Corruption and Crappy Logistics Continuing to Hampe Somali Fight Against Al-Shabaab Guerrillas

Peacekeeper and Somali military commanders agree that the biggest problem facing Somali security forces is logistics (keeping soldiers and police supplied with working vehicles, weapons and other gear) and corruption (most commonly seen in commanders or government officials stealing money and equipment meant for the security forces). That agreement is an accomplishment but as yet there is no working solution. Too many Somalis still see power as a license to steal. Changing that widely held attitude has proved difficult in many parts of the world, but particularly in Africa.

Another example of the corruption problem is the difficulties the government is having with scheduled national elections. These are supposed to take place now but many current politicians want to delay that until there is more security nationwide. That attitude is opposed by many politicians as well as nations supplying aid and peacekeepers. Some foreign donors believe this is a ploy so the interim government can stay in power longer and steal more aid money. The election for president has now been delayed to October 30th although the constitution stipulates that a president can only serve four years (which in this case ends September 10) and after that the Speaker of Parliament takes over for 30 days. Part of the problem is political with many of the clans (tribes) maintaining armed militias and refusing to abide by a “one man, one vote” system. That is, some clans demand more (foreign aid and other resources) than their numbers justify.

Angry Neighbors

The continued unrest in Somalia is a major concern to neighbors, particularly Kenya which wants to expel all Somali refugees by the end of 2016. UN and peacekeeper officials agree that this would not be practical because of security problems in Somalia that will not be solved by the end of 2016. That (and several hundred million dollars in additional foreign aid) convinced Kenya to delay the April decision to close two major refugee camps and send all the Somali refugees back home in 2016. So far this year over 20,000 refugees have returned to Somalia. The Dadaab Refugee Camp in northeast Kenya has become the largest refugee camp in the world since it was established in 1991. Containing over 330,000 Somalis it was built outside the town of Dadaab. The population in the area is largely ethnic Somali but the camp is unpopular because it disrupts more than benefits the locals and has become a base for criminal gangs and Islamic terrorists. The other camp, Kakuma, is in the northwest and has some 150,000 refugees from South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia. Like Dadaab it has become unpopular with nearby Kenyans and for the same reasons. The UN also has to deal with accusations of repeated broken promises and tolerating bad behavior by refugees. For example Kenya had previously sought to expel all legal and illegal Somali refugees by the end of 2015. That expulsion threat came in response to ever more horrific al Shabaab attacks inside Kenya, including an April 2015 massacre of 148 Christian students at a university. The UN halted this expulsion by making a lot of promises it did not keep. Now the UN says it will help with refugee camp security and moving more of the refugees back to Somalia. The UN offers this as an alternative to closure of the camps and expulsion of all the Somalis back to Somalia. These assurances are not very convincing because they have been made before and the UN quietly failed to deliver every time. In Somalia politicians and al Shabaab agree that Kenya should stop mistreating Somalis in Kenya if only because this mistreatment is used by al Shabaab for recruiting. The Kenyan government recognizes this problem and talks about curbing violence against Somalis in Kenya. Yet controlling popular hatred of and hostility towards murderous Somalis is even more difficult. The local Kenyans vote while the Somali refugees don’t. Thus the continuing al Shabaab activity in Kenya reminds every one of the centuries of Somalis violence against Kenya. It’s an old problem that does not lend itself to quick or easy solutions.

Read More: Matthewaid

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