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Jiiroow Bakaal

Kwendo Opanga:the best way to define TFG is to personify and picture it as a dead man walking

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This government is uniquely talented at tying itself in knots. First, ministers explained on Wednesday that Kenya has not invaded Somalia.


Second, they said our military is in Somalia at the invitation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).


Third, government says that having been invited into Somalia, al Shabaab cannot become our problem but remains the TFG’s. Last, government says our military is not an occupying force. Listen, this is damned diplomatic drivel.


Good people, to invade is to enter by force; to invade is to march into; to invade is to attack, overrun, assault, occupy or raid. We have invaded Somalia with the aim of over-running the Islamist militia called al Shabaab.


If we are to be effective we must ensure we push al Shabaab as far away as possible from our border.


To succeed we must ensure a decapitated al Shabaab stays deep inside Somalia. Therefore, we must own and occupy the space from which we evict the militia.


The reason we will own and occupy the space from which we evict al Shabaab is simply that TFG is a limping weakling. Indeed, the best way to define TFG is to personify and picture it as a dead man walking.


Our problems

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To own and occupy this space means we hold that territory by having soldiers on the ground. Yes, when our neighbour invites us to help solve his problem, he and his problem become our problems.


But has not al Shabaab always been our problem? It has been our problem, which is why we have invaded its Somalia domicile.


Al Shabaab is our problem because it invades Kenya, causes insecurity and disrupts our tourism.


Somalia is a problem because it is a lawless wasteland in which desperate militias establish all sorts of fiefdoms and enforce all manner of draconian and demonic laws by equally grotesque rules. Inland there is a bandit economy; offshore a piracy economy.


Both affect Kenya adversely. On this account the campaign by our military in Somalia is just and right. Our military is in Somalia to ensure our border with Somalia is secured and safe and the country is free from the scourge and plague of al Shabaab.


Clearly defined


But the objectives of this campaign have not been clearly and deliberately defined and explained. I have spelt out above what I believe to be the objective of the campaign.

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But as I write this piece and four days into the campaign, government has not sold “Operation Linda Nchi” to Kenyans.


Second, is there a clear exit strategy? This is not to say that everything will go according to plan; it rarely works that way.


This campaign could assume a life of its own. Indeed, the danger exists that we could be bogged down in Somalia for a long time.

This could be the case especially if al Shabaab and al Qaeda decide to wage a guerrilla war against our military; TFG remains a dead man walking; Somali public opinion turns against Kenya’s military or if the military becomes a common enemy of the Somali.


Third, who exactly is the enemy? Al Shabaab is not a regular military and al Qaeda 10 years ago changed the definition of war.


Might there not be al Shabaab sleepers here or on their way here ready to embrace death in order to cause mass murder? Isn’t here real danger al Shabaab could cause chaos on our streets?


If the answers are in the affirmative then one al Shabaab suicide bomber could cause more loss and damage on Harambee Avenue than a Kenyan brigade would in Somalia.


This is why President Kibaki should have sold this campaign to Kenyans before or immediately on committing the country to war.


Indeed, the government should have, as it planned to invade, made plain al Shabaab had forced it to the end of its tether.

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Mashujaa Day


Then, on Mashujaa Day the Commander-in-Chief should have outlined to Kenyans the case for the invasion and made clear that it would have huge security and economic consequences for them.


He should have told Kenyans why he was committing the military, country and economy to war now and not previously when armed groups have crossed into Kenya and killed, maimed and looted and retreated to celebrate their success.

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