By: Leo Schenk, Columnist
On April 2, al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida affiliate in Somalia led an assault on Garissa University College in Kenya. The terrorist cell claims that this, along with other attacks in Uganda and Kenya, are retribution for the African Union stepping in and trying to prevent them from destroying the governmental system of Somalia. Around 150 were killed, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called it a “barbaric medieval slaughter,” according to the Daily Nation.
Kenyan special forces managed to break the siege of the school before more students were killed, and all four of the Kenyan nationals responsible for the act were killed. The situation led teachers to flee from the North Eastern Province in Kenya in search of jobs elsewhere around the country, Kenyatta’s approval rating has dropped 10 points since the event, according to the Standard Digital news agency Friday. In addition, they claim this sheds extra light on the already tumultuous career of Garissa Township member of parliament Aden Duale, thanks to the allegations linking him to the organizational structure of al-Shabaab. This is certainly something which the international community should be furious about, with a dedicated response from the international organizations of the world.
The interactions between al-Shabaab and the people and government of Kenya highlight a growing problem for the international community today: international terrorism recruitment. These terrorism organizations (al-Qaida, al-Shabaab and ISIS, to name a few) recruit members from the countries that are expending massive resources to try and eradicate them. At very little cost to themselves and at a massive political and monetary cost to the governments they are destabilizing or disobeying. With the proliferation and territorial expansion of these violent groups around the world, they will continue to make a massive impact on lives and money to the still functioning governments of the world if not stopped.
Somalia is a country with very little government centralization. This has allowed for al-Shabaab to create a large power base throughout the less populated areas of the country, both for recruitment and revenue. This is certainly a possibility in many developing countries as political systems are often young and much of the populace has little faith in their governments, which is what lets an organization with the power to challenge the government become a major destabilizing force.
As has been the case in Somalia for several years, as well as Iraq and Syria for the last few years, allowing these countries to become breeding grounds for terrorist cells can shake up entire regions, with populations of millions or tens of millions of people. When these organizations gain the strength to directly challenge the governments of the area, and supranational bodies such as the African Union come in to try and rectify the situation, it is already too late to make significant gains without major, expensive military operations. These operations lead to backlash from the emboldened terror organizations who already have the capabilities to launch international strikes, and so they do, often with hundreds of casualties.
What is necessary to stabilize these regions is not United States military response, or aid to the countries in the areas. These responses take years to become effective and often lead to significant costs in lives for occupying forces, as well as breeding hostility in the hosting nations. The next path that should be attempted is to counter an international terrorist threat with an international military and economic response. Some amount of sovereignty will have to be sacrificed, but without a major international response, there will continue to be failing states and a failing global economy.
When universities are targets for slaughter in an attempt at a religious or political goal, the world community simply cannot stand by. It is incredibly idealistic and will receive extensive pushback from governments of the world, but the United Nations peacekeeping force should be enlarged and fully funded, alongside a UN banking authority to promote economic sanctity. When the economy and the threats humanity is facing have become globalized, the only way to effectively combat them is to fight on the same scale, through a coordinated military, economic, social media and cyber assault on these violent groups. With a united humanity, it may be possible to prevent the world, or large swaths of it, from falling into states where atrocious events like those at Garissa are simply commonplace.