Take US mediation efforts in Kenya with a pinch of salt – By Kwame Ayegbeni
The familiar sight of US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer has been seen in East Africa the last few days. This time, she was in town to purportedly help solve the political deadlock in Kenya. (more…)
The familiar sight of US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer has been seen in East Africa the last few days. This time, she was in town to purportedly help solve the political deadlock in Kenya.
Yet, the presence of Frazer in this region highlights starkly the short-term, and self-interested nature of American foreign policy in the world in general and in the Horn of Africa in particular.
Because, exactly a year ago, Ms Frazer paid an emergency visit to the region. Her objective then was to resolve the crisis in Somalia, which was instigated by the American-backed invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia.
She claimed she would work to find a solution to the Somali crisis by cooperating with regional countries. A year later, it is possible to examine the result of the mediation efforts of the Americans in Somalia. And the inevitable conclusion is that the Somali adventure has been an unadulterated failure.
Today, Somalia is a lawless jungle. The relative stability that was in place during the reign of the Islamic Courts Union has been replaced by marauding warlords. The streets of Mogadishu are a perilous place.
If one is not taken out by the bombs of the insurgents, you are likely to reckon with the bullets of the
EthiopiansWoyanne or the interim government forces.
The UN rates Somalia to have the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa. Yet quite apart from the current humanitarian situation, the fact is the political mistakes of the Bush administration have dealt what could be a fatal blow for the prospects of unity.
The first misstep was the support the US offered, through the CIA, to the warlords.
This unpopular intervention served only to alienate the Somali populace. Any elementary analysis would have shown the Americans that the warlords in that country are a brutal, murderous lot, with scant regard for the concerns of ordinary citizens.
This should have been obvious from the way the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) which admittedly was not perfect, was embraced by ordinary Somalis.
The ICU may indeed have been too harsh in its interpretation of Islam. Somalis subscribe to the moderate Sufi version of Islam and do not quite embrace the Wahhabi-like tendencies of the ICU.
Ethiopia is an enemy of Somalia and its intervention undermined the transitional government and cast it as a puppet of Ethiopia. From then on, it was obviously going to be downhill all the way.
It is a tragedy that few in the international community have raised their voice to condemn America’s callous intervention in Somalia.
But with the benefit of hindsight, Kenyans should at best be skeptical when Ms Frazer jets into town claiming to be finding a solution to the local crisis while what concerns them is their own self-interest.
Ayegbeni comments on international affairs.