The International Crisis Group claims in its latest report that President Kibaki was reluctant to give the greenlight and was only prevailed upon by Internal Security minister George Saitoti, his Defence counterpart Yusuf Haji, Chief of Kenya Defence Forces, Gen Julius Karangi, Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere and National Security Intelligence Service chief Michael Gichangi.
The military spokesman, Maj Emmanuel Chirchir, however, on Tuesday dismissed the report, saying the operation against Al-Shabaab was taken by the Cabinet.
The report warns against capturing the port city of Kismayu with a view to choking Al-Shabaab’s cash supply.
The United Nations Monitoring Group estimates that between Sh2.9 billion ($35 million) and Sh4.1 billion ($50 million) per year is generated from revenue from the port of Kismayu, of which at least Sh1.2 billion ($15 million) is trade in charcoal and sugar.
“All indications are that urban combat would be costly. The likely massive loss of civilian life would damage the goal of countering terrorism to weaken Al-Shabaab.”