An Adequate and Balanced Response to the Nairobi Mall Terrorist Attack

25-09-2013

The EU has already offered Kenya its full support to respond to the terrorist attack in Nairobi and to promote stability in the region. The Westgate mall, claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab, has left 67 people dead. Al-Shabaab has said it targeted the shopping centre — a symbol of Kenya's economic emergence — in retaliation for the country's involvement in Somalia. Kenya has been involved in Somalia since October 2011 and is part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The EU has contributed EUR 440 million to AMISOM since 2007 and is engaged in three different Common Security and Defence Policy missions in the region. At the 'New Deal for Somalia' conference organised on 16 September in Brussels, EUR 1.8 billion were pledged for the country's reconstruction. Although al-Shabaab has lost control of numerous territories in Somalia, its destructive capabilities persist. The Westgate mall attack clearly highlights the complex political and security links between Kenya and Somalia. Al-Shabaab also attacked Uganda in 2010 for its involvement in Somalia and since 2011 has carried out a series of gun and grenades attacks inside Kenya. These have led to a growing mistrust of the Somali community. The Kenyan police has also indiscriminately targeted and abused Somalis. Despite diplomatic tensions, the EU should be ready to support Kenya respond to the attack, whilst bearing in mind some of the potential pitfalls. It is important to prevent the Somali community from becoming a scapegoat for the attack. The initial reactions from Kenyan society and authorities strike a positive note. The EU should contribute to strengthening Kenya's security forces, but this should be linked to deeper reforms that increase their transparency and accountability. The EU should see that, to avoid a potential backlash, any Kenyan response towards the Somali conflict is supported by the Somali federal government and regional organisations.

The EU has already offered Kenya its full support to respond to the terrorist attack in Nairobi and to promote stability in the region. The Westgate mall, claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab, has left 67 people dead. Al-Shabaab has said it targeted the shopping centre — a symbol of Kenya's economic emergence — in retaliation for the country's involvement in Somalia. Kenya has been involved in Somalia since October 2011 and is part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The EU has contributed EUR 440 million to AMISOM since 2007 and is engaged in three different Common Security and Defence Policy missions in the region. At the 'New Deal for Somalia' conference organised on 16 September in Brussels, EUR 1.8 billion were pledged for the country's reconstruction. Although al-Shabaab has lost control of numerous territories in Somalia, its destructive capabilities persist. The Westgate mall attack clearly highlights the complex political and security links between Kenya and Somalia. Al-Shabaab also attacked Uganda in 2010 for its involvement in Somalia and since 2011 has carried out a series of gun and grenades attacks inside Kenya. These have led to a growing mistrust of the Somali community. The Kenyan police has also indiscriminately targeted and abused Somalis. Despite diplomatic tensions, the EU should be ready to support Kenya respond to the attack, whilst bearing in mind some of the potential pitfalls. It is important to prevent the Somali community from becoming a scapegoat for the attack. The initial reactions from Kenyan society and authorities strike a positive note. The EU should contribute to strengthening Kenya's security forces, but this should be linked to deeper reforms that increase their transparency and accountability. The EU should see that, to avoid a potential backlash, any Kenyan response towards the Somali conflict is supported by the Somali federal government and regional organisations.