By Makau Mutua
It’s anyone guess how The Hague cases — for crimes against humanity — against President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto — will conclude.
But we know this for sure — they will be over one day.
Meanwhile, there is a high-stakes game at play.
Which of the three major protagonists — the West, the International Criminal Court, and the Republic of Kenya — will be the first to blink?
I want to focus on the West today, and call a spade by its name.
It’s my submission that the West has already blinked — thrown in the towel.
The proof is undeniable.
A recent picture captures the American,British, Canadian, and Australian envoys bowing —some might say even supplicating — to President Kenyatta at State House.
Is the West simply duplicitous, and unreliable, or does it know something we don’t?
The West had drawn two lines in the sand.
The first was that Kenyans should be wary of electing ICC indictees
because there would “consequences.”
The second was that there would be “non-essential contact” with ICC indictees. It seems that a line
drawn in the sand is like a house built on it — it can’t stand.
There are other clues — President
Kenyatta was recently invited — and welcomed — to the UK and Europe.
In August, President Kenyatta will join other African leaders to dine with US President Barack Obama in
the White House.
It seems clear to me President
Kenyatta is no longer in the doghouse.
You have got to give it to the son of Jomo.
Since ascending to State House in March last year,President Kenyatta has run a brilliant international
public relations campaign against the ICC.
Unlike President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, another ICC
indictee, President Kenyatta managed to effectively mobilise the African Union against the ICC and the West.
In a clever evocation of anti-colonialist rhetoric and anti-imperialist argumentation,
President Kenyatta politically hog-tied the West.
Even though deployed hypocritically, the onslaught was decisive.
That’s because the historical sins and guilt of the West against Africa cannot be easily parried.
That’s how President Kenyatta got the West on its back foot, playing defence.
Even President Obama caved.
But there is more.
Al Shabaab, the Somali Al Qaeda
affiliate, has given President Kenyatta more breathing oxygen than it could imagine.
Nothing rattles the West more than Al Qaeda.
The savage Al Shabaab attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi last
year gained President Kenyatta immeasurable sympathy.
It was the most significant public
relations coup by the Kenyatta regime in the West.
To many the choice was clear — take the ICC indictee over Al-Shabaab.
Rising Al Shabaab threats and attacks agains Kenyan targets — like churches — has only solidified
the West’s support for President Kenyatta.
A recent Al Shabaab videotape threatening attacks on Kenya
and Western targets — which looks very slick and sophisticated but scary — has only yoked the West
more with President Kenyatta.
The war on terror is one of President Kenyatta’s key strategies.
The Kenya government’s sweep of
Somalis and Muslims — who are either illegal aliens or terror suspects — has the tacit support of the West.
Terror attacks and insecurity in Kenya — and especially in Nairobi and Mombasa — threaten to cripple Kenya as the key strategic geopolitical ally of the West in East Africa.
The West believes Kenya is
the anchor state in the region, and that as Kenya goes, so does the region.
That is why the West is
now circling wagons with Kenya against terror in spite of President Kenyatta’s ICC woes.
President Kenyatta has been brilliant in flirting with the East — especially China — to scare the economic bejesus out of the West.
When he was shunned by the West, he made a highly visible visit to Beijing.
He claimed to have snagged many economic goodies from the Chinese dragon.
We know this —since that trip, many Chinese companies have been
doing very well in Kenya.
The West is quickly losing market share to the Chinese in a country it once dominated.
President Kenyatta’s calculated strategy has been to “play hard to get” and make the West come
crawling back to him.
I am not writing about what the outcome of the ICC cases is likely to be.
I simply don’t know.
Nor does anybody else — not even the ICC judges themselves, or the ICC Chief Prosecutor, the indomitable Fatou Bensouda.
That is because criminal cases are unpredictable — even to seasoned lawyers.
This is my counsel — let’s cool our heels and allow justice to take its course.
I was only here interested in the effective political — not legal — game that President Kenyatta has played against the West.
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