Why Is Kenya Being Such an International Relations Badass Lately?

Kenya recently launched a cross border invasion to expel Al-Shabab fighters from the lawlessness of southern Somalia. This along with other actions are interesting for a country typically concerned with issues in its own borders.

Editorial / , , , , ,

5 December 2011

 

Kenya has really been flexing their muscles lately! With more than tacit support from the U.S. and presumably the UK, Kenya launched a cross border invasion to expel Al-Shabab fighters from the lawlessness of southern Somalia. (I find it interesting that the U.S. sent some 150 U.S. Marine advisors to neighboring Uganda only a week or so before operation Linda Nchi began.) Within a couple weeks of the start of the action, Kenya met with the Israelis to discuss financial assistance and cooperation in the anti-Al-Shabab action. These are all significant actions on the part of a government with lots of its own problems.

Last week, I learn that the Kenyan High Court has taken the unusual step to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan’s Bashir. Now this is a generalization, but for much of the post-colonial era, African countries have by and large strayed from messing with the internal affairs of their neighbors.  African political elites tend to not want to cast stones as most have homes of glass. Kenya joining the ICC in issuing warrants for Bashir is a significant action.

The West, I believe, is most likely presenting lots of carrots to the Kenyans. The U.S. in particular is probably attempting to forge long-term ties with what it eyes as the most powerful (economic / military) nation in the region. After Pakistan and Yemen, the horn represents the best base of operations for Al-Queda and the like. Having a foothold / sympathetic partner in the area is important. Additionally, there is no way the U.S. can physically have boots on the ground in Somalia again. Backing the Kenyans and providing air support / drones is probably the best move the U.S. can muster.

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