How could she say that?!
The horror of the statement by the Minister on how a state agency and various human rights organizations, “…are making … up”, information hang in the air!
Members of Kenya’s intelligentsia and ‘commentariat’ were dumbfounded by the performance of Ambassador Mohammed on international TV. She was there to respond to questions on whether Kenya is losing the war on Al-Shabaab. Kenyan audiences were shell-shocked.
Ambassador Mohammed’s attempt to convince her host to abandon his gotcha journalistic style was fruitless. Audiences did not leave with the notion that despite the fact that Al-Shabaab is the primary focus of Kenya’s initiative, the war on terror is a global issue for which the country is holding its own in comparison to many other countries facing similar challenges.
The country’s newspapers have consistently reported and recorded how radicalised young people are making their way to Somalia. However, in more recent times it seems their interest has turned towards Syria in the hopes of joining the Islamic State (IS). An affiliate of the group called Jabha East Africa has come up on the regional scene-complete with a Twitter page-to facilitate that mission.
Quintessentially, the Kenyan initiative is a ‘war on terror’ not a ‘war on Al-Shabaab’, especially if you consider the geographical proximity that puts the country within the vicinity of Yemen, where Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) operates with abandon. However, the Minister took the approach of deliberately torpedoing any line of questioning she deemed as too sensitive to discuss, or had fleeting knowledge of its context.
While zealously defending the official position – that first, the war is being won in Kenya; second, the initiative must be judged comparatively in regards to global counter terrorism efforts; and thirdly, the gains in Somalia must be appreciated – Mehdi Hasan successfully looped her into a fast-talking argumentative performance that exposed her as out of touch with Kenyan realities.