Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kenya: Update--Gov't Snaps Back at UK, US, Australia and France Over Travel Warning Re: Mombasa

According to Reuters, Kenya sharply bit back at the UK, US, Australia and France on Thursday (May 15) for issuing travel warnings concerning travel to Kenya, particularly its port city of Mombasa.

Kenya characterized the travel warning as "unfriendly," saying they would increase panic and play into the hands of those behind the gun and grenade assaults.

Kenya has blamed bomb blasts in the capital of Nairobi and the main port city of Mombasa on the al-Qaeda-linked Somalian group, al-Shabaab.

The Islamist group killed at least 67 people including foreigners in a raid on a Nairobi shopping mall in September 2013, saying it was in revenge for attacks on its fighters by Kenyan troops in Somalia.

The warnings may further damage Kenya's tourism sector, one that President Uhuru Kenyatta said is "on its knees," following the raids in the capital and along the Indian Ocean coastline. 

COMMENT: From my own experience in Kenya with US anti-terrorism programs, it appears that Kenyan law enforcement has been neutralized by infighting and inter-agency rivalries which renders Kenya incapable of preventing acts of terrorism before they actually occur.

"Unfriendly" is hardly a logical way of characterizing the Kenyan government's inability to combat terrorism. The embassies of the nations that have issued travel warnings are simply taking those steps available to them to protect their own citizens when Kenyan government efforts have been ineffective.

With few foreign nations having had so much foreign police training in recent appears, it appears that the Kenyan police structure inhibits success.

Karanja Kibicho, the principal secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Kenya was attempting to reassure visitors of the "utmost of security and safety."  

"The advisories therefore are obviously unfriendly acts coming from our partners who have equally borne the brunt of global terrorism and no doubt understand the repercussions of terror menace," Kibicho said.

Kenyan authorities say they do not know of any imminent threats, although documented attacks in both Nairobi and Mombasa have forced the foreign embassies to warn their citizens of imminent threats.

It is clear that Kenyan law enforcement is doing very little to eradicate terrorist threats in the the country, despite extensive foreign assistance got Kenyan police from a number of Western nations.

Britain's Foreign Office told its citizens they should avoid travel to Mombasa and the surrounding area because of "recent terrorist attacks and the continuing terrorist threat in the area," unless travel was essential.

The US Embassy warned its citizens of the continued threat of "potential terrorist attacks in the country," citing targets against hotels, nightclubs and shopping malls.