SOMALIA HAS BEEN A THORN IN THE FLESH TO KENYA SINCE INDEPENDENCE

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A map showing part of North Eastern Province which Shifta insurgents with support from Somalia government wanted to seize from Kenya.

Barely a month into Kenya’s independence from the British in December 1963, the nascent government led by then Prime Minister Jomo Kenyatta declared a state of emergency and a dawn-to-dusk curfew in the North Eastern region of the country, then commonly known as the Northern Frontier District (NFD). This action was necessitated by multiple isolated attacks targeted at the Kenyan government facilities by the militant arm of the Northern Province People’s Progressive Party (NPPPP), a political party representing the opinions of the Somali people in the NFD. This war was known as the shifta war where the government of Somalia then supported the insurgents who were seeking to secession from Kenya and consequent union with the Somali Republic. The insurgents wanted to cut off the North Eastern Province from Kenya to Somalia and the Kenyan government led by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta could not give in to the insurgents’ idea. The shifta insurgents used mines which killed both the locals and the Kenyan military in North Eastern region. This posed a serious threat to newly independent Kenya. Shifta attacks on government forces continued and reach their highest point between June and August 1967 and so did Kenyan government expenditure soar, reaching $7,500,000 by 1967.The shifta war later spreaded to other parts neighbouring NEP, that is, Isiolo and Meru. It took the government of Kenya many years to defeat the Shifta ideology.

Then came the Somali pirates who invaded Kenyan waters capturing ships delivering goods to Kenyan coast for ransom. This crippled business in Mombasa port for years costing Kenya billions of shillings.

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Philip Barsulai shows a scar left by a bullet lodged near his heart after he was shot during the Shifta war in 1964.

After the Shifta war ended and destabilization of Somalia after the overthrowing of Siad Barre in 1991 then came Al Shabaab militants. The militants launched cross border attacks on government installation including military and police bases. After the militants started attacking and abducting tourists in Lamu County and given that tourism is the main source of income for the country then the government of Kenya had no option but to launch an incursion to Somalia in pursuit of the militants.  By June 2013, Kenyan government had spent $150 million on the war against Al Shabaab. Kenya has lost over 500 innocent civilians in the hands of these Somali militants which has created fear and anguish across the country. The Somali government has been unable to contain these militants placing Kenya on the receiving end for the attacks from this militants.

As if this was not enough, the Somalia government led by despot president Farmajo has taken Kenya to International Court of Justice over maritime border row. The Somali government by the help of Middle East countries are trying to grab Kenyan land since there was discovery of natural gases and oil deposits in the area. Furthermore, Kenyan Navy has been patrolling these waters and protecting it from pirates for the longest time and Somalia never laid any claim on it until recently when the oil and gas was discovered in the area. Nevertherless, the case before ICJ will be ruled on June this year and every citizens from both countries are eagerly waiting for the outcome.

Somalia country is the worst neighbour a peaceful country can have. In 1964, Somalia launched an attack to Ethiopia over Ogaden area located on the Eastern part of the country and home of mainly ethnic Somalis. The country always verges war on her neighbours with no apparent reason. The latest development by Somalia government accusing Kenya of harbouring Abdirashid Janan who is the former Jubbaland security minister has puzzled many. The former minister was arrested by Federal Government of Somalia on August last year on his transit to Addis Ababa and on Sunday he escaped from jail in Mogadishu and according to reports, the former minister is in Kismayu but the Somalia government wants to drag Kenya into their politics.

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