What are Kenya's long-term goals in Somalia?
Answer: Kenya is making inroads against Al Shabab. But Kenya's long-term aim is unclear.
As I noted last week, many observers feel pessimistic about the long-term prospects of Kenya’s invasion of southern Somalia. In the short term, however, Kenya is making gains against Al Shabab, the Muslim rebel force that operates in the region.Skip to next paragraph
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Fierce fighting is expected this week in the towns of Afmadow (see this map, and more reporting here) and Kismayo, (map). Kenyan planes bombed Kismayo this weekend. Taking these towns would deprive al Shabab of some of its key remaining strongholds, and could push the rebels into more remote areas.
Kenya is reportedly receiving Western military aid in its campaign:
Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, said that the United States or France, or possibly both, had stepped up airstrikes in the past few days, killing a number of Shabab militants. The French Navy has also shelled rebel positions from the sea, Kenyan officials said.
The United States and France have not confirmed involvement in Somalia.
If Western military powers have indeed joined the conflict, analysts said, it could mark a turning point against the Shabab, a ruthless militant group that has pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda. It controls much of southern Somalia, though its young fighters and battered pick-up trucks are deemed no match for a sophisticated army.