Parent Category: News
Just last Thursday, the UK Telegraph reported that Nigeria would not send any help at all unless the United States would pay more than the approximate $14 million that it had offered. The Nigerian Foreign Minister said, “We made it clear (that) we needed assistance in their deployment, in terms of logistics, in terms of funding.” The Nigerian army apparently needs the money, as the last time its troops deployed to Liberia as peacekeepers, they reportedly stripped the countryside bare on their way home.

Analysts claimed that Nigerians would not deploy until the money issue is “sorted out.”

As Nigerians begin to arrive, it appears that the check has cleared. Another member of the “coalition of the billing” has been minted.

The helicopter carrier USS Iwo Jima and its three ship Amphibious Ready Group has been ordered into Liberian waters. Tuesday afternoon, they are reported off the coast and just over the horizon. The 2,300 Marine complement is presumably standing by for the word to go, and that word seems to depend on the actions of African dictator of the month, Charles Taylor. Taylor claimed that he would give up the reigns of power on August 11, but with a series of catch-22s. Taylor will go into exile into neighboring mentioned Nigeria, but only when U.S. troops are on the ground and in country and keeping the peace as the senior partner. The Bush administration had stated that U.S. troops would not go ashore until Taylor has left the building, so to speak.

Taylor seems to be concerned with his fate. The last two deposed Liberian dictators were informed that they were no longer in office without being presented with the usual pink slip. One was murdered in his office and the other was tortured to death as a video camera recorded the action.

Of course, being a former dictator in exile is only good if you’re allowed to enjoy the fruits of your hard-won, ill-gotten gains. Presumably, Taylor has rewarded himself handsomely for services rendered to the sovereign nation of Liberia. Unfortunately, there is a United Nations war crimes indictment for atrocities waiting for him on the outside.

The indictment accuses Taylor with “crimes against humanity” in Sierra Leone. Taylor allegedly backed rebels fighting a ten-year conflict. The indictment was brought on June 4 of this year by a Sierra Leone court, and the United Nations upheld that indictment.

Taylor has now said that he will not go unless the charges are dropped.

Liberian Vice-President Moses Blah told reporters last week, "The president has said very clearly that, if he is going to leave, there must be sufficient forces on the ground… he wants the indictment to be lifted off his head. “

Unfortunately, for both Charles Taylor and Liberia, the United Nations-backed court has stated again and again that it will not drop the charges. It claims Taylor was a major player in the brutality against civilians inside of Sierra Leone.

Liberian rebels hold the northern suburbs of Monrovia and the city's port facilities. They have stated that they will abandon the position so that humanitarian aid can flow, but Taylor must give up power before that happens. There are thousands of civilians trapped in the embattled city, desperately awaiting relief that is waiting to be delivered. The city is short of clean water and food, and disease is beginning to spread. Refugees have swelled the city's population by as much as 200,000. With little or no clean water, cholera is feared. Also feared is a constant bombardment from mortars, sniper fire and stray rounds spraying the ruined schools and stadiums that many are now calling home. Major General Seya Sheriff warned, “If he (Taylor) refuses to leave, I will attack him; we will move on him.”

Taylor’s stall tactics could spark new fighting that has killed more than 2,000 civilians since rebels pushed into the capital two weeks ago.

President George W. Bush has promised that “America will support international peacekeeping efforts” in Liberia. But many Liberians believe that the administration has stalled in the manner of Charles Taylor. They are anxious for and have repeatedly pleaded for U.S. intervention.

The Pentagon, however, is not going to be stampeded. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reflected the administration's apparent lack of urgency in Liberia. After speaking with Bush, he said: “We don’t have any announcements to make at the moment.”

At the briefing on Tuesday, a reporter asked if Liberia could become "another Somalia." General Richard Meyers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answered with a rather ironic condition for troop involvement ”There will be no commitment of troops anywhere in the world without some of the essentials that we need, and that is a clear mission, a clear-end state, and sufficient force to do the job.” He should have applied that formula to the invasion of Iraq. By Grady Hawkins

United Nations helicopters began ferrying Nigerian peacekeepers into war-torn Liberia on Monday, bolstering hope that the savage 14-year civil war may soon come to an end. Only about 200 soldiers, however, arrived at the International airport outside Monrovia, fanning out to secure the tall grass outside the tarmac. This is just the perimeter for the thousands more expected soon to follow. But more troops will follow only if the price is right.