It’s time to cut our losses and get out of Somalia
By Billow Kerrow
We gave our security forces the entire arsenal they wanted to fight terrorism and other threats to our peace but in security has only got worse across the country.
The Westgate terrorist attack was devastating to our collective psyche. No one expected such a horrifying spectacle in the heart of the city: at least, not a brazen raid on a top-end business hub in broad daylight, right under the noses of our esteemed security forces.
We enacted the anti- terrorism law in 2012 to give our security forces the legal tools to encounter such threats. By any standards, it gives them all the powers to execute their mandate unhindered.
The KDF, Police and NIS receive nearly a billion and-a-half dollars this financial year, excluding additional resources from Amisom, to fight in security, including the threat of terrorism and external aggression. Police alone had a budget of Sh66 billion this financial year, the highest ever.
Yet, the situation has only got worse. Since KDF entered Somalia in 2011, terrorist attacks have escalated significantly, particularly in North Eastern counties of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa, and in Nairobi and Mombasa cities.
Terrorist attacks targeting security forces, government institutions and public places in North Eastern have occurred almost on monthly basis, and hundreds have died from such attacks. The latest attacks this week in Mandera and Wajir attest to the terror residents of this region endure daily. Nairobi and Mombasa have also been subjected to numerous explosions during this period.
The government has rightly blamed the Al Shabaab organisation in Somalia for all these attacks. This group has not only claimed responsibility for most of these attacks but has also vowed in the media to cause havoc in Kenya unless we withdraw our forces from that country. And that is my worry. What are we doing in Somalia? We went in ostensibly to get the terrorists who kidnapped tourists and aid workers in Kenya, and threatened our security. So, if KDF has killed hundreds of the terrorists and pushed them far into Somalia, why are we still in Kismayu?
Or worse still, rather than decline, why have terrorist attacks escalated? Have we lost our purported “aim” of going into Somalia and ended up focusing on side issues?
I opposed the Somalia incursion from the start, and called it a misadventure. My take now, as it was then, is that there were other political expediencies that informed the invasion – the creation of “Jubaland state”. Fighting terrorism was only a collateral goal, merely incidental. Hence, the focus on the Jubaland politics that continues to excite tension between Nairobi and Mogadishu, at the expense of neutralising terrorists.
Since 9/11, the US spends billions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries to keep terrorists off their soil, and seem to have succeeded. We have spent billions since October 2011 on our KDF forces in Somalia but have only succeeded in transferring more terrorists onto our soil.
I don’t think policing villages in Somalia will help us reap peace dividends when we cannot police our own towns.
Except for a small AU’s Amisom force in Mogadishu, the world powers have evaded having ground troops in Somalia. And so have its other neighbours.
It is time we relooked at our strategic interests and asked questions. We can spend these resources internally to enhance our security rather than expose our nation to people who have nothing to lose blowing up women and children. And our usual knee-jerk reaction to mete out collective punishment on Somalis in Nairobi and elsewhere will not bear fruit. Let’s cut our losses and leave Somalia now.
Source: Standard Digital News