Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Terror Or Counter

It’s always sorrowful when people die and this is the case in Kenya as the country begins a 3 day period of national mourning for the victims of the four-day siege by al-Shabaab militants on the Westgate Shopping Mall. There is no justification for the killing of innocents but I’m going to say something very controversial here; the attack by the militants is not a terror attack.

Most governments and new agencies are calling the attack a “terror attack”, but I personally find it hard to think it in that way. To me, the attack is more of a “counter-attack” than a “terror attack”.

The reason is due to the background of the military conflict in the area. In 2006, Ethiopia, a neighboring country of Somalia, invaded the country and overthrew the then rulers of Somalia, the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). In 2008, Somalis kicked the Ethiopians out. In 2011 the Ethiopians re-invaded.

This time, they didn’t come alone. Under the auspices of the African Union, armies from the countries of Kenya, Uganda and Burundi went into Somalia. In fact, Kenyan forces loudly declared victory when they took control of the port city of Kismayo from al-Shabaab in 2012.

Of course like most Islamist militants, there’s no give in al-Shabaab and a stubborn insurgency continues on in Somalia to this day. Also since the second invasion of Somalia in 2011, al-Shabaab has on many occasion threaten to bring the fight to the doorsteps of the invading countries.

This was what happened at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Lives were regretfully lost in the attack but can we truly call it a “terror attack” when Kenya was the one who invaded Somalia? I'm sure many people will say "yes" but I personally find it hard to say that. To me, people who threw the first punch can't complain when the other guy throws back.  

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