of Somalia. Also in the recent past some Kenyan elites have openly advocated Kenya to annex part of Somalia citing failure by the Somali people to rule themselves. Just few days ago Kenya has announced that it is considering establishing diplomatic ties with Somaliland, a clear tactic to create tension that is anticipated to play in favor of Kenya. These outrageous provocations have become part of Kenyan foreign policy towards Somalia.
To soothe this offensive diplomatic war against Somalia, Kenya argues often that it has helped the Somali people for many years, it is fighting Al-shabab in Somalia and it hosts the largest Somali refugees in the world implying Kenya’s generosity to an aggressive neighbor. Yes, it is true that Kenya has welcomed Somali people following the collapse of the Somali regime in 1991 and is now hosting 500,000 (half a million) Somali refugees. However, the Somali people have mutually expressed their gratitude to the people of Kenya as they chose to invest, pay taxes, and live in Kenya legally as law abiding citizens. Actually, Kenya is the only country in the region that has benefited immensely from the collapse of the Somali nation and its interest lies in keeping Somalia dysfunctional for years to come.
Some Factual Benefits
Fact 1: The Somali investment in Kenya is estimated to be around 4 billion dollars, making substantial contribution to the Kenyan GDP growth. Somali traders have opened businesses in Eastliegh (Nairobi) and elsewhere in Kenya providing goods and services to local Kenyans at prices well below the average market.
Fact 2: Before the arrival of Somali people from Somalia in 1991, Kenya business was predominately owned by Indians and Arabs and today with the influence of Somali business people Kenyans are proud owners of much of the businesses in their country.
Fact 3: Somali people in Kenya employ around 500, 000 Kenyan’s contributing significantly to the number of Kenyans employed.
Fact 4: An estimated half a billion of dollar of income comes from Somali people visiting Kenya every year, yet they don’t get the service they deserve. It refused direct flights from Mogadishu to Nairobi undermining the principles of good neighbourhood.
Fact 5: Somalia buys Khat worth of 1.3 billion dollars a year from Kenya, turning Kenyan Khat grower’s into millionaires.
Fact 6: Kenya tells the world that Dadaab refugee camp is a burden to its economy and security, but the true story is that Kenya benefits a lot from local employments by UNHCR and other aid organizations to the disbursement of the entire aid money inside Kenya.
Fact 6: United Nation Organizations (UNDP, FAO, UNHCR, UNESCO, UNICEF, IFAD, WFP, etc), and EU offices for Somalia are still in Nairobi. Over 60% of their entire budget is spent in Kenya.
Fact 7: Kenya is a member of troop contributing countries to Somalia (AMISOM) and hence the salary of their troops is paid by the EU and other members of the international community which is a very attractive overseas service for Kenyan troops.
Fact 8: Several reliable reports implicated Kenyan troops of illicit business activities in Somalia including a report published in 2015 by a nonpartisan watchdog organization “Journalists for Justice” which accuses Kenya’s military involvement in illegal sugar and charcoal business, an operation that is worth between $200 and $400 million per year
Challenging Kenya’s arrogance
The most effective way to confront Kenya’s vanity is to hit where it hurts most- their economy. Here are some effective mechanisms:
1) Stop Kenyan Khat from coming to Somalia
2) Boycott traveling to Nairobi, until Kenya appreciates and welcomes Somali visitors as real customers. Remember, the customer is a king.
3) Since Kenya declared an open diplomatic war with Somalia, the Federal Government of Somalia must request the removal of Kenyan troops from Somalia ASAP.
4) Avoid doing business or making investments in Kenya
5) Somali people living in Kenya should plan to move out of Kenya quickly before Kenyan government starts taking over their properties illegally.
6) UN organizations and EU for Somalia should move to Somalia. Somalia deserves the money allocated in her name to be spent in Somalia, not elsewhere.
Kenya may underestimate Somalia and continue acting aggressively, but rest assured if the situation escalates, Kenya will experience a heavy economic loss with a hefty political unrest.
It is in the interest of both countries to act wise, but Kenya feels it has more leverage over Somalia and is convinced that it can annex the Somali Sea with minimum resistance because of the stiff political divisions that dominates Somalia. Let me end with a quote by Thomas Faranda “Arrogance is an unhealthy ego in need of repair”. Kenya’s arrogance towards Somalia must be confronted before it is too late.