Mogadishu(SONNA)-Bringing foreign troops, in particular, from neighboring countries into Somalia territory have always been a very sensitive issue, because some are brought in and serves the purpose while others turn to undermine this noble pan African cause.
In 2007, the African Union (AU) resolved to deploy joint troops to Somalia for peacekeeping mission and then formed what is known as African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Uganda deployed first and later joined by Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and lastly Kenya in 2012.
The mission has registered some positive milestones in restoring peace especially in the capital Mogadishu and some other territories; however, the Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) is unfortunately disgracing this mission.
The most recent case was reported last month when KDF based in Gedo region committed atrocities including the killing of about two hundred innocent people, among them women and children, they demolished over ten branches of Somalia’s main Telecommunication company, Hormuud in that region near the border and inside towns in lower Jubba and Gedo regions.
This is according to locals and elders who shared their grievances about these evil acts to the media.
KDF is also involved in the internal matters of the country by getting deals or agreements with regional leaders and even allegedly illegally participating in regional elections as it happened this year in Jubbaland.
These actions completely undermine the values of AMISOM and AU should consider removing KDF from the mission.
How did it start?
In mid-2011, Kenya invaded our country and sent around 4,000 KDF forces into the southern part, a clear necked aggression and violation against international law and our sovereignty.
I remember the Somalia Transitional Government (TFG) leaders, Parliament and citizens were all against this, imagine to cross the border without invitation to pursue hidden interests in the name of fighting Al-Shabaab militants!
The Kenyan Government termed the move as self-defense referring to United Nations’ article 51 of protecting its people and kidnapping activities against foreign staff working in Kenya.
An agreement to ease the tension reached later in October 2011, was that Somalia would lead the operation, share intelligence and information on Al-Shabaab, establishing a joint high level coordination committee that would maintain regular contacts including periodic meeting in Nairobi and Mogadishu, and that Kenya Shall not negotiate with Al-Shabaab, but TFG was the one with the mandate to negotiate with all armed opposition groups, but Kenya undermined this.
Because of it’s influence in AU led to its shun way to join AMISOM in 2012, in this regard KDF thought would hide its head in the sand to achieve its hidden agendas yet undermining the achievements of AMISOM.
KDF tried to fight Al-Shabaab militants in the first years and carried out airstrikes against what it called to be Al-Shabaab strong-holds, but my understanding as a son of the soil, the strikes were misguided; caused hundreds of civilian casualties and livestock which were unfortunately not well recorded due to security reasons.
In September, 2012, they celebrated the capture of Kismayo, the port town in lower Jubba region, 500 KM south of the capital. It was like their Independence Day yet they had captured a town with another militia called Raskamboni. So why would anyone be jubilant of a win by militia?
Kenya took another move to build a wall along the border with Somalia to allegedly block Al-Shabaab but ended up restricting the movement of the two peoples, goods and other trade exchanges.
Such actions should be properly investigated by AU and I believe the report will only recommend for expulsion of KDF from AMISOM.
What are KDF’s hidden agendas?
Our border with Kenya in the southern region is naturally endowed with oil and KDF think will invade our territory anyhow to explore it. This oil is ours and it’s in our territory. Our central Government of Somalia has the constitutional and moral mandate to protect it.
Also they think that they will continue illegally carry out fishing activities in the Somalia territory of the Indian Ocean.
They have continued to undermine the central Government by collaborating with regional state leaders without notifying Mogadishu. These leaders have been invited to Nairobi for meetings which seem to be treasonous.
We don’t even know because Kenya could be a proxy figure in the affairs of Somalia.
Whereas the Kenyan Government promised measures to enhance diplomatic ties with Somalia, saying it would open border between Kenya and Somalia in the shortest time possible, solve trade barriers by all means, start direct flights from Nairobi to Mogadishu, easing travel documents like visas and showing respect to Mogadishu, they have all remained on paper because of KDF’s continuous atrocities in our country.
It’s true that we the people of Somalia are sorry for the loss of Kenyan soldiers on our soil and we would love to show solidarity for the Kenyan people, in particular, their wives, husbands, mothers and sisters; unfortunately they die in a wrong area and for a wrong operation called ‘Linda Nchi”. But my surprise is the reluctance of Kenyan leadership of refusing calls from Somalis and Kenyans to pull out troops from Somalia.
It’s Somalia’s wish to stay in peace with its neighbors, no trouble and that is why it took the maritime case to the United Nations’ court in Hogue and it respects the international law. But on this KDF case, we believe AU can do the needful and remove them from the mission as their atrocities disgraces the spirit of AMISOM.
By Mohamed Osman Abdi ‘Black Cobra’
Contact: [email protected]