Kenya’s Misbehavior and the Negative Consequences of Disrespecting the AMISOM
Kenya has about 4,000 soldiers as part of the African Union Mission in
Somalia (AMISOM), a peacekeeping force mandated by the United Nations Security
Council to help create an ample environment for the Federal Government of
Somalia to set up legitimate governance institutions. However, Kenyan soldiers
in Somalia’s third largest city, Kismayo, have actively been supporting an
anti-government clan militia while obstructing the work of the Federal
Government of Somalia. They made the city a no-go-zone for the Federal
Governemnt and instead opted for a militia group that broke away
from Al Shabab a couple of years ago.
As part of the AMISOM peacekeeping forces in Somalia, Kenya’s presence in
Somalia is defined by the United Nations Security Council in its
Resolution 2093(2013) which mandates the force, in full compliance with its
obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, and in
full respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence
and unity of Somalia, to carry out the following tasks:
· In coordination with the Security
Forces of the Federal Government of Somalia, reduce the threat posed by
Al-Shabaab and other armed opposition groups, in order to establish conditions
for effective and legitimate governance across Somalia.
The AMISOM mandate requires member armies to
support the Federal Government of Somalia and so far, Kenya has failed this test
in all parameters. The Kenyan forces in Kismayo have not been working in
coordination with the Security Forces of the Federal Government of Somalia as
required by the UN which pays for their operations. According to the recently
appointed commander of the Somali national army in the Jubba regions
Colonel Salah Makoma, there is no presence of SNA forces in Kismayo. In
fact, Kenya has been obstructing the establishment of conditions for effective
and legitimate governance in this part of Somalia by empowering the Ras Kamboni
militia, an armed group that is opposed to the Federal Government of Somalia. By
empowering Ras Kamboni, Kenya forced many government soldiers, including the
former area commander, to defect to the Ras Kamboni militia.
· To support dialogue and reconciliation
in Somalia by assisting with the free movement, safe passage and protection of
all those involved with the peace and reconciliation process in Somalia;
Kenya did not facilitate the free passage and
safe movement of all those involved in reconciliation processes because the
Kenyan soldiers sided with one of the five self-proclaimed
“Jubbaland” presidents in Kismayo. Each of these contenders represents a
specific clan and there is no local mechanism to bring them together to end the
deadlock. Besides Kenya has been hampering the efforts of the Somali Federal
Government to bring these rival groups together and mediate them by denying
protection and safe passage for senior government officials.
· To provide protection to the Federal
Government of Somalia to help them carry out their functions of government, and
security for key infrastructure.
Kenyan forces in Kismayo have not been providing
protection for the Federal Government of Somalia. A higher level delegation led
by the Defense Minister of Somalia was stranded in the Kismayo airport for three
days due to the refusal of Kenyan troops to protect them, a situation that led
the president of Somalia to protest the
misbehavior of Kenyan troops in Kismayo. In fact, they are an impediment to
the government’s ability to carry out its functions of managing key
infrastructure including the Kismayo airport and seaport.
Recent reports indicated a collusion between the Kenyan forces in Kismayo
and Ras Kamboni militias in a deal to divide all proceeds from the Kismayo
seaport and airport into two with 50% of the revenue going to the Kenyans and
the other half going to Ras Kamboni. Kenyan soldiers are famous for
corruption and bribery, a practice that earned them the nickname TKK- Toa
Kitu Kidogo which means “give me some little bribe.”
This defiance by the Kenyan forces stationed in
Kismayo, combined with the ongoing exploration of
oil blocks in Somalia’s territorial waters by Kenya are all clear
indications that the true intention of Kenya is not to fight Al Shabab as part
of Amisom but rather to take advantage of Somalia’s weakness and make claims to
Somali resources by using proxy clan militias. A recent announcement by Mr. Aden
Duale, the Kenyan Government spokesman and majority leader in the Kenyan
parliament, who succinctly declared Kenya’s invasion as an attempt to
create a buffer zone, making it clear for all Somali citizens that Kenya is
actually an occupation force that intends to “colonize” a portion of Somalia.
The divide and rule tactics that Kenya is using
in Kismayo by empowering one “president” against others will backfire in ways
that will have severe consequences for Kenya and the entire Horn of Africa
armed confrontation in Kismayo has already killed dozens of people and the
situation is very delicate with conflict likely at any moment. This conflict is
a huge setback in the fight against terrorism and gives Al Shabab breathing
space and enables them to recruit youths from disgruntled clans. If this Somali
dissatisfaction with the behavior of the Kenyan troops receives enough momentum,
Kenya stands to face a similar fate as their stronger neighbor, Ethiopia, who
was forced to withdraw from Somalia in 2008 after a bloody conflict.
The various stakeholders in Kismayo need to
change track in order to avert widespread hostilities that can change the
security landscape of the Horn of Africa.
Kenya faces multiple challenges locally, with a
President and deputy president both indicted by the International
Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The
Mombasa Republican Council, which wants the coast region to secede from the
rest of Kenya, has close proximity to Somalia. The Northeastern province,
populated by Somalis, is already divided on Kenya’s illegal support for the Ras
Kamboni militia with the districts of
Wajir and Mandera agitating for a change of direction. In addition, some of
the largest Kenyan communities such as the Luos, the Luhyas and Kambas are
unhappy with the
Kikuyu domination of Kenya and literally remain unrepresented in the
national government of Kenya with 8 out of 16 cabinet slots going to only two
tribes out of 43. A conflict in Jubbaland will more likely engulf many parts of
Kenya and escalate the tensions in the Somali region in Kenya while flooding
discontented Kenyan tribes with a huge flow of arms. As such, it is prudent for
1. Recognize that
the Somali Federal Government is the sole legitimate entity assigned with the
task of helping form regional administrations and federal states in accordance
with the provisions of the Federal Constitution of Somalia and refrain from
meddling in Somalia’s internal political affairs.
facilitating the work of the Federal Government of Somalia, which it is mandated
to support, empower and strengthen in order to help the government execute its
national political program.
3. Facilitate safe
passage and movement of parliamentary and government delegations and committees
dispatched to its sector of influence so that they can lead a process of local
reconciliation that can lead to a negotiated settlement to the Jubbaland
4. Stop supporting
groups opposed to the Federal Government of Somalia such as the Ras Kamboni
militia in order to force these groups to come to the negotiating table with
other stakeholders in Jubbaland under the leadership of the Federal Government
5. Continue the fight against Al Shabab
which came to a standstill for the past nine months with vast areas of the
sector assigned to the KDF still controlled by violent groups.
The Federal Government of Somalia:
The S.F.G. has shown a great deal of willingness
to talk to the stakeholders in the Jubbaland conflict. Several high level
delegations visited Kismayo in a bid to discuss the modalities for establishing
a legitimate governance system for Jubba regions. One such delegation was led by
the Prime Minister of Somalia Dr. Abdi Farah Shirdon who spent several days in
Kismayo. All these efforts were frustrated by the Ras Kamboni militia with the
help of Kenya. It is the duty of the Federal Government of Somalia to:
1. Demand full
respect for Somalia’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political
independence from Kenya.
2. Reach out to
Kenyan opposition groups as a way to exert pressure on the ruling party and show
the negative consequences of meddling in a country’s internal political affairs.
3. Hold a
reconciliation conference in Mogadishu for all willing stakeholders in Jubbaland
as agreed by the presidents of IGAD.
4. Engage and fully
support local stakeholders, including traditional elders, political leaders,
civil society and other groups that recognize the role of the Federal Government
of Somalia in setting up regional administrations.
5. Request the
United Nations Security Council to transfer the Kenyan troops to other sectors
as a means to end their apparent conflict of interest in Jubbaland and seek the
establishment of UN office in Kismayo.
6. Respect the
Federal Constitution of Somalia to the letter in helping the people of Jubbaland
and other regions in forming their own regional administrations and federal
7. Realize that the era of making
appointments from Villa Somalia is long gone with the adoption of a Federal
constitution that recognizes the will of the people to self-govern and learn
from the lack of progress and public discontent in Hiiraan, Bay, Lower Shabelle
and Middle Shabelle where the government installed ineffective governors from
The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development,
the regional bloc that brings together the countries of Eastern Africa, in its
recent communiqué endorsed the leadership role of the Federal Government of
Somalia in leading the process of establishing an administration in Jubbaland.
The African Union and Igad work closely in the effort to restore stability in
Somalia. As such, Igad/AU should continue to:
1. Support the
leadership role of the Federal Government of Somalia in internal political
affairs of Somalia.
2. Push all
stakeholders in Jubbaland to respect the leadership of the Federal Government of
3. Ensure that their
actions match their words by requiring results for the specific
recommendations made by the IGAD Heads of States.
4. Bring the Kenyan
troops in Somalia under the full command of AMISOM in order to ensure unity of
purpose and avoid a popular resistance against Kenya.
5. Undertake a reshuffle of AMISOM troops
stationed in the four sectors to end conflicts of interest that threaten the
mandate of AMISOM member countries.
The United Nations/UNSOM:
The recent attack on the UN compound in Mogadishu
was a clear indication that Al Shabab has been emboldened by the political
conflict in Jubbaland. The United Nations should therefore:
1. Open an
operational office in Kismayo to observe Kenya’s compliance with the UN Security
Council mandate and facilitate the work of the Federal Government of Somalia in
2. Evaluate the
performance, the operational modalities, and command structure of the Kenyan
forces in Somalia in relation to AMISOM.
3. Consider moving
the Kenyan contingency from Jubbaland to other sectors to diffuse tension and
eliminate the conflict of interest that is apparent in Kenya’s actions.
4. Investigate allegations of corruption and
collusion between Kenyan soldiers and opposition militant groups in Jubbaland.
The Ras Kamboni Militia:
The Ras Kamboni militia should realize that
Somali problems need Somali solutions and that Kenya cannot ram them through the
throats of the local population who are unwilling to accept a foreign imposed
system. As such, they should:
1. Avoid violent
confrontation with locals as has happened recently and seek political compromise
with stakeholders in Kismayo.
2. Realize that the
barrel of a gun cannot give them legitimacy if the local population is opposed
to their domination and that they stand no chance of winning in an armed
3. Refrain from any
inclinations to oppress the local people by denying them participation in their
city’s political and economic fate and stop supporting Kenya’s bid to exploit
4. Accept that the
Jubbaland process, although it started off as an exemplary project,
notwithstanding the absence of S.F.G. leadership and deficiencies in its
representativeness, has ended in a messy manner with its hijacking by Ahmed
Madobe, a fact that invalidated the whole process and eroded its legitimacy.
5. Realize that the
way out of the current mess is through dialogue, reconciliation, compromise and
genuine outreach to all local stakeholders.
6. Enable the Federal Government of Somalia
to lead the process of establishing a legitimate administration that can fairly
represent the people of the region and realize that the Prime Minister, a
Jubbalander himself, should be the driver of the effort to set up an
administration in the region.
All Jubbaland Stakeholders:
There are several stakeholders in Jubbaland,
including Barre Hiiraale, a former Defense Minister of Somalia who controlled
Kismayo for 10 years and Iftiin Hassan Baasto who was the subject of an attack
by the Ras Kamboni militia earlier this month. These stakeholders, and more
groups that are silently opposed to the Kenyan behavior, should:
1. Avoid armed
conflict which can lead to death, destruction and displacement of civilians who
are surrounded by Al Shabab.
2. Support the
efforts of the Federal Government of Somalia to mediate the conflict and
establish an administration that can effectively represent and deliver to the
people of Jubbaland.
3. Initiate a local process of grassroots
peace building and conflict prevention by reaching out to all stakeholders
including the Ras Kamboni group.
To all Somalis/Somalis in the Diaspora:
It is time to unite against the advances of
predatory neighbors and violent extremists who have no respect for Somalia’s
sovereignty and territorial integrity. Every Somali has a duty to stand up for
what is right and stop the unfair practices of Kenya in Jubbaland regions. Let
this serve as a wakeup call for all so that the meaningless squabbles come to an
end in a bid to refocus our energies on what matters most: reclaiming our
country and ending occupation. Kenya has already annexed NFD despite a
referendum to the opposite and we should not accept any more aggression on our
More than 1 million Somalis live in North
America, Europe, Australia and the Middle East. In the United States alone,
there are 250,000 Somalis with large communities in Minnesota, Ohio, Washington
D.C., California, New York, Toronto, Ottawa, and other strategic areas with
diplomatic presence. In Europe, large communities are in London, Rome, Brussels,
Paris and other cities. These Somalis in the Diaspora have a duty to agitate for
an end to Kenya’s mistreatment of the Federal Government of Somalia and
empowerment of a militia group at the expense of the local population. In
addition to using social media platforms to reach decision makers, they can call
or write to their countries’ leaders and international and regional
organizations that have authority over AMISOM:
1. United Nations
Security Council in New York. The UK currently holds the Security Council
UK Mission to the UN
UN Peace and Security Section
2. The US
Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs
3. Office of the Permanent Observer for the
African Union to the United Nations
Telephone: (212) 319-5490
4. African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa
Telephone: (251) 11 551 77 00
5. IGAD Office of the Facilitator for
Tel: +251 011 661 19 91
6. United Nations
Mission in Somalia (UNSOM)
Telephone: 252 699 280697
(Nairobi) 254702155126, (Mogadishu) +252 699 244
In conclusion, the standoff in Jubbaland has
wasted valuable time and political capital and needs to come to an end. All
sides need to play their role in ending this unbecoming deadlock and enabling
the Federal Government of Somalia to implement its political program to
stabilize the country. Anything less will have undesirable consequences and lead
to a total reversal of the gains made in defeating al Shabaab in Somalia.
Jibril Mohamed is the leader of SomaliCAN, an
outreach and advocacy organization based in the United States of America. He is
also a Lecturer in the Department of African American and African Studies at the
Ohio State University. He can be reached at Mohamed.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Faafin: SomaliTalk.com | June 23, 2013