Kenya’s military operation against al-Shabaab in Southern Somalia was always described as an invasion turned into occupation. While Kenyans capture the port of Kismayo , officials in Nairobi argued that they had little choice.After a series of cross-border raids by the Somalia-based Islamist militant group al Shabaab, Kenya sought to launch an on-ground operation named “Operation Linda Nchi” (Operation Protect the Nation). It’s very important to note that Kenya was never in war with another country but with the escalation of Al-Shabaab threat Kenya had no choice. Al Shabaab’s presence in southern Somalia has hurt Kenya’s tourism and shipping industry. Surprisingly, ‘Kenya’s invasion went ahead without the support of its most prominent Western allies, and without a common agreement with Ethiopia, which shares a border with Jubaland.’
David Anderson and Jacob McKnight start the article with an overview of Kenya’s invasion of South Somalia, then look at the ‘blowback’ of of retaliatory attacks to finally consider the response of the security forces (operation Usalama Watch). According to Martin Seemungal, ‘Al-Shabab, “the youth” in Arabic. Somalia’s version of al-Qaida, a group to whom it has pledged allegiance. They are a hardline Islamic group preaching extremism, fighting for power in Somalia, at war with neighboring countries.Fuad Shongale, a key name of Al-Shabaab frames the ideology of the group in the following statement ‘Only when we fight the unbelievers can we be honored, he says. If we do not fight them we will not be honored.’
One enabling condition of the terrorist violence against the state is its own practice of violence. Henceforth, the article argues that the very origins of this insurgency of political violence is the behavior of Kenyan government as well as its security forces ‘towards the country’s Muslim population, in both the past and the present’. This offers a starting point for understanding political terrorism and how states should react to it, namely Kenyan-Al-shabaab’s example.’ Academic literature presented in this article asserts that ‘This is an enemy that increasingly will use images of Muslim economic deprivation, political marginalization,and social oppression to call its followers to arms.’ The Kenyan government’s action, however are making things worse; state violence does nothing but generating social acceptance of violence and making the indoctrination and recruitment process easier for Al-Shabbab. Hence, ‘There are no better recruiting agents for Al-Shabaab than the poorly trained, ill-disciplined, and corrupt soldiers and police who carried out Operation Usalama Watch.’ In short, ‘The policies of the state greatly influence the growth in numbers and popular acceptance of terrorist organizations (Crenshaw, 2002, p. 114).
As a recommendation, the article suggests that ‘the Kenya state needs tofind reconciliation, not confrontation, with its Muslim citizens.’
While scholars like Ken Menkhaus refer to Al-Shabaab’s decline of influence due to internal factionalism, disillusionment, the mishandling of the famine of 2011, and a bloody internal leadership battlein June 2013, Stig Hansen, hints that ‘the movement has a determined capacity to transform itself.’ Also, one of the take away of this article is that. ‘Even though al-Shabab continued to lose ground,they did not lose the ability to launch attacks; assassinations, bombing and suicide attacks.
we see that Al-Shabaab ‘is not playing to win, but to survive’, however, it is using violence as an instrument of justified vengeance of Kenyan government’s stigma against somali community living on Kenyan soil.
Reading this article, I had to think of the US ‘war on terror’, it seems to me like Kenya’s invasion is an African version of the ‘war on terror’. Whether righteous or not, the two invasions claimed national security as a justification. While the US’s retaliation was a response to the 9\11 deadly attacks, Kenya had the kidnapping as a justification. Surprisingly enough, 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.”
- Research Journal, Week 14
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