The East African nations’ war against al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group, is surfacing some regional and clan tensions. The tensions are being highlighted in recent pronouncements by Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
On November 25th the Ethiopian news source NewsDire reported that at a summit of Heads of State and Government in Addis, Ethiopia agreed to become more militarily active in the norther regions Somalia against al-Shabaab terrorists. In accepting the request, Ethiopia took the opportunity to castigate her long-time foe Eritrea for supplying weapons and ammunition to al-Shabaab. Kenya and Uganda do not hold the same contempt for Eritrea.
The EastAfrican is reporting today that the TFG inner circle is concerned about the use of ethnic Somalis in the Kenyan army contingent deployed in northern Kenya and southern Somalia. The TFG is worried that Kenyan Somali’s, who are for the most part members of the Ogaden clan, while fighting al-Shabaab could also be fanning the flame of “parochial nationalism, leading to agitation for a breakaway province bordering Kenya.” The TFG’s fears are growing out of a meeting of Ogaden clan leaders in Nairobi. The Ogaden leaders met for the sole purpose of discussing the “formation of a semi-autonomous Jubaland that will comprise northern regions of Lower and Middle Juba and Gedo on the Kenya-Somalia border.” In a move to gain favor from Kenya, a group of Kenyan Somali MPs went public with a statement that “Jubaland would act as a buffer zone and frustrate incursions by Al Shabaab, prevent entry of refugees, and smuggling of arms into Kenya.”
One must wonder if these regional and clan tensions will be exploited by their common foe, al-Shabaab.