Somalia and Kenya must unite to fight terrorism

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Somalia-based terrorist group Al Shabaab remains a big nuisance in the region that must be eliminated. Its frequent attacks on the government in Mogadishu have hampered efforts to restore law and order in the Horn of Africa nation as well as in the neighbouring countries.

Kenya continues to bear the brunt of the insurgence brewed in the regions of Somalia that are under the control of the terrorists. However, it has deployed troops as a part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

As a result, the ability of Al Shabaab and its allies to wage attacks in Kenya has been largely diminished.

In recent days, the terrorists have targeted public transport and there have also been attempts at cutting off the northern Kenya region by sabotaging mobile telephony masts. However, security personnel have done a commendable job of keeping the saboteurs at bay, although more needs to be done.

This is why the pledge by United States President Joe Biden to deploy American special troops to Kenya to help in the region’s counter-terrorism campaign could not have come at a better time. They will collaborate with the Kenyan military to boost security. President Biden wants the US forces to conduct more airstrikes against Al Shabaab to degrade its threat.

It is in the interest of both Somalia and Kenya to work together to help neutralise the threat Al Shabaab poses. But that will not happen if their frequent spats over matters that can be mutually tackled are not discouraged.

Recently, it took the intervention of the Qatari government to restore diplomatic ties between the two neighbours. Also, several days ago, Kenya reopened its airspace to Somalia after a month-long closure.

The normalisation of relations between Nairobi and Mogadishu is crucial in forging a partnership to fight security threats and boost bilateral trade and wider economic co-operation.

It’s important that Somalia’s capacity be built to enable it to take full charge before Unisom’s impending withdrawal is effected. Co-operation with neighbours will be vital in enhancing regional security.