As Kenya begins construction on a massive border wall to separate it from recovering failed state and terror exporter Somalia, the foreign minister of the fledgling Somalian government has spoken out to say despite differences, relations remain cordial between the countries.
A number of ministers in the Somalian government, which lays claim to the whole nation but in reality controls little outside the capital Mogadishu, have criticised the fence, but the foreign minister moved to calm possible tensions. Foreign Minister Abdusalam Hadliye Omer said he was “not bothered” by the wall, and that Kenya was acting well within its rights and could do what it wished.
Most important, was that the border still allowed a flow of trade, and that Kenya would “come and help us rebuild Somalia”, reports local publication Mareeg.
The 680km Kenyan-Somalian border, which at points is little more than a line on a map, un-policed and porous, has become the focus of political attention in Kenya after a number of the killers responsible for killing hundreds in two separate attacks were revealed to have crossed unchallenged from Somalia. Four members of Al-Qaeda franchise Al-Shabab attacked the campus of Garissa University College from Somalia, hundreds of miles inside the Kenyan border, earlier this month.
Taking hundreds of students hostage, they began systematically identifying their captives by religion, releasing Muslim students and executing Christians. By the end of the siege, 148 students and staff were killed by the four-member gang.
The construction of the wall by youth national service members, which has started near the fertile coastal border crossing at Kaambooni, is part of a raft of changes made to protect Kenya from Islamic terrorism spreading from failed states to the North. Kenya is also in the process of shutting down a number of large refugee camps and sending their residents home. Large bounties are also being offered for Al-Shabab commanders.
Although engaged in counter-insurgency wars in years running up to collapse, the unpopular old Somalian regime ended in 1991, leading to decades of tribal infighting, which severely exacerbated the degree of human suffering caused by years of poor harvests. Kenya has long contributed troops to the peacekeeping effort in the nation, a deployment that Al-Qaeda sees as a foreign occupation of territory it claims in Somalia and uses this as a pretext for terror attacks.