...even as he is denied a Visa To America on official business
Retired Maj gen Ali in his "killing" uniform.
Politics is a very dirty game and no matter how clean and good-intentioned one is when they start out, sooner or later they are bound to find themselves wallowing in the “muddy waters of political expediency” out of necessity.
An extremely fascinating scenario is beginning to play out between the Kenyan government and the Americans (as I predicted in my column on predictions for this year, only that I thought it would take a couple of weeks at the very least, and not mere days.) Retired Maj general Ali, the former police commissioner has been denied a visa to visit the United States on official duty in his capacity as post master general. All his subordinates including his personal assistant were all quickly granted visas to travel to the US of A on the same trip.
But now comes the really interesting part. And that is the reaction of the United States Ambassador to Kenya Mr Reinberger. On being asked about Ali, his first response is that the press does NOT have their facts right. All he can say, he adds with a straight face, is that Ali was denied a visa to travel, implying that no permanent Visa ban has been slapped on Ali. Now that’s a really puzzling answer coming from the Americans considering that many Kenyans have already received a Visa ban for much less mischief than the atrocities that Ali has been linked to (I reveal these shocking atrocities in my Weekend special this weekend titled Police killers. Don’t miss it.)
Let me tell you good folks about the politics playing out in the background in Ali’s case. The Americans are currently keen to do business with the man whom Ali was taking orders from when he committed the said atrocities against Kenyans and chances are that avoidance of a complete Visa ban for Ali will be an extra bargaining chip on the table. And so if all goes well, the good general will be free to travel to the United States next time round. That is when everybody has long forgotten about this incident and the members of the press have their eyes focused on another controversy somewhere else.
President Barrack Obama got elected on a reform platform but to reassure many conservative voters he incorporated a lot of hard-nosed conservatives into his administration (and gave signs of the same before election day) especially to key areas linked to national security and the war on terror. The best illustration of this is the fact that he chose to retain Ambassador Reinberger (a George W. Bush appointee) as his man in Nairobi, territory that President Obama knows extremely well. Anyway until now his close conservative advisors have had only limited sway. That was until the failed terrorist attack on a plane headed to America by a Nigerian last Christmas. Now everything has changed rather dramatically. The president cannot afford to keep his soft gloves (which earned him the Nobel peace prize) and has to start acting tough against the terrorist threat. I am afraid that under these circumstances reforms in Kenya have to take the back seat for a while in US policy in East Africa and especially Kenya. The most urgent thing on the plate of the Americans right now is dealing with the very real threat of the Al Shabab on American interests in the region. The truth is that even as you read this, things are already rolling, and rolling very fast. If you follow Kenyan news then you would have seen the news item yesterday about Moi expressing his views about the draft constitution. His views (where he opposed the hybrid system in favour of an executive president answerable to the voters) grabbed all the headlines and nobody paid much attention to the people who had paid the president a courtesy call which gave him the opportunity to make the remarks to the press, and the reason why they came calling. Actually the visitors were very high ranking officials of the besieged interim government of Somalia. They were asking for Moi’s help in seeking for peace and stabilizing things in Somalia. Guess which country has played the biggest role in establishing and maintaining this shaky government against all odds and thus helping create groups like the Al Shabab in the process? Moi of course promised to act which I am sure he will. But what can Moi do in such a complex scenario that has defeated the best diplomats in the world?
Actually folks this is only a well designed smoke screen because everybody knows that the only language the Al Shabab can understand has to do with a military solution. To the more observant, this is a classic American approach to dealing with a crisis of this nature “borrowed” from the Israelis. Well I can’t resist digressing to tell you a little story about the Israelis. An Air France plane carrying plety of Jews was hijacked by terrorists way back in 1976 and landed in Entebbe Uganda to the then President Idi Amin’s welcoming hands. The Israelis immediately started preparing their commandos for a risky rescue operation at the airport which everybody forgot was designed and built by the Israelis themselves (meaning that they had access to detailed layouts of the place). Meanwhile on the diplomatic front the Israeli government seemed to give in to the terrorists and agreed to negotiate for the safe release of the Jewish hostages. Fascinatingly the minute that the Israelis got word that their commandos had landed at Entebbe is the very minute they walked into the negotiation room to begin talks with the Arabs.
The Israelis quietly listened to the terrorists’ representatives as they breathlessly stated their long list of demands even as the commandos thousands of miles away made short work of the terrorists and Idi Amin’s sleepy soldiers rescuing all the hostages save for one old lady who had unfortunately been taken to hospital. Idi Amin later had her murdered in cold blood to revenge the very successful rescue mission by the Israelis. That was around the time the Arabs shifted their attention from their more formidable opponent to the ‘easier prey’ Americans.
But back to Ali, reforms and Kenyan politics. It seems that barring something out of the ordinary (or this post getting into the “wrong” hands; and it won’t be the first time) Ali and his boss seem headed for a very soft landing in the neat future. They should at least anonymously send flowers to that crazy Nigerian kid. Meanwhile to us poor Kenyans that damn Nigerian has done us all terrible irreversible damage that we may never recover from.
Did you miss Kumekucha’s controversial predictions for 2010?
Don’t miss the weekend special this weekend titled Police killers. Regular readers are well aware that the weekend specials are sizzling hot and so it might be a good idea to have a cool drink at hand. See you then. My drums and Nyatiti column resumes next week.
P.S. I get rather amused every time the controversial press laws are sneaked in and media owners predictably start running round like headless chickens. I get even more amused when people get busy condemning mere servants like the PS for information or the clueless minister. Let me brief on this (I don’t want it to develop into a mini-post). The PS and the minister take their orders from only one person. This is the fourth time in recent times that this media laws circus has been played out. It never happened even once during the Moi or Kenyatta days. Folks, it will only stop when Kibaki leaves office. Secondly guess who was the president’s close “advisor” in this when the initial plan was made for these draconian laws at State House Nairobi. None other than the CEO of the leading media house in Kenya himself. If you don’t know which CEO I am talking about, just ask any journalist you see next the most tribalistic CEO in corporate Kenya (who by the way is on an American Visa ban list for his role during the clashes. List to be announced soon, unless he (the said CEO) too is saved by the Christmas day actions of the Nigerian nutcase). I will say no more for now.