Kenya joins global coalition against Islamic State

Thursday February 7 2019

Global Coalition to Defeat Isis

US President Donald Trump speaks to the ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat Isis at the US State Department in Washington, DC, on February 6, 2019. PHOTO | SAUL LOEB | AFP 

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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Kenya has joined a grouping of countries collaborating against terror merchants Isis, even as government officials criticised what they called a “pattern” of travel advisories during attacks.

On Tuesday, Kenya was formally accepted into the Global Coalition against Daesh (also known as Isil, Islamic State, or Isis), seeking to benefit from information shared and systems the countries use to tame financial flows to the terror group.

The coalition brings together 79 countries across the globe.

TERROR NETWORKS

The group which also includes the US and UK says it works together to dismantle networks of Isis and countering its networks, and according to its website: “Financing and economic infrastructure; preventing the flow of foreign terrorist fighters across borders; supporting stabilisation and the restoration of essential public services to areas liberated from Daesh; and countering the group’s propaganda.”

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba who led the Kenyan delegation said joining the coalition will help Kenya to benefit from the methods used to curtail financing as well as discourage recruitment of fighters, as well as allow Nairobi to push through beneficial policies on terror on the global stage.

“When you look at the profile of the 79 members, there are many countries here who have suffered the brunt of terrorism as we have.

"They understand our pain. Here we can speak a language we are all very familiar with, even if in diverse dialects,” he told the Nation.

“The real value is in broadening our collaboration base in the war against terror, getting our voice heard on this critical agenda where it really matters.”

But Mr Namwamba said Kenya was motivated to join the group so it could air some grievances that result from frequent terror attacks from Al-Shabaab, which pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Part of the problem, he argues was travel advisories issued against Kenya in the wake of attacks.

'TRAVEL WARNINGS'

“Travel advisories only serve to play into the hands of these vile merchants of death to who fear and despondence are essential tools of trade.

“The advisories also compromise the standing of countries already reeling under effects of terror attacks. They are knee-jerk, reactionary and counterproductive. Let us commit to review this policy,” he said in an earlier speech to the coalition.

Kenya’s criticism of travel advisories has in the past seen President Uhuru Kenyatta criticise the West following Westgate and Garissa University attacks. But the US and UK have since pledged more support for Kenya against terror, scaled down advisories, urging nationals against travel to only certain parts of the country as opposed to blanket restriction.

Still, Washington and London say they cannot force their nationals against touring places they want.

At the same time, Kenya proposed that the UN reclassifies Al-Shabaab as a terror group, as opposed to militia, a category Mr Namwamba says does not befit an organisation that has launched attacks across east Africa.

The coalition met in Washington on Tuesday where President Trump declared the field combat war against ISIS could be declared won by the Coalition as soon as next week.

But his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted there could be other areas of operation that will need collaboration.

“Isis’s territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria is a major milestone, but we will continue to watch the remnants of ISIS closely. The coalition remains united in its determination to see this enemy destroyed,” he said.