It looks like this was done perfectly.
[..] the president jetted to Monrovia to initiate yet another controversy. He has agreed to bring Charles Taylor to Nigeria, ostensibly on asylum, with the condition that the international community does not "harass" Nigeria to submit Taylor to the dictates of international justice. All this is so that peace can return to Liberia. [..] Since Jeff Koinange of CNN revealed that Charles Taylor is in fact a brother to one of Obasanjo’s numerous "wives," it is difficult to say where narrow self-interest stops and national responsibility begins on this matter. [..]
Given our recent history [..] a democratic Nigeria ought to construct a foreign policy [..] that places respect for human rights first. Such a policy ought to exclude the kind of red-carpet amnesty that Obasanjo is about to grant to Taylor. [..]
[O]ur federation, imperfect as it is, has managed (just managed) to survive the post-Cold War disintegration of large multi-ethnic federations. Even so, today there are pressures, more than ever before, from fringe nationalistic groups. Some are frighteningly militant and well armed, operating in the countryside, taking hostages, and unleashing mayhem in strategic territory in parts of this country. We should not be seen to be lionizing Taylor, who emerged from the bush to unleash terror on his country, if we do not want to encourage this brand of rascality among our own already restive and ambitious youth. [..]
I agree that for peace and order to return to Liberia, Charles Taylor needs to leave the scene. He should not be encouraged to see himself as a valiant king abdicating his throne to evil forces only to return some other day. For such a bloody tyrant, an exit is an exit. He should be escorted out of Liberia to where he belongs: the International War Crimes Tribunal. Or, better still, the morgue.
The Marines said American troops would be in better position on the warships to respond to any flare-ups in Liberia's week-old peace accord, meant to end 14 years of conflict that has claimed more than 150,000 lives.
source: various US-papers
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
August 24, 2003
Posted to the web August 25, 2003
Thousands of civilians were displaced by renewed clashes between Liberian government troops and rebel fighters at the weeekend. The fighting took place less than a week after the signing of a peace agreement that was supposed to end 14 years of civil war.
Defense Minister Daniel Chea said on Sunday fighters of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel movement attacked government troops on Friday at Baala Bridge, near Ganta, a town on the Guinean border 247 km north of the capital Monrovia.
He also told IRIN that fighters of another rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) attacked government positions on Saturday near Roberts international airport, half way between Monrovia and the port city of Buchanan.
Relief workers said thousands of people were fleeing the clashes near the airport.
"We have received reports that 8,000-10,000 people are again on the move in the southeast. We are preparing an immediate response to their humanitarian and protection concerns," Ross Mountain, Special Humanitarian Coordinator for Liberia told IRIN.
MODEL forces, Chea said, launched the attack on Saturday morning at Lloydsville, near Cotton Tree and Owensgrove villages, 50 km southeast of Monrovia, contravening the peace agreement signed on 18 August by all three warring parties.
The agreement, which paved way for a broad-based transitional government to be sworn in 14 October, was meant to signal the immediate end of armed conflict. It required all fighting forces to remain in their present locations and cease hostilities.
LURD Chief of Staff, General Aliyu Sheriff, disputed Chea's claims of renewed fighting near Ganta. But he accused the government of preparing an attack to recapture the strategic town of Gbarnga, the provincial headquarters of Bong County, 45 km south of Ganta.
"The entire Bong County has been under our full control since a month ago. No fighting is going on, but government is instead planning to retake Gbarnga," Sheriff said.
Gbarnga is currently inaccessible to relief workers, although the Accra Peace Agreement demands that all fighting groups allow unhindered access by all humanitarian agencies to vulnerable groups throughout the country.
Relief workers who visited Cotton Tree and Owensgrove on Saturday said an exodus of displaced people from these villages was heading towards Harbel, the headquarters of the Firestone rubber plantation, near Roberts International Airport.
An IRIN correspondent saw hundreds of the displaced people walking in the rain along the highway from Monrovia to Harbel, near the airport, carrying mattresses and other personal belongings on their heads. They were mainly women and children.
Chea said the fleeing civilians told him that they could hear heavy shelling from the direction of Compound Number One, a village near Lloydsville.
"ECOMIL (the West African military peacekeeping force in Liberia) has been informed about this. MODEL in keeping with the agreement should remain in Buchanan, across the St John River and our forces will remain along the road leading from the river to Monrovia," Chea told IRIN.
Major Ogun Sanya, the ECOMIL spokesman, said the peacekeeping force had not yet deployed troops in Grand Bassa County, where the clashes had been reported, but it was trying to contact MODEL commanders there.
MODEL officials were not immediately available for comment, but relief workers in Monrovia said MODEL commanders in Buchanan had told them that government forces had attacked their positions near the city.
"The rebels said government militias blocked roads in areas under their control between 14-16 August, and they responded to push the militias back," one aid worker who had just returned from Buchanan, 120 km southeast of Monrovia, said.
I wonder why all these murderous thug-ruler types get off so easily.
But, for some reason, I don't think the US could've gone in and captured Taylor, or killed him in a fire fight attempting to capture him, without coming off looking worse than him. When Reagan bombed Qaddafi's house, we were baby-killers.
In a large room upstairs at the ministry of mines in Monrovia, Liberia's capital, plastic bags flutter through smashed windows. The roof lights, air conditioner, and electrical sockets are all gone, and pools of water lie on the ground. A small side-chamber contains only pieces of a credit card and a cloth covering the remains of a toilet that has been ripped from the floor. "This is the minister's office," says a young woman surveying the devastation. "They took everything."
The wreckage highlights the desperate state from which Liberia must rebuild itself after almost 15 years of civil war. [..] the nation desperately needs help. [..] Liberia truly will start from nothing. The country, whose gross domestic product last year was estimated by the World Bank at about $560 million, saw its government revenues shrink after fighting intensified the past two years. "Everywhere has been destroyed or looted," Charles Bright, finance minister in the Taylor government, told me. "We are down to zero."
[D]espite the arrival of more than 3,500 West African peacekeepers, fighting has continued in many areas outside Monrovia. According to a report published last month by Human Rights Watch, "Hundreds of thousands of persons have repeatedly been uprooted as they fled the countryside in terror of ... armed groups, which are seeking to secure the last spoils of battle in expectation of the territory being secured by peacekeepers." Marauding armed bands, frequently containing children, continue to terrorize and abuse civilians, committing murder, rape, forced recruitment, and looting, the report said.
[..] Under the [peace deal] agreement, a large portion of the country's security apparatus and revenue-earning sectors will be divided up between the warring parties [..] Worse, Charles Taylor, operating out of exile in Nigeria, is reportedly continuing to destabilize Liberia. Diplomats say Taylor has contacted the administration of Moses Blah, interim president and a long-time Taylor ally. [..]
Given [the] enormous humanitarian and political problems, the international peacekeeping contingent in Liberia needs urgent reinforcement. And the obvious candidate to provide funding, expertise, and troops is the United States, home of the former slaves who founded Liberia. America enjoyed a long alliance with Liberia during the cold war and led the international community in demanding Taylor's ouster. What's more, the United States has strategic interests in the region. West Africa is home to some of the world's most promising new oil finds--American officials estimate that sub-Saharan Africa will account for a quarter of U.S. oil imports by 2015, with much of that coming from the region around the Gulf of Guinea. The State Department says that there is increasing interest in offshore crude oil deposits along Liberia's Atlantic coast.
[..] Though the team of U.S. military observers sent to the country in July recommended an extensive deployment that would have required 1,000 or more U.S. troops to guard key facilities such as the port, [..] only roughly 200 troops went ashore to provide low-profile support to the West African peacekeepers. [..]
And the United States has done even less to assist in Liberia's reconstruction. The White House's total commitment to the new U.N. force amounts to nine officers--two staff officers and seven military observers. "U.S. policy appears to be at best tokenism," says Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs. Worse, [..] Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner told Congress that the United States would contribute a measly $40 million in bilateral humanitarian aid for Liberia during the next fiscal year [..]
[Meanwhile], according to Klein, the United Nations. is talking to European countries about setting up a "pledging conference" and soliciting European donations for the country's reconstruction. Klein has made no mention of U.S. involvement in either a pledging conversation or any future U.N. aid projects.
By comparison, in neighboring Sierra Leone, a former British colony, Britain dispatched 1,000 troops in 2000 to beef up U.N. forces there. The Brits then followed up with investments in training the country's army and in building its democratic institutions. In all, Britain has committed over $150 million in economic aid to Sierra Leone. [..]
Yet without regional cooperation, Liberia, and West Africa as a whole, could become even less stable. Many observers are worried about the stability of Guinea, whose president, Lansana Conte, is in poor health. The broader threat, according to a report prepared by a U.N.-appointed panel of experts earlier this year, is that the region around Liberia will descend into a self-perpetuating cycle of violence, with armed youths moving freely across borders to fight each other and terrorize civilians. Even Nigeria, the region's dominant power and the source of many of the peacekeepers in Monrovia, could be destabilized, since Nigeria already suffers from massive internal problems including widespread poverty and corruption. Unfortunately, no one in Washington seems to care.