UK-Kenya Defence Cooperation Agreement raises eyebrows in Somalia

The Kenyan Defence Minister, Dr Monica Juma met with her British counterpart, Ben Wallace in London to sign the new Kenyan-British Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) on Wednesday.

The agreement will build upon the previous DCA and enable the two countries to enhance coordination in the region according to the UK government.

What does the Agreement entail?

The five-year Defence Cooperation Agreement will come into force once it has been ratified by both the UK and Kenya’s respective Parliaments. Important elements of the agreement include:

  • Investment: KES 1.165 billion – annual UK investment in the defence partnership with Kenya;
  • Land: 1,100 Kenyan soldiers trained by the UK every year, preparing for deployment to Somalia;
  • Sea: Training for Kenyan Navy on maritime security, safety and firefighting;
  • Air: Assurance visits, professional training and exchange of experience and expertise;
  • Community: Projects on sanitation, health, education, and tackling GBV – worth KES 28 million;
  • Economy: BATUK employs 550 local civilians, and has contributed KES 5.8 billion to the local economy since 2016.

Raising Eyebrows in Mogadishu

Many in Somalia were surprised at some of the content of the agreement. For instance, the DCA stipulates that the UK will continue training Kenyan Defence Forces to be deployed in Somalia for the next fiver years.

Such a timeframe coincides with the recent report of the Independent Assessment Team on the African Union’s engagement in and with Somalia post 2021 which outlined the African Union plan to continue the deployment of African forces in Somalia until 2026.

The report was categorically rejected by the Federal Government of Somalia which deemed it an affront to Somali sovereignty. The Somali government was not a participant of the talks or the agreement reached between the African leaders in Addis Ababa.

The Somali Transition Plan (STP) which has been already implemented under the UNSC resolution, asserts that the Somali government forces are to take the lead in maintaining the country’s security by the end of this year, with AMISOM forces expected to begin withdrawing by December 2021.

What to expect?

The extension or termination of the African Union Mission in Somalia lies solely in the hands of the UN Security Council. With an expected meeting in August 2021, the fate of AMISOM in Somalia will be decided.

The Somali National Army (SNA) has taken major steps to curtail the terrorist group Al-Shabaab across Somalia in recent months. The SNA has made sweeping victories across Mudug, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Hiiraan, Gedo and Lower Jubba.

Such operations demonstrates the capabilities of the SNA in crushing and annihilating terrorist positions across Somalia. The support from the United States coupled with Turkish logistics and personnel training has enabled the SNA to make major steps forward towards securing the nation as a whole.

Somalia does not need handouts from the international community while its hands are tied behind its back. Somalia needs the arms embargo removed. The ability to purchase drones and heavy armaments is crucial to Somalia’s road to recovery.

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