Third Eye

Kenya should simply ignore Somalia’s tantrums

Monday, December 21st, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta with His Excellency Musa Bihi Abdi,President of Somaliland at State House, Nairobi. Photo/Photo/PSCU

Somalia’s President, Mohammed Abdullahi “Farmajo” is in a fullblown tantrum.

He has dramatically “severed” diplomatic relations with Kenya and ordered all diplomats from the two countries to return to their countries. 

As the end of his term nears and a huge fight for re-election against strong candidates looms in 2021, Farmajo is becoming increasingly belligerent.

Yet, rather than explain to his restive citizens why he has achieved nothing, his strategy is to project Kenya as the “enemy.” This is an old and tired tactic.

Currently, he is embroiled in a completely senseless and expensive battle over maritime borders with Kenya.

When one takes into account that Somalia has zero capacity to police its maritime border, and poachers and pirates reign supreme over its territorial waters, it is clear this is so much ado about nothing.

This time, however, he has overreached himself by cutting off diplomatic ties with Kenya.

The excuse apparently used to trigger this wild action is President Uhuru Kenyatta hosting the President of the breakaway republic of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi, in Nairobi.

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991, and has developed into a modern, stable and increasingly prosperous society that has held democratic elections every five years since then. Somalia has rejected its independence.

This excuse is very lame, given that Ethiopia and Djibouti have opened ambassador-level diplomatic missions in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, with nary a whine from Somalia.

No, it is just that Kenya’s laid-back approach to its relations with Somalia has given officials in that Government the wrong impression that Kenya is a soft touch to bully.

Kenya should just ignore Somalia’s tantrums. And apparently, to its credit so far, Kenya has shown little inclination to respond in any aggressive manner.

As for the claims about Kenya interfering with Somalia’s internal affairs, this is laughable. Somalia remains Kenya’s main existential threat.

The Somalia government based in Mogadishu has zero capacity to secure the country, let alone her borders.

Kenya has huge numbers of troops deployed across Somalia to assist that fragile and very weak Government from being overrun by Al Shabaab militants.

Indeed, if Kenya withdrew its troops from Somalia today, Farmajo’s Government would not last a day.

It would be foolhardy in the extreme to expect Kenya to seat back as brigands roam a lawless Somalia with a completely ineffective Government enabling terrorist strikes in her territory as has been witnessed repeatedly. 

Imagine, a government that requires a massive military troop deployment to secure its country, and controls very little of her territory, is now massing troops at the border with Kenya.

Is this supposed to impress Kenya about Somalia’s “military might?’ Please! It would be laughable if it was not so tragic.

No, Farmajo needs to develop humility and a sense of decorum. Chest-thumping does not run governments.

Let us be clear. Kenya does not need Somalia, not in the sense that it needs say Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria as critical trade, development and geopolitical partners. Somalia is a country that relies on Kenya for its very survival!

Somalia has a lot to be thankful to Kenya for. Kenya has accommodated hundreds of thousands of refugees from Somalia for 30 years, and today still hosts over 200,000.

Kenya is the staging post for Somalia globally, because international flights cannot even fly into Mogadishu.

All international agencies that support Somalia are based in Kenya. Incidentally, the airport at Hargeisa receives all manner of international flights. 

Kenya has paid a steep price in lives of her soldiers helping secure Somalia and its fledgling Government. Further, hundreds of innocent lives have been lost to terrorism by Somalia militants.

Farmajo needs to understand, elections come and go. He should not seek to destroy Somalia’s long standing relations with Kenya that has been a lifeline for Somalia.

If Kenya did a balance sheet of its relations with Somalia, Kenya’s account would have been bankrupted long ago.

Yet Kenya keeps the faith with her northern neighbor. Somalia’s leaders must not take Kenya’s continued accommodation of that country for granted.  [email protected]

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