Rethinking Kenyan military invasion of south Somalia

Prof. Liban A Egal - The Kenya military invasion in Somalia “Operation Linda-Nchi,” tremendously devastated the lives of many famine stricken civilians in the southern Somali regions of Jubba valley, Bay, Bakol and Gedo regions. The operation was justified and a security measures intervention rather than a new model of invasion.
Article Keydmedia Online
Rethinking Kenyan military invasion of south Somalia

The people of these regions endured inconceivable drought and famine situation that ravaged thousands of civilians coupled with extremist oppression is now paying toll on miscalculated counterinsurgency air-operations. Apparently, Kenya’s involvement in this mission against Al-shabab demonstrated that AMISOM-coalition remains an essential source of revenue stability.

Therefore, to preserve this allegiance TFG proponent granted such request, mandating all necessary measures.

Regrettably, Trasitional Federal Government’s indifferent status-quo endorsed aforementioned political and economical cohesion instead of condemning these unjustifiable perpetual blind air-bombardments, committing atrocities, internal displacements, property & institution destructions (schools, houses, wells, trucks, herds).

Kenyan Military operation in these regions caused new refugees to cross the border into Kenya. The Dadaab refugee camps In Kenya are currently over crowded hosting half a million Somali refugees, While Kenya is part of their displacement from their farms and their villages in the south. Such an indiscriminate air-raids sparked destruction, displacement and economic crisis and is destine to fail.

The interim Prime Minister Abdiwali Mohamed Ali said earlier this year that the TFG would conduct investigation into the matter, unfortunately the strikes intensified without intervention to halt.

Evidently, TFG failed the responsibility to protect its own civilians. It must examine and learn from these challenges in the same token swiftly respond to cease indiscriminate bombardment in the IDP camps and concentrated areas. Kenyan air force clearly lacked the knowledge and expertise to provide correct targeting information, if not adopting and shaping new strategic concept of “upgrading front-line countries (Ethiopia, Kenya) while downgrading Somalia into fiefdom of provinces”.

However, TFG must lead the command and control of all military operation against Al-shabaab in order to prevent huge collateral damages. Such a task will require for them to take responsibility of gathering intelligence surveillance, reconnaissance, precision targeting and analyzing intelligence on the ground.

So far, the Kenyan military heavily relies on air-bombardment to fight Al-Shabaab, hence Somali army officers are the logical choice to assume ground command. Apparently, it may not possess the command structure and capabilities necessary to plan and execute complex operations, but such operations have its challenges as well, both in conception and in execution.

AMISOM can continue to invest in their military capabilities and capacity under Somalia’s multinational-program of counterinsurgency which means investment in defense.

If defense spending continues to decline or dry up, TFG will not be able to sustain success, therefore it must engage locals to have this undertaking less expense and fewer damages.

When making decisions that can have an enormous impact on people’s lives, it must listen to those closes to the issues. Currently, all inclusive and sustainable peace depends on shifting from top-down TFG approach, rather bottom-up approach to one that engages council of elders involvement in such areas, bringing tribal leaders back to pro-government camps pledging to oppose extremism.

Properly trained and equipped, civilians are force multipliers, which in return provide people the tools to initiate life saving approach. TFG should engage dual phase solution, one with use of military force against these extremists; on the other hand, it must mend a program of practical cooperation and political dialogue with them across these regions.

Information is power, revealing mistakes and addressing critics are difficult, and hence it will ultimately make counterterrorism mission (against Al-Shabab) more effective. If TFG wants to garner and retain its military influence, it will have to tolerate more risks and sacrifices that go along with them.

Prof. Liban A Egal is a professor at George Mason University’s Engineering Dept.

Article 21 May 2021 10:14

I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.