Fighting Terrorism in the Region: President Museveni’s Approach

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Clip from K24 – Speech by President Y. Museveni during the 52nd Madaraka Day celebrations in Nairobi

During the Madaraka Day celebrations, the President of Uganda who was a state guest to the celebrations gave a rousing speech in Kiswahili on how Kenya can defeat Al Shabaab. This eye rousing speech was heavily borrowed on his earlier opinion piece which he had written and circulated to newsrooms in the region. The opinion piece titled President Museveni gives rare insights on Al Shabaab which was published in Mail Guardian Africa

One of the things that caught my attention watching this fete was the mode of delivery used by the Ugandan President. The President used Swahili to deliver his speech. Normally Ugandan’s do not speak Kiswahili but President Museveni spent a couple of years in Kenya during the years of turmoil in Uganda. So, he is rather well acquainted with Kenya’s lingua franca but that said it shows the lengths the President went on to explain his philosophy of fighting terrorism to the common folk. His speech won a lot of admiration both online and offline and it does go on to cement his credentials as a former general and as a master strategist who led a guerrilla war on Idi Amin administration. It shows he still has it. One of the main problems with the fight in terrorism in Kenya has been both on the strategy (mostly the lack of it) and disconnect between the authorities and the citizens. The State has resulted in bastardizing the Somali community.

‘Foot in Mouth’ Strategies
After the Garissa terror attack, the administration scored a number of own goals such as the remarks by the Deputy President in which he was quoted indicating that the state wanted to close Dadaab Refugee Camp. The state has since revised its position on closing Dadaab but this was as a result of international condemnation and lobbying by the United Nations Office in Nairobi.

The other preposterous idea by the administration in Kenya was the building of a wall on the Kenya Somalia border. It looked like Kenya was going to join the leagues of Israel-Palestine, East-West Germany and US-Mexico wall barriers. In what is expected to be a 700 Kilometres stretch, the state seems to be going retro on its fight on Shabaab. It is a no brainer that this money would be better spent equipping and beefing up the security personnel along the Kenya-Somalia border plus fighting corruption along the border posts.
Kenya’s great wall as it has been ironically referred to, is well highlighted and analysed here

The other strategy which was pursued by the state immediately after the Garissa attack was the closure of Dahabshiil, the money transfer platform which mainly used to remit money to Somali by Kenyan Somalia’s and Somali’s in the diaspora. The rationale used by the state was that this was a conduit used to send money to Al Shabaab in Somali but this has been perceived by the Somalia community in Kenya as blanket condemnation of the whole community. This strategy would be akin to closure of M-Pesa platform in Kenya which is used to remit money to and from urban-rural areas.

Lastly, the state has clumped on the bank accounts of NGO’s which work or are associated with the Somalia community. Instead of the state cultivating a positive relationship with these NGO’s affiliated or working with the Somalia community. Especially to find out why youths are being radicalised and seek subtle ways and solutions of fighting this endemic, the state has embarked on a path of distancing itself with the Somali community. Intelligence is crucial in the fight against Al Shabaab and there is no way the state will win the war on terror is it seeks to alienate itself from the Somali community. As President Museveni noted;

The one factor that we must emphasize is intelligence – tactical (in a locality) and strategic (in the whole country and the region). – President Museveni

The above measures taken up by the state are not consistent with rationale and strategic thinking. One can only be hopeful that the Kenyan administration can be schooled in the ways of the general as espoused in the Madaraka speech of the Ugandan President which focused on strategic ways of dealing with the Al Shabaab. That is why this speech comes at a very crucial time and is most welcome. Also, the fact that the President Museveni chose to pass this message in Swahili was a strategic communication coup in my opinion. This is because he was able to reach many people in the republic. National celebrations are usually given ample airtime by the state broadcaster and are expected to reach all parts of Kenya.

The other outcome which is laid bare by the Ugandan President’s visit to Kenya and his fight on terror speech is the power play in the region.

President Museveni: First among Equals in the Region?
In my consented opinion, Museveni’s speech further indicates that Ugandan President is considered as first among equals by his peers in the East Africa region. President Museveni happens to be the senior most statesmen in the region. During his speech, he did indicate that he had called on his Kenyan counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta and advised him on how to tackle on the Shabaab menace.

This is especially important considering the events taking place in the region. Whereas Kenyan President seems to represent the future of the region and Africa in general and managed to attract a lot of pull with his ICC predicament. When it comes to matters of security, and as long as we have Al Shabaab menace it seems President Museveni will always be relevant. However, on economic frontier the Kenyan President seems to be taking the lead on these matters together with his Rwandan counterpart. The two seem to represent a dynamic duo which is keen on pushing on a developmental state paradigm to give relevance to their rule, democratic or otherwise.

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

Guest Post: Balancing between freedom and security; the dilemma Kenya faces

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By Dr. Washington MacOdingo

This post originally appeared on the Standard Newspaper on May 25, 2015 and the consent of the author has been granted to republish it on this platform.

There can never be freedom without security, and there can never be security without freedom. The tricky part for any government is striking a balance between the two for the enjoyment of both. President Uhuru Kenyatta is famed for uttering the words, “Security Begins With You”. At the time, many people (myself included) frowned at the idea of the State throwing back its core responsibility to We, the People. How could the President ask us to be responsible for our own security yet we pay taxes so that the State can protect us? Kenyans on social media went wild with rage. The President had lost it, we said. Then the attacks on Garissa University College happened. From reports, these were well-calculated attacks. The terrorists clearly understood their target. They knew there would be prayers at 5.30am. They knew where the bulk of the students were.

They knew where the vantage points were for cover. They had probably been to this compound. It is even likely that some students had noticed strangers, but dismissed it as normal. A similar situation probably happened at Westgate Mall. They could have rented a stall in the mall for months. There were probably local security guards that had befriended them as they studied the mall and stockpiled weapons. It is feasible that had wananchi in these instances been just a little bit more vigilant, the attacks would have been thwarted. None of this happened. As a result, more than 200 people lost their lives in these incidents. Just recently, a bandit attack in Turkana left over 60 people dead. Without knowing the specifics, it is clear that such an attack could not have been planned and executed unnoticed. Someone knew it would happen and kept quiet. When you walk on Tom Mboya Street, you are not going to spend the entire time talking on your iPhone 6 oblivious of your environment. If you did that, you would not have possession of that phone by the time you reach half the distance. Your arm would probably have suffered a fracture in the process. In the same vein, it would be pretty stupid to park your car unattended in Grogan overnight and then wake up to blame the Government when you find the chassis suspended on stones. My point is, we must play our part in the war against insecurity. We must be suspicious of strange people around us. And if one of the terrorists in Garissa (a learned lawyer with a promising future) is anything to go by, the next terrorist maybe that guy or lady you hang out or strike a deal with.

Of course, the State must also take its responsibility to protect Kenyans seriously. It must gather proper intelligence and act on them promptly. It must investigate all reports from wananchi and take prompt action where the reports turn out to be credible. But to do this, the State needs certain tools; and wananchi need to talk to security officers and provide information. This is why the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014 (now Act) was introduced. Among other things, it provided for the National Intelligence Service officers to be given powers to arrest and detain suspected terrorists. It also proposed to allow the National Security Organs to intercept communication for the purposes of detecting, deterring and disrupting terrorism. It provided for the limitation of information the media can release on ongoing investigations so as not to jeopardise the outcome. It provided for stiff penalties to public officers facilitating the entry of criminals into the country. It provided for the admission of digital evidence, mostly to ensure that surveillance material can be used in trial. It also created an offence for possession of weapons for terrorist purposes, possession of weapons in places of worship or public places, possession of weapons by an institution or place of worship and radicalisation. Unfortunately, some of these provisions were struck down by the High Court. The Bill (now Act) sought to give national security organs the tools to detect, deter and prevent terrorist activities against the People of Kenya. In doing so, it may mean that once in a while the privacy of your conversation may be infringed if you are having a phone call with a suspected terrorist or terrorist financier. It may mean that the next time you are entering a public place, your right to privacy may be infringed by having a search done on your person. It may mean that the security organs, on reasonable grounds, may stop and search your car in traffic if there are credible reports that an attack could occur in heavy traffic. But the inconvenience of a disconnected call, or a few minutes of search, or the occasional traffic stop is nothing compared to the realistic possibility of being blown into pieces by a terrorist. The Constitution may guarantee these rights, but these rights are only enjoyed by those who are alive to read them.

We are at war – and it is not a conventional war. We have an enemy we don’t know by name. We don’t even know what this enemy looks like. We cannot even begin to pretend that we know where the next attack is likely to be in or come from. It is precisely for this reason that we must all give just a little bit of our freedoms so that the national security agencies may have the necessary tools to protect all of us from those amongst us who intend to do us harm. The President is right – absolute freedom means nothing to dead people. And as he has said before, “Usalama unaanza na Wewe”.

The author of this piece, Dr. Washington MacOdingo is consultant based in Nairobi. He has worked for the government, the private sector, NGO’s and CSO’s. He is also a FES alumni – Political Leadership Development Program (Intake II, Class of 2005/6).

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

Détente in Nairobi

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US Secretary of State John Kerry during a CSO meeting at Pawa 254 Nairobi | Photo via Pawa 254 Hub

In the run up to the 2013 General Elections in Kenya, Johnnie Carson, then Assistant Secretary of State and top ranking diplomat in charge of Africa quipped that choices have consequences. A phrase I think the State Department regrets in foresight. This is because this statement was one of the clarion calls used by the then presidential candidates Uhuru and Ruto to mop up support for their election to the highest office in land in Kenya.

At that point in time, both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were facing charges at the International Criminal Court for their actions and/or inactions (presumably) for the Post Election Violence that begot Kenya after the 2007 disputed polls.
Fast forward to today. The president’s case has been withdrawn by the prosecutor for lack of evidence and the stepping down of witnesses in some rather bizarre circumstances plus disappearance of others. The Deputy President’s case however is still on going at The Hague.

Once Uhuru Kenyatta was elected as president the west which had indicated before the elections that should the duo be elected as President and Deputy President, they would have what they referred to as ‘essential contact’. What that meant in the diplomatic language! However, this did not stop the newly elected president from discharging his duties.
In one of his best appointments to date in my opinion, the new administration tapped Amina Mohamed as the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign affairs. Previously, she had been an assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of United Nations Environmental Programme. Basically, she had a good understanding of how diplomacy works.

In the first year of the UhuRuto administration, we witnessed high level diplomacy from Kenya, where the country went full throttle to lobby the postponement of the then president’s case at the ICC. The African Union spearheaded the adjournment of the ICC cases at the United Nation’s Security Council which was unsuccessful.

However, the president in his first year in office visited key strategic countries, Russia and China, the two permanent members of the UN Security Council. China which has had substantial investments in the continent welcomed the president in Beijing with open arms. China, which also is an exponent of non-interference policy, seemed to take up the cue from African Union and they voted for the postponement of the cases when the matter came up for a vote at the UN Security Council.

Also, in the first year of his presidency the president seems to have developed a gravitas which unified the African heads of state and in the process his predicament brought some unforeseen fortunes in his doorstep. The president was seen by the rest of Africa as a new voice of the continent partly due to his excellent communication skills in front of the camera and also partly due to his rhetoric. The president also developed a very cordial relationship with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. The two gentlemen have been preserved as the new generation of African leaders and in turn the continent a changing continent and thus taking up from the well thought former South African President Thambo Mbeki.

Détente in Nairobi
Enter the second year of Kenyatta presidency, the diplomatic offensive and his rising clout seems to have convinced the west in my opinion the funders of the court to drop the case and as such be able to engage with the president without any hindrances.

As was expected the case was withdrawn by the ICC prosecutor early this year. As a consequence, Nairobi has seen a fair share of high ranking western leaders. This train, if I may call it so has seen the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair come to Nairobi. News of the Prime Minister being tapped to be an advisor of the president have percolated through, although how he got appointed and the remuneration he receives is still a mystery.

The other notable figure to come to Nairobi has been the former US President Bill Clinton. The former president was in town for his foundations business but he had time to meet the president at state house.

Then early last month word came in from the White House that President Barack Obama would be coming to Kenya in July this year. This initiated the recent visit by the Secretary of State, John Kerry who was in town to prepare for his boss’ visit and also try and offer support to Kenya in fighting terrorism. However, ultimately the recent détente can be attributed to the west seeing the enormous gains which has been made by China and as such America seems to be trying its fair share of remaining significant to the continent and also checking the Chinese influence in the region.

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

Garissa Terrorist Attack

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Thursday April 2 2015, I heard the news of Garissa terrorist incident on Radio on my way to work – probably like everyone else I know. My initial reactions were ‘not again’. Since April 2 was a busy day of moving around I did not have an hour to hour breakdown of what was taking place. However, around 3 pm I picked wind that the situation was still happening and naturally the ghosts of Westgate were awoken. It was only later in the evening that I was able to have a sense of what had taken place.

Today it is two weeks since the Garissa incident happened. A lot has been written especially on how the security apparatus responded to the incident (mostly the failures). We are now aware that Recce Squad, an elite group within the General Service Unit (GSU) was not able to be on location due to lack of a helicopter to take them to the terrorist scene as early as 6 am when the attack was made aware in their radar. The Police helicopter which would have taken them to the scene was in Mombasa – apparently it had taken the daughters of the air commandant on vacation. Details of this were unearthed by one of the bloggers in Kenya and shared widely on social media.

That as it maybe, it there were few things the security apparatus was able to do right. Their response thought slow was far much better than what happened during the Westgate incident. The Inspector General and the Minister for Interior and National Coordination, both new in their offices were at the scene of the incident fairly early. However, the question raised by most analysts has been what their use was being at the scene early as opposed to the paramilitary who would have disposed of the situation. Developments on this end have been – Recce Squad now has been allocated aircraft – helicopters.

The other notable development has been the civil society involvement in the whole episode, during the Westgate incident the government was more or less controlling the narrative. Especially, events that took place – there was the ‘we are one’ narrative which was pushed by corporates and other big entities. This was enviable and it is still is today. Immediately preceding the incident the government communication machinery came up with the ‘One Kenya’ hashtag. Good as it may have been there seemed to have been a deliberate effort not to remember the students who lost their lives in the terror incident. This is something that is quite common in Kenya – where a phenomenon happens and people either forget or it is swept under the carpet. That is why a group of activists – to be specific, Boniface Mwangi (a photojournalist by profession who now runs Pawa254 Hub) and Ory Okolloh Mwangi (a technologists and a founding member of Ushahidi) came up with the hashtag on twitter ‘147 is Not Just a Number’. Their intention was to remember the 147 mostly students and security personnel killed during the terrorist incident.

The 147 is not just a number picked up pretty fast and overtook the government ‘sanctioned’ hashtag ‘one Kenya’. This has had a snowballing effect to the rest of the world and they went a step further to organize a vigil and a memorial at Uhuru Park. This was unprecedented.

I for once have been trying to figure out what this means – is this a ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ moment? For those not in the know, I think the Boko Haram situation especially the kidnapping of school girls in Northern Nigeria by Boko Haram was the beginning of the end for the Jonathan Goodluck Presidency. The question is, will the insecurity posed by terrorism be the Achilles heel for President Uhuru Kenyatta presidency?

Time will tell but going by the events I noticed while in Lamu for the Lamu Food Festival and sentiments/comments from the Deputy President, we are a long way from getting it right.

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

Review: Foresight Africa Report by Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative

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Foresight Africa Cover | Brookings

The Foresight Africa report by Brookings Institution under their Africa Growth Initiative offers a snapshot of things to look out for in Africa this year. Out of the nine items which are featured in the report, seven have a bearing with the East Africa region or YLTP collective member’s countries.  These are;

An overview of the sixth Forum for Africa-China Cooperation or FOCAC expected to happen sometime later this year in South Africa, an analysis of how the west can do more militarily in Africa, a Pan-African view to Post-2015 Development Agenda, Financial Development in Africa – a crucial year, Reforming the African Union to increase effectiveness, a look at Obama administrations legacy in Africa – 2015 being a pivotal year and lastly a snapshot of presidential and legislative elections in Africa (with 5 countries from this region holding elections namely; Sudan – April, South Sudan – July, Ethiopia – May, Burundi – Mid 2015 and Tanzania – October with a referendum scheduled in April).

Perhaps to zero in on some of the above; I am particularly looking out to follow the FOCAC deliberations in South Africa this year. This meeting will come head over heels of the inaugural US-Africa Presidential Summit which was hosted by President Barack Obama last year. Some commentators cheekily observed the Chinese were closely observing that too and looking to overturn the gains US made last year! However, back to this report Yun Sun gives an excellent analysis, looking at previous FOCAC forums and inferring a pattern and extrapolating that to what one can look out for in this year’s Gig in South Africa.

As pointed out by Sun, this will be the first meeting on the new leadership in China. Also looking at my country, this will be President Kenyatta’s first FOCAC meeting. For any critical observer, one will notice Kenya has been more or less setting out the ground for the pet areas addressed by China – revival of key infrastructural projects both in the country and in the EAC region. It will be worthwhile to see how the new leaders in China will gel with the new crop of African leaders.

Most interesting is the realization by the west that they cannot compete with China in Africa and are thus we might see the rise of partnerships  between Western conglomerates and Chinese State entities doing business in Africa – this is highlighted under the chapter on Obama administrations legacy in Africa.

Mind you, if you are a Chinese watcher here is a speech by both President Zuma at Tsinghua University delivered in December 2014. Link: http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/pebble.asp?relid=18596

Michael O’Hanlon and Amy Copley address what the West can do more militarily in Africa. They visit some of the incidents that have taken place in Africa zeroing in Boko Haram in West Africa, terrorist attack in Westgate in Nairobi and security situation in the Horn of Africa. From their assessment the Africa Union has other regional bodies have a number of security apparatus that are not quite engaged when situations arise because of bureaucracy among other things.

Though the military ‘intervention’ by the West does pose some long term strategic questions especially with other actors also intervening militarily in the continent but this is not addressed by the authors of this chapter.

Mwangi S. Kaimenyi advocates for increased reforms at the African Union and gives tangible evidence why this is the path to take. Increasingly, the Africa Union is acting as the focal point of engagement with the continent but the organization is still staked in the old ways of doing things. The author goes ahead to give practical ways in which the Union should undertake in 2015.

The quintessential segment of this report is the one on African Election 2015. Two of the countries analyzed are from this region i.e. Tanzania and Sudan.

This report is highly recommended – that is if you have not had a chance of reading it.

Link to the full report [pdf]

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES.

December 2 President’s Speech on the Current Security Situation in Kenya

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Without a doubt security, mostly the lack of it has been one of the biggest talking points in Kenya. After the Mandera incident which took place while the president was out of the country on official duty in UAE.  The president received a lot of backlash on his reaction albeit lack of it at that point in time not to cancel his visit in UAE and come home to attend to the growing insecurity matters. It must be pointed that after the Mandera incident the Deputy President did address the nation in a well-choreographed speech which indicated that the Kenyan army had miraculously identified an Al Shabaab camp which it went ahead to bomb. Needless to say no level headed analysis believed the Deputy Presidents account of events since the evidence of this attack mostly the veracity of the photos produced was questioned by security experts.

As it would be, the Mandera incidence was immediately followed by another terrorist attack incident in the Northern part of our country. This point in time it seems the presidency learnt from its previous failures and the president within 24 hours of the attack addressed the nation, with what was going to be a far reaching speech. This as some analysis rightly put it was the first time the president was addressing the nation after the Mandera incident. A number of things had taken place in between these waves of attacks, with protestors having marched outside the office of the presidency asking for the sacking of the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government, John Ole Lenku and Inspector General of Police – Mr. David Kimaiyo.

There was growing pressure from within the country that the above two officers were sleeping on the job and that their failures in their respective offices were now reflecting badly on the presidency because ultimately the buck stops with the president.

The December 2, 2014 statement by the president was by all accounts a Kantian moment from the presidency since it indicated that our country was at war. It is more or less reminiscent of President Bush speech after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. The speech narrated the history of attacks in our country and pointed a finger at Somalia and by extension showed cause as to why our military is in Somalia. Some of the highlights of this speech are;

In October, 2011, the Government authorized the KDF to pursue the Al Shabaab militia into Somalia. This decision was right then, and remains so today.

It was also noteworthy that the president went all out to show that Kenya’s military is part of the AU mission. This is because some sections of the population have been calling for the Kenyan military to pull out of Somalia – if this would help reduce the attacks on the Kenyan soil.

Following requests by regional, continental and global actors, KDF joined AMISOM in February 2012. We remain part of the African Union mission to date.

This is why we have witnessed intensified extremist rhetoric against the KDF campaign in Somalia as well as support for murder and impunity. This reprehensible rhetoric has embraced Al Qaeda’s extremist ideas of setting up an Islamic Caliphate in East Africa.

However, the biggest news was the December 2, 2014 statement was the sacking of the CS for Interior and Coordination of National Government, Mr. John Ole Lenku and the surprise voluntary retirement on health grounds of IG of Police, Mr. David Kimaiyo. The surprise of the evening however was the man tapped to replace Ole Lenku to the docket responsible for Security. Major General (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery had been a Member of Parliament from Orange Democratic Movement (opposition) and in so doing it seems President Kenyatta was following in the footsteps of the US President Barack Obama who nominated the outgoing Secretary of Defense, Hagel from the Republican Party.

By all accounts the new nominee who has of yesterday been vested by his former colleagues in Parliament is a respected military man. Major General (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery is an US educated General and many people have faith that he is the man for the job.

However, one of the main areas of concern from the president’s speech was the apparent reference for the media to ‘tone down’.

Our national conversation, whatever its temper, is facilitated by our media. The media must step back from being an inert funnel of sentiments, opinions and messages, and become a true mediator and an honest broker of the national discourse. The media must not allow intemperate, intolerant, divisive, alarmist and stigmatizing views.

You can access the full Mandera Statement by the President here

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES.

Does a Gun Point Put Terrorism to an end or escalate it?

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Since the occurrences of September 11 attacks in USA by the Terrorist Network of Al-Qaida, the International Community and other regional bodies have invested much to counter and obliterate International terrorism. Incidence, The World has witnessed alliances of big Nations on the War against Terrorism.

In 2001, America and her Allies (NATO) participated fully in the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. The world was taken by surprise to the Military operations in Afghanistan where the US Special forces hunted the Al-Qaida leaders. The Al-Qaida Leader Osama Bin Laden, was hunted down and killed in Pakistan but still terrorism has continued to hit the international Media coverage and still there are more causalities of terror attacks in many Countries in the world.

In recent years, terrorist groups and radicals clerics are enjoying popularity of radicalization of unemployed and hopeless Youth who have been betrayed by their Political Leaders. The World has witnessed the rise of Anti-Balaka and Seleka Militia in Central Africa Republic, the Somali Al-shabaab as well as Boko haram just to mention the few; these organizations have extended their influence by recruiting youth from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The latter being unusual occurrence since they have  not been experiencing terror related incidences and have been previously referred to as an island of Peace. The young Blood find themselves with “NO” option of whether they have to starve or join Al-Shabaab Militias and benefit with their families with handsome salaries.

The recent Interventions in Middle East to fight with Terrorist groups led to the emergence of New Terrifying Enemy “ISIS”, where many innocent people in Iraq and Syria as well as Journalist and aid Workers lives have been lost.

Nevertheless, the nature and character of War on terror seems even to compromise with human rights, many people have been thrown under arbitrary detentions and arrest. And in some Western Countries peoples freedom has been undermined by the state security services.

All actions and interventions of War against terrorism have proved to be massive failures for what has been seen is that, “Terrorist Groups and Radical Movement continues to upsurge like mushrooms all over the World from North Pole to South Pole”. It’s my opinion and I really optimistic that, the war against terrorism will achieve its goal if and only if the International Community takes new directions and this direction should not merely rely on gun point as the only option. Since then jihadist clerics are not using the gun point to wage their insurgency but rather using the holly books “Quran and Bible” to propagate and manipulates the people. The International Community should take joint efforts to ensure that, the root cause of manipulating the World is dealt effectively. This can only be possible by rising Public Debates where by those who has been wash brained and consequently manipulated Ideologically are rescued and left free from the World of Perversion.

The author of this piece is Mohamed Aliy, a young activist and a trainee of Young Leaders Forum-2014, Tanzania. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES.

The Rising Incidences of Insecurity in Kenya

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Mapped out Areas in which there have been Security Related Incidences | Map from Kenya Open Data website

The main focal point for this year’s regional young leader’s forum was regional security and key among those things discussed was the Westgate incidence – of which the Kenyan delegation which I was part of, gave a presentation on. No sooner had we gotten back home, than a number of security related incidences occurred. Starting with an attack on Mombasa barracks – where a group of youths armed with machetes and knives attached an army barrack.  This was immediately followed by Kapedo attack. In this attack, junior police officers some of them barely six months in the police service were killed by bandits in Kapendo. They has requested for help from the headquarters – but this was not forthcoming. This weekend we woke up to the terrible news of Mandera bus attack incidence in which Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility.

Kenyan’s are angry at least those on twitter and they have been making their opinions known with #MySecurityMyRight hash tag. This is coming in the backdrop incidences in which touts stripped women and Kenyans on twitter who were against this barbaric acts came up with this hash tag #MyDressMyChoice.

The increasing number of these security related incidences can be attributed to a number of things – key among them  porus borders, the culture of corruption which exists in our country and the state reaction to previous security incidences. A classic case is the ongoing operations at the Kenyan coast, where security personnel storm into mosques and the extra-judicial killings which are prevalent at the Kenyan coast.

For a better understanding of the current situation in Kenya, I would recommend one to read the International Crisis Group Update Briefing Number 102, Kenya: Al Shabaab – Closer to Home. 

Download this briefing here: International Crisis Group Update Briefing Number 102, Kenya Al Shabaab – Closer to Home. [pdf]

This update briefing by Crisis Group observes;

One year after the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi, Al-Shabaab is more entrenched and a graver threat to Kenya. But the deeper danger is less in the long established terrorist cells that perpetrated the act – horrific as it was – and more in managing and healing the rising communal tensions and historic divides that Al-Shabaab violence has deliberately agitated.

Apart from observing the root causes of these increasing spikes of security related incidences, the report goes further to point out five practical solutions. Whether our government will not heed is another thing all together. I am not even sure if the government reads some of these reports!

However, one of the glaring omissions from this report, of which Kenyan’s on Twitter have been requesting for, is the sacking of the Joseph Ole Lenku, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Co-ordination of National Government and David Kimaiyo, the Inspector General of Police – National Police Service. During their tenure, Kenya has experienced a rise in insecurity incidences. However, the Inspector General has been on record saying the National Intelligence Agency has not given him timely and actionable Intelligence to act upon. However, the NIS has rejected this accusation – with them leaking briefs immediately after an incident has taken place to  counter this accusations.

Among the many recommendations Kenyan’s on twitter have been calling for is the overhaul of the entire security apparatus and also the reforming of the security docket – with the creation of a homeland security docket [similar to the US].

For a better understanding of the online conversations currently taking place, check @KenyanPundit tweets esp. the crowd-sourcing of solutions on this question;

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

YLF Post No. 2 for Regional Young Leaders Forum

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This is the second pre-conference post before our Regional Young Leaders Forum on Regional Security and Local Grievances.  Today, we focus on current regional developments relating to the Al Shabaab group and its operations in Kenya and Somalia. We have compiled three articles dealing with this topic from different angles. read more

In a recent interview with the East African, the deputy head of Amisom, Lydia Mutende, states that  efforts to military defeat Al Shabaab are accompanied by preparations for Somalia’s 2016 elections which will be discussed at a conference in Copenhagen in November this year. Mutende emphasises that the country needs a federal arrangement that is able to accommodate Somalis’ strong clan affiliations as “building blocks for national peace.”

According to other observers, the recent killing of Al Shabaabs radical leader Ahmed Godane could enable a moderate faction within the group to seek a negotiated settlement with the Somali government.  However, it is argued that some powerful external actors like Ethiopia and the US would probably be “quite allergic” to any kind of such a power-sharing deal. Moreover, it is highly unclear whether a Somali peace settlement would also eliminate violent Islamism in Kenya. This assessment comes at a time when a paper on radicalisation in Kenya, published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), finds that recruitment to Al Shabaab and the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) has been facilitated by the Kenyan government’s counter-terrorism strategy. For instance, 65 % of the respondents of a survey carried out by ISS researcher Anneli Botha among self-ascribed Al-Shabaab and MRC members, declared the government’s strategy of “collective punishment” to be the single most important factor that drove them to join radical organisations.

Do you think that the Somali government should negotiate on a power sharing agreement with moderate Al Shabaab factions? What  should Somalia’s future federal arrangement look like and do elections really matter in the country’s current situation? What role should external actors like the US play in Somalia’s political restructuring? And to what extent do we have to conceive violent Islamism(s) in Somalia and Kenya as intertwined phenomena?

YLF Post No. 1 for Regional Young Leaders Forum

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This is the first pre-conference post before our Regional Young Leaders Forum on Regional Security and Local Grievances. Every few days we will post a text asking you for comments on its theses or recommendation. It will about the kind of issues you will be dealing with in your presentations. Today, we have compiled three columns of the Ugandan Journalist Onyango Obbo on armies and rebels read more.

  • In his first column the author is arguing that West-African armies (Nigeria, Mali) „are running away from barefooted rebels not because they are cowards but because their relationship with the state is changing“. In short, the ruling elites is stealing even the money destined for the upkeep of the army
  • In the second piece he is arguing that the well stocked East African armies don’t flee, because „they have a lot of practice fighting at home and in neighboring countries“. In a way, he writes,  these capable armies „are creating a political federation“.
  • And finally he suggests that the recent success of extremist groups has changed the frontline and that in the international fight against terrorism „the most critical point defence line is in central Africa.“ With consequences for some rebel groups. „In this new reality“, he writes, „Machar and the FDLR are flies in the soup“. And are loosing in support.

Do you agree with Onyango-Obbo’s arguments? And how does this analysis – or your objections to it – relate to the conflicts in your countries? Will it change policies and alliances? Can we already talk about a „Return to Realpolitik“ where the propagators of a new war on terror are going to look for reliable rather than democratic regimes?