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Nairobi shopping mall horror is the high price of Western intervention

Behind the facade

The horror in Kenya is a direct product of Western intervention writes Ken Olende in Socialist Worker UK.

The shocking attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya’s capital Nairobi was not just mindless terrorism. More than 60 shoppers died and nearly 200 were injured in the well-planned attack, claimed by Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab.

Kenyan troops were central to the invasion of neighbouring Somalia in October 2011. Al Shabaab or its sympathisers have carried out more than 50 reprisal attacks in Kenya, killing at least 70 people.

Previous assaults on a much smaller scale were near the Somali border, in the coastal city of Mombasa, which has a large Muslim population. Others were in the Eastleigh area of Nairobi, where many Somali migrants live.

Its previous biggest attack had been in Uganda. A series of bombs killed 60 people there on the night of the World Cup final in 2010. But when the casualties were among the poor, the attacks had little international impact.

Westgate was chosen for this operation because, as Kenyan socialist Zahid Rajan put it, “It is the venue of choice for wealthy people across the racial divide”. To most better-off Kenyans the malls like Westgate were seen as a haven from the embittered, violent country. One eyewitness tweeted, “When the first gunshot was fired, we ran into the mall instead of away”.


Zahid told Socialist Worker, “There has been a fantastic humanitarian response to the scale of the tragedy. “People are volunteering to help. A special bloodbank has been set up in the city’s main park. “The attackers may have thought they would divide Muslims from other Kenyans, but this hasn’t worked.”

Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has posed as a champion of national unity since the attack. But Kenya has pulled out of the international criminal court because of his role in organising communal violence at the time of the 2007 election.

Central authority collapsed in Somalia with the fall of US-backed dictator Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991. Al Shabaab was part of the Islamic Courts movement that restored some kind of government in 2006. This was overthrown by a US-backed invasion and the group has since moved to more extreme forms of Islamism.

After the invasion by Kenyan and Ethiopian troops in 2011 it said that it supported the ideas of Al Qaida. Even Rob Wise of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies think-tank comments that it was “a relatively moderate Islamist organisation”, which was driven towards Al Qaida by invasion.

He added that since 2008 al Shabaab has “increasingly embraced transnational terrorism and attempted to portray itself as part of the Al Qaida-led global war on the West.” The horror in Kenya is a direct product of Western intervention.



Comment from Kay
Time September 26, 2013 at 6:30 am

Again, a very one-eyed view! The US and its allies are NOT responsible for every atrocity in the world!

Comment from John
Time September 26, 2013 at 10:06 am

How many bases around the world in how many countries does the US have? 130? If the US wants to stop terrorism it should stop indulging in it.

Comment from John
Time September 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

Estimated number of dead in Iraq almost 1.5 million, based on a Lancet Study of 2007. Puts everything into perspective.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time September 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm


Wake up to yourself.

You now need to provide evidence that anyone has ever said:

“The US and its allies are responsible for every atrocity in the world”.

Your politically motivated lies are detestable.

Comment from Manuel Barrera, PhD
Time September 27, 2013 at 1:16 am

How ’bout we have an experiment, Kay. Let’s rid ourselves of world capitalism (that’s imperialism in case you didn’t know) and see how many atrocities take place because we ended the basis for misery, poverty, depredation, want, and the stifling of democracy? I think we should try it and I’ll be the first to admit that “the U.S. and its allies” were not responsible for every atrocity in the world IFF we find that there will be more. It’s worth a try, n’est pas?

Comment from Kay
Time September 29, 2013 at 7:28 am


Eliminating religion would have a very dramatic impact on reducing human atrocities! Now there’s a thought! Worth a try, n’est pas? Probably more effective than your solution which will always be undone by human greed.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time September 29, 2013 at 11:21 am


You are right – eliminating capitalism is the necessary step.

Our crude Kay does not realise that religion reflects the underlying needs of society, its alienation, and lack of science.

Atheistic capitalism will kill just as many as religious capitalism.

Getting rid of capitalism and remnant fuedalism (where is persists) and increasing education will reduce religious fervour.

Comment from Kay
Time September 30, 2013 at 5:51 am


“Your politically motivated lies are detestable.” Sounds like an apt description for you and your socialist mates! Keep on using insulting words every time I make a comment – it says everything about you, and nothing about me. BTW exactly how many people have been killed by fanatical atheists?

Comment from Chris Warren
Time September 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm


“Your politically motivated lies are detestable.” is an apt description of someone who falsely accused people of claiming:

“The US and its allies are responsible for every atrocity in the world”.

I presume there is a mirror in your cave.

Why did you delete the word capitalism from my original “Atheistic capitalism”. You have engaged in more misrepresentation.

Comment from Kay
Time October 1, 2013 at 7:47 am


Ho hum! And your contribution to this topic is…..? Apart from attacking me, of course!

Comment from Kay
Time October 1, 2013 at 8:57 am


Your subset of “atheistic capitalism” is curious! What makes you think capitalism is atheistic? I contend that, in all probability, there are more religious believers within capitalist societies than there are atheists.

On the other topic – almost every article on this blog site attacks capitalism and equates it with severely adversely affecting people worldwide – and advocates taking whatever means required to replace capitalism with some fictional as-yet-untried nirvana called ‘socialism’. In addition, every atrocity that occurs anywhere in the world is somehow twisted to apportion blame to the US! So, on this blog, that statement is quite valid.

Comment from RussellW
Time October 1, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Perhaps I should point out that the elimination of capitalism has already been tried–the result, Stalin and Mao and 50 million dead then the self-destruction of the Communist system itself because of its internal contradictions. Yeah sure, let’s try it again.

Islamic societies had been chaotic, violent and oppressive long before the arrival of Western Imperialism.

Comment from John
Time October 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Stalinism was a form of capitalism – the state expropriating the surplus value the working class produced. There were no workers in Mao’s essentially nationalist and peasant based revolution. It had nothing to do with abolishing capitalism but like its big brother in the USSR was a way of industrialising backward peasant countries. The workers rebellions against the CCP are to be welcomed and supported, just as the overthrow of the USSSR and its satelites was a step forward for socialism.

And Western feudal societies were pretty barbaric too. So what? The Western invasions, the mass murder in Iraq, the puppet regime in Afghanistan, the destruction fo Palestine and the 4 to 5 million refigees are all examples of Western imperialism impacting now.

Comment from RussellW
Time October 2, 2013 at 10:02 am


I’m old enough to remember the Cold War and and the Soviet Union and its satellites were always described as “socialist” by their apologists in the West.

“the overthrow of the USSSR and its satelites was a step forward for socialism.” –That’s rather optimistic, a totalitarian “state capitalist” regime has been replaced by an authoritarian plutocracy, or perhaps that’s a pre-condition for revolution?

“And Western feudal societies were pretty barbaric too. So what?” The point was that the primitive state of Islamic societies in not the West’s fault. To avoid misunderstandings, in my opinion, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are war crimes and Zionism is a colonialist and racist ideology.

Chris Warren,

“religion reflects the underlying needs of society, its alienation, and lack of science.”–

Well, actually, the reality is far more complex. Religion is a product of human evolution and is an intrinsic component of human psychology, although the intensity of belief amongst individuals varies . So to attribute religious belief entirely to the prevailing economic and social conditions is not supported by recent research.

Comment from John
Time October 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Well many people describe various violent sects as Christian. That doesn’t make them so. If socialism is the self emancipation of the working class then Eastern Europe was not socialist. You can’t bring socialism through the red army. State owned property relations are not socialism. If socialism is the democratic control by workers of the means of production to organise production to satisfy human need, not to make a profit, then none of the ‘socialist’ countries were or are socialist. These are criteria Marx used.

Certainly to establish state capitalism in Russia Stalin had to liquidate the old Bolsheviks, those who retained or remembered a revolutionary commitment to the working class running society democratically. There is a strong stream of socialists who have taken a position of revolutionary opposition to Stalinism, most notably one of the leaders of the Russian revolution Leon Trotsky.