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August 14, 2003

Liberia: A New Hope?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the crisis point has passed for Liberia.

Sure, there's a distance to go before stability, and don't even think about reaching pre-Taylor levels of prosperity for a good 3-5 years.

But LURD has promised to pull out of Freeport, allowing humanitarian aid a channel into Monrovia, and their actions today indicate they will be gone tomorrow. Yeah, the looting in the port is not necessarily good (as the strongest grab more than their share of rice and water and other foodstuffs), but the LURD allowing it to happen shows that they already consider the port to be out of their possession.

More encouraging, in a similar backhanded manner, is that MODEL, the other rebel group, was trying to conduct a military advance on Monrovia. The most likely reason for this is they want to stake some sort of claim to the capital city to improve their chances for concessions in the peace talks.

Folks, if a major player is positioning itself for a better position in the endgame, it's pretty much over. The US played a ticklish gamble, but it paid off: with a minimum of intervention, we convinced all the main players that the knife was behind the back and ready to use: Taylor left, the rebels are withdrawing, and peace has a chance, all because they believed peace was unavoidable.

Yeah, the irony in "resigning to the inevitability of peace" is tragic, isn't it?

Of course, things could still blow up. Some dissidents are going to delay as much as they can, to keep options open. The leaders of LURD and MODEL would both like to be the one supersede the Interim President Blah, and conflict may arise from that. LURD is already saying that having Blah in charge until October is too long; they want a full regime now, not just Taylor gone. And, for that matter, while Taylor is gone, who knows if he might try to come back just as he implied/threatened?

But I'm feeling pretty good about things in general. In contrast to England settling Sierra Leone and France settling The Ivory Coast problems, if this works out, Liberia will stand as a success for "African Solutions to African Problems" with a bare minimum of prodding and support from the US and the West.

Posted by at August 14, 2003 12:23 AM

I still think it's a little early to break out the champagne, but in general I agree with you. And, I think it's hard to stress too much the idea that there must be "African Solutions to African Problems."

Until Westerners trust Africa to solver her own problems, and until African nations police themselves and each other more honestly, too many people will see them as orphans to be cared for. That's a recipe for further disaster.

Posted by: zombyboy at August 14, 2003 07:39 AM

What can I say? I'm an optimist...always have been.

But I agree that things could still go sour, and that Africa has a long way to go before it can resolve issues like this on its own without western nations acting as playground monitors.

I'm just looking for hints of blue sky.

Posted by: nathan at August 14, 2003 07:52 AM

It's definitely worth excitement and a bit of enthusiasm.

Posted by: zombyboy at August 14, 2003 08:34 AM
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