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Somalia is now taking Kenya too much for granted for her own good

By GITAU WARIGI
Sunday, November 22, 2015

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud. Last week, Somali Parliament voted to expel the Kenya Defence Forces from their country in a move that is more comical than serious. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

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Some failed states reach a point where they become a joke.

Last week’s move by the Somali parliament to vote for the expulsion of the Kenya Defence Forces from their country was more comical than serious.

Hardly anybody in Kenya skipped a beat about it.

Yet it is part of a trend of increasingly loony behaviour by a neighbour who has refused to understand her position in the scheme of things.

First of all, of what practical value was this vote anyway?

The KDF troops in Somalia are answerable to Amisom, not the Somali government.

Amisom is a creation of the United Nations and the African Union. To disband it would require a resolution of the United Nations Security Council.

ILLEGAL TRADE

Curiously, the Somali vote was specifically against the KDF, not the other Amisom components from Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Sierra Leone.

The anti-KDF backlash was ostensibly about a contested civil society report released from Nairobi that claims the Kenyan military is in bed with Al-Shabaab in the illegal business of charcoal and sugar smuggling.

Whether this deliberately sensational report is factual or not is neither here nor there.

At bottom, the Somali vote was not about that.

BORDER WALL

The vote was about the security wall Kenya is building along the 700-km border.

For some reason, the fence has terribly upset the politicians in Somalia.

Personally, I am at a loss in comprehending these emotional reactions. Kenya is a sovereign state.

If she wants to enclose her borders with walls or make unwanted refugees squat in isolated camps, it is entirely within her sovereign rights.

We have not heard Mexico screaming at the United States because of the fortified barriers in place along their common border.

In fact, on the matter of temperament, the Somali leaders can learn a lot from other people.

OUT OF FOCUS

Politicians in Somalia have this strange way of seeing everything out of focus. No wonder their country is such a mess.

They know perfectly well the security reasons that have forced Kenya to build the fence.

The Somali expectation that they should be at liberty to walk in and out of Kenya at will is what has made us suffer horrible atrocities at the hands of Shabaab.

Somali leaders’ capacity for self-delusion never ceases to amaze.

The other day they sprung a nasty surprise when they took Kenya to the International Court of Justice at The Hague over the delimitation of the common offshore boundary in the Indian Ocean.

OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS RESERVES

The way the Somali government wants the sea borderline delineated is simply absurd.

Mogadishu wants the maritime line to go down diagonally to the south-east.

Kenya insists on a straight line to the east, as with its maritime boundary with Tanzania.

The ocean territory Kenya would stand to lose stretches for more than 100,000 square kilometres.

Somalia’s intended grab is fuelled by reports of potential offshore oil and gas reserves.

Somalia has an unfortunate habit of taking its neighbours for granted, without properly calculating the consequences if her bluff is called.

Even as she struts around making empty threats, her elites spend much of their time in Nairobi wheeler-dealing, laundering money and generally having a good time as their people kill each other.

MAKESHIFT GOVERNMENTS

Amid their endless fights, it is here they come to cobble together their makeshift governments.

They also expect us to take in their refugees, without question, whom they are in no hurry to want back.

Some of those elites travel in fake or genuine foreign passports.

Some of the hoi polloi, who can’t travel, wait for planeloads of miraa from Kenya.

Nobody in that country seems to think tables can be turned.

I recall the yelp of pain from Mogadishu to Hargeisa when Kenya blocked the hawala money transfer system following the Garissa University massacre.

It was the cry of somebody at the complete mercy of another.

There is no evidence Kenyan Somali leaders are sympathetic to Mogadishu’s wayward attitude.

They would not want their loyalty to be seen to be with a quasi-government that is becoming a pain in the neck.


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