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Kenya has shown world Somalia can be saved

Updated Saturday, February 25th 2012 at 00:00 GMT +3

Juma Kwayera

Initially perceived as mission impossible, Kenya’s military forays into war-ravaged Somalia has finally convinced the doubting world that the Horn of Africa nation is salvageable.

Dismissed as a reactive to increased threats by Somali pirates on ships headed to Mombasa Port and Al Shabaab militiamen’s abductions of foreigners on Kenyan territory, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) were given little chance of winning.

But pessimism is slowly giving way to optimism with the Western powers now showing interest in helping end the conflict. War experts and strategists say the Somalia Conference in London that ended yesterday is a belated acknowledgement of the successes of KDF and Ethiopian army, which ventured into Somalia without endorsement of the UN Security Council (UNSC).

"It is clear that the West is scrambling for some kind of credit. Kenya was criticised as venturing into war without taking into account the scale of the operations and lacking an exit strategy," says Capt Simiyu Werunga, head of African Centre for Security and Strategic Studies.

Early this week UNSC passed a resolution paving the way for the re-hatting of the Kenya troops in Somalia, which will see the 2,500 soldiers join the African Union Mission in Somalia.

The weekly newsmagazine, The Africa Confidential, in its special edition released on the eve of the London conference, accuses militarily powerful countries and the UN of neglecting Somalia.

The same view is shared by Werunga who says that it is now apparent Kenya made the right decision to attack Al Shabaab whose strength has been significantly reduced following the choking of the Kismayu supply line.

Opiyo Ododa, a military expert, concurs. Dr Opiyo who is on secondment by the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), told The Standard On Saturday that KDF’s rapid success has shown the West that Al Shabaab can be dealt with conclusively, hence the conference.

The observation comes at a time experts in international security are also questioning the UN Security Council and the West’s indifference to a conflict that has claimed more than two million people.

Notes The Africa Confidential, "Neither Nairobi nor Addis Ababa saw it fit to tell the UN that they were sending their armies into Somalia, and have no interest in co-ordinating their plans with the UN."

Ododa says the precision and professionalism so far exhibited by the Kenyan forces convinced the UN Security Council to change its mandate on peacekeeping in Somalia.

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