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By Makau Mutua

CORD leader Raila Odinga has called on Kenya to cut and run from Somalia.

Mr Odinga wants Kenyan combat troops
to return home with their tails between their legs.

That’s right — Agwambo would have the Kenya Defence Forces throw in the towel and flee the fight against al-Shabaab, the primitive rag tag militia ravaging Somalia and Kenya.

This is what I say to Mr Odinga, my dear comrade, the indomitable doyen of opposition politics — nyet.

States that have a reason to fight an evil menace don’t quit simply because the going is tough.

But Mr Odinga is right about one thing — President Uhuru Kenyatta must be fully
transparent about the cost of the war in lives and treasure.

Since its founding, the Republic of Kenya had avoided war with, or against, any of its neighbours.

Kenya was often christened an island of tranquility in a sea of chaos.

States —including Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Rwanda,Burundi, and DRC — had imploded as Kenya serenely looked on.

Kenya was the “exceptional” African country.

It bucked the African trend of failed states.

Kenya was the “anti-African.”

It wasn’t until the genocidal post-election violence in 2008 that Kenya became truly “African.”

It regressed to the African mean.

No longer could Kenyans claim to be
“exceptional.”

Whereas in the past Kenyans walked tall
against other Africans, the post-election pogroms turned them into “normal African brutes.”

It cut Kenyans down several sizes short.

You’ve got to read “Through My African Eyes” by Kenya’s most famous journalist Jeff Koinange to get my point.

In a chapter appropriately entitled “Oh No Not in My Country”,Mr Koinange saw in the 2008 Kenyan post-election pillage the “African savagery” that he’d brought to living rooms
around the world as Africa’s correspondent for CNN.

Kenya’s innocence was lost — forever.

The wanton killings,the gruesome rapes, and abominations of 2008 showed there was nothing special about Kenya.

Even so, nothing could have prepared the country for the cold-blooded murders of
innocents by al-Shabaab at the Westgate Mall last September.

The terror group claimed to be avenging Kenya’s “invasion” of Somalia under the aegis of AU forces.

But this is what Mr Odinga and those who would surrender Somalia to al-Shabaab must know.

Kenya didn’t just attack al-Shabaab unprovoked.

Al-Shabaab is a terrorist group bent on imposing the most primitive and extremist religious state in East Africa.

It’s simply a cancer that must be excised.

A caliphate on Kenya’s doorstep is simply unacceptable.

The AU, with which I disagree on so much, is doing the right thing in Somalia.

Kenya, as the most dominant economic power in the region, stands to lose the most if a terrorist state is established in Somalia.

Besides, what excuse would Kenya offer the AU
for staying out of a fight meant to benefit it directly?

Somalia is Kenya’s problem.

Mr Odinga must appreciate burdens that come with being the “anchor state” in the region.

Just like it was wrong and cowardly for Kenya to refuse to aid the ANC’s fight against
Apartheid, it would be equally wrong and cowardly to shrink from al-Shabaab.

It’s true the Americans may from time to time join the fight against al-Shabaab, but it’s Africans — led by states like Kenya — that must vanquish the menace.

Kenya can’t have all the benefits of regional leadership without its burdens.

A cowardly state that can’t defend its people isn’t worth the name.

Kenyans must clean up the neighbourhood in which they live, or they will not know peace.

Liberty and freedom must be defended.

Some say Kenya provoked Al Shabaab.

I say baloney.

Even before the abduction of the tourists — the ostensible reason for Kenya’s pursuit of al Shabaab — Somalia was already
“bleeding” Kenya.

The collapse of the Somali state, and the
subsequent internal wars, have sapped Kenya’s resources.

Kakuma, the Somali refugee camp, is a testament to the woes and the effects of religious extremism in Somalia.

Eastleigh, the Nairobi enclave that’s home to many Somali refugees — dubbed Little Mogadishu — is positive proof Kenya and Somalia are joined at the hip.

The numerous al-Shabaab attacks around the country make this point undebatable.

Kenya has no choice but to help restore a sane
government in Somalia if it’s to know peace.

Mr Odinga says al-Shabaab will stop attacking Kenya if KDF withdraws from Somalia.

That’s completely erroneous.

Al-Shabaab is a terror group that thrives on attacks on civilians to extort society.

It’s success in Somalia would embolden it to take over Kenya.

Al-Shabaab is an al-Qaeda affiliate with global
jihadist ambitions.

But I agree with Mr Odinga on one thing.

KDF must tell Kenyans how many of its sons and daughters have been killed and injured in Somalia.

Kenyans must know the war’s cost and the exit strategy.

“The African Story as told by Africans”.©African News Digest®

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