Thursday, October 10, 2013
A US government official and two think-tank analysts raised
questions on Tuesday about Kenya's role in Somalia in comments to the US
"Increasing security efforts by the Kenya
Defence Forces may have [aid] access implications in Kismayo and
re-ignite tensions in the community," said Nancy Lindborg, assistant
administrator of the US Agency for International Development.
express "great scepticism" in regard to Kenya's claim that it wants to
remove its troops from Kismayo, added EJ Hogendoorn, an analyst with the
International Crisis Group.
He pointed to a UN
allegation that Kenyan military officers earn "large amounts of money
from trade, including illegal charcoal, passing through Kismayo."
Somalis "believe Kenya wants to control southern Somalia because it has
large oil and natural gas deposits," Mr Hogendoorn told the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee.
Abdi Aynte, director of
the Mogadishu-based Heritage Institute for Policy Studies, said the US
has "a moral obligation to exert pressure" on Kenya and Ethiopia to
cease interfering in Somalia's internal politics.
unchecked interference risks further destabilising of the country and a
reversal of recent fragile gains," Mr Aynte warned. "Interference
galvanises militant groups and further divides Somali communities."
Thomas-Greenfield, the State Department's top Africa official, and
Amanda Dory, an African affairs officer at the Pentagon, also addressed
the senators, offering a positive appraisal of US policy regarding
The US-financed African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) has managed to "eviscerate al-Shabaab," Ms Thomas-Greenfield said.
this Somalia-based al-Qa’ida affiliate remains a dangerous presence" in
East Africa, she added, citing the Westgate attack.
"Al-Shabaab must be stopped," the assistant secretary of state for African affairs declared.
sharp questioning from Senator John McCain, Ms Dory declined to discuss
the recent US raid on a Shabaab stronghold in Barawe, a town south of
Mogadishu. She told the Republican former presidential candidate it
would be inappropriate to discuss military operations in an open forum.
fact is, it was a failure," Senator McCain said in response, noting
that US Navy SEALs had not captured the Kenyan Somali leader of Shabaab
whom they had targeted in Barawe.
Andre Le Sage, a
research fellow at the US National Defence University, added in his
remarks to the panel that the United States should continue support for
Kenya and other East African allies vulnerable to attacks by "Shabaab
and its regional affiliates, including al-Hijra."