Leave us alone, Mr Aideed
Somali leaders are
expressing irresponsible views that could potentially undermine
even further the safety of Kenyans and put in jeopardy the
good work that a lot of hard-working and peace loving people
are doing here.
The security of
our country does not depend on just the things that we do
in here. It also depends on things happening outside our borders.
And when we defend our country, we don't just defend it against
those amongst us who would put the nation in danger, but we
must keep a vigilant eye on our neighbours - and further afield
- because we have a duty and a right to defend our vital interests,
territorial integrity and national security.
Somalia has for
almost 40 years been a cause of quite a few security problems
for Kenya. In the 1960s, there was a move to cause the disintegration
of the Kenyan nation and an expansion of Somalia. A low-intensity
bandit conflict was fought by the so-called shifta. A lot
of Kenyans all over this country are happy that the seed of
secession was never successfully planted.
In the 1990s after
the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somali nation self-destructed
and that country has been without a government for a decade.
Militia incursions into Kenya, the pouring of refugees across
the borders into camps and, more significantly, into cities
has contributed a great deal to a burgeoning illicit arms
trade, and therefore crime. There is no doubt about these
Now a new danger
is emerging. Yesterday, the leader of the Somali National
Alliance Mr Huseini Aideed, was reported in the Daily Nation
expressing territorial interests vis a vis Kenya and Ethiopia.
Mr Aideed was quoted as saying that he "wants" the six million
or so Somali-speaking Kenyans and Ethiopians to go back to
the "family". Mr Aideed views that Somalis live in Kenya and
Ethiopia as being akin to the condition that existed between
East and West Germany or North and South Korea.
These are most probably
nothing but the idle musings of a young warlord inexperienced
in the ways of high diplomacy and the conduct of the affairs
of nations. His views are most probably best ignored for they
contribute little to constructive dialogue. But we cannot
afford to ignore that it is people like Mr Aideed who have
completely brought a nation to ruin because of their gunhappy
sectionalism and absurd, anarchic personal ambition.
Mr Aideed is co-chairman
of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council, a high-sounding
title for a group of warlords opposed to the Transitional
Government. He sees the future of his country only in terms
of his "going for" the presidency or the prime ministership,
"nothing less", he says, and would not otherwise join a government
in which one of these positions was not reserved for him.
Whereas Mr Aideed
was quoted saying, with a degree of irony, that he does not
wish to see "a return to the old ways of militarism", there
is no doubt at all that his ideology is expansionist. Such
heady ambitions in the hands of an anarchist are dangerous
not only to his own country but to those neighbours whose
territory he covets.
Perhaps Mr Aideed
requires to recall that he and fellow warlords cannot hold
together Somalia as it exists today; their country is breaking
up into mini-states in various stages of complete anarchy.
The energy of Somali leaders is better spent putting together
their house, which has totally fallen, and looking to the
welfare and prosperity of the Somali masses who have suffered
long and badly in the hands of warlords and dictators, rather
than wasting it on expansionist pipe dreams.
But Mr Aideed's
outburst should serve to remind Kenyans that even as we work
to put our country in order, we must pause in our labours
and cast suspicious glances across the borders. For there
too lies a hint a of danger to our country.