Kenya forces begin having effect in Somalia
After months of delay often bogged down in muddy fields, Kenyan troops are finding their footing to become a valuable asset in the fight against al-Shabab terrorists in Somalia.About 1,500 Kenyan soldiers crossed Somalia’s eastern border in October without approval fromAfrican Union peacekeepers, who were there to support a shaky transitional government in a lawless nation gripped in turmoil for more than 20 years.The Kenyan troops crossed the border intoSomalia after accusing the al Qaeda-linked Islamist group of abducting tourists and civil servants and launching grenade attacks inside Kenya.They arrived in the rainy season and got nowhere. They were soon roundly dismissed as inexperienced foreign invaders with no clear objective and guilty of undermining the peacekeeping agenda.That image began to change in December when Kenyan troops in southern Somalia proved pivotal in helping Somalia's Transitional Federal Government troops take back the town of Damasa alongKenya’s border.On Feb. 3, two Kenyan helicopter gunships hit an al-Shabab convoy in Dalayat village in the south, killing an estimated 100 militants and leading to the takeover of Hosingo and Badade towns.Kenyan troops last week launched airstrikes on a key al-Shabab settlement in the rebel stronghold of Bulo Haji, also in southern Somalia, killing several militants, local residents said.The combined forces of Kenyan and African Union troops now possess 80 percent of the Gedo region. Bardheere is the only major town under rebel control. Residents who fled al-Shabab’s brutal Islamist rule are now returning.Kenya has enlisted fighter jets from Jordan, armored trucks from Israeland attack helicopters from China. They are reportedly negotiating with Washington to obtain F-15s and other military hardware used in Iraq.Meanwhile, although not working in coordination with Kenyan forces, Ethiopian troops in December took the strategic town of Beledweyne along the Somalia-Ethiopia border, taking some pressure off Kenyan forces to the south.
...The real question will be whether the various foreign forces will have the patience and persistence to stay in Somalia until the Islamic religious bigots are wiped out. Since the mid 1990s various forces have gone in to help the Somalis only to leave. Transitional governments have come and gone. About the only thing each has had in common is incompetence. Kenya is positioned to have some staying power and should be motivated to remove this sore spot from its border.