Stay In Somalia But Draft Exit Strategy



Somalilandsun – Following the recent al Shabaab attack on a KDF camp in El Adde, Somalia, there have been calls for withdrawing our troop from the country.

In an article in the Diplomat East Africa issue of 2010 titled ‘Why AU must Fashion and Lead a Marshall Plan for Somalia’, the writer points out that “concerted effort must start in the near future. Nothing else will do. It will be a sometimes extremely messy affair, but so is all radical surgery that is ultimately life saving”.

It is not only getting extremely messy but also quite expensive, in terms of financing and the lives of civilians and military men under the Amisom umbrella that we are losing. It is not yet know how many soldiers Kenya lost in the El Adde attack.

Kenya’s incursion to Somalia followed the kidnapping of two Spanish women working in Daadab Refugee camp allegedly by al Shabaab. It was not the first abduction. It would however be unreasonable that Kenya would just happen to get into Somalia. It was a major decision considering sovereignty of states, as much as Kenya invoked Article 51 of the United Nations charter. The Guardian reported that Kenya had actually discussed and agreed to the intervention back in 2010 before the incursion in October 2011, to pursue al Shabaab due to the terror threat it was posing, and the abductions were just an excuse. After a month, Kenya agreed to re-hat its forces into the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Amisom’s core mandate was to conduct Peace Support Operations in Somalia to stabilise the situation in the country in order to create conditions for the conduct of humanitarian activities and an immediate take over by the United Nations. This has since been extended to May 30 by the UN Security Council. This was necessited by the fact that conditions were neither conducive for UN peacekeeping operations nor for Somalia’s political (electoral) process. Consequently, an authorisation by the UNSC for deployment of up to 22,126 uniformed personnel for Amisom was effected.

As things were, unless the region took a move and applied tough love to Somalia, then al Shabaab would have done worse damage than we are talking of. Piracy was at its peak, but now the coasts of Kismayu and Mogadishu are relatively safe and secure with the illegal businesses that funded the group thwarted by KDF and later Amisom. The humanitarian crisis, once compared only second to Haiti, has now to a great extent been reduced by military presence.

The UN’s move to elevate Somalia from a failed state to fragile state would count for nothing if Kenya and the region, through Amisom, did not go to Somalia’s rescue. Bringing peace back to the southern part of Somalia was not expected to be an event, it is a process, one that may take equal or longer than Somalia has remained stateless and that comes with a number of challenges.

One is uncertainty. KDF initially pointed out that there was no set exit date for Operation Linda Nchi, but the indicator of the mission’s success would be a crippling of al Shabaab’s capacity. This has been an issue raised by not only some leaders but also the Kenyan population. The concern arises from the many casualties Kenya has suffered since the incursion. Kenya, compared to the states it initially went with to Somalia – Uganda and Ethiopia –has suffered more terror attacks with hundreds injured and killed at Westgate, Mpeketoni, Garissa University College and recently at El Adde.

Another concern is if there is any progress made in comparison to the damage caused back home. Many have questioned Kenya’s approach to this war and the coordination of the defence forces and security agencies responsible for internal security. Internal security agencies seem to have corrected that – there have been very few terror attacks in Kenya recently.

Withdrawing from Somalia is not an option. To ensure Kenya is safe and so is the region, we must finish what we started. If we do not, we fail, all that we have invested in regional, sub-regional and Horn of Africa peace and security will amount to nothing. We, however, need an exit strategy. It offers a means through which we can evaluate KDF’s and Amisom’s progress in Somalia vis-a-vis our national interests, one being security.

For Kenya’s economic prosperity to be enhanced, peace is prerequisite. This requires Kenya to join the region in helping the Transitional Federal Government take control of southern Somalia so that after all this is over the region has something to celebrate as a collective achievement.

SOURCE : The Star