, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi and US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter clashed Monday over the US government’s decision to vote to block Kenya’s push to have Al Shabaab categorised as a terror group.
Muturi told delegates at the Parliamentary Intelligence Security Forum in Nairobi that the move was unfortunate because it has the potential of watering down all the gains made in the fight against terror and terrorist groups.
“I have in mind the recent decision by the USA to refuse to declare Al Shabaab a terrorist organisation, and therefore, to the extent that it continues to be considered as a legitimate group of human right crusaders in Somalia, then they are at liberty to receive financing from all sources including from civil society groups and NGOs that could themselves be recipient of funding from even taxpayers,” he stated.
The United Nations Security Council in August rejected Kenya’s request to designate Al Shabaab a terror group under UNSC Resolution 1267, which includes groups like Al Qaeda, Taliban and ISIL.
McCarter denied claims that some humanitarian organizations had taken advantage of exemptions from the Sanctions offered under Resolutions 751 to venture into the territory.
“This is talked about often but never any proof is given. We understand that any aid, there times when we have leakages but we have made very clear under (Resolution) 751, that Al Shabaab are terrorists and we will use everything within that Resolution to degrade them.”
The US Ambassador said, “the Speaker and I have made a commitment today to talk about how we can message this to the Kenyan people that we are completely committed to taking out Al Shabaab and removing their threat to the people of East Africa,”
US Ambassador Kyle McCarter, however, argues the proposal will break the current working relationship where aid workers are allowed certain windows to reach extremist-held regions.
He explained that Al Shabaab is currently administered under a different sanctions regime under UNSC Resolution 751 which was passed to control civil war in Somalia, has been amended to include a ban on arms purchase for both Somalia (with exemptions) and Al Shabaab, travel ban and asset freeze as well as a ban on charcoal trade that was seen by the UN as the militia’s main source of revenue.
He said the US government has declared Al Shabaab as a terrorist organization and is committed to taking out the militia group.
“Let us be very clear, the US has declared the Al Shabaab (are) terrorists and there is no commitment that you can find any greater, than the US and how that we have worked together with Kenya to decimate Al Shabaab. The commitment has been there for a long time, it remains there and it will continue to be there until we end this terrorist attack on Kenya and the region,” the US Ambassador stated.
US humanitarian agencies and former diplomats opposed Kenya’s bid to amend the designation because it would “criminalize humanitarian aid,” The US Envoy stated.