Fractured Ties: Power Competition and Politics Influencing Security Strategies of Kenya and Somalia in the Horn of Africa Region

Abel Bennett Holla


Kenya and Somalia share a common pre- and post-colonial history, and both countries have a substantial ethnic Somali population. They also share a resource-rich marine boundary, which has been the centre of controversy as each country claims it. Additionally, both Kenya and Somalia are critical players in the Horn of Africa region. Their security relations will to a significant extent, determine the peace and stability of the region. Although the consideration of power competition could primarily shape Somalia's security strategy in the Horn of Africa region, the role of domestic politics and economic factors in Somalia's strategic thinking cannot be discounted. Kenya has primarily adopted a pragmatic approach to managing her relations with Somalia over the past decade. With Kenya and Somalia sharing a long porous border, which is frequented by al-Shabaab and other insurgent groups, it is expected that skirmishes will erupt as forces on either side tackle security threats. Other pertinent issues affecting the Kenya-Somalia relations include increased piracy, unlicensed, illegal and unreported fishing along the Gulf of Aden alongside toxic waste dumping in the area. To ensure that these activities are controlled and curtailed, there is a need for solid cooperation, notwithstanding the long-simmering differences between the two nations. Based on a wide range of sources, this article examines salient issues contributing to simmering tension between Kenya and Somalia. It also provides a critical evaluation of Kenya's perceptions of Somalia and their implications.


Shifta; militia, marginalization

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