Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, with Marzieh Hashemi, anchor on Press TV. Azikiwe is a news analyst on various international media outlets., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Interview with Abayomi Azikiwe
Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:35AM GMT
Press TV has interviewed Abayomi Azikiwe, the editor of Pan-African News Wire from Detroit on its Debate program to discuss the deadly shopping mall attack by the al-Shabab fighters in Nairobi.
To watch this Debate program over Press TV just click on the website below:
Press TV: Mr. Azikiwe, the al-Shabab fighters are saying that the main reason that they have actually done this attack is Kenya’s intervention inside of Somalia. Your take sir?
Azikiwe: Kenya does have over 2000 troops in Somalia and they entered under Operation Linda Nchi almost two years ago and they have been occupying the strategic southern port of Kismayo, which the al-Shabab Islamic organization had been utilizing for the export of charcoal and this is a very lucrative operation for those who were in support of al-Shabab.
When Kenya entered the territory, they drove out the supporters of al-Shabab and this has been major source of contention all along, but I just want to point out that the intervention of Kenya into Somalia had been planned two years prior to 2011 and this has been documented as a result of the release of the Wikileaks cables related to plans that were underway as early as 2009 largely at the aegis of the United States’ Pentagon because Kenya has very close ties with the United States as well as the state of Israel.
So I think these points are essential to get a broader objective and outlook in regard to the discussion that is taking place today.
Press TV: So you said sir that in 2009 it was already planned and so you disagree with our guest in London that sending in the Kenyan troops was a response to the lack of security in the area?
Azikiwe: Yes there have been attacks in Uganda prior to these attacks that have taken place over the last two days at the Westgate premier shopping mall and of course these attacks that had taken place in Uganda were largely based on the fact that Uganda has the largest contingent of the African Union Mission to Somalia, AMISOM, which has 17,500 troops occupying Somalia now, and these troops are largely trained and financed by the United States’ Pentagon.
Also there is a large role for the Central Intelligence Agency in Kenya as well as Somalia. In Somalia they have a CIA station there and also have drone operations that extend from Somalia all the way into the Indian Ocean islands of Seychelles.
So this is a major strategic hub for the Pentagon and the CIA as well as the Israeli defense forces and the other NATO-allied countries that are operating through the United States’ Africa Command and other military forces throughout East Africa and indeed into the Indian Ocean.
It also extends into the Gulf of Aden where both the European Union as well as the Pentagon has had the warships for a number of years, under the guise of fighting piracy; but this is a major source of strategic interests for the United States and the West in general.
Press TV: Well, Mr. Azikiwe your take on some of our viewers’ comments? Especially the aspect they are talking about, we have this report from several sources that it is an Israeli-owned mall and that now there are Israeli troops involved in this.
Are you surprised by that?
Azikiwe: No, not at all. Israel has had very strong ties with Kenya for decades. They have tourism hotels there that are exclusively frequented by Israelis. In a newsletter, Forward, Jewish Forward, the Forward.com is the website. Today they did a report that the mall, the Westgate mall, is owned by Israelis. But I think that it is unfortunate and I agree with my colleague in London our hearts go out, our condolences go out to everyone whose families have been impacted by this incident.
We think that the Kenyan security forces have done a good job in getting out over 1,000 people from this location, but it is unfortunate. This is a situation that has been inherited by the current government of President Uhuru Kenyatta who inherited this occupation of Somalia from the previous government of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga and I believe that the Somali Federal Government along with the IGAD and the East African Community as well as the African Union, should try to open up negotiations with al-Shabab.
They have been excluded from this political dispensation in Somalia and a lot of that has to do with the fact that the US has a vested interest in isolating al-Shabab from the political dispensation that exists right now in Somalia and until this issue is resolved, this is going to be very difficult to stabilize the situation in Somalia.
We have heard a lot of proclamations that the political situation in Somalia has been stabilized over the last year, but we hear also repeatedly that there are clashes that continue to take place in the south, there are disagreements over the role of Kenya and the appointment of officials in the southern provinces of Somalia as well as problems associated with human rights violations against civilians, against women, by the AMISOM forces and others who are propping up the Somalia Federal Government inside the country.
I think if they move towards trying to open up dialog with al-Shabab, it would go a long way in regard to stabilizing the situation in Somalia.
Press TV: Mr. Azikiwe, your take on what our guest has said in London and really your perspective what does it take to ..., as I asked at the beginning of the show, really to rid terrorism not only of course in Africa, but really the world. What does it take?
Azikiwe: Well each geopolitical region has its own distinctiveness and I think that in regard to East Africa, if you look at the findings of gold and black gold that is, I mean oil and natural gas just over the last years, and we see also the escalation of the US’ military intervention all throughout East Africa and off the coast of East Africa; we have to look at the role of these Western countries and their strategic interests in that area and also we have to look at the role of the United States in dominating the foreign policy of many of these countries throughout East Africa and I think that there should be an international conference to try to resolve these issues vis-à-vis Somalia and also to bring about the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Somalia.