News / Africa

Al-Shabab Fuels Tensions Between Kenya, Somalia

Al-Shabab spokesperson Ali Mohamud Rage holds a news conference in Mogadishu, Somalia, threatening Kenya, October 17, 2011.
Al-Shabab spokesperson Ali Mohamud Rage holds a news conference in Mogadishu, Somalia, threatening Kenya, October 17, 2011.
Gabe Joselow

Kenya's decision this past week to send troops over the border into Somalia in pursuit of al-Shabab militants appears to be a major shift in foreign policy. The full extent of Kenya's operations are not yet clear, but the move could radically change the relationship between the two countries.

Implications

For years, Kenya has put up with its anarchic neighbor, Somalia.

Decades of war in Somalia have driven hundreds of thousands of refugees into Kenyan camps near the shared border - straining resources, the environment and - at times - patience.

Kenya has, for the most part, kept its distance from the conflict, but was instrumental in the formation of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government, and hosted the TFG's early institutions until 2005.

But in recent months, a spate of kidnappings in Kenya - blamed on Somali militants - have significantly raised tensions, and threatened Kenya's all-important tourism industry.

The kidnapping of two doctors from the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya prompted the Kenyan military to finally take action last weekend.

Egara Kabaji, a former spokesman for Kenya's Foreign Affairs Ministry, says he is not surprised by the decision.

“You know Kenya pursues good neighborliness. But this is an actual provocation," he said."And actual provocation must be responded to. And one thing that is very clear to me is that that was the best position to be taken by the Kenyan government. Because you just can't sit back, and watch bandits getting into your territory and actually destroying your economy and you sit back and you say we are pursuing good neighborliness. It doesn't work like that.”

Conflicting information

What is confusing about the current operation, however, are the mixed signals coming from both Nairobi and Mogadishu.

Kenya's Foreign Affairs minister has told local and international media that the Kenyan Army has gone into Somalia, while other Kenyan officials deny the border has been crossed.

Omar Osman, a spokesman for Somalia's transitional government, has also denied any incursion has taken place.

“No I can confirm that they are not there. It's our troops, they are Somali forces who were in Kenya receiving training from Kenyan authorities," he said. "And those Somalis who were in Kenya are the ones who have come to our territory to confront al-Shabab. Kenya and Somalia have a common enemy which is al-Shabab. And we are very grateful that we're receiving the assistance of logistical and the support of Kenyan authorities.”

A witness near the border with Kenya told VOA he had seen Kenya fighter jets flying in and out of Somalia in recent days.

Al-Shabab, which denies playing a role in the recent kidnappings, is certainly treating Kenya's military maneuvers as a real threat, and has vowed retaliation. The militants claimed responsibility for a bombing the Ugandan capital, Kampala, last year that killed 74 people.

Military interventions and
revenge

Somali political analyst Abdi Samad, with Southlink Consultants in Nairobi, says we could see that type of attack in Kenya.

“If Kenya's succeeded to root out al-Shabab from the central and southern part of Somalia then they are obviously going to revenge," said Samad. "Although al-Shabab, they are not the professional soldiers. What they are going to do is only the incident they did sometimes back in Kampala, the same thing they can do here. They can even make havoc inside Nairobi, they can do that. Virtually the country will be at war.”

The history of past military interventions in Somalia does not bode well for Kenya's effort.

In 2009, al-Shabab succeeded in driving out Ethiopian armies that had invaded the country two-and-a-half years earlier. The fighting helped bolster support for the al-Qaida-backed militants.

U.S. forces entered Somalia in 1992 - initially on a humanitarian mission. That ended after Somali militiamen shot down U.S. helicopters in a battle in Mogadishu that killed 18 U.S. soldiers.

The Kenyan government says its aim is to make sure that al-Shabab can no longer operate inside or near Kenya's border. So far there has been no indication of just how long that operation may take.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs