updated 7:33 AM MST, Nov 17, 2017

Rethinking Kenya’s military invasion of south Somalia

  • Published in Opinion

Liban A Egal


The Kenya military invasion in Somalia “Operation Linda-Nchi,” tremendously devastated the lives of many famine stricken civilians in the southern Somali regions of Jubba valley, Bay, Bakol and Gedo regions. The operation was justified by Kenya as a security intervention rather than an invasion to a sovereign neighboring state.

The people of these regions endured inconceivable drought and famine situation that ravaged thousands of civilians coupled with extremist oppression and now with Kenya’s “Operation Linda-Nchi” underway, people in those regions are subjected to unprecedented hardship in terms of loss of live, properties and livestocks. Apparently, Kenya’s involvement in this mission against Al-shabab demonstrated that AMISOM-coalition remains an essential source of revenue stability. Therefore, to preserve this allegiance TFG proponent granted such request, mandating all necessary measures to be taken to flash out Alshabab from these regions

Regrettably, the Transitional Federal Government’s indifference to the plight of Somali citizens in those regions and by endorsing such illegal invasion by a neighboring state instead of condemning these unjustifiable perpetual blind air-bombardments, committing atrocities, internal displacements, property & institution destructions (schools, houses, wells, trucks, herds) is in fact a reflection of inept government that neglected its own people.

Kenya’s military operation in these regions caused new refugees to cross the border into Kenya. The Dadaab refugee camps In Kenya are currently over crowded hosting half a million Somali refugees, while Kenya is part of their displacement from their farms and their villages in the south. Such an indiscriminate air-raids sparked destruction, displacement and economic crisis and is destined to fail.

The TFG Prime Minister Abdiwali Mohamed Ali said earlier this year that the TFG would conduct investigations into the matter, unfortunately the strikes intensified without any intervention to halt from the TFG. Evidently, the TFG failed its responsibility to protect its own civilians. Kenyan air force clearly lacked the knowledge and expertise to provide correct targeting information, consequently resulting in the killing of innocent civilians including farmers and livestock herders

However, TFG must lead the command and control of all military operation against Al-shabaab in order to prevent huge collateral damages. Such a task will require for them to take responsibility of gathering intelligence surveillance, reconnaissance, precision targeting and analyzing intelligence on the ground.

So far, the Kenyan military heavily relies on air-bombardment to fight Al-Shabaab, hence Somali army officers are the logical choice to assume ground command. Apparently, it may not possess the command structure and capabilities necessary to plan and execute complex operations, but such operations have its challenges as well, both in conception and in execution. AMISOM can continue to invest in their military capabilities and capacity under Somalia’s multinational-program of counterinsurgency which means investment in defense. If defense spending continues to decline or dry up, TFG will not be able to sustain success, therefore it must engage locals to have this undertaking less expense and fewer damages.

When making decisions that can have an enormous impact on people’s lives, it must listen to those closest to the issues. For an inclusive and sustainable peace to be achieved there must be a paradigm shift from top-down TFG approach, to embracing bottom-up approach, that engages council of elders involvement in such areas, bringing tribal leaders back to pro-government camps pledging to oppose extremism.

Properly trained and equipped, civilians are force multipliers, which in return provide people the tools to initiate life saving approach. TFG should engage dual phase solution, one with use of military force against these extremists and on the other hand, it must incorporate a program of practical cooperation and political dialogue. Information is power, revealing mistakes and addressing critics are difficult, and hence it will ultimately make counterterrorism mission (against Al-Shabab) more effective. If the TFG wants to garner and retain its military influence, it will have to tolerate more risks and sacrifices that go along with them.