Now to that next step: evaluating the Kenya Defense Forces role in Somalia and Kenya’s security needs

Andrew J. Franklin’s “Terrorism and the rising cost of Kenya’s war in Somalia,” in The Standard gives a perspective on cost and “mission creep” since the original Operation Linda Nichi incursion of October 2011.  Take time to read his assessment that over the course of what is best understood as a war rather than participation in a “peacekeeping mission” Kenya has come to face an insurgency in the border counties that now poses an existential threat to the county such that the priority for Kenyan security needs to be a focus by the KDF on a comprehensive border security initiative and finally implementing the critical domestic security reforms set out in the law since 2010.

Do not forget my post of last July highlighting the reporting of Amb. George Ward at the Institute for Defense Analyses: “Kenya Defense Forces essentially collaborating with Al Shabaab in illegal charcoal exports.”  And from October 2013: “Kenya’s persistent national security corruption continues to burden Somali endeavors.”

Kenyan political leaders had unsuccessfully sought U.S. support for an operation to secure a “Jubaland” buffer region long before the October 2011 action.  There were probably a variety of motives to proceed when Linda Nichi went forward, some of which related to security and some of which related to various opportunities and schemes of a more “commercial” nature.

Without a coalition government in place as there was in 2011, President Kenyatta has the power and the accountable responsibility as Commander in Chief to articulate the mission of the KDF and the strategy to be employed, now.  Kenyans are clearly less safe than they were three-and-a-half years ago, so continuing to pursue a muddled mission without an obvious strategy seems quite dangerous.

Kenyans going for water

Kenyans going for water

“After the Dust Has Settled” shiny new Kenyan institutions left dingy

Dr. Stephanie Burchard has a piece in the current issue of the Institute for Defense Analyses’ Africa Watch entitled “After The Dust Has Settled: Kenya’s 2013 Elections”, noting the unexplained failure of the IEBC to release election results that were required in mid-March until mid-July.  The key takeaway:

Unfortunately, after all that has happened since, it is unclear how much respect or trust Kenyans continue to have in their political institutions.  Politicians seem wary of Kenya’s political institutions.  Raila Odinga promised that he and CORD would boycott future elections until changes within the IEBC take place.  Even more troubling, public trust in Kenya’s new institutions appears to be eroding.  In early July a national survey conducted by Ipsos Synovate revealed that confidence in Kenya’s new political institutions, including the Supreme Court and the electoral commission, had fallen precipitously over the course of the past few months.  In particular, confidence in the IEBC had fallen by 30 percentage points–from a high of 62 percent in February to 32 percent less than five months later.

 

Bonus reading on the American foreign assistance political and policy process: from the Lugar Center, “Lessons for the Next QDDR” by Diana Ohlbaum and Connie Veillette.