Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Kenyan Newspaper Says 'Bring Our Soldiers In Somalia Back Home'


Bring our soldiers in Somalia back home

Kenya Daily Nation
Wednesday, February 1 2012 at 20:00

We have bombed them, whacked them and clobbered them. What next? Every event, however nice or ugly, must have an end – be it a dance, sex or beer-drinking. If you outstretch the limit you might die.

The government must decide when to put a stop to our foray in Somalia. To roam all over Somalia chasing Al-Shabaab will be futile. We think they have been taught a lesson. All that remains is to tell them: “Behave yourselves, or else, we will return”.

Yes, let a team of our army join the pan-African force in Mogadishu to support the Somali Government to do its work. The point, however, is that Kenya has no capacity to hold Somalia for long. We have better things to do with our funds.

Many of our institutions are asking for better salaries, and some of our trunk roads have began to fall apart.

It is time to quit. After all, we are not colonisers!

What has shocked us are the brutal conditions in which Al-Shabaab have held their people. It is a pointer that there are many human beings who have not crossed the road from wildlife to modernity.

Al-Shabaab did not care that there was a big drought, and famine in their country. They even denied the donor communities the chance to distribute food to their people. Will the feeble Mogadishu Government ever humanise these brutes?

We must do the Barack Obama thing: Call our boys back home, stay armed, alert and vigilant. We must work with the international community as we keep our borders safe and secure.

Indeed, our policy should be to keep 100 miles of bordering Somali territory clean of Al-Shabaab. Should they attack us again, then we must (in collaboration with the United Nations Security Council) determine the next phase of conflict.

For many years, since the Shifta war in the 1960s, we kept our defence force away from the international spotlight. Some of our neighbours have boasted that the Kenya Army would be a walk-over in any fight.

Well, our forces have shown that they have mettle.

But we cannot keep them slogging in a dysfunctional war. Fighting Al-Shabaab is like keeping weaver birds off a garden, knowing you cannot chase each bird to its nest. Our army must be trained to help modernise and expand our infrastructure, rebuild our forests, and manage disasters.

There is also the question of whether that country, if properly reconstituted, could in the future resume its earlier agitation for a “greater” Somalia. We hope not, but in case that agitation returns, it should be met by a multilateral force that includes Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Besides, it is hoped that the Somali citizens of neighbouring East African countries will not be lured to take part in utopian ethnic bandwagons.

Ultimately, however, it is our hope that the Somali Republic will be absorbed into the East African Community, where it rightly belongs.

Somalis are a very industrious and friendly people. Their economy combines agriculture, in a few well-watered valleys, with pastoralism. They have been traders and fishermen for centuries, and it is suspected that Somalia, like neighbouring territories, might have vast oil deposits.

Prof Ochieng’ teaches history at Maseno University.

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