Kenyan experts see Al Shabaab threat to regional security

17:29, July 13, 2010      

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Kenya is likely to take a direct military role in helping to reduce the threat posed by the Somalia militia Al Shabaab, blamed for deadly twin bomb blasts in Kampala on Sunday that killed 74 people, analysts said on Monday. "With the looming referendum that the government is very keen to win and the just concluded formation of East Africa Common Market, Al Shabaab is seen more as diversionary development," said Joshua Kivuva, a political science lecturer at the University of Nairobi. "But after the referendum, Kenya is likely to take a more direct responsibility as part of regional effort to reduce the threat of the group," he told Xinhua in an interview.

Kenya has avoided taking a more direct role in helping Somalia Transitional Federal Government to quell the threat of Al Shabaab that controls most of Somalia and the capital Mogadishu.

But analysts said with the kid of attacks that could destabilize the economy and political situation, the country may be prompted to become more directly involved.

Kivuva said any action against Al Shabaab - in addition to current efforts under the African Union that maintains a skeleton peacekeeping force there - will be regional because of the ongoing processes of unifying the East Africa region.

Chris Abong'o, a lecture at the University of Nairobi's Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies said since the East Africa Community is developing common laws on defence and security, that arrangement will come in handy in case of a joint regional effort to attack Al Shabaab. "The most ideal would have been Africa Standby Force's EAC brigade but that is yet to be formed," said Abong'o.

The African Standby Force is a home-grown peacekeeping force intended to ease Africa's dependence on foreign forces for peacekeeping missions.

It is planned to have military and police components with five regional command posts. Its operational date was set as this year but that is yet to happen.

Abong'o said the attacks, if confirmed to have been staged by the militant group, will be "costly to the group" because it is a direct affront to neighbouring sovereign states with their own armies. "I think the group may have underestimated the air fire power possessed by countries like Kenya, which can neutralize their positions in very less time," he said.

He said more attacks on Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia - all countries that have been threatened in the past by the militant group - may result in immediate military response.

Source: Xinhua


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