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Attack Will Draw West, Kenya Closer

Author: Jendayi Frazer, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Africa Studies
September 30, 2013
Daily Nation

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The misguided policy concept of "only essential contact" by the West with Kenya can no longer be indulged given Kenya's geostrategic importance to Africa's stability.

The cowardly and horrific terrorist attack against innocent civilians at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi will draw Kenya and the West back to their historical close relations.

It also tragically highlights the need to quickly resolve the International Criminal Court (ICC) cases against President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto that are a politicised distraction from pursuing our common interests with Kenya in protecting international peace, advancing democratic governance and prosperity, and promoting justice and reconciliation.

US President Barak Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron's early calls to President Kenyatta to offer assistance during and after the attack are clear signals of a shift in policy that will be made more meaningful only with sustained and fully normal engagement unhindered by the ICC.

Kenya's role in region

Kenya has long suffered from Somalia's instability and terror attacks by al-Qaeda. The Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab has taken responsibility for the attack on Westgate, claiming it is in retaliation for Kenya sending troops to Somalia in October 2011, and eventually joining the peacekeeping force, African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

In reality, long before Kenyan forces deployed to southern Somalia and Kismayo, its security was threated from the north. Since the fall of Somali President Siad Barre's government in 1991, arms, insurgents and terrorists have crossed into Kenya, undermining the security of its citizens and visitors.

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