For close to 20 years now, Kenya has continued to battle a very elusive and deadly enemy of mostly Somali-born, and or sanctioned, if not supported, terror attacks, with high loss of lives and huge financial and material losses. This scourge has multiplied and morphed into a veritable monster that threatens not only Kenya’s territorial integrity but also it’s functioning as a sovereign country.
And this is despite various efforts to counter the threat, one by deploying troops to Somalia in 2011, initially as an invading force and subsequently as part of the African Union peacekeeping force in 2012.
As Kenya started working on her foreign policy at Independence, it was beset by an intense ideological-cum-cold-war posturing and competition for influence and support, if not affiliation, at the international level. She was beholden to exercising pragmatism in dealing with these two camps at the international scene.
This dichotomy, though lesser now in the 21 Century, still affects the conduct of diplomacy but in a more sophisticated manner now than it was at the height to the Cold-War.
At the regional level, Kenya is expected to exercise prudence and caution not to antagonise her East African neighbours —strike a balance between an irredentist-cum-secessionist –expansionist of the United Somalia Republic to the East and now a failed state on nearly all accounts, but yet the most threatening territorial entity neighbouring Kenya to the East.
At the continental level, Kenya is expected to offer diplomatic support to the deteriorating internal stability processes of the Central, Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa, including South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and the Central Africa Republic. It is also expected to render diplomatic support to a vicious but slow-burning border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Kenya also had to pursue, consolidate, develop and enhance her bilateral relations with predominantly Western states due to her colonial-trade industry and investment links, and ties such as security-military infrastructure.
At the multilateral level, Kenya had to seek to join all regional and international institutions, among them the United Nations, the African Union, Commonwealth, the Bretton Woods financial institutions and the Non-Aligned Movement, amongst others. For President Uhuru, Kenya’s foreign policy revolves around a seemingly neutral phraseology — non-interference of internal affairs of sovereign states, Non-Aligned in the larger East-West global power politics.
Within a rapidly evolving and interconnected global and geopolitical landscape, Kenya finds herself at a strategic crossroads of sorts in her formulation, development, and conduct of her foreign relations.