Kenya-Somalia cold war continues amid security risks

Varying interests and pressure from outsiders are continually pushing Kenya and Somalia apart, with the two neighbours increasingly taking divergent positions on crucial issues such as regional security and diplomacy.

Experts warn that this trend risks the resurgence of terrorism as the divisions could embolden the Somalia-based militants, Al Shabaab.

The differences have lately manifested in the discussions around UN sanctions against Al Shabaab, Kenya’s candidacy for a seat at the UN Security Council and the conduct of Kenya’s military inside Somalia.


Last week, it became clear that President Mohamed Farmaajo’s government may no longer be keen on working with Kenya, after Mogadishu fronted a spirited fight to block Kenya’s bid to tighten sanctions on Al Shabaab.

Somalia, supported by Kuwait, Poland and Belgium (the trio who are members of a UN committee on sanctions on Somalia) blocked the proposal that would have blocked humanitarian aid to areas controlled by the Shabaab in Somalia.

It seems ideal that Al Shabaab, who have in the past launched deadly attacks in Uganda, Kenya and Somalia, be placed on the same list as other terror groups Al Qaeda, ISIS and their affiliates.

Kenya argued that placing Al Shabaab under a UN Resolution 1267 could influence a coalition of countries similar to the one against ISIS, limiting the group’s expansion. It could also cut off its sources of revenue by denying them a chance to tax or divert humanitarian aid such as food and medicine.

In the wake of the defeat at the UN, Nairobi said it won’t relent in its fight against the group.

“That we have failed to get one additional sanction regime will not deter us from remaining focused on our goal which is to eliminate terror in our country and in the world at large. God willing,” Macharia Kamau, the Kenyan Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary told The EastAfrican. “Kenya will of course continue to fight the terrorist organisation and any other international terrorist entity using all means necessary and available to it, including the currently existing sanction regimes that we have fought for previously and that are in force within the UNSC counter terrorism regime.”