By Abayomi Azikiwe
December 20, 2011
Plans for the Kenyan military invasion of southern Somalia had been mapped-out for nearly two years according to recent cables released by the WikiLeaks website. Claims that the intervention was done without the knowledge of the United States has been refuted through the revelations that high-level meetings took place in early 2010 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which laid the ground work for the renewed attempts to eliminate the Al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement that controls large sections of the Horn of Africa nation.
This secret plan dubbed “Jubaland Initiative,” discussed the creation of an artificial state in southern Somalia in an effort to choke off al-Shabaab from the border areas near Kenya. At the meeting in Ethiopia during January 2010, the Kenyan delegation led by Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula, appealed for U.S. support in the operation.
Other Kenyan officials in the delegation included Chief of General Staff Jeremiah Kianga, Defense Minister Yusuf Haji and the director of National Security Intelligence Services Maj.-Gen. Michael Gichang’i. This meeting in Addis Ababa was just one in a series of discussions designed to enlist U.S. support for the current military operations.
Operation Linda Nchi, the Kenyan invasion of southern Somalia, began on October 16 and involved over 2,000 members of the defense forces. The war has become bogged down due to the lack of logistical coordination, the inclement weather and the formidable resistance to the intervention by Al-Shabaab and its supporters inside the country.
In a December 17 article published by the Kenya Daily Nation, it points out that “The cables also say the military action took years of planning and was not a spontaneous reaction to abductions conducted by the Islamist group on Kenyan soil as repeatedly stated by government officials. The abductions seemed to provide Kenya with a convenient excuse to launch the plan which, officials argued, was necessary to ensure protection against threats posed by an unstable neighbor.” (Daily Nation, December 17)
Cables released by WikiLeaks reveals that Kenyan Foreign Minister Wetang’ula had informed U.S. Undersecretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson of developments being made in preparation for the invasion of Somalia. The plan was to invade Somalia and drive away Al-Shabaab units from the border and then seize the port at Kismayo.
The justification for the invasion was centered around false allegations of plans by the Al-Shabaab resistance movement to stockpile weapons near the border with Kenya and to send its fighters into the neighboring country. One U.S. diplomatic cable indicated that Kenyan Director of Military Intelligence Brig. Philip Kameru told the visiting U.S. ambassador-at-large for Counterterrorism Daniel Benjamin that Al-Shabaab had plans to begin incursions inside Kenyan territory.
The U.S. diplomatic cable stated that “He (Kameru) added that the Director of Military Intelligence expects Al-Shabaab to begin cross-border incursions into Kenya and he claimed to have received reports indicating Al-Shabaab has plans to use improvised explosive devices and landmines against security personnel and civilian traffic inside Kenya.” (Daily Nation, December 17)
Other false claims reported to the U.S. ambassador involved unsubstantiated reports that Al-Shabaab was circulating currency obtained through piracy and purchasing real estate inside Kenya. Officials from Kenya also told Washington that Al-Shabaab was radicalizing youth inside the East African country.
Despite these allegations of piracy, Al-Shabaab has denied participation in the hijacking of ships in the Gulf of Aden. Kidnappings taking place in Kenya have also been denied by the Islamist organization which is now fighting to drive outside forces from Somalia.
Fighting Intensifies Inside Somalia
Kenyan Defense Forces have been frustrated in their drive towards eliminating Al-Shabaab bases in southern Somalia. Their efforts have been assisted by U.S. drone attacks that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians as well as French logistical and naval support which has been responsible bombings of Somali territory as well.
In addition to U.S. and French military intervention, the State of Israel has deployed drones in Somalia. Also the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), which consists of 9,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops, has stepped up its military operations against Al-Shabaab in the capital of Mogadishu and other areas in the central regions of the country.
As a result of the stalled land invasion by Nairobi, the Kenyan Air Force has engaged in bombing operations in southern Somalia. According to Mareeg Online, “On December 13 the military choppers destroyed Al-Shabaab camps at Garbaguso, Afmadow airstrip and Usingo.” (Mareeg Online)
In a military briefing by Kenyan Colonel Cyrus Oguna on December 17 he reported that the Air Force attacked and destroyed a purported Al-Shabaab camp at Wamaitho on December 14. The following day additional strikes were carried out against areas in northern Somalia at Bungavu.
Oguna also reported that there were numerous casualties among the Somalis and said that no injuries or deaths took place on the Kenyan side. He further claimed that the attacks were precise and consequently minimized “collateral damage.”
“Kismayo hospital has been overflowing with the injured,” Oguna said during the press briefing. In response to reports that Kenyan military forces would join AMISOM in joint efforts against Al-Shabaab, Oguna asserted that this merger would not prevent Kenya from engaging in separate military operations in Somalia. (Mareeg Online, December 18)
“If the Kenyan territory is threatened, KDF will come back and defend it and then go back to AMISOM. KDF is very much committed and we will continue defending Kenya,” Oguna said.
Reports from other areas of Somalia indicate that clashes are escalating between Al-Shabaab and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) allied militia known as Ahlu Suna. In Dhusamareb City in the Galgudud region, at least 10 people were killed and a number of others were wounded in bitter fighting between supporters and opponents of the U.S.-backed TFG regime.
Meanwhile inside Kenya, it was reported that a policeman was killed in the northern region near the Dadaab refugee camp where many Somalis have taken flight in response to the horrendous food deficits inside the country. Kenyan authorities said the policeman was killed in an explosion as he was traveling in a vehicle.
This incident took place amid a series of small-scale attacks that have targeted Kenyan security forces since the beginning of the KDF invasion of Somalia. Dadaab is currently housing approximately 400,000 refugees from Somalia.
Imperialist Intervention Cannot Stabilize TFG Regime
Despite the intervention of Kenyan forces, the utilization of U.S. and Israeli drones, French military support and naval maneuvers, the presence of thousands of AMISOM forces and the TFG units, the political situation inside Somalia is becoming more unstable every day. A split within the TFG parliament has led to the expulsion of the speaker of the assembly.
The former speaker of parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, was fired in a dispute over the future of the transition process. Sheikh Aden stated in the capital of Mogadishu during a press conference that “I am not fired from being the speaker. There are no members of parliament that can take these actions against me since I am the speaker.” (Mareeg Online, December 19)
Both the United Nations and the United States have issued statements demanding the end to internal power struggles within the fragile TFG government. The interim regime in Mogadishu could not survive long without the intervention of U.S.-backed forces in the capital and other regions of the country.
In a statement issued by the United Nations on December 19, its states that “A joint delegation of the UN, the African Union and a regional organization has urged Somalia’s transitional institutions to quickly resolve a political stand-off triggered by last week’s passing by Parliament of a vote of no-confidence against the Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.” The UN urged all parties involved in the interim TFG to rapidly implement the so-called Kampala Accord which provides a framework for the continuation of the current political dispensation for another year.
In a similar statement the United States acknowledged that it “has been following with concern recent developments within the Transitional Federal Government’s Parliament, including efforts to remove the Speaker and Deputy Speakers. We call on all the signatory institutions to set aside distracting political infighting and instead focus their efforts on fulfilling their collective obligations under the Kampala Accords and the Roadmap.” (Mareeg Online)
At the same time a planned Constitutional Conference on the future of Somalia is being threatened by Al-Shabaab. This conference, which was postponed until December 20, is designed to bring together all signatories of the Kampala Accord and the Roadmap.
Al-Shabaab, which has been excluded from the Kampala Accord and Roadmap, vowed to attack the meeting that was scheduled to take place in Garowe in the autonomous region of Puntland. Mo’alin Hashi, a senior leader of Al-Shabaab in Lower Shabelle, called upon secret members based in Puntland to carry out the operations.
Hashi said that the “Puntland administration forces are targeting and rooting out every Islamic scholar living in those regions, so they are infidels and should be attacked.” The Somalian Interim President Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed is scheduled to attend the conference.
U.S. Hands Off Somalia
The U.S. military intervention in Somalia is designed to control the political developments in the Horn of Africa as well as other states within East Africa. U.S. military intervention has been taking place in Somalia directly for at least two decades when in 1992, thousands of Marines were sent into the country under the guise of a humanitarian mission to fight famine.
In 1993, large sections of the Somalian population rose up against the U.S. and UN military intervention prompting their withdrawal during 1994. Since 2006, Washington has sponsored the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments to militarily intervene on behalf of their interests in Somalia.
At present large flotillas of warships from the U.S., Europe and other states are patrolling the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia under the pretext of fighting piracy. Nonetheless, all of these efforts have failed to stabilize Somalia in the interests of western imperialism.
The problems and political differences in the Horn of Africa must be resolved by the people themselves. Anti-war and anti-imperialist forces in the Western states must oppose U.S. and NATO intervention in East Africa as well as encourage the people and governments of the region to embark upon efforts aimed at finding a lasting and just resolution to the ongoing conflict.