The ghastly events unfolding in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya unfortunately did not come as a complete surprise to me. Ever since I completed reading Jeremy Scahill’s book Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield (2013), where he traces to evolution of the global war on terror, I felt that it was only a matter of time before some atrocity occurred either in that country or Ethiopia or both.
Scahill spends a considerable time in the book on Somalia and Yemen, both countries in which the central government has little or no control over vast swathes of the country and where the US is engaged in covert wars in which it shifts allegiances from one group to another for tactical reasons, and where militant Islamic groups and tribal factions battle one another and the US. The net result is that both are failed states where anarchy and chaos rule, just the kinds of conditions that the radical Islamic groups and their spinoffs (al Shabab in Somalia and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen) thrive. This has been going on for years off the front pages in the US.
What has that got to do with Kenya? A look at the map should suffice. This country has a long and porous border and the various warring factions in Somalia use that country as a haven and staging ground. As soon as the Kenyan government became part of an African peacekeeping force that was involved within Somalia, you knew that Kenyans would be targeted for retaliation. Ethiopia, which also has troops in Somalia and which invaded the country a few years ago as a proxy force for the US, is also likely to be hit.
Groups like al Qaeda thrive in failed states where law and order break down and ordinary people become prey to thugs and criminals. Because these militant groups have the military muscle to suppress the criminal elements and can provide a kind of quasi-security in the areas they control, people are willing to tolerate them, despite their harsh Islamic rules and summary punishments.
What is also worrisome is that large regions of Pakistan also risk becoming failed regions where the central government is losing control and the ghastly bombing of a Christian church in which 81 people died is another example. A Taliban-affiliated group claimed responsibility, saying that it was in retaliation for US drone attacks and that they would continue to target non-Muslims and foreigners.