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Why Kenya is not making any strides in the war against Al Shabaab two months into incursion

Discussion in 'Kenyan News and Politics' started by Geza Ulole, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. Geza Ulole

    Geza Ulole JF-Expert Member

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    [h=1]Why Kenya is not making any strides in the war against Al Shabaab two months into incursion[/h] [​IMG] Kenya Defence Forces say they are conducting an offensive, defensive and humanitarian operation in Somalia and that the long term goal remains the same but at the tactical level they change now and then. Picture: File

    The Kenyan Defence Forces in Somalia have not made any significant territorial progress over the past one month, but the military publicity department is not ready to reveal that they have stalled because of factors beyond their control — a situation that has left Nairobi rethinking its approach to the incursion against the Al Shabaab militia.
    The force on the southern front that entered Somalia through Kiunga is stuck in Burgabo, 60km from the Kenyan border, where they will have to cross a deep creek. The only advance being realised is on the central front, that recently took Bilis Qooqaani and is preparing to take Afmadow. The two teams are eventually meant to meet in Kismayu.
    Investigations by The East-African have revealed that a number of logistical and political issues have forced the KDF to go slow contrary to the initial plan for a swift operation.
    There are four major factors that have bogged down the military campaign. They are: Lack of finances to run a long-drawn war; the differences between interested parties over whether to divide Somalia into autonomous regions or maintain one united country; differences over the option to engage Al Shabaab in a political dialogue, and the ambivalence of Somalia’s President Sheikh Shariff Ahmed.
    Already, the Kenya public and the politicians have started questioning whether the Kenyan involvement in Somalia is likely to last longer than was initially intended.
    However, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesperson Maj Emmanuel Chirchir maintained that the reason the Kenyan advance has slowed down is because they are combining the offensive angle with humanitarian operations. “When we started the operation we had the offensive, defensive and humanitarian operations components. At the strategic level, the long term goal still remains but at the tactical level, things have to change every now and then because you are dealing with human beings,” he said.
    Still, Kenya has support around the world for entering Somalia. Experts on Somalia argue that it would be a disaster if Kenya came out of Somalia with egg on its face or without substantially crippling Al Shabaab, as this would embolden the militia group to such an extent that the international community would not be able to deal with.
    The importance of Kenya’s intervention has been recognised by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who last week said in Nairobi that Kenya’s leadership role in efforts to stabilise Somalia, has presented an opportunity to the people of Somalia to realise stability and prosperity after 20 years of civil war.
    The Kenya government has secured moral and political support from various nations and organisations including the Commonwealth, the AU, the EU, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the EAC, the ACP and Comesa.
    But the war is not as simple as Kenyans were made to believe when the military entered Somalia in October. For a start, Kenya was not prepared for a long-drawn-out war, and is already finding its resources stretched. To maintain two infantry fronts, navy and fighter jets on the ground for this long is proving to be a major financial strain and sources revealed that Kenya has been reaching out to the United States and other Western allies for help.
    It is estimated that it costs Ksh210 million ($233,000) per month to keep the soldiers in the battlefield. This amount comprises the cost of moving the troops and supplying them with food and water, communication and medical care.
    That is part of the reason why the government last Wednesday sought the approval of parliament (and got it) to allow Kenyan forces to be placed under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) — to offset costs.
    In parliament, a number of MPs questioned the country’s war strategy in Somalia, with others calling for a short war. Kenya’s military has no experience in counter-insurgency, and the country needs logistic support from its allies. Al Shabaab is fighting a classic guerrilla war by melting into the civilian population and forcing the KDF to fight on its terms. The United States is providing Kenya with satellite images of real time movements of Shabaab and deploying drones, but the militia’s tactics remains a challenge for a conventional army.
    Part of the reason why the Ethiopians overcame the Union of Islamic Courts in two weeks in 2006 is because of a superior air force, especially helicopter gunships.
    The second reason for the slow progress by the KDF is the differences among interested parties over whether to maintain a united Somalia with power concentrated in the centre or split the country into various autonomous regions. These interested parties include Kenya, Ethiopia, the TFG, a number of Western countries led by US, and the Somali people.
    Kenya is proposing the division of Somalia into eight autonomous regions: Central region or Hiran; Somaliland; Puntland; Bay Bakool; Jubaland; Shabelle; Gedo and Mogadishu, commonly known as Banadir.
    Sources revealed that the proposal involves various regions governing themselves but maintaining strong contact with the centre through a rotational presidency. However, President Shariff, who comes from Johar near Mogadishu, is strongly opposed to the idea of autonomous regions.
    Currently, there are three autonomous regions — Somaliland, Puntland and the central region of Galmudug, commonly known as Hiran. Unlike the secessionist Somaliland region in northwestern Somalia, Galmudug, is not trying to get international recognition as a separate nation. It considers itself an autonomous state within the larger federal republic of Somalia. Galmudug was established on August 14, 2006 and Mohamed Warsame Ali “Kiimiko” was elected president.

    Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula refused to be drawn into discussing the progress of the war. He also denied that Kenya is seeking to divide Somalia into autonomous regions, but argued that the Somalia Transitional Charter that created TFG says that Somalia shall be a federal government, but leaves how to go about it to the Somali people.

    “If it is the process that will bring peace to Somalia, then Kenya will support it. But we want it to be Somalia-driven, not Kenya-driven,” he said.

    Rashid Abdi, a specialist on Somalia with the International Crisis Group, noted that the international community has not yet learned the lesson that re-establishing a European-style centralised state based in Mogadishu is almost certain to fail, because for most Somalis, their only experience with the central government is that of predation.
    “Since Independence, one clan, or group of clans, has always used its control of the centre to grab most of the resources and deny them to rival clans. Thus, whenever a new transitional government is created, Somalis are naturally wary and give it limited, or no support, fearing it will only be used to dominate and marginalise them,” he said.
    Amisom spokesperson Paddy Asnkunda, told The EastAfrican that the peace process is expected to produce peaceful federated states, working more or less autonomously with a central authority in Mogadishu. He, however, maintained that the Somali political dialogue can go on even without the participation of Al Shabaab because, as he put it, “They have no support among the people and that’s what matters. They have lost political legitimacy by killing innocents.”
    Autonomous regions aside, the focus is shifting to President Sheikh Shariff Ahmed and his role in the conduct of the war. After what appeared to be a misunderstanding in the early stages when he questioned Kenya’s intentions in Somalia, it is now emerging that Sheikh Shariff is a strong believer in Wahhabism, which is close to the Al Shabaab philosophy.
    He is associated with the Salafi group that believes strongly in Sharia law. His kitchen Cabinet, called Al Sheikh, are mostly hardline Islamists, who blame him for appearing moderate. This group believes that the Djibouti agreement that brought together hardliners and secularists, is watering down the tenets of Islam.
    While he remains ambivalent over the Kenya intervention, the TFG’s official mandate ends in August next year without initiating the expected Somalia national political dialogue. The concern for Kenya is that given the divisive politics and the short timeframe, it is unlikely the TFG will deliver significant progress on key transitional objectives, such as stabilising Somalia and delivering a permanent constitution.
    That is why Kenya is looking at alternative ways of pacifying Somalia by trying to persuade the international community to concentrate its support on the more effective local entities, until a more appropriate and effective national government is negotiated.
    Why Kenya is not making any strides in the war against Al Shabaab two months into incursion - News |theeastafrican.co.ke
  2. Chamoto

    Chamoto JF-Expert Member

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    Acha uchokozi Geza
  3. Geza Ulole

    Geza Ulole JF-Expert Member

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    hawa jamaa waliandika article hizi

    How war boosts Kenya's regional, global clout

    [​IMG] Kenyan soldiers at Liboi. Though Kenya is the EAC's leading economy, it was largely viewed as a wimpish nation, with an untested military led by pampered generals growing potbellied in luxury and never having to worry about firing a shot in anger. All that has changed in weeks. FILE| The East African

    Kenya's war, and Burundi and Uganda's aggressive peacekeeping in Somalia, are having a far-reaching and unintended impact inside the East African Community countries.
    While the three EAC countries all entered troubled Somalia to save it, there are signs that it is Somalia that is changing the way these countries do business at home.
    The effect of the Somalia war, especially the activities of Al Shabaab, are even being felt in countries like Tanzania - which is not involved either as a peacekeeper or fighting force in Somalia - through the number of its young people being recruited into the militant group's regional network. Last week, Home Affairs Minister Shamsi Vuai Nadodha announced that 10 Tanzanians had been arrested in Mogadishu fighting alongside the Shabaab.
    While Kenya's entry into the Somalia fray has its critics, it has kicked off a wave of nationalist sabre-rattling on the Internet. Not surprising, because though Kenya is the EAC's leading economy, it was largely viewed as a wimpish nation, with an untested military led by pampered generals growing potbellied in luxury and never having to worry about firing a shot in anger.
    Indeed, in a leaked US diplomatic cable published on the whistleblower website Wikileaks, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni is reported by US diplomats in Kampala to have pooh-poohed the Kenya army's mettle and ability to do anything about Somali insurgents. Museveni is reported as describing the Kenyan military as a "career army" and wondering about their ability to take on bush fighters. "Is Kenya used to fighting like this [bush and guerrilla warfare]? Would Kenya be able to provide logistical support to its Somali allies?" Museveni reportedly wondered.
    Because of that view, which similar leaked US cables reveal are shared by Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the meeting in Nairobi last week between President Mwai Kibaki, Museveni and Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed would have been unthinkable just two months ago. When it came to heavy lifting on Somalia, it was considered that Kenya had nothing useful to contribute.
    In a few weeks, all that has changed.
    Writing in Uganda's main independent daily, the Daily Monitor (a sister publication of The EastAfrican), Member of Parliament Capt Michael Mukula noted, "Kenya has displayed that it is not a mere careerist. Its military hardware display inside Somalia has certainly raised eyebrows among regional military strategists."
    War brings with it death and destruction, but its ability to boost a country's diplomatic standing has been displayed many times in the region.
    Burundi, war-wracked, poor, and obscure, muscled up internationally when it became the only other country to send peacekeeping troops to joins the Ugandans in Amisom, the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
    Today Burundi, which used to be relegated to the back of the room, gets a front seat at international meetings on Somalia and peacekeeping in Africa.
    By the time Burundi arrived at the table, equally tiny Rwanda had been punching above its weight for years, particularly after its lead role in ousting Congo dictator Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997, and the sway it held over its neighbour, which is 27 times its size, as an imperial overlord of sorts for some years after that.
    Rwanda had entered Congo to pursue the forces that carried out the 1994 genocide in the country, in which nearly one million people were killed. They had regrouped inside Congo, from where they were launching periodic attacks on Rwanda.
    It was a campaign that ended in controversy, with Rwandan forces being accused of human-rights abuses and plunder. Rwanda, the saying goes, bit off and chewed up Congo, but could not quite swallow it.
    Some observers think that Burundi - and possibly Uganda - got their appetite for peacekeeping from watching how Rwanda's peacekeeping role in Sudan's western Darfur region reversed its fortunes.
    Rwanda sent the first main body of troops for the UN peacekeeping force in Sudan, UNMIS, in 2005. A grateful international community immediately became reluctant to criticise Rwanda's Congo role. Before long, when Rwanda sneezed on Sudan peacekeeping, everyone caught a cold.
    This was demonstrated dramatically last year, when a draft UN human-rights report accusing Rwanda of massacring civilians in Congo in the late 1990s was leaked. The report even hinted that Rwanda troops might have committed "genocide."
    Kigali hit the roof, and threatened to withdraw its forces from the Darfur peacekeeping mission. Rwanda's argument was that if the UN believed its troops had committed genocide, then they were unworthy of being in a peace mission to prevent genocide.
    A withdrawal would have effectively collapsed the mission. The UN panicked. In a first, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon interrupted a European visit, hopped on a plane, and headed to Kigali to press the flesh with President Paul Kagame and massage wounded feelings.
    The UN said the report was a work in progress, and hadn't been reviewed.
    In the end, its release was delayed, and a "balanced" version was what eventually saw the light of day and made it into the official record.
    Up to that point, it was only countries like the US or China that had the clout to get that kind of result.
    As Kenya savours the newfound external attention and respect as a result of the war, it has to contend with several domestic challenges.
    Because, unlike Uganda and Burundi, it shares a border with Somalia, its security measures to foil possible Al Shabaab suicide bombers have been more extensive.
    Unusually, over the past three weeks, worshippers arriving for Sunday prayers found that they had to undergo security checks before entering the Lord's house.
    Most of the schools in Nairobi where the elite take their children have introduced detectors, and guards are peeking under cars with mirrors.
    There is virtually no hospital, mall, or office building in Nairobi that you can enter without being frisked, scanned, or having your car checked.
    However, these are petty changes that will not change society much.
    Meanwhile, in the past few weeks Kenyans have seen more photographs of soldiers and weaponry, and heard army chiefs and spokesman speak, than they have for all of the past 15 years - including the period of post-election violence in 2008.
    A national aversion to a high profile role for the military could just disappear in the process.
    For Uganda, Somalia has been a particular blessing. Like Rwanda's, the Uganda army, the UPDF, had its image battered by its adventures in DR Congo, where it was eventually condemned as a pillaging and murderous force.
    A senior military officer in Uganda told The EastAfrican, "Somalia was a blessing. It has allowed our army to again be seen as heroic at home, and respected abroad".
    Nothing could be more different than the way the Uganda soldiers who died in Congo, and those who die in Somalia, are treated. Most of the DRC casualties were buried in the jungles there. The Somalia casualties are returned home and given a decent burial.
    Because the DRC campaign eventually became a personalised war, and attracted too many rogue officers out to cut down forests for timber or take over a diamond or gold mine, there was a massive attack on the formal structures of the UPDF and the military fell into disarray.
    The Amisom mission, because it involves working with AU institutions, Nato, the US, and co-ordinating with Burundi, forced Uganda to appoint its better officers and to manage the army professionally. Somalia, then, saved the UPDF from becoming a bandit force.
    An Amisom official told The EastAfrican, "In the fullness of time, Somalia could enable regional integration in ways that will surprise us."
    That moment might be here already. Unlike Rwanda, which had closer links to the older EAC countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda), Burundi had been more properly a Central African country that East Africa paid little attention to.
    For a long time, the Somalia question was an issue for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), comprising Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda. Burundi's role in Amisom drew it close into an IGAD, and lately EAC, project and did a lot to turn it into an East African country.
    The involvement of EAC countries in war or peacekeeping in Sudan and Somalia, has also coloured their outlook toward the expansion of the Community.
    In June, the Republic of Sudan (Khartoum) surprised the region when it formally applied to join the EAC, ahead of the new nation of South Sudan, which was considered a more "natural" and "logical" future candidate.
    Khartoum's bid received a cold reception from Uganda, which has had issues with the Sudan government, including its long-time support for the murderous Lord's Resistance Army rebels. Tanzania also reportedly baulked.
    Kenya and Rwanda were more open to the idea, and suggested that due diligence be done by the EAC to establish whether the Republic of Sudan met the standard for membership.
    Empathetic Kagame
    Of the EAC presidents, the one who has most amplified the need to respond to Khartoum's courtship objectively, is Kagame.
    That is no accident, because Kagame has a peacekeeping force in Darfur, and officers in Khartoum and South Sudan. He is therefore more likely to be empathetic to Khartoum, because a relationship between Sudan and the EAC that eventually leads to a reduction of conflict, would also partly be a success for the Rwanda peace mission.
    It is early days, and there are still many twists and turns to come in the Somalia conflict. For one, Kenya government officials have been warning of anti-Somali sentiment, arguing that a distinction needs to be made between Kenyan-Somali and Somalia-Somalis - the latter remain loyal, and many are playing a prominent role in the Kenya campaign.
    They are right to be concerned, because the Shabaab have sought to rally their base by saying Somalia has been invaded by a "coalition of Christian armies."
    The response that can be gleaned from pronouncements by public officials and the media is quite striking. It would seem as if in a bid not to give Al Shabaab ammunition or to "endanger the troops," anti-Muslim rhetoric, especially from Kenyan fundamentalist Christian groups, has gone silent.
    How long it will last, will soon be clear. Support for the Kenyan action in Somalia is shrill, and the Kenyan blogosphere and social media voices are waxing patriotic.
    A posting by a Christine Mutimura on the social media Twitter on Operation Linda Nchi (Operation Protect the Homeland) as Kenya is calling it, summed it up well: "Kenya's invasion of Somalia to hunt down Al Shabaab is being viewed as a Big Gamble. I say Operation Linda Nchi is a Worthy Gamble."

    How war boosts Kenya

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    Kenya needs to wrap up quickly

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    Posted Sunday, November 27 2011 at 13:06

    Should Kenya internationalise the Somalia campaign or finish the job on its own? This is among the emerging concerns as the military campaign that was meant to take a short time is turning out to be a long haul.

    Military sources have cited the heavy rains pounding southern Somalia, but the dilemma is that the longer the campaign takes, the more likely becomes the emergence of competing regional interests that could bog down the campaign.

    On Thursday, Kenya made an official request that the United States provide intelligence and surveillance since it already has significant naval, air and special operations assets in the region.

    But some Somalia watchers are concerned that Kenya's diplomatic offensive is unnecessarily delaying the troop movement, and that it should just remain a Kenyan-led operations.

    However, Kenya should learn from Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia in 2006, that the Al Shabaab if given room are capable of regrouping and hitting back with devastating effect. It is time Kenya wrapped up the campaign before war fatigue sets in.
    Kenya needs to wrap up quickly *- Editorial*|theeastafrican.co.ke

    Mara story imebadilika ghafla inaelekea wamegonga ukuta haswa ku-solicit TZ help under the umbrella of EA security pact/protocol! mie nawashauri kitu kimoja wasije wakachapwa kama kitenesi (tennis ball) ndani ya Somalia...!
  4. Bantugbro

    Bantugbro JF-Expert Member

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    Poor NMG journalists...:lol: