Book Review, UN Peacekeeping in Africa
The Westgate Mall terror attack of September 21 has raised many questions about the nature of national security in Kenya and regional security in Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa. These questions call for a rethinking of how security operations are conceived and executed, as well as an understanding of how the war on terror has raised new stakes and demanded different approaches to security.
The September 21 Al-Shabaab attack was a significant blow to the difficult process of state building on the continent, producing a sort of fear that prompts advocates of good governance to give states a blank check in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ People in Somalia and other countries touched by Somalia’s instability should, above all else, rededicate themselves to the fight for good governance and try to recapture the respect for human rights (including those of terrorists), as well as the commitment to the rule of law (including when dealing with terrorists) that such attacks tempt us to cast aside.
Following the Westgate Mall attack in September, a range of proposals have been put forth about what Kenya needs to do in order to protect itself and prevent such a tragedy from happening again. However, the panic and fear arising from the Westgate attack may lead to draconian measures that are neither legal nor effective and in direct contradiction to the Kenyan constitution. This piece argues that terrorism cannot be effectively controlled without reforms that are both principled and legal.
The Westgate mall attack in Kenya–one of the most recent indicators of the continuing rise in the use of terror by a network of insurrectionary groups in Africa and globally–compels us to reflect on extant approaches to national and regional security. The challenge that confronts Kenya (and indeed the rest of the continent and elsewhere) is whether it can conceive the security of Somalia and Somalis as an integral part of the security of the Kenyan state and people, as well as the neighboring region.