Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kenya and Somalia: Getting Along with Crazy Neighbors

As of yesterday, Somalia was down to about 280 members of parliament. That's above the 250 needed to make a quorum in Somalia's 550-seat assembly. (BBC)

The rest are either dead, fleeing the country, or already out. Or, possibly, in hiding.

I can't say that I blame the survivors. Trying to run a government in a shooting gallery - where you're the target - must be difficult.

Meanwhile, Kenya is either going to send troops into Somalia, or not.
"With troops massed on the Somali border and heavy artillery being moved into position, Kenya appears ready to join – if necessary – the Ethiopians in an armed intervention in Somalia.

"Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called together his National Defense and Security Council in Nairobi yesterday, and while Interior Minister George Saitoti assured Kenyans that Kenya would not intervene in Somalia, it was clear that other ministers and defense officials were preparing for such a step...." (CSM)
The Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation has a different angle on the same facts:
"...Though the government is closely monitoring the unfolding situation, government spokesperson Alfred Mutua says Kenya will not send troops to Somalia.

" 'The Government of Kenya is taking appropriate measures to protect the interest of our country and to ensure that our border with Somalia is safe and our citizens and refugees near the border are given the necessary comfort. The Kenyan Government will however, not send troops to Somalia but views this as a serious matter which requires intervention by the International community.'..." (KBC)
These articles don't contradict each other. Kenya shares a long border with Somalia. Kenyan leaders would be irresponsible, under the circumstances, if they hadn't moved troops and weapons to the Somali border.

The last I read, Somalia is a territory with a barely-functioning national government. Islamic fanatics and pirates are shooting it out with each other when they're not targeting survivors of Somali's governing bodies. Kenyan leaders have the responsibility to protect their citizens against Somali factions that might try to expand into Kenya.

I don't know if the implied call for international help will be answered soon. Although Somali pirates have made shipping in the northwest Indian Ocean hazardous, there's quite a bit going on just now: North Korea threatening America with Armageddon1, and being none-too-friendly toward its closer neighbors; Iran's government quite possibly going into meltdown mode; and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. And that's just the highlights.

It's Not 'Those People Over There'

I'm a bit more personally interested in the situation in Somalia and Kenya, than I am in many others.

My parish church has close ties with a parish in Kenya. I had the honor to meet with a priest from there, when my extended family hosted him on a visit to our area.

Many Somalis have emigrated to America, and quite a few are now Minnesotans. I've discussed the occasionally-sensible way that American authorities have dealt with the disappearance of young Somali men in other posts.

National and geographical borders are not what they were when I was growing up. We have many more opportunities now, to deal with people who do not live in our immediate area. I see this as an opportunity for learning. And, for giving support to people in need. (More at "Earthquake in Ziarat: I Have to Care," A Catholic Citizen in America (October 29, 2008).)

Right now, it looks like people in Somalia need a national government that can handle the assorted pirates and fanatics. How that end will be achieved, I don't know. My guess is that the people who have been killing members of parliament in Somalia won't decide that it would be nicer if they'd stop: so force will probably be needed.

That won't be at all pleasant.

Related posts: In the news:
1 No, I don't think that America as a whole is in immediate peril. On the other hand we could lose places like Anchorage and Honolulu, so Dear Leader's threat isn't something that can be ignored.

1 comment:

Brian H. Gill said...


You may be right about that: but there's much more than military considerations in play here. Kenya's leadership seems to be taking relations with its other neighbors, and possible consequences of an armed incursion in Somalia into account.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.