In 2011, two things happened in Somalia. Prime Minister Mohamed Farmaajo resigned from his job that June due to what he called political scheming from the then President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. In August of that year, the Kenya Defence Forces entered Somalia in pursuit of Al-Shabaab militants who had been kidnapping expatriates on Kenyan soil.
Those events were unrelated. But nine years later, with the KDF since re-hatted as the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), and Farmaajo now as president of Somalia, they may be ringing a political bell.
This week, President Farmaajo was forced into a climbdown in tensions with Kenya following a fight between his Somali National Forces and the Jubbaland forces in Bula Hawo, near Mandera. His troops, though, remained in Bula Hawo. Mandera Governor Ali Roba claims that Jubbaland forces are still on the Kenyan side, baiting the SNA. He and several local politicians want the national government to remove them.
Experts were quick to warn that such a stand-off need not escalate.
“All parties need to take a pause and cool the temperatures. This is because the ultimate beneficiary in this context is Al-Shabaab,” says Murithi Mutiga, project director for the Horn of Africa at conflict research think tank International Crisis Group (ICG).
“Nairobi and Addis Ababa may probably need to hold an urgent summit because supporting proxies doesn’t augur well for regional security.”