Sunday, November 16, 2008


Although we had had some clan clashes in North eastern Province and especially In Mandera, The region is quite stable than most of Kenya. Just recently, The US government has alerted and heightened its travel advisory for Kenya, citing security concerns in North Eastern province and areas sorrounding it. The alert from the US State Department, dated November 14, and posted on the Nairobi Embassy’s website, says there is a continuing threat from terrorism and a high rate of violent crime in the country.

“The U.S. Government continues to receive indications of potential terrorist threats aimed at American, Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya. Terrorist acts could include suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports,” it reads in part.

It warns of possible terrorist attacks in Kenya, saying that those responsible for past attacks in Nairobi and Kikambala are still active in the region.

“This replaces the Travel Warning of August 22, 2008, to note increased security concerns in northeast Kenya near the Somali border.” The statement also cites as an example, the recent kidnapping of two Italian nuns from El Wak, by armed Somali militia. “Travel by U.S. Embassy personnel to border areas of Kenya northeast of the town of Wajir has been restricted until further notice,” reads the statement.

As regards violent crime, the US State department is warning Americans against traveling to Kenya saying IDPs, endemic poverty and availability of weapons could result in an increase in petty and violent crime in other parts of the country. “Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings and home invasions/burglaries, can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi. As recently as June 2008, U.S. Embassy personnel were victims of carjackings.”

The statement further says Kenya has a limited capacity to investigate and prosecute robbery suspects pointing at what institution we need to "fix" ie the Judiciary and all the related departments including the Police and so on. The alert say, american citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant, particularly in public places frequented by foreigners such as clubs, hotels, resorts, upscale shopping centers, restaurants, and places of worship, the statement warns. “Americans should also remain alert in residential areas, schools, and at outdoor recreational events, and should avoid demonstrations and large crowds.” notwithstanding, Kenya is a country the current US President elect, Barack Obama has roots.

The US has never issued a "serious" threat advisory for North Eastern Kenya and this comes as a suprise given the relative peace enjoyed in Northern Kenya for the past 20 years after decades of clan clashes and state of emergencies. The US base of Djibouti has initiated some counter-terrorism humanitarian assistance in various NEP constituencies which have born fruits and the US people are now treated as good people.

The only threat the US feels to highten the travel advisory is the issue of the porous Kenya Somalia border all the way from Mandera Border Point 1 to Northern Coast province of Kenya around Ijara District which the Kenyan government seems unable to control. Residents of the North Eastern province of kenya lack substantial development in terms of infrastructure, schools, hospitals to classify them as being at par with the rest of Kenyans.The Government of Kenya knows NEP has been left in terms of development and only, in the first Coalition, did the government set the Ministry of Northern Kenya, for the first time, since independence, to look into the matter of North Eastern Kenya. From time to time, nomadic Kenyan Somalis often move their livestock to the interior of Somalia and Ethiopia to find pasture and water, hence the mix with Somalia Somalis + Ethiopian Somalis. This is where the US worry is, as militias from lawless Somalia or Ethiopia who meddle in Kenyan Politics can have the advantage to move to Kenya as the communities living on either sides of the border resemble with each other and criminals can have access to inner Kenya through corruption and other means.

In issuing the threat, North Eastern Province, especially in Wajir, Where US President elect Obama once visited is simple hyprocrisy given the repercussion it would cause residents of the place. Tourists who would have visited our world endagered animals like the "Hirola" species would not come, The region will be seen as unstable, potential companies ready to invest would not come including their own like Coca-Cola and we will lag behind as usual courtesy of the US threat against the region.

The Government of Kenya has insisted on several ocassions said it wants to see a stable Somalia, but it has to pay a bigger role on it's borders, only then, would Kenya gain from the substantial trade and co-operation with Somalia and reduce small arms proliferation in the Horn of Africa. Setting a government in Somalia would surely help Kenya in Trade and security.

The US can help in setting up a government in Somalia devoid of petty petty issues that sorround it's foreign policy thus helping it's interest and helping that of it's patners. Issuing of threats will only increase "the temperature" of an already cooling region.

We are hoping the new US president elect Obama will consider Africa and particularly Horn of Africa a priority.