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The illegal Kenyan invasion of Somalia crystallizes IGAD/EAC Political Initiative

Mohamud M. Uluso
Thursday, October 27, 2011

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The ongoing illegal Kenyan military invasion of Somalia, which has left experts on East Africa region with many questions about motive, timing and objectives, crystallizes the Regional Political Initiative (RPI) of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and East African Community (IGAD/EAC) on Somalia. Important members of IGAD/EAC are Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda.

In the past, the UN Security Council has turned down several times the request for no fly zone and naval blockade on South Central area controlled by the militant Al Shabab. It has also resisted the approval of an additional 11,000 AMISOM forces. The Kenyan action contravenes the UN and African Union Charters and infringes the sovereignty of Somalia. It definitely undercuts the case for no fly zone and naval blockade.

The Kampala Accord (KA) and the Communiqué of the meeting of the International Contact Group held in Denmark on September 29, 2011, both have made reference to a Regional Political Initiative (RPI). Details of the RPI are scant. The only plausible goal of the RPI could be to keep Somalia’s political dispensation under the control of IGAD/EAC and to force the international community to foot the bill.

Article 4 (n) of KA says:

The Heads of state of the region (IGAD and EAC) shall constitute a political bureau with participation UN (UNPOS) and the AU similar to Burundi Regional Peace Initiative. The Bureau shall oversee and monitor compliance of the TFIs with agreed benchmarks and the timelines to implement the transitional tasks and to advance the Somali peace.

Article 3 of the KA say:

All Parties [President and Speaker] ……..Cognisant of the concerns of the troop contributing countries not to squander significant military progress and the readiness by the Regional Heads of States (IGAD and EAC with the participation of United Nations (UNPOS) and the African Union) to oversee and monitor and guide any agreement by the Transitional Federal Institutions on bringing to an end the phase on 20 August, 2011 and thereafter bringing in a new dispensation.

Point 8 of the Communiqué of the 18th Extra-ordinary session of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government reads as follows:

[IGAD] Reiterates its earlier decision on the centrality of the role of IGAD and reaffirms that the Somalia process must be anchored in IGAD and calls on all actors working towards peace in Somalia to do so in consultation and concurrence with IGAD.

Somalia, a failed state listed as a front of Islamic threat, serves the leaders of IGAD/EAC as an insurance coverage for their political abuses and corruption in their own countries and as a cash caw to receive special privileges and massive financial, military, and diplomatic assistance from the US Administration and European countries. President Sheikh Sharif, Speaker Sharif Hassan and Prime Minister Prof. Abdiweli M. Ali of K-TFG have failed to explain to the Somali public and parliament the story behind the RPI.

The clashes between Somali factions along the Somali Kenyan border and the recent spate of kidnapping of foreigners from inside Kenya have disturbed the security and economic situation of Kenya but they were not sufficient to justify a military invasion of Somalia. The old rivalry and mistrust between Somalia and Kenya, the catastrophic famine and drought ravaged Somalia, the Kenyan campaign to change the existing maritime border, the decline of Al Shabab power, the beginning of the rainy season and the incalculable human and economic costs as well as the political and legal problems associated with military operation against a neighbor country were factors necessary to be considered against the Kenyan invasion of Somalia.

The Kenyan government changed several times the justification and explanation of the legality and its intended aims for sending its military inside Somalia. First, Kenya invocated article 51 of the UN Charter as self defense from foreign armed attacks. Then, it argued that it invaded Somalia on the invitation of the K-TFG. Finally, it claimed the blessing and support of IGAD/EAC and African Union. The declared aim of the Kenyan Government is to capture Kismaio and stay in Somalia until there were no Islamic insurgents left.

On October 18, a Kenyan delegation composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense travelled to Mogadishu to issue with K-TFG a lopsided joint communiqué that supported the Kenyan invasion under the excuse of ‘common enemy.’  Apart from the communiqué, K-TFG leaders remained in denial, silent or vague about the Kenyan invasion. The K-TFG President and the Minister of defense left the country for a private visit to Turkey in the face of the international political flare up on the Kenyan invasion of Somalia. The Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) avoided to debate on the joint communiqué and its consequences because for the livelihood of the parliamentarians Nairobi and Kenya are more important than Mogadishu and Somalia.

Back from the Mogadishu trip with the joint communiqué in hand, the Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetengula headed to Addis Ababa for consultation on the next move. Kenya and Ethiopia agreed to hold an extra ordinary meeting of IGAD Council of Ministers on October 21, 2011. Before IGAD’s meeting, President Muwai Kibaki held Cabinet meeting on the issue and later briefed the media and Parliament on the ongoing military operation against Somalia. Kenyan opposition parties expressed their strong objection to the Kenyan military adventure dubbed “Operation Protect Nation” and decried it as illegal and imprudent.

Since 2009, Kenya pursued aggressive intervention policy towards Somalia. For the preparation of military action, Kenya received helicopter gunships from USA and large infantry equipments from China. The former Minister of defense of D-TFG Prof Mohamed Gandi reached a personal understanding with Kenyan officials for the recruiting, training and arming of 2,000 forces selected from specific clans of Jubba regions (Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo) for the establishment of Jubbaland State later renamed Azania State. Donors covered the costs of those forces. President Sheikh Sharif, former Prime Ministers Omar Abdirashid and Mohamed Abdullahi Formajo opposed the deployment of those forces in Jubba regions and asked their relocation in Mogadishu, a request summarily and angrily rebuffed by the leaders of Azania State.

 Besides, two other events may have changed the political calculation of IGAD/EAC and precipitated the Kenyan invasion of Somalia. First, the high profile visit of Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyib Erdoĝan to Mogadishu with more than 300 million dollars of aid and the large pledge of 500 million dollars made in Istanbul by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) have revived the historical alliance between Turkish and Somalis. The second event is a process of reconciliation among Somali Islamists secretly initiated by the government of Qatar. The Foreign Ministry of Ethiopia reported that the suicide attack of Al Shabab in Mogadishu on October 4 has faltered the Qatar’s efforts.  

A glance at the joint communiqué that was concluded with K-TFG President but signed by the Minister of defense, one discovers the degree it degrades K-TFG and its leaders. Point six of the communiqué says, “The President is committed to the implementation of KA.” Since KA brings K-TFG under the RPI, point six preempts the President’s deviation from the will of Kenya. The communiqué permits the Kenyan forces to operate indefinitely into Somali territory without accountability. After ousting Al Shabab from Kismaio, Kenya will control the political process of Jubba and Gedo regions and will make the proposal on the partition of Somalia a fait accompli.

Four Somali forces or Militias are fighting on the side of Kenya. They are Raskambooni militia, Azania militia, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama militia, and forces under K-TFG flag. One can expect that the Kenyan invasion of Somalia will create new conditions and pretenses on the ground. Nationalists, clan and Islamist forces will emerge in the regional theatre.

Somalia will not overcome the current fragmentation and anarchy under the Regional Political Initiative of IGAD/EAC.  Somali Citizens should resist foreign designs. They should claim the ownership of their country and build their common future based on their culture and aspirations.


Mohamud M. Uluso

[email protected]