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September 19, 2018

Kenya Should Consider Pulling Its Soldiers Out Of Somalia

However poor we are, we must not be in Somalia fighting terrorism as someone else’s proxy for money. Already, we have been told that European Union pays the Kenyan army Sh500 million every month to fight terrorism in Somalia.

During the Westgate terrorist attack on September 21, the al Shabaab announced that if Kenya were to pull its army out of Somalia, their terrorists attacks would cease.

On October 1, President Kenyatta answered them: “We went there to help them bring order in their own nation. Put your house in order and we will pull out,” he concluded. So should we, or should we not pull out of Somalia to be safe from the attacks of the al Shabaab?

When President Kibaki sent our army into Somalia, it was without debate, consultation with the public or national consensus. Used to being ruled by dictatorial decrees and edicts, Kenyans accepted the decision and moved on. But their silence would have consequences when aL Shabaab started hitting targets inside Kenya.

After Westgate, Kenyans should think twice before they ignore or accept their leaders’ decisions on making war against other countries or certain groups inside Kenya. They must realize that disinterest in public affairs and national problems, is like the proverbial rat trap that catches both targets and non targets.

When the president said the war against Somalia would continue, I remembered President Kibaki did not seek people’s mandate before sending our soldiers to Somalia. I also wondered who gave mandate to President Uhuru to continue the war against Somalia – Kenyans, Somalis or just himself. Even America and UK have sought mandate from their people to make war on Syria.

I also think President Uhuru’s statement was very paternalistic to Somalis. Supposing it was Somalian, Ugandan or Ethiopian President who said their country’s army would stay in Kenya until we put our house in order? Would we not consider this a violation of our sovereignty and vow to fight in its defense?

President Uhuru’s statement was also suspect of illogical. If your neighbours fight and beat their wives and children, you will take the wives and children in if they run to you for refuge.

But however much neighbours fight you don’t grab a panga and take over their bomas and houses, swearing to run them until they put their houses in order.

Even where a sister runs to a brother after a domestic fight, if the brother tries to take over the sister’s home, she, the husband and the children will unite to fight him. Worse, were every person to take over neighbours’ houses that are not in order, the world would be full of war.

One does not liberate neighbours by occupying their homes but by encouraging dialogue among them. If dialogue fails, you will secure your boma and leave them alone.

Though President Uhuru says we are in Somalia to fight for the good of Somalis, a house at war with itself can only be put into order by its owners not outsiders. In history, no person has liberated another. Liberation must always come from within.

Kenyan leaders have also said, Kenya is in Somalia to fight global terrorism. But Kenya cannot be world police against global terrorism. If we are to fight global terrorism and sustain the crusade, global community must share equally the cost of fighting the monster by contributing money, soldiers, casualties and efforts of ending the problem. It is not fair that US and European countries contribute only money when we contribute blood, life and properties to fight global terrorism.

However poor we are, we must not be in Somalia fighting terrorism as someone else’s proxy for money. Already, we have been told that European Union pays the Kenyan army Sh500 million every month to fight terrorism in Somalia.

In addition they pay for the training of our police, contribute Sh100 million to Red Cross and Sh3.2 billion to maintain Somali refugees who are in Kenya.

We must never fight a war for money. Only for reasons of conscience and survival like rebutting armed invasion or to end dictatorship that has attacked our freedom.

Nor should we be in Somalia to prove our manhood or we are not cowards. War is too serious a business to be fought for petty reasons. For many years, France and US waged war against a small Asian nation called Vietnam to prove their might and their courage against a small country they accused of harbouring a dangerous ideology of communism. Finally, despite the might of their military technology, Americans lost the war in Vietnam because they had wrong reasons for it.

America was also in Somalia and lost the war, again because they lacked moral superiority for the war. Unlike America, after independence, Kenya fought and won a war against Somalia wherein Somali guerillas called Shiftas were fighting for a Greater Somalia by annexing a part of Kenya.

Because Kenya had better reasons for defense than Somalia had for aggression, President Siad Barre pursued peace by renouncing Somalia’s claim to any part of Kenya. Then, Kenya wanted Somali Shiftas out of Kenya. Now Al Shabaab wants Kenyan army out of Somalia.

Ultimately, Westgate attack was a Godsend. The expedience of knowing and not knowing about it made it look untenable to prosecute Uhuru and Ruto at ICC when their campaign against it made them “generals” against world terrorism.

Terrorism is bad, but war is not its cure. To end global terrorism we must resort to the non-violence of Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Those advocating more war must remember words of Mahatma Gandhi: “an eye for an eye will leave everyone blind.”

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