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What are Kenya's long-term goals in Somalia?

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AP

(Read caption) Kenyan military board a truck headed to Somalia, near Liboi at the border with Somalia in Kenya on Oct. 18. Kenya said its launch of military operations into southern Somalia against Al Shabab militants was in response to the kidnappings of four Europeans over the last six weeks, though military analysts suspect that Kenya had prepared the invasion before the abductions.

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As I noted last week, many observers feel pessimistic about the long-term prospects of Kenya’s invasion of southern Somalia. In the short term, however, Kenya is making gains against Al Shabab, the Muslim rebel force that operates in the region.

Fierce fighting is expected this week in the towns of Afmadow (see this map, and more reporting here) and Kismayo, (map). Kenyan planes bombed Kismayo this weekend. Taking these towns would deprive al Shabab of some of its key remaining strongholds, and could push the rebels into more remote areas.

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