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Why the KDF is best placed in Somalia.

By Ambei Milimu | February 7th 2017
 I have followed with a lot of intrigues the quick and sustained flow of opinion urging the president to call off Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.

Whereas I empathize with those that have lost their dear ones while in Somalia, it has almost brought comical relief to read and hear some opinions on this issue by the so-called scholars and experts.

People who claim international standards of scholarly excellence have sacrificed the power of reason on the altar of fear and desperation.

Terrorism as a political weapon is not an entirely new phenomenon in Kenya as many would believe. In fact, for various reasons, Kenya has suffered such attacks since the 1970s.

On 31st December 1979, a bomb went off at the Norfolk hotel in Nairobi killing 20 in retaliation for Kenya's role in the successful rescue of Israelis at the famous Entebbe raid.

There was also the triple blast of 1975 in Nairobi that targeted among others Nairobi bus killing 30 people and injuring more. It is, however, the 1998 USA embassy bombing in Nairobi and the 2002 paradise hotel attack that Kenyans most relate to.

Some arguing that this was the time Kenya was most justified in launching a campaign in Somalia. I disagree on a single platform.

 Apart from Somalia providing the planning base for this attacks and being a next door neighbor to Kenya, there was no formal link between those terrorist attacks to a deliberate intention to harm Kenya.

The bombings in Kenya were just an extension of a war declared by Muslim extremists on the USA and Zionism.

Any damages and losses suffered by Kenya at that point in time should at best be characterized as purely unfortunate and collateral.

In the period preceding the incursion of Somalia by Kenyan troops, however, things changed. An increasingly bold and capable Al-Shabaab became convinced that fighting Kenya was right.

Their leaders threatened to bring the glass towers of Nairobi tumbling down and suffocate Kenya with unrelenting attacks.

The frequency of their brazen attacks on Kenyan territory, sometimes in broad daylight, became not only an embarrassment to security apparatus but also a malady to a once thriving tourism sector as many countries effected travel advisories against Kenya.

The straw that broke the camel's back came on the 1st of October 2011 when a French woman was kidnapped from Lamu essentially rendering the tourism sector, especially around the Coast absolute.

The Al Shabaab in Somalia had become a real existential threat to Kenya.Ten days later, operation Linda Nchi was launched. The fact that Kenya only decided to enter Somalia in 2011 to me is a testament of the exercise of extreme caution and patience.

 Indeed following that military intervention, things went from bad to worse, but this was only to be expected.

Bombs and grenades are no longer being thrown around our cities and towns. Tourism is rebounding and foreign direct investment is once again growing at a healthy pace.

These developments should not be seen as exclusive to the activities of KDF in Somalia but as the end result of those very activities.

The police are increasingly containing viable threats here at home even as the army continuously disrupts Al Shabaab's activity in Somalia.

 I am confident that while the KDF is yet to fully achieve this, it has done a lot in cutting off revenue streams for the militia by reclaiming the port city of Kismayu that was the nerve center of charcoal and arms trade by the group.

The military incursion has also greatly reduced their capacity to recruit as their areas of influence have diminished.

Not doing this would allow Al Shabaab to thrive in Somalia to the point of acquiring formal military-like power that would make it a greater threat to Kenya.

 The presence of KDF in Somalia may be underappreciated when looked at from the perspective of casualties it has suffered. Yet it should be remembered in this war, death is certain.The government only chooses the location.

Either death of civilians on the streets, in malls and in churches in Kenya or death of our troops out in Somalia while defending our freedom and security.

 It is a choice between having the frontline of this war in Kenya or in Somalia.For a right thinking Kenyan, the choice should be obvious.

The thought that KDF should withdraw and man our borders are rendered pedestrian by the existence of Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya.

Any attempt to withdraw KDF will be the greatest blow to the war against terrorism in Africa. Al Shabaab is a ragtag militia that thrives on propaganda.
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