Today’s altogether unsurprising (and not necessarily consequential) announcement from the al-Shabaab group in Somalia that they have joined al Qaeda will undoubtedly focus attention on the extremist group and their ongoing battle with Somalia’s embattled provisional government.
While a formal relationship between the two will undoubtedly spark fear in the west of an al Qaeda presence on both sides of the Gulf of Aden, al Shabaab’s growth has had a much stronger impact on its neighbor to the west, Kenya.
Kenya has been uneasy about al-Shabaab for some time, owing not only to the shared border with Somalia but the hundreds of thousands of ethnic Somalis, both citizens and recent immigrants, in Kenya. The Kenyan government has reacted to the potential threat with mass arrests of Somalis and by deporting an extremist Jamaican preacher who had taken up residence in the country.
If you are in Washington tomorrow, the New America Foundation will be hosting a high-level Kenyan delegation to discuss the situation along the Kenyan-Somali border.
The event will run from 10:00 am-11:30 am, and will feature a presentation from Kenya’s Vice President Kalonzo Stephen Musyoka, and comments from the Vice President, the Speaker of Kenya’s National Assembly Kenneth Otiando Marende and Kenya’s Minister of Cooperative Development and Marketing Joseph W.N. Nyagah.
The Washington Note publisher and New America Foundation/American Strategy Program Director Steve Clemons will moderate the conversation, which will STREAM LIVE here at The Washington Note.
— Andrew Lebovich