I had written about how the Shabab were going to lose the border towns in the Jubba regions, given the artillery and air support the local militias and TFG fighters there were getting from Kenya and Ethiopia. I had foreseen the Shabab keeping the TFG fighters at bay in the border towns, and periodically taking the towns and withdraw afterwards.
In another post, I talked about how the Shabab may get back at Kenya for the support of their enemy militias. I had expected them to launch a terrorist attack into Kenya, in which innocent Somalis would also be harmed and targeted by the Kenyan security, as is happening now. However, the Shabab did not escalate as fast as I thought they would, and they seemed to be targeting Kenyan forces on the border, and most likely were behind or had knowledge of the kidnappings which the Kenyans claim made them invade southern Somalia.
Kenya’s entry into the region has been a dream come true for the Shabab hardliners who had been calling for terrorist attacks inside Kenya. I believe given the high number of Kenyan fighters within the Shabab, the group have a high chance of launching sustained terrorist attacks inside the country.
The group have also been getting a lot of popular support, with huge demonstrations held in southern Somalia against the Kenyan invasion. Opposing the Kenyan invasion is not only the Shabab and their supporters, but most – if not all – nationalists oppose it, including many members of the Somali Parliament, and the TFG President himself who called for talks with the group, perhaps having been disheartened by the uninvited incursion into southern Somalia by Kenya. The popular support the group is getting is the biggest boost the group had gotten in recent times, thanks to the Kenyan government.
With all the announcements that Kenya has been making gains in towns just across the border, the invasion is going at a very slow pace. Compare this to Ethiopia’s entry into Somalia in 2006, in which they took about ten times the area Kenya has taken in the same period of time (a week), and yet withdrew without achieving none of their goals (if their goal was to make the TFG control ONLY Mogadishu and lose the rest of their territories, including Baidoa which was the seat of the Parliament, then it was a success).
The Kenyans may take very long to take their stated objective of Kismayo if they go ahead with their plans, but will take a lot of casualties. And as soon as they withdraw, the Shabab will just retake the city. TFG forces are notorious for not holding territories without foreign military presence.
In Kenya, the Somali population is already being singled out as potential terrorists. This would have been a great idea had the Shabab’s foreign arm (the guys who did the Kampala attacks) been full of ethnic Somalis. Most of the Kenyans in the Shabab are not ethnic Somalis, as the UN Monitoring Group report indicates.
The only thing that can come out of this misadventure is the elevation of terrorist risks to Kenya, the destruction of her already hurt tourism industry, and the wrongful detention of many a Somali in Kenya. The sooner Kenya withdraws her troops, the better for everyone in the region.
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