News / Africa

    Is Kenya Battling al-Shabab Alone?

    Kenyan troops fuel a supplies helicopter near the Somalia border, Oct. 18, 2011.
    Kenyan troops fuel a supplies helicopter near the Somalia border, Oct. 18, 2011.
    Gabe Joselow

    As Kenyan fighters push into Somalia in pursuit of al-Shabab militants, speculation is rising about which foreign forces may be backing the operation. No nations have admitted involvement, but local and international media reports suggest the army isn't going it alone.

    Kenyan military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir was quoted as saying there are "certainly other actors in this theater," and an official Army statement said French naval ships took part in shelling the key al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo, a claim Nairobi officials backed away from after French diplomats refuted the allegation and asked local newspapers to issue corrections.

    The United States has had close relations with Kenya's military and provided logistical support and training to its armed forces in the past. Asked if the U.S. is providing support for the Kenyan military operation, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson says the U.S. hasn't "provided Kenya with any cross-border assistance."

    "We were not privy to their decision to go across the border," he said in a recent interview. "It is their decision and not something that we were consulted about."

    But former Kenyan Army Major Imaana Laibuta isn't so easily convinced.

    "I should speculate that the level of cooperation that existed before the operation is still going on," he said. "I'd be surprised if there isn't any financial and material support being extended to Kenya by the western nations and in particular, America."

    Kenya has about 6,000 troops involved in the operation, and Laibuta says it will take three times that number to be successful, suggesting it would be logical for Kenya to actively seek operational assistance for this operation in particular.

    "In any case we don't expect America and western nations to support Kenya openly," he said, explaining that foreign partners would have to remain silent or risk angering Somalis opposed to any kind of western intervention. "They are really loathed in that region, so any direct participation would be totally counter-productive."

    Foreign armies in Somalia have faced intense hostility in recent years, most notably the U.S. in the early 1990s and Ethiopia in 2006. While the dramatic 1993 U.S. raid in Mogadishu became a media event, Roger Middleton, a Horn of Africa researcher at Chatham House in London, says Ethiopian efforts to defeat the Islamic Courts Union -- an administration of Islamist courts that rivaled the nascent Transitional Federal Government (TFG) -- has done tremendous long-term damage.

    "If you look at ... the most recent intervention, you see the Ethiopians going in to remove the Islamic Courts Union and actually when they left, two-and-a-bit years later, they had got rid of the Islamic Courts Union for sure, but what they'd left in its place was al-Shabab, a far more radical and far greater threat in many ways to the region," he said.

    Al-Shabab, which had been the military wing of the Islamic Courts Union, used the Ethiopian invasion as a way to rally support for its own jihadist cause, and some fear they could use Kenya's incursion to regain power.

    Kenya may need the backing of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government to secure the country, but the TFG has given mixed signals about whether it supports the operation. While the prime minister has been encouraging, Somalia's President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has opposed the incursion, saying this week that only African Union forces have a mandate to fight in Somalia.

    If Kenya has allies in this fight, it appears they have chosen to remain silent.

    You May Like

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora