By Michael Mongare
Since the Somalia incursion, the Al-Shabaab always vowed to institute retaliatory attacks on Kenya. These attacks were evident with several cases ranging from hauling grenades into passenger vehicles, to clubs and churches, attack of security offices in the northern frontier, the Westgate mall attack in Nairobi and many more related attacks.
The militia has suggested the government to withdraw its troops from Somalia, but whether that could solve the impending attacks, nobody can tell. Some experts have also resorted for the same sighting the government to re-evaluate the main purpose of troops’ mission to the horn of Africa. The reasons vary from going there to bring peace and help a next door neighbor establish its own running governmental system and solving the numerous cross border attacks and cattle wrestling. This has been achieved as the Al-Shabaab rich areas now pacified and the transition taking over. If the mission is achieved, could withdrawing be a cowardice act?
Mpeketoni assault comes amid looming security threats and travel advisories from the US, UK Australia among other countries warning their nationals in Kenya against potential terrorist attacks. The UK for the first time extracted its nationals from the coastal city of Mombasa a month ago and the most recent closer of the British consulate in same town, just 48 hours before the attack. This leaves more questions than answers whether the British Government knew something their Kenyan counterpart didn’t know.
Let’s close down on the facts from Mpeketoni attacks; this town lies in the inland 54 kilometers south-west of Lamu and over 302 kilometers north-east of Mombasa. The precision and execution of the attacks is worrying and methodically propelled. From the eye witnesses, the assailants had covered faces and with a dilate the locals accredit to be of either Arabic or Somali origin.
The anatomy of the skirmishes was purely surgical with radio calls for communication and division of tasks in where to attack like starting at the police station was basically to destabilize and immobilize the security organs in the town. Burning every place they set foot in could be a sure way to conceal further investigation including their escape vans.
However what is worrying more is the response time to the distress call which according to one local police officer reported that took over 4 hours. The heinous perpetrators may have carried out their reconnaissance and even studied the possible response time for them to castigate their attacks well.
This may also open the Pandora box why they settled for Mpeketoni, a remote less vibrant town that was started as a settlement scheme in the early 60’s by the then first president of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta. Factors that may play here as why the choice of the town could vary depending on who the real force behind the attacks is.
If we’re looking at the Al-Shabaab militia or their accomplices like Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) that is believed to have carried out attacks in Tana River within the neighboring county in which over 200 people died before the elections of 2013, then the war on crime in Kenya is surely taking a notch higher one more reason the security organs need to take drastic steps in combating.
The analogy that the country should court the east and ignore the advisory and security alerts from the west may as well be a blind way to use the superior intelligence power of the west amid the needy time like now. When Britain issued advisory to evacuate its national about a month ago, the Kenyan government treated it as a political sabotage statement and immediately went on defensive mode to advocate for wooing the Chinese to increase to number of tourists visiting the country.
I think this is suicidal. The United States’ FBI, UK’s MI6 and Mossads of Israel all have intelligence centers in Kenya because of the strategic geo-political location in the larger Sub-Sahara region yet Kenya seem to be having a hard time grooming with them as her old trading partners. Political ideologies and cheaper trading blocks were among the key reasons the third president, Mwai Kibaki considered when he switched major contracts including military and police equipment acquisition and infrastructure construction to the east. A thing his predecessor Uhuru Kenyatta maintained status quo.
So, what will prevent the west with its advanced intelligence gathering from using it to solemnly benefit their nationals and playing mump on a government that doesn’t want to scratch their back?
Whether the historical issues of a undertones of tribalism between the original Swahili locals and the squatters who were allotted pieces of land is anything to go by, then again what could prevent the locals if they get information that there is an imminent attack on the non immigrants from keeping it off the security agents?
One may argue that ethnicity may have played a role in a case there is friction between the business oriented immigrants and the majority uneducated indigenous locals. Secondly, if you pick the political representation, the immigrants through their swelling numbers elected one of their own as the assistant County Governor, then you may begin to have another possible correlation to the root of the skirmishes.
Mpeketoni could have been a better place for the attacks again because of its close proximity to the sea, just in case the assailants used or were to use the sea as escape route, then driving the escape vans for close to 10 kilometers and escaping to the thicket and to the ocean could have worked well. Again the location is closer to the hard hit Tana River region that was attacked last year and it could have been well to make the people simulate the night assault to that of the neighboring County.
Killing of males only depict the plenty time they had to comb and sieve the category of their targets. History has it that many of the when a civilian reports an incident, they get detained or get arrested for questioning, and hence making the people fear reporting some issues.
The opposition and government should work together and if the national dialogue will bring sanity in instituting some national disconnect or paving way for better policy framework, then for the sake of the country, let the government agree to structured dialogue after all its not going to be power sharing lest the common adversary take advantage and take the country down its knees.
Political good will may work well in the dialogue to spearhead the reconstruction of the country. Security machinery through more intelligence personnel should be adopted too and revamping the quick response unit both in the police and the military to respond swiftly to emergencies.