[Dehai-WN] The-Platform.org.uk: Kenya's Intervention in Somalia: Regional and International Strategic Considerations

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2011 16:16:26 +0100

Kenya's Intervention in Somalia: Regional and International Strategic

Posted by: Pete Chonka Tags: <http://www.the-platform.org.uk/tag/africa/>
africa, <http://www.the-platform.org.uk/tag/government/> Government,
<http://www.the-platform.org.uk/tag/kenya/> kenya,
<http://www.the-platform.org.uk/tag/rebels/> Rebels,
<http://www.the-platform.org.uk/tag/somalia/> Somalia Posted date:
December 20, 2011 | No comment

In October of this year Kenyan forces began a large-scale incursion across
the Somalian border to strike at militants, including the Islamist group
Al-Shabaab, in retaliation for several high profile kidnappings conducted on
Kenyan soil. Since the first incursion, the Kenyan military has carried out
numerous operations and has offered to integrate its troops with the African
Union forces
som-cabinet/> already based in Mogadishu. Despite having withdrawn from the
capital in August, Al Shabaab continue to control large swathes of territory
in South Central Somalia. Kenyan forces are currently stationed in three
separate locations in Somalia, and have declared that they intend to take
the fight, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16231062> including
airstrikes, to Al Shabaab in numerous different areas. They have warned
civilians to leave areas where the Islamist group is operating.

Kenya's recent war footing marks a substantial shift in strategy towards the
Somali situation and highlights Nairobi's concern that the conflict has the
potential to further destabilise the wider region. The kidnappings of aid
workers and tourists seems to have been the tipping point, with implications
for the tourism industry, especially in coastal areas around Lamu near to
the Somali border, being clear to Nairobi. Al Shabaab have demonstrated
their willingness to conduct terrorist activity beyond their borders, though
it previously
-attacks?INTCMP=SRCH> targeted countries such as Uganda who were providing
troops for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces in
Mogadishu, and were accused of being
CH> in league with the 'War on Terror' prerogatives of the UK/US security

Kenya is no stranger to the effects of instability in Somalia, and whilst it
has seen a massive influx of refugees fleeing catastrophic famine conditions
this year, it should be remembered that the
turns-20/100046/> Dadaab refugee camp has existed for twenty years; a
product of the collapse of General Bare's Somali state in 1991. Furthermore,
Kenya has experienced terrorist attacks on its own soil (the
<http://www.state.gov/www/regions/africa/kenya_tanzania.html> US embassy
bombings in 1998 and an
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/2522207.stm> attack in 2002 on an
Israeli owned hotel in Mombasa) which are believed to have been orchestrated
by non-Somali militants via Somali territory.

What has prompted Kenya's shift to a military solution for the current
Somali situation? Some analysts argue that Kenya's strategy may involve the
future establishment of a kind of buffer zone within Somalia, controlled by
anti-Al Shabaab forces. This territory would potentially be a
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15499534> semi-autonomous 'Azania'
made up of the Gedo, Lower and Middle Juba regions. Potential leaders and
basic institutions exist in this area, though the establishment would depend
on the elimination of the Al Shabaab presence and the blessing of the
Mogadishu-based Transitional Federal Government of Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
Sharif's government has been highly cautious in its response to Kenyan
intervention for risk of fuelling nationalist sentiment which could
ultimately benefit Al Shabaab's ideological position as defenders of Somalia
from foreign interference. This Kenyan strategy may in addition meet
opposition from Ethiopia, concerned about links between a future 'Azania',
and clan groupings in the Somali territory of the Ogaden, which it controls.

With talk of Somali 'buffer zones' it should be recognised that both Kenya
and Ethiopia's ethnically Somali territories, historically ceded to them by
the powers of British colonialism, have always existed, in a sense, to serve
that very function. Both Kenya's North Eastern Province and Ethiopia's
Ogaden have been a source of great regional tension leading to military
confrontation. It was conflict between Somalia and Ethiopia over the Ogaden
in the late 1970s that set events in motion, ultimately leading to the
collapse of the military regime in Mogadishu, and two decades of an
essentially stateless Somalia.

Kenya's ethnically Somali territories may have acquired increased strategic
importance with the potential
<http://www.sudantribune.com/Chinese-companies-among-bidders,36683> routing
of an oil pipeline from Southern Sudan, southeast to Lamu and the Kenyan
coast. This development has come as a result of South Sudanese independence
(a precedent which may affect secession claims elsewhere in the Somali
context, i.e.
the northern breakaway Republic of Somaliland) and the imperative of the new
Juba government in South Sudan to find an oil export route that does not
involve Khartoum in the north. Although it remains to be seen whether this
pipeline project will come to fruition, it is clear that the current
security situation in the border regions would not be conducive for progress
on this front. Also in the realm of hydrocarbon geopolitics, is the
speculation that a potential 'Azania' (Kenya's buffer to its buffer region)
would be home to offshore oil reserves.

Ethiopia's strategic concerns continue to revolve around the perennial fear
of an encroaching and unifying Islamism in the Somali Horn which would
destabilise its own Somali regions. Addis Ababa also remains vigilant of
Eritrea's support for its anti-Ethiopian/Kenyan proxies (which did, and
still may include Al Shabaab) and what it feels are efforts to draw
Ethiopian forces into another debilitating conflict on the Somali front.

Interlaced with regional concerns of Ethiopia and Kenya are wider
prerogatives of the <http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/JCS/Fall03/bryden.pdf> on
going global 'War on Terror'. The US is no doubt monitoring the most recent
Kenyan intervention very closely, possibly through the eyes of its un-manned
drones which are now taking off from
<http://www.bbc.co.uk/somali/war/2011/10/111027_us_drone.shtml> Ethiopian
airbases. Israel too has <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15725632>
engaged directly with Kenya offering support in securing its borders, in
return for Kenyan forces handing over militants involved in the 2002 bombing
of an Israeli owned hotel in Mombasa.

Will such complex dynamics of regional and international strategy coalesce
around a military solution to bring stability to South Central Somalia, and
a reprieve for the countless civilians affected by conflict and famine? This
is highly difficult to predict. Not only has past foreign military
engagement in the Somali region failed to stabilise the country or eliminate
militant Islamism, but also in some notable instances, it has helped to
create the very context in which fragmentation and conflict have grown.
Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia in 2006 and the covert US assassination and
kidnapping operations which preceded it, were both aimed at decapitating the
then most recent emergence of a framework of Islamic Courts, which had
succeeded in bringing a degree of stability to various areas, and garnered a
level of popular support. This ideologically diverse movement which spanned
a spectrum from 'moderate' to 'extreme' Islamism (or 'good' or 'bad' Muslims
in the parlance of the War on Terror) was expelled from Mogadishu, and the
nationalist-based insurgency against the Ethiopian occupiers and their US
paymasters served to <http://www.ceri-sciencespo.com/ressource/shabaab.pdf>
empower Al Shabaab, a hitherto relatively minor component of the Islamic
Courts structure.

The past diversity of the Courts movement is attested to today by the fact
that one of its former leaders, the 'moderate' Sheikh Sharif, is now the
president of the beleaguered but internationally recognised and militarily
supported Transitional Federal Government which is struggling to assert
itself in Mogadishu. Regardless of the strategic prospects, it is
difficult to see increasing foreign militarisation, including the continued
use of air power, as having a positive humanitarian effect on an already
brutalised and hungry population. Time will ultimately tell, although the
history of external strategic concerns playing out on Somali soil, combined
with the complexity of inter-clan/militia politics of local actors, gives
little current grounds for optimism.



      ------------[ Sent via the dehai-wn mailing list by dehai.org]--------------
Received on Tue Dec 20 2011 - 10:16:26 EST
Dehai Admin
© Copyright DEHAI-Eritrea OnLine, 1993-2011
All rights reserved