Categories
Regional Stability

THINK AGAIN: Who Profits from Kenya’s War in Somalia?

Flag of the Kenya Defence Forces.
Flag of the Kenya Defence Forces. Image: Fry1989/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by ISS Africa on 7 December, 2015.

It has been more than four years since the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) crossed the border into Somalia, and Kenyans are entitled to ask what exactly their troops are still doing there.

The official rationale is no longer entirely convincing. The original purpose of the military intervention was to insulate the country from the conflict in Somalia.

‘Kenya has been and remains an island of peace, and we shall not allow criminals from Somalia, which has been fighting for over two decades, to destabilise our peace,’ said George Saitoti, the internal security minister at the time.

It is debatable whether that aim has been achieved. Although Operation Linda Nchi (‘Protect the Nation’) curtailed the operations of al-Shabaab, the Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for dozens of incidents on Kenyan soil in recent years. This includes the high-profile attacks on Westgate Mall and Garissa University.

Categories
Humanitarian Issues

Finally! A Peace Policy for Kenya

“Keep Peace”, carved in a tree in Kibera, Kenya during the post election violence in 2008. Image: The Advocacy Project/Flickr

This article was originally published by Saferworld on 4 November, 2015.

The need for a national framework to guide efforts to prevent conflict and build peace in Kenya cannot be overstated. For a long time Northern Kenya was seen as the most problematic region of the country, with frequent incidents of cattle rustling fuelled by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. The rest of Kenya remained ‘peaceful’, except for the cycles of political violence that have erupted during every election since the introduction of a multi-party democracy in 1992. The worst political violence was experienced in 2007–08, raising concern about the country’s capacity to deal with such high levels of violence and the effectiveness of its early warning and response, mediation, and security deployment.

Categories
Global Voices Regional Stability Terrorism

Al-Shabaab’s Kenyan Ambitions

The flag of the terrorist group ‘Al-Shabaab’. Image: Ingoman/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the International Crisis Group on its ‘In Pursuit of Peace’- Blog on 15 April 2015.

Why is Al-Shabaab increasingly targeting Kenya?

In its statement following the attack, Al-Shabaab claimed it acted to avenge atrocities it alleges have been committed by the Kenyan military deployed in Somalia (now part of the African Union peace-support operation AMISOM). This puts pressure on the Kenyan commitment to that mission. Al-Shabaab also claimed that its fight is to liberate “all Muslim lands under Kenyan occupation”, including “north-astern province and the coast”. Despite being anachronistic given Kenya’s recent divisions into county based government, this language chimes with pan-Somali nationalist and irredentist slogans of the 1960s and 70s.

Putting the ICC’s Kenya Cases on Ice

Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya. Photo: World Economic Forum/flickr.

Kenya wants the United Nations Security Council to halt the trials of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. With the African Union at its side, Kenya has asked the Security Council to temporarily defer ICC prosecutions through the invocation of Article 16 of the Rome Statute. Doing so will undoubtedly lead to accusations that the Security Council is actively endorsing impunity in Kenya. But will that stop them?

Recent reports have suggested that Western diplomats are busy drafting a Security Council resolution to defer the Kenya cases. This is significant. Presumably ‘Western’ powers – especially the US and ICC member-states France and the UK – are the key to any resolution passing. A veto from any of them would ruin Kenya’s chances at a deferral – although it should be noted that such a resolution is unlikely to ever come to a vote unless it is guaranteed to pass in advance.

Categories
Terrorism

How Social Networks Are Dealing With Terrorists

Morocco dismantles terror recruitment cell, photo: Magharebia/flickr
Morocco dismantles terror recruitment cell, photo: Magharebia/flickr

At the end of January, Twitter suspended the account of the Somali-based Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The account was taken offline after the group posted a video on Twitter threatening to kill two Kenyan hostages unless the Kenyan government met its demands.

Twitter didn’t comment on the account deletion, but social-media experts reasoned that Al-Shabaab had violated Twitter’s terms of service, which prohibit direct threats of violence.

It is a pattern that has become increasingly familiar. A Facebook or Twitter account affiliated or run by a terrorist organization is thrown into the spotlight, activists and the media buzz about it, it is suspended by the social network — and then later a new account emerges.

As terrorist groups seek to reach a broader global audience, their migration onto social networks has proven to be a challenge for the likes of Twitter and Facebook. While governments want social networks to clamp down on terrorist groups, Internet activists are calling for greater transparency into social-media companies’ rules and regulations.