The Struggle For Space : Somali-Kenyan politicians want to counter Ogaden dominance

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Most high ranking Somali people in the government of Kenya are predominantly of the Ogaden clan. Aden Duale, Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly, and Mohamed Yusuf Haji the Minister of Defence of Kenya from 2008 to 2013 defend the clan’s interests in Kenya, and wider in the Horn of Africa region; but young Somali-Kenyan politicians want to change the status quo.

The Somalis in Kenya are about 3 Million as per 2019 Kenya Population Census. It is expected that, by 2030, the Somalis would be among the top two ethnic communities in Kenya. according to statistics a breakdown of the Somali population in Kenya from the 2019 census, 29% are from the Ogaden clan.

Powerful Ogaden politicians and businesspeople who have influence in Kenya’s policy have used Kenya for their personal gain alienating other Somali clans in Kenya for the last 20 years. In early 2010, Mohamed Yussuf Haji, Aden Barre Duale, Mohamed Abdi Mohamed Gandhi and other influential politicians from the clan finalized with Kenya a plan to set up a semi-autonomous region, Jubaland. A puppet administration would be used to control resources and facilities, starting with Kismayo, a port used to smuggle sugar and charcoal with the help of Kenya defence forces.

In the early stages of the plan, politicians, business people, elders from the clan in the wider Horn of Africa region gathered in Nairobi designing what they called Garissa-Kismayo-Jigjiga alliance. This alliance would see the clan united under a single political power.

Following the Kenyan military intervention in October 2011 , Nairobi-based talks began to broker an agreement between clans, A 32-member technical committee was charged with establishing a Jubaland administration, But Ogaden clan dominance withered other clans’ confidence. Kenya sided with, Ahmed Madobe, one of the five self-proclaimed “Jubbaland” presidents in Kismayo by ignoring SFG call for reconciliation. Each of these contenders represented a specific clan but Kenya’s choice automatically became the Ogaden.

10 years after Kenya’s intervention in Somalia’s Jubba regions, there is a mistrust between Nairobi and Mogadishu, and the central government isolated Ahmed Madobe who re-elected himself in Kismayo in 2019 with the help of KDF. In his self-inauguration event, Kenyan parliamentarians from the Ogaden clan, led by Aden Barre Duale were present though Somalia earlier banned direct flights between Kismayo and Nairobi.

“International and local flights from and to Kisimayu must route via Mogadishu,” the Somali Federal Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) said in a Notice to Airmen (Notam)

The federal government of Somalia filed a complaint at the International Civil Aviation Authority in Canada, accusing Kenya of violating airspace rules. In filing a complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN’s specialised air transport regulator, the Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) claimed Kenya had violated its airspace after a plane left Nairobi and flew directly Kismayo.

The federal has reached out to Ahmed Madobe to participate in fresh free and fair elections but he became non-cooperative forcing the government to hard-hit with sanctions. The sanction has hit businesses as air flight is the only guarantee of safe movement within the jubba regions as the areas surrounding Kismayo Al-shabab controls.

The government arrested Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur (Janan), the security minister of Jubaland, the second most powerful figure in Ahmed Madobe’s administration. The government succeeded to disband Janan’s militias in Dolow, Luuq and Beled-hawa in Gedo region and deployed military, special forces and police, bringing the whole region under the federal government rule. This has given Kenya uneasy distress which has lost long fought buffer zone inside Somalia. Kenya is also wary about the deployment of the Haramcad Advanced Infantry Brigade at the border with Beled-hawa.

Kenya has shown discomfort since the formation of Somalia’s Danab forces, an infantry units which have five battalions and brigade headquartered at Baledogle Military Airfield.

thereafter, Kenya with Ogaden clan elites renewed the failed strategy of arming Somali militias for their covert operations by hosting in Mandera Janan who escaped from a prison in Mogadishu, the remnants of his militias and jubaland forces it has airlifted from Kismayu and Dhobley to Mandera. These militias were planned to attack Beled-hawa, but the plan did not go well after the militias airlifted from Kismayo and Dhobley crossed the border and surrendered to the federal government, few others previously from the notorious Liyu Police [during Abdi Mohamud Omar reign) from the Somali State surrendered to Ethiopian Federal Police in Sufte, Somali state.

Since the harbouring fugitive Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur (Janan), tension has remained high in Mandera. Leaders from Mandera have demanded that Janan leaves the country with immediate and also called on the Kenyan government to make its position clear on the matter. Mandera governor Ali Roba said Janan’s stay in Mandera was causing insecurity and a source of disputes with Somalia.

Mandera East Member of Parliament Omar Maalim said fugitive Janan crossed into Kenya with over 100 armed soldiers and has been in the northern border Mandera town causing security tension since January. He is said to have arrived on January 30 and was booked to stay at a local hotel by Kenyan security teams in Mandera.

He left the hotel on February 10 and rented a house within Mandera town where he has been operating from under the close watch of Jubbaland forces and the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) while his militias settled at Border Point 1 area within his constituency.

The Kenyan government did not respond to the local leaders’ call for the fugitive removed from their constituents. They’ve felt alienated by the government and Ogaden clan elites who have influence in Kenya’s top leadership, Therefore they opted to change the status quo and directly deal with their brethren in Somalia.

Non-Ogaden Somali clans in Kenya, mainly from the Garre, Murule, and Degodia in Mandera and Wajir counties forged an alliance with other Somali tribes across the border with Somalia, preferably the Marehan, and Rahanweyn to secure the border and minimize insecurity along the border. Mandera governor, Ali Roba and other leaders from NFD [NEP] hosted Somalia’s Southwest Abdiaziz Laftagareen in Nairobi.

lastly, 11 Somali MPs in Kenya’s parliament visited Somalia in a move Kenya and the Ogaden clan deemed a critical threat to their common agreement and divergent interests.

The clan’s elites through Mohamed Yussuf Haji and Aden Barre Duale lobbied the government to arrest the MPs accusing them of not repressing the Government of Kenya nor the Ogaden clan interests. This is causing divisions within Somali clans in Kenya, and the struggle to alter the status quo is on.

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