Liberia: The Key to Ending Regional Instability
While the international community has made great strides in improving the security situation in Sierra Leone, Liberia remains a wellspring for continued conflict stretching across Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Given the regional ambitions of its president, Charles Taylor, and his continued willingness to use proxy militia fighters in neighbouring states, the hard won peace in Sierra Leone remains in jeopardy. While the armies of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have largely remained confined to their national territories, militias such as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) – effectively Liberian President Charles Taylor’s foreign legion – the Sierra Leonean Kamajor “hunter” militias and a range of Liberian dissidents have battled with little regard for national borders. The remarkable intervention of the international community to end the war in Sierra Leone has helped shift the front line of what is a regional conflict away from the capitals of that country and Guinea to within striking distance of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia. Liberia’s internal situation has been the dynamic that has provided fuel for the broader war, and no peace in the region will be viable until it is dealt with more forcefully.