Terrorism is defined as the use of violence, threats of violence, intimidation or coercion, in the pursuit of political aims. Wikipedia actually classifies terrorism as fourth-generation warfare and a violent crime.
It states that in its broadest sense terrorism is the use of violence, or threatened use of violence, in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim. A terrorist is a person (usually a member of a group) involved in terrorism.
Scholars explain terrorism as ‘a nasty form of public performance where the attack is often visible and played for a TV audience’. Terrorists target high profile institutions and national symbols and then use mass media to showcase their actions and enhance the effect of their actions, so as to cause even more fear.
It is asymmetric warfare where a handful of people merge into a population and fight organised and established government institutions. Terrorism is especially effective within and against democracies because constitutional rights allow the terrorists to organize their actions within the law, until it is too late.
Like many other countries in the world Kenya has been a victim of terrorists. The Westgate attack and the attack on Garissa University students stand out in recent history. The direct effect of each terror attack has been mass fear.
The indirect effect is a quiet acceptance by the citizenry that the government must do whatever it takes to stop future terror attacks. ‘Whatever it takes’ could easily mean negotiating with the terrorists especially if what they want is not ‘a big deal’. (We all remember a suggestion was once made that we should negotiate with Al Shabaab to stop further attacks on Kenya)
What is my point?
CORD has become a terrorist organisation. They are using the threat of violence as a means of intimidating Kenyans (and the government) to accept their political position on the IEBC. They have publicly threatened to unleash mayhem, violence and bloodshed across the country if we do not accept their demand that the IEBC be disbanded.
The media has played into CORD’s hands. Each week we see live coverage of CORD’s protests, which always end up in violence one way or the other as protestors strategically confront, taunt or attack the police. Jubilee supporters are also getting upset as they listen to the threatening statements CORD leaders make every week. They now want to organise counter-protests, which would mean even more violence. CORD’s threats could easily turn into actual violence.
CORD’s strategy of pursuing a political aim using threats of violence is working. We are being terrorized and we do not even realise it. Like the proverbial frog that is boiled by first being put it in a bowl of cold water and then gradually heating the bowl until the water boils, CORD has put Kenya in a bowl with cold water and every Monday the water is being heated some more. Before we know it we will be in boiling water and it will be too late.
The Kenyan media, private sector, religious community and other organised groups are now at the point where they are asking President Kenyatta to ‘just listen to CORD’. The international community is piling pressure on the President to ‘be a statesman’ and consider CORD’s proposal. Ordinary Kenyans in the street are gradually reaching that point where we are willing to go against our own constitution to disband the IEBC, if that is what will stop the weekly street demonstrations and de-escalate the tension.
President Kenyatta’s actions on this matter will confirm to the world whether we are a country that negotiates with terrorists, or not.