Kenya’s Strategic Relationship with the United States.

International relations between any nations do not form naturally but are constantly designed for strategic reasons, so is the relationship between Kenya and the United States. Kenya’s relationship with the US has always been sturdy since its inception in 1963, and it was recently cemented by President Obama’s visit to Kenya last year. However, US interests in Kenya are due to her strategic geo-political position. Kenya borders Somalia which is seen by some as a a “safe haven for terrorism.” Somalia is currently home to the Al-Shabaab terrorist group which is strongly affiliated with Al-Qaeda. A strategic relationship with Kenya thus enables the US to counter the growth of terrorist groups in its counter-terrorism efforts. Kenya on the other hand faces security challenges in terms of technology, resources, and personnel. Kenya has probably faced more terrorist attacks in the last 2 years than the US has in the same duration. Therefore, inasmuch as Kenya benefits from counter-terrorism initiatives with the US, it makes her a target and creates a dependency on the US for military support while Kenyans still continue to die at the hands of terrorists.

Th fight against terrorism has not always manifested itself in directly confrontational wars. However, the presence of proxy wars against terrorism can be seen in some countries such as Kenya where the battle is fought on Kenyan grounds leading to the loss of many Kenyan lives. The recent attacks in Garissa university that claimed approximately 147 lives reminded Kenyans the consequences of their allyship with the US, which is geographically far away from the calamity. Kenyan borders with Somalia are porous and not well protected and even when they are, the corrupt security officers take bribes from immigrants trying to get into Kenya. This has enabled the free entry and exit of terrorists into Kenya as they please, making Kenya vulnerable to terrorists attacks at any given time. The terrorists see Kenya as a sympathizer for the West. These feelings compounded by Kenya’s vulnerability put her in a position of complete jeopardy that has been manifested by the over 600 deaths through terrorist attacks since 2012.

Kenya does not have the right resources to counter terrorism and even when intelligence is provided, the Kenyan government is either reluctant to pursue the warnings or does not have the resources to execute it. However, the US provides equipment to Kenya, training for security personnel, and other logistical support. Kenya, just like many “developing nations” has developed an over reliance on the US for military support. This is not healthy for Kenya because it does not promote technological innovation in the country and economic growth. When will Kenyans think for themselves and try to come up with superior weapons of their own choosing. Kenya already imports more ( $1.85 billion in 2014. ) from the US than it exports( $420.8 million in 2014) thus creating an unfair balance of trade as some of these imports include military weapons. US military support for Kenya is also in the form of foreign aid hence adding to Kenya’s debt.

Kenya needs the US for military support but then should there be a separation in terms of how both nations manifest their close allyship to the rest the world, in order to prevent the terrorist attacks on Kenyan citizens. At the end of the day, it is the ordinary Kenyan (who lack protection) who faces the wrath of the terrorist and not the government leaders or the diplomatic ambassadors.

Sources.

  1. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2015/07/24/deepening-kenya-u-s-relations-prospects-for-president-obamas-visit-to-kenya/
  2. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2962.htm
  3. http://www.cfr.org/somalia/terrorism-havens-somalia/p9366#p1
  4. http://www.cfr.org/kenya/crs-us-kenya-relations-current-political-security-issues/p31511

 

 

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