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Geopolitics

Hostage Crisis In Kenya Sparks Open War In Somalia

Since its independence nearly 50 years ago, Kenya has steered clear of war. That long peace came to an end this past weekend, when Kenyan soldiers crossed into Somalia in pursuit of al-Shabab militia. Somalia’s transitional government has apparently endor

Kenyan soldiers on patrol in Somalia (YouTube)
Kenyan soldiers on patrol in Somalia (YouTube)
Philipp Neumann

NAIROBI -- Watchmen are part of the scenery on the streets of Kenya's capital. They stand in front of banks and supermarkets – they even protect stores selling mobile phones from possible heists. Since this past weekend, however, these informal security guards in Kenya's capital are now being joined by their official counterparts: police officers, lots of them, patrolling the inner city in uniform. The word is that there are plenty of plain-clothes operatives in the mix as well.

The heightened security aims not only to prevent hold-ups but also outright attacks. Because since this past weekend, Kenya has been at war. Commonplace in Africa as a whole, war is not, however, something normal for Kenya. This is in fact the first armed conflict the country has engaged in since it gained its independence 48 years ago.

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In The News

War In Ukraine, Day 126: Russia Watching NATO, As Path Cleared For Finland And Sweden To Join

As NATO leaders meet in Madrid, Finland and Sweden look much closer to joining the alliance after Turkey dropped its objections to their membership. It's yet another momentous change underway since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

International leaders after having their photograph taken before the start of the NATO 2022

Anna Akage, Shaun Lavelle, and Emma Albright

A high-stakes NATO summit has kicked off in Madrid, as leaders of the world’s largest defense alliance discuss the war in Ukraine and key decisions that will shape the organization’s future direction. NATO Secretary-GeneralJens Stoltenberg said the Russian invasion of its neighbor had prompted a fundamental shift in its approach to defense.

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Finland and Sweden look much closer to joining the alliance after Turkey dropped its objections to their membership. The three countries released a joint memorandum that “extend[ed] their full support against threats to each other's security," FinnishPresident Sauli Niinistö said.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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