Somalia: Resolve Somalia-Kenya Spat

Somalia flag, left, Kenya flag
16 December 2020

The mounting hostility being shown by Somalia towards Kenya is a classical exemplification of the English idiom caution, "don't bite the hand that feeds you".

It speaks to the tendency by some to quickly forget those who have enabled them to surmount their challenges.

The relations between the two countries have lately hit rock bottom, with the government in Mogadishu unceremoniously kicking out Kenyan diplomats.

The height of impudence, though, is the massing of troops on the common border. It is a belligerent act that sends the grim signal that Somalia is ready for war. This is quite unfortunate.

It is certainly not how to forge cordial relations between neighbouring countries.

Kenya has in the past two decades sacrificed a lot to help restore a credible government in Mogadishu. Today, Kenyan troops serve in the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) that has been instrumental in restoring the state and civilian governance. This has come at an immense cost in lives and resources.

It is only extremely ungrateful people, who would have forgotten so fast Kenya's contribution to restoring law and order in the neighbouring country ravaged by civil strife.

While the administration in Mogadishu, as the internationally recognised government, has the mandate to run its internal affairs and protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty, it should not antagonise its neighbours, whom it needs to fight an insurgency marshalled by Al-Shabaab terrorists.

It is unbelievable that the Somalis could have forgotten so soon that their interim government was even established in Nairobi before being transferred to Mogadishu. Somalis, both the elite and the common folks, have always found refuge in Kenya during civil strife in their country.

Kenya and Somalia need each other as partners in the fight against terrorism and to promote regional peace and prosperity.

Of course, there will be disagreements every now and then, but these can be resolved amicably.

It's a shame that this spat has come just several months after the reopening of the Somalia embassy in Nairobi after 20 years, which had been welcomed as a vital step in bilateral relations.

The top leaders of both countries must reach out to one another and reaffirm the need to solidify relations for prosperity and mutual gain.

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