Somalia’s success against Al-Shabaab is in the region’s interest: Ruto » Capital News
NAIROBI, Kenya, September 4 – President William Ruto now says Kenya’s top priority is to help stabilize Somalia, saying it is in the region’s interest to ensure the success of President Hassan’s government Muhammad.
Speaking to Aljazeera on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on Saturday, President Ruto said Kenya was paying a heavy price for its military intervention in the neighboring country which continues to bear the brunt of the frequent attacks by the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militant group.
Ruto described Mohamud, who took charge of the country in May, as a “much more progressive and positive person” who is more committed to countering violent extremism.
“It is in our interest, our economic interest and our security interest to make sure Somalia works and I think President Hassan is giving us the best possible chance,” Ruto said in a recorded interview with Aljazeera.
The Head of State said that having a functioning security posture in place will enable Kenya to withdraw its troops from the country and pave the way for further engagement on solutions to challenges affecting the two countries.
The Kenyan military is part of the forces currently serving under the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) alongside troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Uganda and is tasked with help Somali forces fight Al-Shabaab which continues to wreak havoc in the region. despite the progress of its degradation.
Ruto’s remarks come at a time when plans are underway for troops serving under ATMIS to leave the country by 2024 and hand over all responsibilities to Somali forces.
Kenyan troops first entered Somalia in 2011 when the country launched a military offensive against Al-Shabaab in an operation dubbed “Operation Linda Nchi” to counter a growing insurgency that has seen a number of tourists kidnapped on the Kenyan coast.
Due to Kenya’s involvement in Somalia, the country has suffered several large and small scale attacks from the Shabaab militant group both within the country and at Kenya’s security facilities outside the country.
Six years ago, on January 15, 2016, Al-Shabaab militants launched a major attack on a Kenyan-led AMISOM military base in El Adde, Gedo, Somalia, killing at least 100 among the soldiers. Although Kenya has yet to release official casualty figures, the El Adde attack remains one of the deadliest against Kenyan forces.
Kenya last suffered a major terrorist attack on January 15, 2019 at the Dusit D2 resort in Nairobi where more than 20 people were killed including sixteen Kenyans, an American, a South African, a Briton and 3 others not identified. . Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
Other major attacks carried out by Al Shabaab include the September 21, 2013 Westgate Mall siege, which left 71 people dead, including four terrorists, and Garissa University on April 3, 2015, when 147 people, including many students were killed, among others.
Even as Kenya prepares to leave Somalia, security experts in Kenya and Somalia have proposed the creation of a border defense force as part of long-term measures to combat the growing threat of the violent extremism in the region.
Speaking last week during a virtual discussion hosted by Counterterrorism Policing Kenya – a joint initiative of state, non-state actors and citizens on counter-terrorism efforts, participants argued that the intensification of the military presence in terrorism-prone areas will play a crucial role in preventing the penetration of extremist elements seeking to destabilize the region.
“My expectation and my hope is that the current President (William Ruto) will reaffirm Kenya’s commitment to Somalia for the time being so that everything is choreographed and Kenya does not make a hasty retreat,” Rashid Abdi, Chief Analyst, Horn of Africa and the Gulf on September 15.