Monday, October 17, 2011

Kenyan military moves into Somalia

Aljazeera English asked me to comment 16 October on the move into southern Somalia by Kenyan military forces following three separate attacks on foreigners inside Kenya by persons who escaped with hostages to al-Shabaab held territory in Somalia.

I replied that the attack seems to have been coordinated with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces although the Kenyan military clearly provided most of the firepower. The big question is how many Kenyans went into Somalia, what is their objective and how long they plan to stay.

Somalis oppose all foreign forces — Kenyans, Ethiopians and those with al-Shabaab. The longer the Kenyans remain in Somalia, the greater will be the animosity against them by average Somalis.

Kenyan forces do not have the capacity to occupy all of the territory held by al-Shabaab. They might have limited objectives along the border and perhaps intend to disrupt the ability of al-Shabaab to operate the port of Kismayu.

I have no knowledge of any U.S. role in the operation but would note that the United States routinely shares intelligence with Kenyans and has in recent years trained Kenyan counterterrorism forces.

See the video below (my quotes start about half a minute into the clip):

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