The fight for resources by Somali leaders has put Kenya’s interests at stake with its parliament pushing for the withdrawal of the KDF.
Somalia’s top hierarchy for the last couple of years has tactfully been using other foreign countries, its parliament and executive to isolate and reclaim what belongs to Kenya.
The encroachment on Kenya’s interests has seen the Somali administrators incite Marehan locals to break the newly erected expensive border wall between the two countries as the struggle to control Jubbaland region intensifies. Its worth noting that after collapse of Siad Barre dictatorial regime, Somalia broke into a prolong civil war which displaced many civilians who sought refuge in Kenya. Many of the Siad Barre’s Marehan sub-clan settled in Mandera border town crossing from Balathawa of Gedo region. Today 60% of the business in Mandera town is own and operated by them. Everyday over 10,000 students cross from Balathawa border town of Somalia to Mandera town of Kenya to attend schools.
The two border towns almost become one single town mostly on the Kenyan side hence the reason that the Kenyan government decided to build border wall to separate the two. The rise of Al Shabab onslaught on Kenyan soil complicated the security situation after many attacks notable the killings of quarry miners and teachers.
A report by the Kenyan security agencies tracking two Cuban doctors- Assel Herrera Correa and Landy Rodriguez- abducted in on April 12 in Mandera stated that the criminal elements in government and Al Shabab terrorists have breaking the wall at Balathawa, which is a key point for smuggling contraband, humans and arms. The two doctors were sneaked out of the country through Balathawawhich is part of the Jubbaland.
Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has not openly stated his displeasure against Kenya but a number of media outlets have quoted his top officials negotiating with Turkey, Qatar, Ethiopia and Eritrea to support their military activities in Somali to takeover Jubbaland from Kenyan troops. The chief spy Fahad Yasin of Somalia who has Kenyan passport that the Kenyan security agencies established he uses to travel across the world led the negotiating team.
The Farmaajo administration wants AMISOM scaled down its presence in Somalia, particularly Jubbaland. It was reported that Farmaajo wants both Eritrea and Ethiopian forces enter into Somalia through bilateral arrangement outside AMISOM mandate.
The activities by leaders in the Northeastern neighbor have exposed Kenya to a number of proxy diplomatic wars with its leaders claiming Kenya’s territories and resources.
In August 2014, Somalia took Kenya to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, for unlawful operations in her maritime territory. In February this year, Nairobi accused Mogadishu of auctioning oil exploration rights for a disputed part of the Indian Ocean before it is resolved. Nairobi wants the border to run along the parallel latitude south-east of Kyunga while Somalia is pushing for a diagonal line down the Kenyan Coast.
The push to review boundaries is supported by a spirited effort to push KDF’s exit in Somalia as well as scale down Uganda and Burundi army under AMISON.
This comes at the backdrop of intelligence and media reports that Somalia was in talks with Ethiopia and Eritrea to negotiate for a secret military deal at the time its parliament has demanded KDF activities streamlined. “Already landlocked Ethiopia has developed a navy force that was disbanded decades ago after they separated with Eritrea. And this is a clear indication that they might be eying Kismayu port to provide easy importation of commodities,” said a source.
Kismanyo and other contested regions are part of the Jubbaland believed to be rich both agriculturally and economically. The federal member state is expected to conduct elections in this coming August 2019 also a front state to Kenya hence being a national security concern.
Security officials believe the intention to bring Ethiopia and Eritrean military in Somalia outside AMISOM mandate is likely to put Kenya in an awkward position. State officials believe that Somalia wants to use the two countries to influence Jubbaland polls. Its worth noting that Jubbaland neighboring Federal South-West State which conducted its election in December 2018 was rigged by President Mohamed Farmaajo government by using Ethiopian troops in Baydhabo which was criticized by the International community.
This has led the unlawful abduction and subsequent arrest of Mukhar Robow who was seen as the favorite and legitimate candidate to win the election. When, the then, former United Nations Special envoy Nicholas Haysom protested, the Government of Farmaajo granted him as persona non-grata which was collectively condemn by the world.
The current president Sheikh Ahmed Islam Madobe elected in 2013 is a close KDF ally who helped uproot Al Shabaab from Kismanyo during Kenya’s intervention is Somalia. Kenya made a great sacrifice of both life and resources to help its neighbor Somalia defeat transnational terrorist.
Madobe who hails from Somali Ogaden sub-clan is facing competition mainly from handpicked Marehan clan candidate who are from Jubbaland. Somalia’s President, the National Intelligence and Security Agency top officials; Abdullahi Kulane, Zakaria Ismail and Fahad Yasin, Al Shabab head Ahmad Umar and Al Shabab intelligence unit referred to as AMNIYAT are all from Marehan clan.
According to Western and other regional intelligence, the top current Somalia’s National Intelligence Agency officials have headed the Al Shabab intelligence wing at the time when number of terrorist attacks including; Westgate, Garissa University, Lamu and El Ade among other places were attacked. These people roam in Nairobi freely while the victims and their relative are seeking justice. Did Kenya Govermnet forgive and pardon them!? “These are the same people Kenya is relying on for intelligence in Somalia,” said our source.
In May last year the Kenyan government warned that the activities of foreign countries in Somalia were a threat to regional security. “The region is not at peace. Somalia remains troubled, largely by foreign agents who weaken its government, who divide its people, and who threaten to reverse the gains we have so painfully won under Amisom,” Uhuru said during a State of the Nation address.
A recent report by the Kenyan military published by the Star established Marehan clansmen were demolishing the border wall riding on allegations of encroachment on their ancestral land by Kenya. This enabled al Shabaab to heavily rely on the porous border to carry out attacks in Kenya, collect taxes and carry out radicalization activities. The report also warned that majority of senior al Shabaab commanders are from the clan. “As a measure of protecting their interest in the town and across the border, al Shabaab has incorporated local Marehan clan members in preventing the border wall construction,” officers told the Star.
The investigations show al Shabaab makes use of smuggling networks to sneak operatives and transport weapons into Kenya. The point, baptized as border point one in military circles, was used during the attacks on Garissa University College and Westgate mall.
Balathawa is a key point for smuggling contraband, humans and arms. The terrorist organization considers Balathawa a key ground for its cross-border activities and has always endeavored to control the town.