Africa’s War on Terror II

David Anderson and Jacob Mcknight discuss the background of the invasion of Kenya into southern Somalia. Kenya invaded because they wanted to capture the port city of Kismayo and to crush the Al-Shabaab Islamist militia. After the success of the capture, Al-Shabaab reacted with gun, bomb, and grenade attacks against targets in Nairobi, Garissa, and other Kenya towns. The intervention caused wider political dissent within Kenya and made Al-Shabaab reinvent itself to exploit the wider sense of economic and social grievance amongst Kenya’s disadvantaged Muslim populations in its north-eastern and coastal provinces. The resilience of Al-Shabaab presents the fact that unless Kenya changes its approach, there could be a war that Kenya did not want and would be fought on Kenyan soil.

In the Civil Wars article it is explained why contemporary African regimes choose different counter-insurgency strategies and why they tend not to be population- centric. Most African states lack the institutional capacity to launch extensive counter-insurgency programs to out-govern rebels. There are numerous ‘ungoverned spaces’ in which rebels can seek refuge, especially in the hinterlands of African’s porous boundary regions. With these factors, Africa’s institutionally weak states should be especially vulnerable to rebel challenge. Foreign aid programs are built on the assumption that extending effective governance is an essential element of state security. US strategy in Africa, incorporates multi-agency civilian and military assistance to African governments to strengthen state institutions to provide security to citizens, manage local and regional conflicts, and to exercise surveillance over border regions. Though very few African rebels have succeeded in overthrowing governments. Only about 10 percent have been victorious. What we can learn from Africa that other places with weak state institutions and political struggle focuses on control over patronage networks should fight regimes by using promises of patronage to exploit the ambitions of some of their leaders and cultivating these to exacerbate rivalries in rebel ranks.

One thought on “Africa’s War on Terror II

  1. Fatma Jabbari

    What is always non-sense to me is that the Kenyan government’s statement was revised and now the kidnapping was actually a “good launchpad,” and that plans for the invasion had “been in the pipeline for a while.”

Leave a Reply