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Time to rethink Kenya’s Operation Linda Nchi policy

KenyainvasionNairobi’s foreign policy toward Somalia has been consistently focused on and committed to stabilize Somalia since Kenya Defense Forces led invasion in 2011.Kenya has poured billions of shillings and thousands of lives into ensuring the survival of this failed state.The big questions is: How much time and resources will Kenya invest in something that doesn’t work? Is it pouring more arms and finances in Mogadishu,hoping for a different outcome only to prove its vision for future of Somalia?

Kenya embarked on Operation Linda Nchi , a military operation in Somalia that begun on October 16,2011 after the kidnapping of two Spanish women by Somali’s Al Shabaab terror group.The operation reportedly had a high approval rating from Kenyan population when it was launched.But off late Kenyans are willing to follow this logic through to the end with the latest OKOA Kenya Campaign led by Cord leader Raila Odinga.This campaign has sparked a national debate that illuminate Cord fissures.They,however are signs of a healthy developments-The reappearance of foreign policy heterodoxy in Cord ranks.” Are we willing to commit large number of lives of innocent Kenyans and kshs 300 billions in military expenditure annually just to ensure victory in Somalia?” Cord leader Raila Odinga asked.

The Kenya- Somalia war has been very expensive since KDF invaded Somalia in 2011.More than 5000 innocent lives have been lost on Kenya soil with the latest Al Shabaab attack on Garrisa University college on April 2 this year where 148 people including students were killed and wounding dozens more.On 21 September 2013 The Islamist militia group Al Shabaab attacked the upmarket Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and claimed 67 lives.Also on June 2014,The al Qaeda-linked Militants attacked Mpeketoni near Lamu and killed more than 60 residents.Joseph Kimondo King’ori of University of Nairobi stated,” The latest four years have been filled with hard learning.The 2011 invasion of Somalia by KDF has been the worst foreign policy in Kenya’s history”.

Also the Somalia war,The first foreign conflict in Kenyan history has cost the Kenya Taxpayers more than kshs 300 billions and will require spending several hundred billions more.With the new report saying Kenya’s annual defense budget will grow from Us $ 4.3 billions recorded in the last few years to Us $ 5.5 billion by 2018 as the country acquires helicopters, armoured vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and border surveillance and monitoring equipment.The enormous bill for the 4 years conflict which never been detailed by the government will add to the pervasive scepticism about the war in the Somalia ,where opinion polls show a majority of Kenyans believe it was a bad idea.” Kenya goes to somalia in search of monsters to destroy herself”.Sammy Ndung’u of El Peso,Texas lamented.

With the war having already cost ksh 300 billion according to one study,the bill from Somalia conflict is an important factor in broader reluctance among Kenya public and Kibaki administration to intervene militarily in Somalia.Kiptoo Limo, a resident of Nairobi said, ” we simply cannot lose this amount of money again.Kenya people will not put up with it”.

With more than 3,000 KDF troops in Somalia and still no clear way out, The political landscape could be more different.Public support for the war has fallen to its lowest levels.Jubilee government has lost its popularity because of public anger over how it handled Westgate mall attack in Nairobi and Garrisa University college attack .Even President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the tactical approach to the terror response to change.Last year the president sacked Intelligence boss Michael Gichangi and Inspector general of police David Kimaiyo .The jubilee government is reluctant to restrict that money for fear of being accused of abandoning the war which analysts argue it can cost them 2017 general elections.

Other blows to the once- popular war effort were revelations of Kenya defense forces abusing Somali women by raping them and massacre of innocent civilians in Somalia.Most recently there have been reports of substandard care of wounded troops in somalia.

” It has to be ” winnable, David Rukana of Sagana,Kenya said.” We can’t let terrorists continue to threaten Kenya”.

 

Report written by Samuel Wamwea sr.

A resident of San Francisco, California , Samuel Wamwea Sr weekly column comments on political, legal affairs and social trends. Born in Kenya, Mr Samuel Mwangi comes from a legal background and has written extensively for a broader public audience. Some of his articles have been published in yahoo news,Diasporamessager, Reuters,San Francisco Foghorn, San Francisco chronicles and others online publication.

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