By -Martin Plaut BBC - With AU forces advancing into Kismayo, the elements of a long-term Kenyan strategic plan - the Jubaland project - are almost in place.
It has been an open secret that Kenya wishes to see a buffer zone established just over its border inside Somalia. The scheme has the backing of Kenyan Somalis, including the Kenyan defence minister and other members of the Ogaden clan. But one major obstacle has stood in the way of Jubaland - Ethiopian opposition. The Ethiopians had been fighting an Ogadeni rebel movement, the ONLF, since the mid-1980s.
Addis Ababa was totally against Jubaland if it allowed the ONLF a rear base from which to attack Ethiopia. So earlier this month the Kenyan defence minister brokered a deal between the rebels and Ethiopia. This removed the last obstacle to the project and underpins the current Kismayo offensive.
There is only one remaining problem: the people of Kismayo are not Ogadeni and this explains why some local people supported al-Shabab. Dealing with their concerns will be important if Jubaland is to become a success.