Tuesday, November 21, 2006


If a new U.N. report on the situation in Somalia is correct (some have doubts), then the situation in Somalia has metastasized from clan warfare to a regional/global conflict. The report argues that there are ten nations involved in the conflict, seven assisting the Islamic Courts (Iran, Eritrea, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Libya) and three on the side of the Transitional Government (Ethiopia, Uganda and Yemen). The situation in Somalia seems to be getting more dangerous and complicated as the days go by.

Kenya played a critical role in the birth of the TNG, but did little (as did the international community) to help the government entrench or legitimate itself in Somalia. Thus, the ICU was able to fill the power vacuum and now controls sizeable chunks of the country. Kenya has played no discernable part in the conflict, apart from calling for peace talks, which have thus far yielded little. Kenya – obviously – has a significant stake in what happens in Somalia, apart from the obvious refugee, and security problems, there is our prestige as peace brokers in the region. Moreover, the eventual make up of Somalia shall have immense repercussions for future relations in the volatile Horn.

If the Islamic Courts Union is able to defeat the TNG, consolidate power and unite Somalia under its fundamentalist ideology, Kenya shall have some major issues to deal with. The ICU is believed to have elements that are partial to Al Qaeda and who may have provided material and other support to those who planned and executed the bombings in 1998 and 2002. Moreover, there have been threats of terrorist retribution coming from the ICU, directed toward Nairobi. Would Kenya be willing to co-exist with Islamo-fascists nation hell bent on unleashing terror against it? Would having an Islamic caliphate as a neighbor complicate our delicate religious make up? The ICU also believes in the concept of a “Greater Somalia”. Would Kenya tolerate having a neighbor hell bent on taking over its territory? There is also the minor issue of trade, especially in Miraa, what would happen to those who rely on trade in this commodity?

The outcome of the current conflict in Somalia shall have far reaching consequences in the region. Our leaders need to ensure that whatever happens shall not put our political/economic/security interests at risk.


Blogger 3N said...

The issue of Somali's peace should be of concern to Kenya and neighboring countries. If the ICU take over I can see terrorist attacks in Nairobi in the name of "defending Islam".
However when push comes to shove any Islamists who believes they have the capability to take over east africa and create "Greater Somalia" they are in for a shock!
It will never happen and in fact if they tried to do so, Somalia will in the long run self distruct.
I hope a solution is found before a regional full fledge conflict breaks.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Kenyanomics said...

UN’s claim that Uganda supplies arms to TNG is disturbing. It implicates Kenya directly. For how do Ugandan arms get to Somalia without passing Kenyan territory (sea, land, or air)? Could that happen without our government’s knowledge and/or assistance? And why has Kenya been at the forefront of lobbying the UN to lift its arms embargo on Somalia? Those are the question our MPs should be asking, not which among them is marked for assassination. The country's national security and international credibility is at stake.

Solution to Somalia problems lies with Somalis themselves. Kenya and other nations can only offer environments for dialogue. Peace keeping, as pushed by IGAD, can only proceed upon agreement from both parties, TNG and ICU. We have seen such a formula work in Southern Sudan and now in Northern Uganda.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Gathara said...

The UN arms embargo applies to all parties in Somalia which means Abdillahi Yusuf's TNG cannot legally purchase the weapons it needs to form an effective national army and assert its authority. The ban also means that armed peacekeepers cannot be deployed to Somalia. The AU has called for the ban to be lifted and I think the Kenyan government has got it right on this issue.

In my post on the situation in Somalia, I suggested that Kenya needs to do several things.

First, provide military and political support to the TNG to prevent it being overrun by the Islamists and support the AU call for a lifting of the embargo. I also wrote that we need to encourage talks with the more moderate elements of the Courts to work out a power-sharing arrangement and isolate the extremists. Finally, Kenya has to do more to focus international attention on this issue and to highlight the need for sorting out and rebuilding Somalia. We must emphasize that its continuing instability, and consequent poverty, is providing fertile ground for Islamic extremism and is a threat to world peace.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Githush said...

thank yall for your commments.

@3N I agree that an ICU takeover with its links to alqaeda and avowed "Greater Somalia" stance would make any relationship with Kenya untenable. However, it is not their ability to achieve their goals that worries me, its their willingness to pursue those goals and the measures they'll undertake (terrorism, insurgent attacks etc)

@Kenyanomics, Whereas the Somali's shall decide their fate, we have a tremendous stake in the outcome and allowing the curent formulation of the ICU would be against our interests.

@Gathara, your suggestions are spot on. However, I would prefer that any assistance to TNG come via proxy (UG, Ethiopia etc..)as Kenyanomics intimates. This would allow us to have "plausible deniability" and remain a "honest broker" thus we have credibility in the international community (as we bring the issue to light)and among the warring factions. Working with moderates within the ICU would also be a splendid strategy.

11:02 AM  

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