Kenya’s Eastward Shift Overshadows Western Ties

Kenya’s Eastward Shift Overshadows Western Ties

NAIROBI, Kenya -- When Kenya welcomed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the first stop of his first tour of sub-Saharan Africa in mid-February, it reflected how Nairobi's emphasis on bilateral relations with Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries is increasingly overshadowing its ties to traditional Western allies.

Beginning in 1963, when Kenya attained independence from Britain, Western countries were routinely accorded a "first amongst equals" status. A military pact signed between Kenya and the United States in 1980, allowing the U.S. Navy use of the local port of Mombasa to monitor the Far East in return for military and economic assistance, exemplified Nairobi's Western slant. The British government, too, stitched together a military agreement with Kenya that allows British troops to train here.

But since a new Kenyan administration took power in 2003, it has become increasingly apparent that a policy designed to scale down over-reliance on Western countries in favor of developing ties with the Far East and Asia is in the offing.

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