The Kenyan army would like to wrest the Somalian port of Kismayo from the Al Shabaab Islamist militia by August, just before the mandate of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu comes to an end.
Responding to a news story published in The Indian Ocean Newsletter (ION 1333), a senior Kenyan officer who wanted to remain anonymous recognised that Ethiopia had applied pressure for the assault on Kismayo to be launched soon.
But he stated that the Kenyan military high command would be applying its own strategy to take this port, which has become its main objective since it took Afmadow. Preparations are under way to make the attack possible within the next two months.
The Kenyan soldiers in Somalia will be relieved by new units in June, the Kenyan air force has bombed Al Shabaab positions coupled with shelling of the same positions by Kenyan navy boats. The Kenyan army will then evaluate its intelligence on the Al Shabaab forces before deciding on the assault.
Furthermore, the Kenyan high command wants to avoid a replay in Kismayo of what had happened in Mogadishu, when chaos and violence broke out after the end of combat. It therefore asked the Nairobi government no negotiate with the African Union, the United States and the European Union (EU) for aid to maintain a peace-keeping force. Failing which, the Kenyan High Command considers it would be difficult for the African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom) to keep peace in this port, even after the Islamist forces have been ousted.
* Source: The Indian Ocean Newsletter, No. 1334, June 9, 2012. Originally titled ‘Kismayo assault set for August’.