Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Al-Shabaab Psychological Operations : Exhausting the Will of the Kenyan Citizenry. Part 4 - Political Dynamics in Kenya Abetting Islamist Terrorism

This is the final installment of a four-part series analyzing al-Shabaab psychological operations (PSYOPs) in Kenya, and how political process in Kenya aids al-Shabaab to achieve some of its strategic objectives.
Infamous al-Shabaab attacks in Kenya accompanied by equally infamous and bungled government counter-terrorism operations (including attempts to end hostage-sieges) have enkindled popular discontent against the Jubilee government (the Kenyan government is dominated by members of the Jubilee Coalition) as well as lend credence to the opposition’s (dominated by CORD [Coalition of Reform and Democracy]) mantra that KDF (Kenya Defence Forces) should be withdrawn from the Somalia (the Cradle and Home base of al-Shabaab).
KDF Withdrawal from Somalia. But Why?
The main opposition coalition in Kenya, CORD, has repeatedly and steadfastly called for the withdrawal of KDF from Somalia and the subsequent deployment of KDF in the frontier counties as well as along the Kenya-Somalia border; because al-Shabaab Kenyan affiliates are now posing a credible national security threat and the government is logically mandated to prioritize on imminent threats to national security before tackling secondary threats emanating from external sources. That is, the Kenyan government must identify, locate, combat and destroy domestic terror networks prior to stabilizing, strengthening and defending Somalia from al-Shabaab.
Al-Shabaab Using Politics to Guide Kenya’s National Security Process.
Nonetheless, the logic promoted by CORD and allied opposition parties do indirectly serve al-Shabaab as they provide the Wahabbi jihadists with an opportunity to influence the political process of Kenya and by extension, surreptitiously impacting the national security process of Kenya. In Kenya, national security is intimately tied to national politics - with its attendant disorder, factionalism, cronyism, mediocrity, corruption, intrigues and tribalism – and this partially explains the poor state of security in Kenya. Perceived thusly, it reasonably follows that the Takfiri terrorists do indirectly and stealthily utilize the internal political dynamics of Kenya to degrade the capacity of KDF to conduct military operations in Somalia against al–Shabaab.
Map of Kenya Showing Ethnic Strongholds. Politics (and in extension Security) in Kenya is Strongly Influenced by Tribalism. Photo Credit: BBC
The political dynamics in Kenya have enabled al-Shabaab to protract, disrupt and obscure critical (security-oriented) decision-making process thereby surreptitiously undermine the decisive command and control of Operation Linda Nchi.
Government Indirectly Aiding Al-Shabaab.
The Kenyan government has also indirectly aided al-Shabaab through its conflation of terrorism with politics. During the June 2014 Mpeketoni terror attacks, President Kenyatta absolved al-Shabaab of the culpability, and instead blamed the attacks on “local political networks” (a cloaked reference to opposition political parties). Al-Shabaab later took credit for the attack, and even made fun of President Kenyatta in their recently released video showcasing the Mpeketoni attack.
The government has also been accused by European intelligence agencies of ignoring their intelligence – the Kenyatta regime is particularly distrustful and apprehensive of European (especially United Kingdom) intelligence agencies conducting operations in Kenya. This has led to considerable intelligence gaps which are obviously advantageous to the Islamists.
By conflating terrorism with politics, and always perceiving terrorism through a political lens; the government has wounded itself besides compromising its credibility among its citizens who presently validly perceive the government as only interested in political survival - with insecurity and terrorism being considered as ancillary concerns.
Ultimate PSYOPs.
By combining terror attacks, religious passions and psychological operations with stealth political influences, al-Shabaab aims to weaken the resolve of Kenya’s will to combat Islamism in Somalia - as well as furtively discouraging the government from conducting potent counter-offensives. It does so by creating and ingraining disaffection and dissension within the masses and also among the ranks of the counter-terrorism troops.

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