Global Policy Forum

We Mourn For Sierra Leone's Children

The Perspective
February 17, 2001

Finally, the UN Security Council has succumbed to pressure from deceptive West African politicians.

Despite all the evidence before it, despite massive calls for action and justice, despite horrific cries of Sierra Leone's children pleading to be heard, the world body has chosen to listen to dishonourable West African politicians. The UN has extended West Africa's hangman's rope. It has given Charles Taylor, this despicable creature who feeds on children limbs for diamonds, two more months to import more arms, dig more diamonds, in preparation for sanctions if and when they are imposed. For over a decade now, the West, because of its disinterest in Africa, has bought the notion of African Solutions to African Problems. The UN's surrender to ECOWAS tells us that when it comes to the Black man's burden, the Black man must indeed rely on himself.

Just why did the UN listen to countries that are themselves indicted and implicated in its own Report? Why have the UN suddenly decided that the imposition of sanctions is a referendum needing the backing of all neighbours? Did they ask Iraq's neighbours before imposing sanctions on Baghdad? Did they consult the backers of the Talibans, such as Pakistan, before imposing sanctions? No they didn't. They wanted to act and they acted.

From the surface, Taylor, backed by his Libyan-paid comrades within ECOWAS, has emerged victorious. ECOWAS backed him in Liberia, and they are now standing by him in Sierra Leone and Guinea. In the end, it is the children of Sierra Leone, Guinea and eventually Liberia, who are the losers, for the killing and mayhem will continue while ECOWAS plays its games, with some foreign ministers collecting their little stones periodically. And even as the Liberian Prince of Diamonds is getting a pat on the back, his defiance, reasonably so, continues. Speaking to disciples in Monrovia, he has warned the world community what to expect:

"Don't force us to have to say no to you because you want to degrade us, you want to discredit us and you want to bring our dignity down to the ground. Don't push us to the extent because even a dog in the house when you push him he got to fight back. Don't force us because if you think that we will relent when it comes to justice, when it comes to foreplay, when it comes to our dignity, God help us we have to stand up. We don't have a choice when you challenge our dignity. When you challenge our dignity, our liberty, our freedom, our sovereignty as a people, I don't have a choice. Our people do not need to suffer as they are. But when the powerful and the rich believe they must have a monopoly of ideas, yes, people suffer."

The UN was searching for an excuse not to act, and self-serving African politician were just too happy to provide the face-saving excuse, particularly when a member of the Security Council like France is benefiting from 37% of timber as our forests disappear. The evidence that UN needs is nothing more than wide-ranging promises, which Taylor has already begun to make. He wants the UN to deploy throughout Liberia knowing fully well that this is not possible as the world body is paralysed in Sierra Leone.

Whether or not the UN or anyone gives Taylor two months or two years, the reality is Taylor's marriage with the RUF remains solid. The two need each other. What can be expected is the continuation of lofty pronouncements on commitment to peace while the war continues until the RUF is seated as a Government to address Taylor's fears of being surrounded by hostile Governments. It is the same logic driving him into Guinea.

Already, Taylor's RUF operatives are indicating that they have no intention of disarming. They have issued new demands, among them that President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah should step down since indeed his term expires this March. But this demand itself is not new. They demanded the resignation of Gen. Joseph Momoh. He left, but the war continued. They wanted Strasser out. He left, but they intensified their killings. Through Taylor's help, they overthrew Kabbah in league with a rogue Army and put forth more conditions. They demanded the diamond fields as their reward to disarm, got them, along with key positions in Government while extending their killing fields.

Even as their Liberian paymaster is dancing for his UN victory, they have set up a radio station beaming anti-peace, anti-disarmament propaganda. But international wisdom says two months will change all that. We will be watching.

To us, the first test is whether the RUF will remain an operational force within two months; whether the rebels will be driven from Liberian territory they now control as their rear base of operations into Guinea; whether their supply line, extending from Monrovia into Guinea and Sierra Leone, will be monitored by the impotent and corrupt ECOWAS leaders and more. The fact of the matter is that without Liberian territory and support, it is difficult for the landlocked rebels to survive militarily and therefore politically. They are constantly supplied from Liberia and the task is whether ECOWAS, now begging for international help to station 1700 border patrol, is capable of combing the Liberian jungles to see where the arms are passing to reach the rebels. Their trainers are based in Liberia. Liberia is their outlet. Thus within two months, evidence will indicate whether they have gotten stronger or weaker.

Monitoring Liberia will be the challenge that ECOWAS will face. First, it will be seen whether Taylor's words are honourable, which we are convinced are not. It will be noted whether ECOWAS will simply accept pronouncements from Monrovia as evidence of disengagement. It will be observed whether ECOWAS, particularly Taylor's Libyan recruited operatives within it, will be satisfied with form as they have been, and not substance which they detest.

In the end, diamonds are indeed forever. We mourn for the children of Sierra Leone.

More Information on Sierra Leone and Liberia
More Information on Diamonds Conflict
More Information on Sanctions


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