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What’s Wrong with Kenya’s Invasion of Somalia

Author: Micah Zenko, Senior Fellow
November 15, 2011
The Independent


Whatever the actual political motivations of this new effort, military force is unlikely to solve Somalia's problems.

When political leaders call for the application of military force, it is always useful to assess the intended political and military objectives. Quite often, those objectives are reactionary, ephemeral, or unachievable given the resources committed and the political will of decision makers. The unexpected invasion by Kenyan forces into Somalia to defeat the notorious militant group, al-Shabaab, offers such an opportunity to analyse the motives and potential outcomes of this use of force.

What are the intended objectives of the Kenyan military in Somalia?

On October 16, government spokesperson Alfred Mutua said Kenyan troops are "pursuing al-Shabaab across the border." A few days later, he claimed that the Kenyan military would "track down and dismantle the al-Shabaab." Meanwhile, an anonymous Kenyan official declared, "They're going all the way to Kismayo [an al-Shabaab-controlled port 155 miles from the Kenyan border]. We're going to clear the Shabaab out."

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