Sunday Reading: #Kenya #SouthAfrica #Tanzania #Somalia



As the world ponders whether terrorists or “local political networks” are the catalysts for atrocities on Kenya’s coast, the core issue is that upcountry settlers have dubiously acquired land from indigenous people for decades. This was long ago encouraged by iconic Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta who was (perhaps fittingly) the father of the current officeholder Uhuru Kenyatta.

Little was known of Mpeketoni before the gory, mercenary like attacks of June 15. But to locals, Mpeketoni is the Canaan, the Promised Land…


Similarly, Daniel Solomon warns regional observers to look at how institutional and tactical failures in Kenya’s political and security apparati contribute to grievances and perhaps convenient participation on part of the aggrieved in extremist attacks–to the benefit of al-Shabaab and other groups. Amid his discussion of eternal land disputes in Kenya, Solomon notes that the ongoing port development in Lamu–which will further increase the value of coastal land–could continue to be an issue that escalates tensions.

Lamu County…has been the locus of large protests against alleged land grabbing by Kenyan port developers. These issues alone may not prompt new violence by local groups. But if mass abuses continue unmitigated, East African governments could soon find unexpected pockets of their society a fertile recruiting ground for Al-Shabab’s terror network.


South Africa, under-ratedly so, is where notable support to al-Shabaab originates. Ryan Cummings adeptly explores the nature of the connections while also pointing out the drawbacks of a more aggressive approach by al-Shabaab.

…launching an attack within a non-antagonistic ‘safe haven’ would undoubtedly prompt an intense and sustained backlash by South African authorities, placing the [financial and logistical] channels at a significant risk of being curtailed…

Though the topic is not specifically mentioned, it would not be surprising if al-Shabaab tries to draw support among ethnic Somali business owners in South Africa who are regularly harassed–and even murdered–in xenophobic attacks.


Those involved in violent attacks are sometimes given the ‘terrorist’ label regardless of the available evidence. But the longtime presence of al-Qaida and al-Shabaab networks in Tanzania and recent attacks on public sites and moderate Muslim clerics may make the 17 “terror suspects” on the docket in Dar es Salaam a more eye-opening reality.

The seventeenth suspect, Jihad Swalehe, was charged separately with seeking financial support to facilitate terrorist attacks, conspiracy, promotion and facilitation of the commission of terrorist acts, and the use of the Facebook to co-ordinate attacks.

5. HANGOVER 4 (Somalia)

Backlash continues over a much hailed but heavily flawed agreement to create a Southwest State in Somalia with three regions (Bay, Bakool, and Lower Shabelle – aka SW3) rather than six regions (Bay, Bakool, Lower Shabelle, and Jubaland – aka SW6). 

Yes, SW6 elders and political figures strongly oppose it

Al-Shabaab oppose it–noting the ahistorical marriage of Lower Shabelle with Bay and Bakool. The group’s own Islamic governing structure for Somalia acknowledges this.

Lastly, the president of Shabelle State–agreeing with al-Shabaab’s point–has used the contradictory and ambiguously worded provisional constitution to validate the creation of his administration comprising Lower and Middle Shabelle:

The people of both Shabelle regions share culture, history and land and they want to be with Shabelle State of Somalia.

Article 49; (n6) in Federal Constitution stipulates that: (Based on a voluntary decision’ two or more regions may merge to form a Federal Member State)

Article 50. (a) Every level of the government shall enjoy the confidence and support of the people.

We fulfilled the process of formation of Shabelle State: “we held several conferences in 2013/014 hosted in Afgoi district, Lower Shebelle and attended by 800 delegates from the two Regions, which discussed over developments, political future, security and the way forward to form Shabelle State comprising Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle Regions.

Certainly, any high-stakes political agreement will have its winners and losers. But the Baidoa agreement draws into question who exactly the “winners” are and what action the “losers” will take. 

In an environment in which alliances can change overnight, this is a highly negative turn for the Somali government and its hype team of donors and diplomats and a potential boon for al-Shabaab–though the exact outcomes are difficult to determine.

Categories: al-Shabaab, Around the Horn, Federalism, Kenya, Tanzania

Tags: , , , ,

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