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Al Shabab Leader Hits Popular Chord in Call to Oust Kenyans, Ethiopians

Author: Alexander Dick-Godfrey
March 31, 2014
Christian Science Monitor


In a recent article on the Daily Maverick, Simon Allison identifies the "surprisingly perceptive" core message of Al Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane's recent propaganda audio message.

In his message, Mr. Godane urges his Somali comrades to throw out their Kenyan and Ethiopian occupiers. Mr. Allison notes that, although unsettling, Godane is, in certain respects, correct, and is tapping into widespread sentiments.

Despite operating in Somalia under the authority of an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to rid the country of Al Shabab, Kenyan and Ethiopian troops are, in fact, occupying Somalia. Their goals are not altruistic, and are largely informed by their own national security and political considerations.

Thus, instead of celebrating the foreign troops' efforts to stem Al Shabab, Somalis are worried about the out-sized influence being wielded by foreign powers in their country.

Although troubled by these developments, the United States and its partners have other goals in the region that will prevent any significant intrusion into Kenyan or Ethiopian plans.

Godane's message is particularly striking when considering the formation of federal states in Somalia. In the absence of strong leadership from the Somali Federal Government (SFG), Kenya and Ethiopia have assumed leadership positions as state builders and negotiators in southern Somalia.

In practice, this means that Kenya and Ethiopia have been able to influence the formation of new federal states, and create governments that will benefit their own national security concerns.

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