The Garissa college massacre and the Kenyan invasion of Somalia

Kenyans comfort each other after the massacre.

by Muuse Yuusuf

Heart-broken relatives, families and Kenyans in general are mourning for the death of students who were killed by Al Shabaab fighters at the Garissa university college. They cannot understand the reason why innocent students, who went to university to improve their life and the lives of their fellow Kenyans, had to meet violent death at the hands of this murderous terrorist cult, which has mainly been terrorising Somalis.

The murdered students were singled out by crazed and brain-washed terrorists for the slaughter for belonging to a different faith in this multi-faith and ethnic country!

The incident has again given Al Shabaab a wider publicity for their organisation and their “cause”, their claim that their action is a revenge for the invasion of Kenyan forces of Somalia in 2011. They have also shown that, although their power and influence have been weakened, a handful of well-organised and well-motivated individuals can stage deadly and spectacular guerrilla attacks on civilian targets, such as schools, reminding us of the terrorist attacks on a school in Peshawar in Pakistan, where hundreds of many innocent children were murdered by terrorists.

The Kenyan government and the public are in deep shock to see a college full of diligent students blown up by a ferocious fight by a handful of terrorists. It is particularly heart-breaking for the Kenyan government to watch its citizens butchered inside its territory by Al-Shabaab, the same organisation, which prompted its forces to invade Somalia in 2011.

Indeed, it is more than three years since the invasion and anyone who analyses the current situation on the ground can see the following scenarios becoming reality as the days go by.

If the invasion was meant to protect Kenyan citizens and country’s tourism industry from bombings and kidnappings by terrorists, it has failed to do so. Let alone protect the tourism resorts of Mombasa and Malindi, bombings became normal features in Nairobi as evidenced by the Eastleigh bus bombing in 2012, the Westgate mall incident and now the Garissa massacre. Three years ago, who would have thought bombs planted by Al-Shabaab would explode in Nairobi, equating this beautiful metropolitan city to the war-torn Mogadishu in terms of insecurity?

If the military adventure was aimed at securing Kenya’s borders with Somalia, insecurity along the border is worse than ever, a classical example is Al-Shabaab’s current attack on Garissa university college.

Although Kenyan forces have helped the Somali government to remove Al-Shabaab from some regions, including the strategic port town of Kismayo, it seems though the problem has shifted to Kenya, particularly the Somali region where insecurity has increased compared to the situation prior to the invasion.

Crackdowns and raids on towns in the Somali region in Kenya by the Kenyan security forces demonstrate the gravity of the situation inside the country. In 2012, Garissa, a city of 350km north-east of Nairobi, the same town where the massacre of students happened, was reported to be a “ghost” town after sweeping security operations mounted by the military, causing the death of many people, including students.

Considering the history of this volatile region, it is this author’s firm believe that border countries or front line states, Kenya and Ethiopia, should be excluded from any peace-keeping or peace-enforcement operations because their presence will only complicate the situation. As we all know the Ethiopian invasion helped create Al-Shabaab and extremism, the opposite of what the military adventure was supposed to achieve.

Indeed, the UN Security Council has prohibited front-line state from becoming part of peace-keeping/enforcement forces. Unfortunately, Ethiopia and Kenya failed to respect the will of the international community and their forces invaded Somalia in 2006 and 2011 respectively. This is again demonstrates how these two countries, who have been conspiring against Somalia, are willing to use force against a broken country for fear of Somali nationalism.

So when dealing with this new development in the region, the international community should keep in mind of the existing unbalanced power structure in the region in which Somalia, a poor and broke nation has found itself tormented and bullied by two powerful neighbours that are resolute in enhancing their national interests through the barrel of gun regardless of the outcome and human suffering or material costs. The international community should be extremely wary of Kenya’s motives.

In short, Kenya, please come out of Somalia quickly before it is too late. By staying in Somalia, Kenya might be making the chance of stabilising Somalia much harder, as it might be jeopardising its own internal security.

Muuse Yuusuf

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