Thursday, February 16, 2012

ICG Group Wants Kenya Exit Strategy From Somalia

Somalia: Group wants Kenya exit strategy

Posted Thursday, February 16 2012 at 13:49

The International Crisis Group (ICG) has called on Kenya not to extend its intervention in Somalia any further.

The group instead wants the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to focus on exit an strategy to avoid sparking local resistance and retaliation.

"As Kenya advances into southern Somalia, it must act cautiously and avoid prolonged 'occupation', lest it turn local opinion against the operation and galvanise opposition Al-Shabaab can co-opt, much as happened to Ethiopia in 2006-200," ICG said in its latest report which was released in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Kenyan forces entered Somalia on October 16, 2011 to push back Al-Shabaab, which it blamed for a series of cross-border kidnappings. The militia controls large sections of southern and central Somalia.

The militant group has also come under pressure from African Union peacekeepers, who pushed them out of the Somali capital Mogadishu in August, and from Ethiopia, which has seized several towns in the Horn of Africa nation.

"Operation Linda Nchi (Protect the Country) was given the go-ahead with what has shown itself to be inadequate political, diplomatic and military preparation," Abdullahi Boru Halakhe, Crisis Group's Horn of Africa Analyst said in the ICG report.

"The potential for getting bogged down is high, the risks of an Al-Shabaab retaliatory terror campaign are real, and the prospects for a viable, extremist-free and stable polity emerging in the Juba Valley are slim," he said. The Juba Valley is the epicentre of extremist groups.


Benin on Wednesday lauded the role being played by Kenya in ensuring peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region.

Visiting Benin President Boni Yayi's special envoy, Professor Naissirou Bako-Arifari, particularly hailed the Kenya Defence Force's ongoing operation against the Al-Shaabab in Somalia.

He was speaking in Nairobi on Wednesday during a meeting with President Mwai Kibaki after he delivered a special message to the Kenyan leader from the Benin president who is currently the African Union (AU) chairman.

"The special envoy briefed President Kibaki on the forthcoming meeting of selected Heads of State that will be held in Cotonou this month to deliberate on challenges facing the African Union, particularly the election of the AU Commission chairperson and the deputy," a statement issued after the meeting said.

Kenyan officials said the ongoing military operation in Somalia is part of an inland strategy agreed upon by the region's leaders to bring back peace into Somalia after over 21 years of turmoil.

Regional diplomats said hope is slowly returning to Mogadishu and pockets of investment are beginning to crop up in Mogadishu where residents who were previously fleeing are returning to rebuild because peace looks likely for the first time in decades.

Speaking during the meeting, President Kibaki congratulated his Benin counterpart on his election as chairman of the African Union and expressed optimism that he will steer the AU towards achieving most of its goals during his tenure.

No comments: