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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid