Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The presense of US Marines in North Eastern province of Kenya has been questioned many times and just yesterday, Mr Farah Maalim (Lagdera, ODM), asked Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula to clarify whether the 80 marines in his constituency were doing more than drilling boreholes for the residents.

Mr Maalim, who is also the deputy Speaker in the Kenyan National Assembly, said the marines had been in the arid area for over a year and had not succeeded in getting water for the residents.

Why can't anybody know what they are doing? Are they depositing Nuclear wastes there?

The ODM MP asked whether the marines were there to bury nuclear waste. He accused the marines of operating under a lot of secrecy, saying that local leaders, including the provincial administration and councillors were in the dark about the activities of the US soldiers.

Justice minister Martha Karua, who is the deputy leader of Government Business, gave an undertaking to communicate the request for a ministerial statement to Mr Wetang’ula.We are still waiting for a formal communication from Wetangula.

The return of United States marines in North Eastern Province has raised eyebrows among the local Somali Muslims amid fears that the province is likely to be used as the launching pad for the wider war on terror, albeit covered in the clothes of humanitarian assistance.

The Counter-Terrorism operations has from time-time been done along Kenya-Somalia-Ethiopia-Djibouti Borders to stem what Americans call "Terror" related incidents.

“The overall mission of the CJTF-HOA is countering terrorism in the Horn of Africa,” A statement from US embassy said.

It noted that civil action programs in Kenya contribute to this effort by allowing the U.S. soldiers to work on specific, real-world projects with their Kenyan counterparts and also to become more familiar with the people and customs of the area. Projects are also selected in part to help establish better relations with local residents and counter any misunderstandings about U.S. intentions in the region. Similar programs have taken place elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, specifically in Djibouti and in Ethiopia.
Officials from both ends, Kenya and USA are however worried about the possible complications of US counter terrorism measures.

An American official in the past has said the US assessments of the Kenya-Somalia border situation and the whole region has been inadequate. "America does not have sufficient knowledge of the (Somali) people and hence needs a better understanding of the region," the official added.

The last time the marines were there, they spent the upward of Sh200 million on health, education and water for the impoverished residents.After a hostile reception and boycott of their humanitarian services, residents said the marines wormed their way into their hearts with goodies.

Their unexpected arrival in a convoy of trucks with sophisticated military and engineering equipment caused a stir in Garissa town.

"We thought we had seen the last of them when they left the province late 2004 after completing the humanitarian projects," said Mr Hussein Issa, a Garissa branch Narc chairman.
"Now that they are back, it seems they have a special attachment to Northern Kenya — probably due to its proximity to Somalia," he added.

Rumours are rife about US Marine missions in NEP kenya. Some residents are convinced that the marines are "polluting" the vast arid area with nuclear wastes while pretending they are drilling boreholes.Some say The marines are out to track down Al-Qaeda sleeper cells in Somalia. Others think the marines are on their way to Somalia to protect the ailing Transitional Federal Authority of Somalia from the increasingly powerful Union of Islamic Courts, which are perceived to be sympathetic to the Al-Qaeda cause.

The rare spectacle when the Americans landed in town caused commotion as hordes of curious residents milled around the Garissa Kenya Military Barracks, where the marines have made temporary base.

Ironically, the last time the marines were in town, the Government was forced to publicly declare their mission after the predominantly Muslim residents ejected them from a Garissa hotel.

During the incident, the marines were forced to abandon medical and veterinary services to the residents.There were claims that their drugs could cause infertility. The residents feared that the drugs were meant to reduce and subsequently wipe out the Muslim community.

The propaganda was even spread in local mosques and coffee shops. Many residents took the fears seriously and stayed away from a free medical camp at the Kenya Red Cross Society camp.

U.S. military doctors were there to provide free medical treatment for over 1700 residents of the busy North-eastern Kenyan town of Garissa during a three-day medical civil action (MEDCAP) program despite protests by Muslims in the area.

Hundreds of protesters, later took part in a demonstration on that Friday against a free medical camp being run by American marines. Some of the protesters, most of whom were ethnic Somalis, threw stones at the hotel housing the Americans in the town of Garissa.
A statement from the United States Embassy in Nairobi however allayed fears and controversby by giving a clear statement but the residents took time to digest.

“There was some local controversy about the presence of the U.S. military in this remote, largely Muslim community, controversy which the soldiers on the ground had tried to allay in meetings with local elders, imams, and other civic leaders and on Friday afternoon a noisy protest broke out in front of the hotel which the U.S. military had been using. Kenyan police quickly ended the disturbance, arresting nine or so demonstrators,” the statement said.

During the demonstration, residents suspected the camp was part of a ploy to extend the US war against terror in the region. Residents held street protests and invaded a hotel where some of the marines were residing.

The issue was solved as leaders softened their stance against the marines, but demanded infrastructural development.
The United States government later repackaged the charity and instead opted to rehabilitate and improve public institutions in the region. Some of the projects the marines undertook included the Sh8 million renovation and fencing of Wajir District Hospital. They also donated Sh18 million for the construction of Bute Girls Secondary School, sh7 million fro the Arabia Secondary School in Mandera District, rehabilitated facilities at Modogashe, Bura and Mbalambala secondary schools to the tune of Sh2.5 million each and sunk wells in some locations.

Later, many residents turned up for treatment.
The statement continued “We were hoping to treat as many as 1000 patients in the few days we were here,” said Army Major Ralph Engeler, “but there was an especially strong turnout on the second and third days of the MEDCAP. We treated lung and intestinal infections, parasites, various kinds of skin rashes and malaria. It was a good week’s work for us.”

The Garissa MEDCAP ended as planned on the weekend and is the third civil action program in Kenya in recent months. Medical, veterinary and other civil affairs projects took place in Lamu later and some are still ongoing.
The US Embassy claims, Medical and veterinary supplies for all these missions are purchased by the U.S. military from Kenyan suppliers whenever possible.

US Marines have devised a new way of dealing with suspicions but have not come out open to help communicate with what they are doing in these areas.They are always said to be on a humanitarian mission. The soldiers — in their twenties and donning military fatigues — this time round arrived in batches, perhaps to conceal their numbers.They usually left the town after dusk with local Administration Police officers in tow.
Herdsmen in the district have reportedly fled whenever they encountered the marine’s convoy snaking through the rangeland in some sites they intend to sink wells.

The North Eastern Provincial Commissioner, Mr Kiritu Wamae, was at times forced to call an impromptu public meeting to dispel the negative perception about the presence of the troops in town. He several insisted that the marines were on a humanitarian mission in the region and were working in partnership with the Kenya Army officers.
Wamae said the soldiers planned to drill 10 boreholes in Garissa District.We can't confirm this has been done upto date.

A senior US counter terrorism commander with the combined joint task force (CJTF) in Djibouti recently said attention had shifted to the Horn of Africa to police the Somali coast, East Africa sea board and lower Middle East following the September 11 terrorist attacks in America.

He disclosed that the 1,800 troops and warships are responsible for Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Mauritius, Comoros, Seychelles and Yemen.They are based in Djibouti.

The sources also intimated that military and civilian staff of CJTF were involved in humanitarian and civil works and allayed fears that the marines had their designs on Somalia.
"US forces harbour no designs on Somalia although Washington is concerned about the flow of arms into country(presumably NEP)," the commander said.


Despite its Peace Corps-like approach, though, the Pentagon still has some hearts and minds to win in its periodic visits to the NEP.
'I just don't like them here,'' said Sheik Mahmoud Ahmed Abdulkadir, the imam of Pwani Mosque in nearby Lamu, who has urged his followers to shun the Americans even at the Coast of Kenya. ''I feel that they are my enemy. I have no intention of harming them, but I cannot show them a smile on my face.''

The face of American foreign policy is shambled all over the world. From Afhanistan, Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Somalia, Lebanon, Many countries in the Middle East and this is what Barrack Obama is capitalizing on against McCain Campaign regarding Foreign Policy,
"These are the same guys who helped to engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9/11," the presumed nominee told reporters aboard his campaign plane. "This is the same kind of fear-mongering that got us into Iraq ... and it's exactly that failed foreign policy I want to reverse."