Kenya, don’t invade Somalia

This video says about itself:

Poetic Protest by Somali Women

Somali women voice their anger and opposition to the Ethiopian Invasion of their country in Baraanbur, a very stylish, rich and unique poetry. They also raised money for the Mogadishu Massacre victims.

By Collins Wanderi in Business Daily (Nairobi, Kenya):

1 July 2009


I am amazed at the level of ignorance displayed on military issues and matters regarding war.

The media seem to support the idea that Kenya should send troops to Somalia to fight the al-Shabaab.

My question to them is, go to war over what and why?

What dispute does Kenya have against the group or the Somali populace who support the militia?

What would be the justification of waging war against a loosely held group of outlaws seeking to overthrow the government of Somalia?

The current war in Somalia is an internal armed insurrection that does not warrant intervention by a neighbouring state.

It is not Kenya’s problem that the fledgling government in Mogadishu is too weak to deal with an internal armed insurrection, neither is it the responsibility of the Republic of Kenya to shore up a government that the Somali people consider to be a puppet of some foreign power(s).

Al-Shabaab cannot thrive if the citizens of Somalia or a sizeable population thereof do not believe in its cause.

Even Ethiopia failed to pacify the warring factions in Somalia over a two-year period.

For starters, it is important to know that when you are fighting an internal armed group, it is not enough to capture territory and grounds of tactical importance; you must win the war in the minds and hearts of the people too.

Ethiopia failed to do so and that is why the issue of legitimacy has stalked the Somali Transitional Federal Government since Ethiopia’s invasion.

The United States is facing similar issues in Iraq and Afghanistan despite its enormous military might.

I highly doubt that Kenya would fare any better compared to Ethiopia.

It is important for those who are propagating for war against al-Shabaab to understand that no government can competently administer a territory if there is lingering question over its legitimacy.

This is a question which Somalis alone must address and answer alone.

The TFG has consistently failed to marshal international support and recognition owing to lingering questions over its legitimacy.

Their war over the legitimacy of the TFG is their war and not Kenya’s.

Kenya’s intervention will not solve this issue; it might even escalate it considering that Nairobi is the rear tactical and logistical base for all of Somalia’s politicians, militia commanders and their backers.

Secondly, just suppose Kenya were to intervene in Somalia to fight the al-Shabaab and shore up the TFG; where will be the front?

Many war-mongers do not seem to remember that Kenya has a 1,200 km frontier with Somalia which is largely un-policed and highly volatile.

What ground of tactical importance would our Armed Forces seek to hold against the militia?

A militia group is not static or encamped force; it is a highly mobile, agile and versatile amorphous force which periodically mutates depending on the nature of the threat at hand.

It is obvious that Kenya would be stretched to protect its civilian population and installations against retaliatory incursions by the militia.

How would Kenya deal with the armed and non-armed members of the group?

Would they be considered prisoners of war and therefore entitled to the privileges accorded to PoWs under the Geneva Conventions?

And if so, where would they be incarcerated during the war period?

Or would they be handed over to the TFG for “trial”. Before anybody beats the drums of war, they should think about the withdrawal strategy.

Finally, any support for the option of war against al-Shabaab should be accompanied by a personal declaration that one is willing to be conscripted or have his children, siblings and other relatives conscripted for war.

Anyone who imagines that the current standing Kenyan army will be sent to be the front to fight al-Shabaab is ignorant.

Read the Armed Forces Act, Cap 199 well and you will know that a declaration of an international armed conflict between Kenya and another state will be followed immediately by massive conscription of young people who will be sent to the war front.

Any volunteers? I have a reserve liability of about 15 years and it is likely that I would be called out for military service in the event of a long drawn war.

I would not honour such a call because I hold the view that going to Somalia to fight any group is an unjustifiable misadventure which will serve no veritable cause apart from massaging the egos of war-mongers who will be watching the children of the poor die in the war front from the comfort of their villas.

Captain (Rtd) Wanderi is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

6 thoughts on “Kenya, don’t invade Somalia

  1. Shabelle Media Network (Mogadishu)

    Somalia: Ethiopian Troops Reach Near Beledweyn Town

    2 July 2009

    Beledweyn — More Ethiopian troops with armed vehicles have reached near Beledweyn town in central Somalia as Ethiopia said that it does not plan to send troops into Somalia, witnesses told Shabelle radio on Thursday.

    Residents in El-gal and Ilka’adde villages about 20 kilometers north of Beledweyn town said that they had seen more Ethiopian units with many battle wagons pouring in there at overnight until Thursday morning adding that the troops made military movement in Kala-beyrka intersection in Hiran region.

    “The Ethiopian troops arrived at El-gal village last night and they had been there for several hours and lately returned back from the village. They were including infantry troops and others with armed trucks,” one resident said.

    Reports from Kala-beyrka intersection say that more extra troops from Ethiopia crossed from the border joining to the other Ethiopian troops who had already been there.

    It is unclear why the Ethiopian troops are returning back to parts of the central regions of Somalia and their deployment comes as the Ethiopian government spokesman Baraket Simon said that his government is not planning to send troops to Somalia.


  2. French ‘spooks’ captured in hotel

    Somalia: Gunmen have stormed into a hotel in Mogadishu this morning and kidnapped two Frenchmen.

    The manager of the Sahafi Hotel said that they had registered as French reporters, but a Western security official said that they had worked for the French military.

    An official with the African Union, which has a peacekeeping force in Somalia, said that it was investigating the incident.


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