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[Dehai-WN] Crisisgroup.org: The Kenyan Military Intervention in Somalia

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Fri, 17 Feb 2012 23:27:02 +0100

The Kenyan Military Intervention in Somalia

17 Feb 2012

Africa Report N184 15 Feb 2012

http://www.crisisgroup.org/~/media/Files/africa/horn-of-africa/kenya/184%20-
%20The%20Kenyan%20Military%20Intervention%20in%20Somalia.pdf

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

 
<http://www.crisisgroup.org/%7E/media/Files/africa/horn-of-africa/kenya/184%
20-%20The%20Kenyan%20Military%20Intervention%20in%20Somalia.pdf> Full PDF
report

The decision in October 2011 to deploy thousands of troops in Somalia’s Juba
Valley to wage war on Al-Shabaab is the biggest security gamble Kenya has
taken since independence, a radical departure for a country that has never
sent its soldiers abroad to fight. Operation Linda Nchi (Protect the
Country) was given the go-ahead with what has shown itself to be inadequate
political, diplomatic and military preparation; the potential for getting
bogged down is high; the risks of an Al-Shabaab retaliatory terror campaign
are real; and the prospects for a viable, extremist-free and stable polity
emerging in the Juba Valley are slim. The government is unlikely to heed any
calls for a troop pullout: it has invested too much, and pride is at stake.
Financial and logistical pressures will ease once its force becomes part of
the African Union (AU) mission in Somalia (AMISOM). But it should avoid
prolonged “occupation” of southern Somalia, lest it turn local Somali
opinion against the intervention and galvanise an armed resistance that
could be co-opted by Al-Shabaab, much as happened to Ethiopia during its
2006-2009 intervention.

The intervention was hastily approved, after a string of cross-border
kidnappings, by a small group without sufficient consideration of the
consequences, at home as well as in Somalia. Military leaders were
apparently convinced it would be a quick campaign, but the Kenyan Defence
Forces (KDF) promptly ran into difficulties on the unfamiliar terrain.
Somali allies failed to deliver and began squabbling, while Al-Shabaab,
rather than confront Kenyan tanks and armoured personnel carriers head-on,
predictably reverted to guerrilla warfare – something the KDF was poorly
trained and equipped to fight. Irrespective of whether its troops are
“rehatted” into AMISOM, there is a real prospect Kenya will find itself with
undependable allies, enmeshed in a protracted counter-insurgency campaign
against a resilient and experienced enemy.

The involvement in Somalia was partly motivated by a desire to inoculate
North Eastern Province from the chaos across its border, ease a huge refugee
burden and curtail the radical influence of Al-Shabaab, but the unintended
consequences may prove destabilising. The venture could reopen old wounds,
foment new inter-clan discord, radicalise Kenyan Somalis and undermine
recent social, economic and political advances. The North Eastern Province
is now the soft underbelly in the war against Al-Shabaab. New evidence
suggests the radical Islamist movement is intent on destabilising the
province, and part of its strategy is to outflank the KDF and wage a
low-intensity guerrilla campaign there and in other areas behind Kenyan
lines. A string of deadly grenade attacks in Garissa and elsewhere,
initially dismissed as the work of local malcontents, now is seen to have a
pattern. Most of the venues targeted have been bars frequented by government
and security officials and poorly-defended government outposts.

Furthermore, the intervention taps into deep-seated Kenyan fears of Somali
encroachment and corresponding Somali qualms that Kenya seeks to assert
control over territory that was once part of colonial Kenya. Al-Shabaab is
trying to exploit Kenyan-Somali grievances against Nairobi and making
pan-Somali appeals, although without much apparent success to date. For
Kenya’s venture to have a positive outcome, its leadership will need to
define its goals and exit strategy more clearly, as well as work effectively
with international partners to facilitate reconciliation and the development
of effective local government mechanisms in the areas of Somalia where its
forces are active, as part of a larger commitment to ending Somalia’s
conflicts and restoring stability to the region.

While this briefing is an independent treatment of the Kenyan intervention
in Somalia, some elements, in particular issues related to Al-Shabaab,
Kenyan Somalis, and North Eastern Province, have also been discussed in
earlier Crisis Group reporting, most recently the briefing Kenyan Somali
Islamist Radicalisation (25 January 2012). Crisis Group will publish shortly
a briefing on the wider issues involved in restoring peace to Somalia.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To the Kenyan Government:

1. Provide clearly articulated, measurable goals and an exit strategy for
its intervention in Somalia and ensure that any major offensives, either
individually or as part of AMISOM, are accompanied by a political strategy
to win the support of local clans and social groups and stabilise those
areas in which they are present;

2. Resist the temptation to seek spectacular gains; target Kismayo port
both to deny Al-Shabaab critical funds with which to pay and resupply its
forces and to force the clans of Kismayo to reassess their interests; but do
so only with deliberation, avoiding costly urban conflict whose civilian
casualties would damage the goals of countering terrorism and radicalisation
and after allowing time for measures such as an economic blockade (with
exceptions for humanitarian aid) and attrition from combat on multiple
fronts to work;

3. Develop a mechanism with AMISOM to coordinate the activities of allied
local administration security forces;

4. Initiate – with international partners, including the UN, U.S., UK and
others – local peace and reconciliation conferences immediately; allow them
to feed into larger conferences only after most local disputes have been
resolved;

5. Develop a plan with regional and other international partners, as well
as genuine representatives of local clans and social groups, for
administering Kismayo; and consider requiring an international partnership
with the local government for transparent management and oversight of the
port and airport, much as was done in Liberia; and

6. Convene an international working group to prepare the political,
technical and administrative modalities of a mechanism to assume
responsibility for revenue collection at Kismayo port and airport for a
five- to ten-year period, including an oversight board with mixed
international and Somali composition but controlled by the former and
supported by experts (forensic accountants) and international customs
officers, much as was done in Liberia; and ensure that the revenue is used
to develop all of Lower and Middle Juba, as well as Gedo equitably.

Nairobi/Brussels, 15 February 2012

 

 

 




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