Somalia pullout good, but get lasting solutions to terrorism
Early this month, Kenya revealed plans to withdraw its troops from neighbouring Somalia. Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma is expected to lead talks on the anticipated end to slightly more than eight years of the Kenya Defence Forces incursion.
KDF crossed into Somalia on the night of October 16, 2011 with the sole objective of destroying and degrading the Islamist group Al-Shabaab, toppling its leadership and preventing the prospects of terrorist attacks.
The Somalia-based militants exploited the 684-kilometre porous border to launch attacks on Kenyans in the former North-Eastern Province and Nairobi and abduct Westerners, particularly at the Coast. Experts say, however, that the move to end the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) by 2021, as planned, could potentially aid Al-Shabaab in spreading terrorism.
KDF is deploying a Battle Group, which will facilitate the anticipated withdrawal of troops under the Somali Transition Plan aimed at the gradual transition of security responsibilities to Somalia’s security institutions.
However, while the pullout is good, it ought to follow the foresight to address the security and stability vacuum in Somalia and attainment of concrete peace in the larger eastern Africa.
In Afghanistan where American troops fought a decade-long war to dismantle the Taliban, Washington first hit on the idea of talking to the insurgents in the Qatari capital Doha towards the end of then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s tenure. The United States-led peace plan has, however, had a bumpy ride amid perfidy and caprice on the part of both the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s administration. Perhaps in an effort to help along a process that seemingly doesn’t promise results, the Taliban have since wheeled in the Russians.
It took nearly four years of talks in the Cuban capital Havana to end a 52-year war between Colombian forces and rebel movement FARC. In Europe, talks in the late 1990s led to The Good Friday Agreement, which ended “The Troubles”, a 30-year period during which violence rocked Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
In Sri Lanka, where in 2009 government troops defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels, ending 30 years of war, failure to embrace talks has lately loosed strain upon social compact.
Continual violence against the lunatic fringe in society won’t bring us peace. At least not for long. In Palestine, the militant group, Hamas, known to make a pitch since its founding in 1987 for the violent turfing out of the state of Israel, has long deflected Tel Aviv and Ramallah from meaningfully pursuing peace.
Contrary to the view that amnesty as quid pro quo for reformation of character is a warlords’ charter, talks can help us to purge those forming and joining terrorist organisations of their mistaken religious dogma, which is the handmaiden of their hate towards ‘others’.
By MULANG’O BARAZA, Nairobi