Terror: Thorn in the Horn re-emerges


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Distant rumblings of war are not very good news for Kenya or the Horn of Africa at this time.

The Standard exclusively reported of a stepped-up recruitment of Kenyan youths into militia to join a Jihad (holy war) in Somalia. Understandably, this is sending shivers across the region since nothing is holy about war and neither can holiness cannot be earned through acts of war.

Resurgent Islamist militia Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Moqtar Robow Abumansur had last November boasted of an extensive Al Shabaab presence in Kenya. His claims were perhaps ignored because the weak Abdullahi Yusuf-led Transitional Federal Government still held court in Baidoa and a few streets in the capital, Mogadishu.

This was also a chilling reminder of the 2002 French Intelligence assessment that showed that after 9/11, Somalia’s Islamist groups established an economic and intelligence infrastructure in Kenya. Most notable was the metamorphosis of Al-Ittihad al Islam into Al Shabaab.

A more recent report by The Media Line News Agency, speaks of an exodus of American-Somali youths, Mogadishu-bound to join a Jihad against US hegemony in the region and topple the week-old government headed by former Union of Islamic Courts leader, Sheikh Ahmed Shariff.

Homogenous Somalis

In their zeal, the youths see a sinister motive in the build-up of a naval armada off the coast of Somalia in the name of securing shipping lanes, Kenya’s ringside view of US and Ethiopian occupation losses even as the two reportedly try to lure Kenya into co-owning their ‘War on Terror’.

This is bad news so soon after the Djibouti process oversaw the election/selection of Shariff as president to be the first Islamist leader to be so elevated and enjoy Western backing.

It is also worrying that lessons of the Nairobi and Dar es Salaam embassy bombings and 9/11 resonate each time the phrase ‘War on Terror’ is mentioned.

The region is bound to be sucked into any mud bath that would involve Kenya. That would compound the refugee situation in Dadaab, already the world’s biggest refugee camp in.

Secondly, the unending war on political Islam could threaten to draw in deadly elements like Al Qaeda from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Africa and strain relations among local faiths.

Third, extremist Islamist threats would disrupt supply routes into landlocked East and Central Africa with enormous negative consequences.

Since there have been tentative and perhaps concrete steps to unite Somali’s fractious and clan-based opposition into an interim government, it is imperative that the international community dialogue with the Islamists and include them in any unity Government that would be born of the covenant.

The final cure for the thorn in the Horn of Africa would include but not limited to, negotiating a new and all-inclusive Constitution, inclusion of groups with moderate and extreme views in governing their spheres of influence until a stable central Government is promulgated.

All combatants would need to be absorbed into a common security force.

Lastly, people without a place to eke a living tend to grow ‘wild’. However, it is common knowledge the Somali people are one of the most homogenous communities in the world, seeing as they share a language, religion and a heritage.

Wherever they have settled, Somalis have proved to be hard working and astute businesspeople. All Somalis in the Diaspora, including Kenya, South Africa, UK, Canada and the US are more than capable of rebuilding their country and economy.

Talk of Jihad should not arise. Kenya needs to lead the process of uniting Somalis considering she is the neighbour whose house inevitably always catches fire whenever her northern neighbour has a domestic row about who should lead their nation.

The world must reach out to President Shariff’s extended hand of peace and build a permanent pedestal for dialogue and permanent cease-fire.

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