Liberia: Current Issues and United States Policy

Order Code IB96025 CRS Issue Brief for Congress Received through the CRS Web Liberia: Current Issues and United States Policy Updated February 6, 2001 Nicolas Cook Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress CONTENTS SUMMARY MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS General Background The Civil War and the Transition to Peace Post-War Political and Economic Developments The 1997 Elections and the Taylor Presidency Post-War Liberian Foreign Policy Post-Conflict Social Reintegration and Economic Reconstruction The Humanitarian Situation and Post-War Development President Taylor and the Political Opposition Press Restrictions Security Affairs Internal Security Ethnic Tensions External Affairs Armed Incursions President Taylor and the Sierra Leone Conflict U.S. Policy Issues Liberian-U.S. Relations Background Recent U.S. Assistance to Liberia Recent U.S. Government Actions U.S. Issues and Interests IB96025 02-06-01 Liberia: Current Issues and United States Policy SUMMARY Liberia, a small west African country, was established in 1847 by freed American slaves. In December 1989, Liberia plunged into civil war. Factional conflict raged for 7 years, despite a dozen peace agreements, the deployment of U.N. observers, and a regional intervention force of the Economic Community of West African States. The conflict caused over 150,000 deaths, and displaced much of the population. The warring factions committed numerous atrocities and forcibly enlisted thousands of children as fighters. Throughout the conflict, Congress and successive administrations sought to ensure adequate assistance for the Liberian people, thus maintaining a long-standing relationship with Liberia. The United States had been Liberia’s leading pre-war trading partner and a major aid donor. A durable peace process initiated in mid1996 resulted in the July 19, 1997 election of former warlord Charles Taylor as president of Liberia. As the new government began the tasks of reconstruction and reconciliation, Liberia appeared to have entered a period of normalcy. The killing and harassment of prominent opposition leaders and the Liberian government’s closure of a newspaper and radio stations, however, raised doubts among many observers and prompted strong expressions of concern from the U.S. and the international community. In September 1998, Liberian government security forces raided the compound of ethnic Krahn leader Roosevelt Johnson, killing scores, perhaps hundreds. Johnson sought refuge in the U.S. embassy, which later arranged for his safe passage out of Liberia. In January 1999, the United States and other countries accused Liberia of aiding the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels fighting the Sierra Leonean government, a Congressional Research Service charge Mr. Taylor denied. In Togo on July 7, Mr. Taylor and other African leaders witnessed the signing of a peace accord between the Sierra Leonean government and the RUF. In early 2000, as the Sierra Leone accord fell apart, Mr. Taylor was again widely accused by the United States and other governments of supporting the Sierra Leone rebels by trading arms for diamonds. In July 2000, in a resolution banning trade in “conflict diamonds” from Sierra Leone, the U.N. Security Council singled out the actions of the Liberian government in promoting this trade, thus fueling the conflict in Sierra Leone. On October 10, 2000, President Clinton barred Mr. Taylor and members of his government from entering the United States. In December 2000, a U.N. Panel of Experts submitted a report implicating the Liberian government, among others, in participating in United Nations (U.N.)-embargoed arms and diamonds trade with Sierra Leonean rebels. It also recommended measures to prevent such activities. Liberia strongly rejected the report and its recommendations. In late January 2001, the United States introduced a U.N. Security Council resolution, targeted at Liberia, based on the report’s findings. Two 1999 armed incursions by anti-Taylor forces into Liberia’s Lofa County near Guinea were defeated. A third began in July 2000. Fighting in that incident lasted until late October 2000. The Liberian government blamed the attacks on rebels aided by, and entering from, Guinea. It, in turn, has attributed to Liberia rapidly increasing armed conflict in southern Guinea; it began in September 2000 and has continued. Guinea asserts that the conflict has resulted in at least 900 deaths and massive civilian displacements. ˜ The Library of Congress IB96025 02-06-01 MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS Fighting in southern Guinea and cross-border raids between Guinea and Liberia that began in September 2000 continued into late January 2001, and Guinean-Liberian relations have deteriorated further. Guinea asserts that the growing conflict has resulted in at least 900 deaths. It attributes attacks on its territory to fighters armed by Liberia. In December 2000, a U.N. Panel of Experts submitted a report implicating the Liberian government, among others, in participating in United-Nations (U.N.)-embargoed arms and diamond trade with Sierra Leonean rebels. It also recommended measures to prevent such activities. Liberia strongly rejected the report and its recommendations. In late January, the United States introduced a U.N. Security Council resolution, targeted at Liberia, based on the report’s findings. BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS General Background In 1822, with the assistance of American private philanthropic organizations, groups of freed slaves from the United States began to settle in coastal West Africa. In 1847, 25 years later, they declared their colony to be a free republic—the first on the African continent—and named it Liberia. Liberia modeled its constitution after that of the United States. For 133 years, Liberia remained independent and stable. But the political and economic domination by the Americo-Liberians (descendants of the former slaves) of the indigenous ethnic groups created ever-rising tensions. The former group, who constituted about 5% of the population, held jobs in the urban, modern economy, while about 80% of the latter group engaged in subsistence agriculture and had a lower standard of living. The Civil War and the Transition to Peace. Americo-Liberian rule came to an abrupt end in 1980, when 28-year old Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe staged a violent military coup, toppling the government of William Tolbert. Ethnic hostilities increased under President Doe; although indigenous Liberians ruled the country, the Krahn people, the small ethnic group to which Doe belonged, were the greatest beneficiaries of the takeover. The Doe government, which was notorious for human rights abuses, mistreated non-Krahn indigenous ethnic groups, as well as Americo-Liberians. On December 24, 1989, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), led by Charles Taylor, crossed into Liberia from Côte d’Ivoire, sparking seven years of civil war. CRS-1 IB96025 02-06-01 Beginning in November 1990, the factions that the civil war had spawned signed numerous cease-fires and demobilization agreements that focused on a transition to civilian rule, but none was effective until 1996. The factions refused to disarm, and scheduled elections were canceled because of continued fighting. Fighters looted homes, businesses, government offices, and international aid organizations throughout the country. Tens of thousands of Liberians fled their homes to escape the fighting, and during one particularly heavy period of conflict, as many as 20,000 sought refuge in the U.S. embassy’s Greystone compound. The conflict caused over 150,000 deaths, and over one-half of the population was internally displaced or fled the country. The conflict was notably vicious; the factions committed numerous atrocities and forcibly enlisted thousands of children as fighters. In late 1996, momentum toward a Liberia in Brief lasting peace increased. Despite continued violent incidents, factions Population: 2.92 million (July 1999 est.) Size: 43,000 sq. mi. Slightly larger began to turn over their weapons to the than Tennessee peacekeeping force of the Economic Religion: 70% traditional, 20% Muslim, Community of West African States 10% Christian (ECOWAS). ECOWAS had been Literacy: 38% present in Liberia since 1990 with the Per capita income: $1,000 (1998 est.) GNP: $2.8 billion (1998 est.) objectives of ending the conflict, monitoring cease-fire agreements, and working toward a peace settlement. In 1995 ECOWAS, in coordination with the United Nations Observer Mission in Liberia (UNOMIL), undertook a series of concerted diplomatic efforts to implement and extend earlier, abortive peace agreements signed by the factions. ECOWAS focused on building transitional governing institutions, continued disarmament and demobilization, mediation between the factions, and preparation for national elections. Its efforts were seen as effective, in part, because they were backed by warnings that faction leaders would face personal sanctions and possible war criminal trials if they interfered with the peace building process. Building on these efforts, ECOWAS, the United States and other western donor states argued, during the first quarter of 1997, that national elections should proceed on May 30, 1997, as earlier scheduled. This election date was opposed by human rights groups, clergy, and many political parties. They argued for a later election date, contending that new weapons caches had been discovered, that disarmament had not progressed far enough, and that more time was needed for voter repatriation, registration, and education. These views were underpinned by delays in the seating of a new independent election commission, which caused the election to be postponed for a short period, to July 19, 1997. Post-War Political and Economic Developments The 1997 Elections and the Taylor Presidency. Charles Taylor was among the first declared candidates for the presidency. He argued that the country needed a “strong leader.” He drew much rural support, but the urban Monrovia electorate divided its support among the eleven other candidates. Defying an independent election commission ban on electioneering, Mr. Taylor publicly launched his campaign in early May, before the other candidates. Multiple candidates, including three former warlords and several former cabinet ministers under the toppled Doe government, ran in the election. The main challenger to Mr. CRS-2 IB96025 02-06-01 Taylor, however, was Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated former United Nations (U.N.) executive. Charles Taylor was proclaimed the winner, with 75.3% of the vote. By most accounts, the election—the country’s first in 12 years—was peaceful, and voter registration and turnout rates were high. Between 700,000 and 750,000 Liberians registered to vote, a substantial figure, given that many people had fled the country or were displaced internally. Election day turnout was estimated at nearly 90%. Roughly 500 international observers were on hand, including 330 from the U.N., groups from the European Union (EU) and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and a team led by former President Jimmy Carter. Initially, candidate Johnson-Sirleaf complained of fraud and other irregularities, but international election monitors did not concur with her claims. Mr. Carter and spokesmen for EU, U.N., and OAU observers all characterized the vote as free, fair, and peaceful. Ms. Johnson- Sirleaf, who had termed the results “statistically impossible,” later said she would present “a strong and constructive opposition.” Despite his well-known role in launching the civil war and fomenting bloodshed in Liberia over the preceding 7 years, Mr. Taylor won by a substantial margin. Several possible reasons have been offered for this counter-intuitive outcome. First, Mr. Taylor, described as a charismatic figure, had the most money and controlled extensive media resources, including the country’s only radio station. Mr. Taylor’s campaign workers also reportedly enticed refugees to cross into Liberia from Côte d’Ivoire to cast their votes for him in exchange for food and money, and transportation to polling stations was reportedly provided by vehicles owned by Mr. Taylor. Paradoxically, many Liberians believed that a vote for Mr. Taylor was a vote for peace and stability. Some feared that Taylor, as head of the largest armed faction, might continue to fight for power if he was not elected. Liberians reportedly explained their choice with the slogan, referring to Mr. Taylor, “you kill my pa, you kill my ma, I will vote for you.” Many also agreed with Mr. Taylor’s claim that Liberia needed a “strong leader,” particularly given events in neighboring Sierra Leone—which had also suffered through a protracted civil war—where the elected president was deposed in May 1997 by a group of disaffected junior officers. In light of his past conduct, the prospect of a Taylor presidency was disturbing to many Liberians and foreign observers; some argued that Mr. Taylor’s leadership might undermine external assistance and investment. The possibility of renewed violence also concerned some observers. Mr. Taylor had made many enemies during the conflict, and although many fighters had been demobilized, the ECOWAS peacekeeping force, known as ECOMOG, continued to discover large arms caches well after the disarmament deadline. Post-War Liberian Foreign Policy. President Taylor’s first cabinet included family members and a former rival warlord. To get the nation’s finances on track, his government announced that it would reintroduce the U.S. dollar as the country’s currency, submitted a stop-gap budget, and met with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the African Development Bank to develop a sound economic program, to which the EU also pledged support. The new government sought support from diverse foreign governments. After his inauguration, President Taylor, who declined for security reasons to attend a U.N. meeting on Liberia in New York, began a round of official visits to neighboring states. He made several trips to Libya for talks with Muammar Gaddafi and has done so several times since. A November 2000 visit by Mr. Taylor to Libya was followed by the repatriation by CRS-3 IB96025 02-06-01 Liberia of 110 of its citizens from Libya, where sub-Saharan immigrants had, weeks earlier, been attacked by Libyan mobs. Early in his administration, Mr. Taylor also visited Taiwan, which reportedly promised a $25 million grant to Liberia, and the city of Taipei donated 19 buses to Monrovia. Liberia has joined several other countries pressing for Taiwanese U.N. membership, an action that has prompted China to break relations with Monrovia. Since 1997, Taiwan has continued to provide significant amounts of economic development assistance to Liberia. Post-Conflict Social Reintegration and Economic Reconstruction. Despite concerns about stability after the election, there were many signs of progress and normalcy in Liberia. In August 1997, a shipping embargo, begun by ECOMOG in 1993, was lifted, restoring an important source of revenue to the country. Seaports and airports reopened, providing communication and transportation links with the outside world. At the end of the month, UNOMIL personnel began to depart, but the U.N. maintained a presence in Liberia. In December 1997, it established the U.N. Peace-building Support Office in Liberia (UNOL) to assist in the consolidation of peace, national recovery and reconstruction, and the creation of democratic structures. In July 1999, the government launched a three-week national unity conference. It was attended by over 1,000 persons, including the leadership of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), religious and political groups, and foreign diplomats, including U.S. officials. In November 1999, political, business, and academic leaders held a 3-day meeting on economic reform. During the forum, held prior to a planned donor conference, opposition politicians criticized the government’s record on human rights and corruption. The meeting recommended that Liberia restructure and reform its civil service and security forces. In early December 1999, an IMF assessment team visited the country. The International Finance Corporation, a World Bank institution, announced a $3.5 million loan to the Liberia Agricultural Company for rubber production, which was expected to provide jobs for 2,000 Liberians. Liberia’s reconstruction efforts received a setback, however, when the government failed to fulfill its election pledge to restore electricity in Monrovia by the end of 1999; most homes currently also lack running water. An IMF program monitoring team in a September 2000 report “noted with concern the recent deterioration in Liberia’s relations with donors and external creditors, including the freezing of a new US$45-50 million post-conflict assistance program by a key donor.” It also noted that fiscal policy performance had deteriorated significantly due to extra-budgetary spending “for border security related to the resurgence of fighting in Sierra Leone and the undertaking of diplomatic efforts to release United Nations peace-keeping forces taken hostage there.” During a January 30, 2001 parliamentary address, Mr. Taylor announced the renovation and reopening of several schools and the University of Liberia and expressed continuing government commitment to the rehabilitation of health and educational facilities, despite a dearth of public resources to do so. He also outlined plans to privatize public corporations in Liberia, including the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation, the Liberia Electricity Corporation, and the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, in order to improve efficiency and productivity. The reintegration into society of former combatants, displaced people, and refugees has proven to be a daunting task. On three separate occasions in May 1998, former soldiers staged violent demonstrations, demanding back pay and pension benefits, an issue that had been complicated by the issuance of falsified demobilization certificates. Ex-soldiers also CRS-4 IB96025 02-06-01 briefly took hostage several dozen government officials, all members of Mr. Taylor’s National Patriotic Party, to highlight their assertion that the government had disbursed only a fraction of a $3 million Taiwanese grant for demobilized troops. Mr. Taylor responded by stating that his government was working on a program that would benefit all ex-combatants, regardless of their former affiliation, that would include vocational training and rehabilitation for the disabled. Veterans, however, again demonstrated in August, 1999. Internally displaced persons (IDP) in Liberia called for assistance help; in April 1999, IDPs demonstrated for government resettlement support. The Humanitarian Situation and Post-War Development. The civil war claimed a high toll on non-combatants. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) estimated that during the war 740,000 of Liberia’s pre-war 2.5 million inhabitants became refugees, that 1.2 million became IDPs, and that between 150,000 and 200,000 persons – and possibly as many as 300,000 – were killed or maimed in the civil war. The war drastically reduced rural food production and cut off international trade, causing hunger and widespread malnutrition. It was not until ECOMOG occupied Monrovia in mid-1990 that foreign humanitarian assistance was able to reach the population. In 1994, the food situation in rural areas again deteriorated. Fighting forced farmers to leave fields unharvested, and aid NGOs abandoned many areas, following the looting of their supplies and other disruptions. In 1996, fighting in Monrovia again resulted in the theft and destruction of NGO supplies and equipment. During the war, countless human rights abuses and atrocities were committed against civilians, often along ethnic lines, and many children were used as fighters by most of the factions. Although large-scale combat ended in early 1997, widespread suffering continued; for months, relief organizations discovered pockets of starving people. Thousands of non-combatants, including many severely malnourished children, emerged from the forests, where they fled to avoid being caught up in the factional violence. Hundreds of people are believed to have perished for lack of food and medicine. The suffering did not go unnoticed. In an April 1998 meeting in Paris, international donors agreed to resume aid to Liberia, and NGOs raised awareness of, and funds for, Liberia. In September, Liberia was listed among countries qualifying for debt relief under the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative. Since the 1997 elections, Liberia has received tens of millions of dollars of foreign assistance. In March 1999, the U.N. Development Program provided Liberia $3.4 million for housing construction and a credit program for small business owners. But Liberia is also highly indebted; the country is in arrears to the OAU and U.N. by about $10 million. In March 2000, Reuters reported that Liberia is one of eight member debtor states sanctioned by the OAU; the governments of these countries may neither vote nor attend meetings until back dues are paid. For the same reason, Liberia does not have voting rights in the U.N. General Assembly. In its Budget Justification 2001, USAID estimated Liberia’s foreign debt at $2.5 billion and domestic debt at $124 million. USAID reports that conditions have improved somewhat. By year 2000, at least 280,000 refugees had re-entered the country, and some 75,000 internally displaced persons had returned to their homes. The U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization has reported an overall improvement in the food situation, but economic conditions remain grim. Rebuilding of demolished infrastructure has been limited, public utilities (plumbing, sewage, and electricity) are severely lacking, and education and health care are still woefully inadequate. Many civil servant salaries are over half a year in arrears. Key development challenges for CRS-5 IB96025 02-06-01 Liberian development identified by USAID in its Budget Justification 2001 are high formal sector unemployment and illiteracy rates, with both rates equaling 80%; low revenue and productivity bases; substantial destruction of public and private institutions and facilities; negligible public utility services; massive corruption; low rates of access to primary health care; a 4.5% national HIV/AIDS infection rate, which is rising; and an annual population growth rate of 3.3% – a rate high enough to outweigh improvements in living standards. Many Liberian refugees remain reluctant to return, fearing ethnically based political violence. For some, conditions in foreign refugee camps remain preferable to those in Liberia; at least 283,000 lived outside Liberia as refugees in 1999. President Taylor and the Political Opposition. Some observers assert that Charles Taylor is convinced that he is the subject of plots by Liberian dissident and foreign governments to overthrow him and that he has been increasingly obsessed with his personal security. The Washington Post has reported that at least three separate security forces are responsible for protecting Mr. Taylor. His fears of being toppled may have been fed not only by rebel raids (see below) but also by the April 1999 junta coup in Mali, in which the country’s president was assassinated; Mr. Taylor publicly urged diplomatic isolation of the new military government. On May 12, 1999, a radio station tied to the Liberian government reported that it had uncovered an anti-government plot. On December 27, 1999, after the coup in Abidjan, President Taylor dispatched troops to guard the border with Côte d’Ivoire. Many opposition politicians and clan chiefs have fled the country, although Taylor has publically urged them to return to Liberia. Mr. Taylor has also exhibited autocratic, sometimes seemingly arbitrary, behavior. In May 1999, for instance, he summarily fired a large number of his cabinet ministers who failed to participate in 3 days of prayer and fasting, although most were reinstated the next day. On August 12, 2000, a pro-Taylor newspaper reported that the Liberian government had become aware of an American plot to destabilize Liberia and assassinate Charles Taylor. U.S. Ambassador Bismarck Myrick refuted the allegation, calling it “false and baseless.” Despite these actions, Mr. Taylor has been described by U.S. diplomats as well read and articulate. Press Restrictions. Mr. Taylor has often voiced concern over media coverage of his government. On January 6, 1998, the government announced, without an immediate explanation, that it was closing the independent newspaper Heritage, which had published articles critical of Liberia’s relations with ECOMOG. The office of the newspaper’s printing contractor was also raided, and the publisher was accused of supporting coup plotters. On January 7, 1998, the government closed Star Radio, a USAID-supported station also supported by several European governments and, on January 14, shut down Radio Monrovia, which carried the Voice of America. The broadcast ban on Radio Monrovia was lifted on January 17. The government attributed the Star Radio shutdown to a dispute with the station over a fine levied for the unauthorized transferral of frequencies. Many saw these events as undermining Liberia’s progress toward democracy; in January, a coalition of diplomats in Monrovia issued a statement expressing concern over human rights violations. On March 15, 2000, the Liberian government shut down Radio Veritas, operated by the Catholic church, and Star Radio, citing, a “security threat created by agents provocateurs using the news media to abuse the unprecedented freedom of speech and press now prevailing in the country,” according to the U.S. Department of State. The stations had aired listener comments critical of the Taylor government. The closure was protested by the U.S. government, Amnesty International, and Liberian journalists. Radio Veritas was later allowed CRS-6 IB96025 02-06-01 to resume broadcasting, provided it limit itself to religious programs, a restriction rejected by Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis (recipient of the 1999 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award). On July 20, 2000, the government ordered Star Radio, which had been off the air since the March closure, to dismantle its equipment. One prominent government critic, former presidential candidate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has repeatedly asserted that, since the 1997 election, the Taylor regime has monopolized political power and economic activity, resulting in the accumulation of personal wealth by elites at the cost of the broad population. She has also stated that opposition members and sympathizers have been hesitant to criticize Mr. Taylor, for fear of jeopardizing their employment prospects, and that the opposition lacks funds for organization. Mrs. JohnsonSirleaf, who lives in exile outside of Liberia, has also faulted the Taylor government for the slow pace of reforms and the “constant intimidation and denial of equal opportunity to opposition figures.” Mr. Taylor has linked Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf to an armed incursion into Liberia and has threatened to arrest her for treason if she enters Liberia. Security Affairs Internal Security. Despite some post-war economic progress, the security situation remained troubled. President Taylor signed the country’s first human rights bill and named former foe Alhaji Kromah head of a national reconciliation commission, but some critics contend that the government made few moves to identify and punish war crime perpetrators. Several events also raised questions about Mr. Taylor’s commitment to human rights. In late 1997, authorities discovered in Gbarnga the remains of prominent opposition leader Samuel Dokie, a former Taylor ally, who left the NPFL in 1994 and later became associated with Johnson-Sirleaf’s Unity Party. Dokie had been tortured and murdered, along with family members and a bodyguard. Three members of the Special Security Service were arrested in the case, but were acquitted for lack of evidence in a February trial. Four other suspects reportedly fled the country. The United States and the EU publicly condemned the Dokie murders and the manner in which a subsequent murder trial was conducted. Ethnic Tensions. In March 1998, former warlord Roosevelt Johnson claimed that his bodyguards had thwarted attempts on his life. On September 18, 1998, in a replay of an April 1996 confrontation that had touched off weeks of violence in Monrovia, Liberian government forces sought to arrest ethnic Krahn leader Roosevelt Johnson in his guarded compound. A gunfight resulted, causing hundreds of Monrovians to flee their homes. Mr. Johnson fled to the American embassy, outside of which gun fighting again erupted, and he and his two sons slipped unbidden through the open embassy gate, while Liberian security forces continued to fire at him, killing four Johnson supporters and wounding two U.S. embassy staff. Due to the high level of violence exhibited by the militiamen, U.S. diplomats refused to release Mr. Johnson into Liberian government custody, and a six-day standoff ensued. The Reverend Jesse Jackson was tasked with negotiating a settlement. On September 24, a Liberian government spokesman, though still demanding that Mr. Johnson be turned over to stand trial for crimes including murder, rape, treason, and kidnaping, stated that Monrovia would not prevent the United States from flying Mr. Johnson out of Liberia. Many aid workers left during the fighting, and thousands of ethnic Krahn fled to Côte d’Ivoire, reversing the prior flow of refugees returning to Liberia. The United States closed its embassy after the incident and demanded an investigation of the shooting, an apology, and a security guarantee from the Taylor government. After an initial refusal, the Liberian government offered an official CRS-7 IB96025 02-06-01 apology on November 14, and the embassy reopened. Mr. Johnson later claimed that hundreds of people were massacred during the gun battle at his home. The Taylor government countered that “no more than 50 or 60” had died. During the raid on the Johnson compound, Liberian forces took into custody dozens of ethnic Krahn. In April, after the lengthy trial for treason of 32 individuals, 13 people were sentenced to 10 years in prison. Washington and other foreign governments closely monitored the trial. In December, Mr. Johnson was added to the list of those guilty of treason, and he and several other faction leaders were tried in absentia. Reuters reported that U.S. Deputy Assistant of State for African Affairs Vicki Huddleston, during a November visit to Monrovia, stated that “transition to democracy requires human rights, rule of law, and this is lacking in Liberia...” External Affairs. The Taylor government’s post-war relationship with ECOMOG was uneasy and sometimes tense. The Taylor government claimed that it wanted ECOMOG to remain in Liberia to ensure security, but serious disputes occurred over ECOMOG’s postconflict role. ECOMOG’s effort to counter the 1997 coup in Sierra Leone was a major source of friction between ECOWAS and Mr. Taylor. When, in February 1998, Sierra Leonean junta leader Johnny Paul Koroma attempted to flee Sierra Leone, ECOMOG aircraft forced his helicopter to land in Liberia. Mr. Taylor objected to the action, labeling it a violation of Liberian sovereignty. Shortly thereafter, an ECOMOG jet fighter made several low passes over Monrovia. Liberia recalled its ambassador to Nigeria, but Mr. Taylor reportedly consulted with Liberian leaders beyond his immediate circle of advisors and decided not to pursue the issue. In mid-March 1998, however, several Nigerian journalists and a defense official, en route home from Sierra Leone, were arrested in Monrovia on drug charges and released only after ECOMOG intervened. In early May, ECOMOG announced it had captured dozens of Liberians fighting for the RUF in Sierra Leone. Mr. Taylor, however, disavowed any Liberian government ties to them and called for all Liberian combatants in Sierra Leone to return home. In October 1999, Liberia closed its western border with conflict-beset Sierra Leone after dispatching 1,000 troops to the area. The deployment was sharply criticized by ECOMOG’s commander, General Malu, who argued that it contravened the Abuja Accord, which had ended the Liberian war. General Malu also asserted that ECOMOG had not completed its mandate of ensuring that Liberia’s post-war national army was smaller and ethically inclusive. Mr. Taylor countered that Liberia’s constitution granted his government authority to raise an army to protect the country’s borders; he apparently viewed ECOMOG as a source of training expertise, rather than of organizational advice. In late November, President Taylor asked ECOWAS to retain a limited force of ECOMOG troops in Liberia beyond its February 2000 pull-out deadline but requested that General Malu be replaced with a more politically sensitive commander. In December, ECOMOG began a phased withdrawal of over 1,000 troops, and after a visit that month by Mr. Taylor to Nigeria, General Malu was replaced by Major General Timothy Shelpidi. The Liberian army’s apparent failure to include members from all former factions during its post-war reformation has been a continuing source of political controversy. In February 1998, former faction leader and then-cabinet minister Roosevelt Johnson asserted that Mr. Taylor had been building an army comprised entirely of heavily armed former NPFL fighters. One month later, three of Mr. Johnson’s bodyguards were allegedly detained and flogged by members of Mr. Taylor’s Special Security Service. In February 2000, Mr. Taylor announced that military reforms would start in May and that the 15,000-strong army would be cut by CRS-8 IB96025 02-06-01 half. In April 2000, he announced that Liberia’s army would receive training assistance from South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria. Armed Incursions. On April 21, 1999, Voinjama, the capital of northwestern Lofa County, near the border with Guinea, was attacked by unidentified gunmen. Before being driven out by government forces, the intruders, who characterized themselves to local residents as anti-Taylor, briefly detained several western diplomats and aid workers. The region in which the raid occurred has traditionally supported the civil war splinter factions ULIMO-K and ULIMO-J. In August 1999, a similar incursion into the same area occurred. The armed raiders captured several towns and took nearly 100 hostages, including ten Europeans, before being routed by the Liberian army. The hostages were released unharmed. President Taylor sharply criticized the Guinean government for harboring the guerrillas, and President Conte of Guinea later turned over the group’s leader to Monrovia. In February 2000, Guinea and Liberia reopened their borders. A third armed incursion was launched from neighboring Guinea into Liberia on July 8, 2000, with an attack by unidentified forces on a small border town near Voinjama. Liberia dispatched a battalion of troops to the area to engage and contain the attack, issued a general mobilization call to “all militiamen” and later declared a state of emergency in the conflict area. By July 10, 2000, the rebels had advanced. Fighting, consistently reported as serious, continued until late October. In mid-October, the Liberian government reported recapturing the town and district of Zorzor and, on October 20, reclaimed control of Voinjama. The Liberian government has since reportedly heavily fortified its northern border. The attackers were identified by Liberian government officials as members of ULIMO-K and ULIMO-J, but a previously unknown group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), later claimed responsibility. LURD stated that it aimed to remove Mr. Taylor from power for committing genocide against the Liberian people and claimed control of a large area, counter to government claims to the contrary. LURD’s assertions could not be independently confirmed, but in September, NGOs undertaking a humanitarian survey in eastern Lofa County refuted the LURD claim to control Zorzor at that time. The Liberian government initially characterized the incursion as “purely diversionary with the aim of attacking Liberian territory from Sierra Leone” and later attributed it to “the massive influx of arms into the sub-region by the British government, under the guise of arming the so-called Sierra Leonean government forces.” The British Foreign Office rejected the Liberian claim. Mr. Taylor also asked Guinean President Lansana Conte to contain “these insurgents out of Guinea,”whom he said also threatened the security of Guinea. He later accused the Conte government of backing the Lofa rebels by allowing their use of Guinean territory to launch raids. The Guinean government rejected the claim, pointing to its decadelong record as a host to thousands of Liberian refugees and its commitment to regional peace as a member of ECOWAS and the OAU. ECOWAS and the Mano River Union (Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone) are working diplomatically to end the conflict. The Lofa fighting appears to be linked to multiple attacks that began in early September 2000 by unknown armed assailants on Guinean towns near Voinjama. The Guinean government attributes at least 900 deaths to these attacks since start of the fighting. It blames the attacks on armed opposition groups whom it accuses Liberia and Burkina Faso of sponsoring, and on members of the RUF fighting on behalf of Liberia, and has closed its border with Liberia. Liberia has made similar counterclaims against Guinea in recent months, CRS-9 IB96025 02-06-01 attributing attacks on Liberia to both ULIMO fighters in Guinea and the Guinean government, which has acknowledged the presence of ULIMO members in Guinea, but “only as refugees.” Each country has reported attacks, by rebels or groups of rebels and regular soldiers of the other country, on border military posts and towns of their respective territories. Liberia claims to have killed Guinean soldiers fighting alongside the Lofa rebels during its recapture of Lofa County and has implied that it may pursue rebels into Guinea. On several occasions since the fighting began, most recently in January 2001, Guinean troops have reportedly shelled Liberian territory. In mid-September, separate reports from Guinea accused the Liberian government of bombing Guinean towns with airplanes and helicopters; these claims were denied by Liberia. In late January 2001, Guinean helicopter gunships reportedly attacked targets in Lofa County, Liberia. The fighting in Guinea has caused thousands of local Guineans and refugees to flee to the Guinean interior and has heightened pre-existing tensions between the Guinean and Liberian governments. In mid January 2001, Liberia recalled its ambassador from Conakry in protest at “continued acts of aggression and unfriendly acts perpetrated by the government of Guinea.” The Guinean government has called for the popular expulsion by Guinean citizens of Liberians and Sierra Leonean refugees – against whom popular resentment exists and whom the government blames for harboring RUF fighters – from its territory. Liberia has stated that it will not reciprocate and will safeguard all persons resident in Liberia. Observers are divided over how to assess the conflict. The Liberian military was first able to dislodge the Lofa rebels after several months of often heavy battles. As a result, in September 2000, top Liberian military leaders were reportedly temporarily placed under house arrest for misleading Mr. Taylor about the status of Liberian military operations against the rebels. For these reasons, the fighting appears to present a serious threat to the Taylor government. Combat in Lofa, however, was not independently verified, and the Liberian government and the rebels voiced conflicting claims over the outcome of battles and the extent of their respective territorial control. In addition, three student leaders were arrested in July for questioning the veracity of the reported rebel incursion, and their doubts mirrored rumors reportedly circulating in Monrovia. Some observers have asserted that the fighting was initially less serious than reported by the Liberian government. They raise the possibility that Mr. Taylor’s objective may be to extend Liberian control into southern Guinea in order to deny his armed opponents access to rear bases, either by direct military engagement or by using a proxy force of Guinean and RUF rebels to undermine Guinean government control of its southern territory. They also raise the possibility that Mr. Taylor may be using the conflict to mask military resource movements aimed at re-supplying the RUF in Sierra Leone. Some observers have also suggested that Mr. Taylor may hope to accomplish these ends while simultaneously providing his fighters with looting opportunities. President Taylor and the Sierra Leone Conflict. In late 1998, international attention focused on Liberia’s involvement in the conflict in Sierra Leone. In the first years of the Liberian civil war, Mr. Taylor’s NPFL had sought to control trade in diamonds and other resources in the Liberian-Sierra Leone border zone and to prevent rivals from exploiting this trade. The NPFL also recruited fighters in Sierra Leone and is believed to have received armed assistance from fighters affiliated with the then-nascent Revolutionary United Front (RUF), a Sierra Leonean rebel movement. Beginning in 1991, the Sierra Leone government had opposed the NPFL by supporting anti-Taylor Liberian armed factions and the actions of ECOMOG in containing the Liberian conflict. Mr. Taylor is widely reported to have assisted CRS-10 IB96025 02-06-01 the RUF and other dissident armed groups in their common effort to weaken successive Sierra Leonean governments. The historical tie between Mr. Taylor and the RUF is widely believed to have endured, with Liberia providing assistance, e.g., arms and logistical support, to the RUF in exchange for diamonds and possibly timber. These actions are said to have contributed significantly to preventing an end to the conflict in Sierra Leone. On December 28, 1998, the U.S. State Department publicly condemned the reported Liberian-RUF relationship, and urged Liberia’s government “to take all necessary steps to stop support for RUF activities emanating from its territory.” In January 1999, State Department spokesman James Rubin was less circumspect, attributing rebel aid directly to the Liberian government. The following month, David Scheffer, U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, threatened sanctions against governments supporting the RUF. In a March House hearing on the situation in Sierra Leone, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice said that the United States had “clear evidence of Liberian involvement with the RUF” and was “prepared to consider punitive measures” against Taylor’s government unless that support was halted. In February, the Liberian Senate President Charles Brumskine called for an investigation of these charges; early in March he resigned, citing loss of party confidence. President Taylor and his ministers have repeatedly denied any government involvement in the Sierra Leone conflict, arguing that the Liberian fighters in Sierra Leone are freelance mercenaries and that his government supports a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In Togo on July 7, 1999, President Taylor, along with the leaders of several other African nations, witnessed the signing of the Lome Accords, a peace agreement between the government of Sierra Leone and the rebels. On October 5, the Liberia-Sierra Leone border was reopened. The following month, however, RUF field commander Sam Bockarie fled to Monrovia after forces loyal to him kidnaped and then released two western aid workers. The Liberian government stated that Bockarie would not be allowed to return to Sierra Leone until disarmament in Sierra Leone is completed. In March and June 2000, however, the existence of intelligence held by western and regional governments that confirmed the RUF-Liberian ties was reported in the international press. Airplanes ferrying wounded fighters, field supplies and food, diamonds, and arms were reported to be flying regularly between core RUF areas in western Sierra Leone and Monrovia and other areas of Liberia. Radio traffic between RUF units, referring to Liberian logistical support, and between the RUF and Liberian officials, was also reportedly intercepted. In addition, Bockarie has publicly stated that RUF troops have received training in Liberia and that some of these troops are directly affiliated with Mr. Taylor’s Anti-Terrorist Unit (ATU). All of these claims have been repeatedly and vociferously denied by the Liberian government, which publicly supports the Lome Accord. President Taylor has sought to demonstrate support for peace by playing a prominent role in negotiating the release of U.N. peacekeepers in Sierra Leone kidnaped by the RUF. In each of at least four separate incidents, hostages kidnaped in Sierra Leone have been transported to and released in Liberia. Observers have questioned whether Mr. Taylor’s consistent involvement and success in gaining the hostage releases are the hallmark of a skilled diplomat and peace negotiator or whether he is protecting a long-standing relationship with an armed ally. In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 12, then-U.S. Representative to the U.N., Richard Holbrooke, implied the latter view. He CRS-11 IB96025 02-06-01 characterized Mr. Taylor’s actions, in relation to events in Sierra Leone, as “irresponsible and conducive to disruption throughout the area,” and stated that President Taylor “is part of the problem; he has not been part of the solution.” In mid-July 2000, on a visit to West Africa, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Pickering held talks with President Taylor, during which he firmly reiterated the U.S. position to Mr. Taylor. On October 10, 2000, then-President Clinton issued a proclamation denying entry into the United States of persons who assist or profit from the armed activities of the RUF rebels fighting the government of Sierra Leone. In a related statement, he declared that the restrictions were to apply immediately to President Charles Taylor, senior members of the Liberian government, and their supporters and families. He stated that the action represented an explicit sanction against the Liberian government for its failure to end its trafficking in arms and illicit diamonds with the RUF, thus fueling the Sierra Leonean conflict. The U.S. State Department also ordered non-essential embassy staff in Monrovia to leave Liberia. The Liberian government responded with a reciprocal visa ban prohibiting U.S. officials and family members from traveling to Liberia. In mid-October 2000, Mr. Taylor reportedly accused the U.S. government of conducting covert intelligence activities to undermine his rule by funding development projects through the Ambassador’s Special Self-Help Fund. He also accused the United States of undermining development by failing to fund infrastructure projects, an assertion that he has voiced in the past. In early November 2000, the Carter Center announced the closure of its Monrovia field office, stating in a letter to the Liberian government that “prevailing conditions and the actions of your government have made it increasingly difficult for the Center and others to be effective in supporting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.” Britain, which has sent troops and military trainers to assist the Sierra Leonean government against the RUF, has also attempted to disrupt the Liberian-RUF relationship by placing pressure on the Liberian government. It succeeded, in mid-June 2000, in gaining the suspension of about $50 million of EU aid to Liberia, against considerable opposition from other EU members. Britain also sought to pressure the World Bank and the U.N. to place conditions on assistance to Liberia as long as alleged Liberian government support for the RUF continues. In response, the Liberian government again denied supporting the RUF and stated that its border with Sierra Leone is porous and that it cannot control the actions of individual Liberians in Sierra Leone who may be involved with the RUF. It said that it would protest British action to ECOWAS and to the OAU. Following the British move, President Taylor told reporters that he had intelligence that “international terrorists” might “use Liberia as a breeding ground for their actions only to spoil the good name of our government” and deployed units of the ATU to Mamba Point, a diplomatic enclave in Monrovia where the British, American, French and other missions are located. Mr. Taylor also ordered British nationals and NGOs, such as Save the Children, to stop work and restrict their travel in Liberia’s western Lofa and Grand Cape Mount counties, which border Sierra Leone, due to “anti-British sentiments being harbored by some individuals” following the EU aid action. He also accused Britain of importing tons of arms into Sierra Leone, with the object of destabilizing Liberia, a charge repeated vis-a-vis hostilities in Lofa County. On July 5, 2000, the U.N. Security Council, in response to the British, American, and Sierra Leone government concerns about the role diamonds have played in fueling the Sierra Leonean conflict, imposed an 18-month ban on trade in Sierra Leonean diamonds. The resolution, S/RES/1306 (2000), specifically called on Liberia to cooperate in upholding the CRS-12 IB96025 02-06-01 ban, which Council members noted had been widely reported as being a major transhipment point for RUF-mined “conflict diamonds.” The Council also stressed the continuing currency of the arms embargo imposed on Liberia by U.N. resolution SC/RES/985 (1995). In July and August 2000, Liberia, along with Burkina Faso, was again accused of illegal diamond trading in support of the RUF during a U.N. hearing on the role of diamonds in the Sierra Leonean conflict. In December 2000, a report was submitted by the Panel of Experts appointed by the U.N. Security Council to investigate violations of Security Council resolutions banning all arms and diamonds trading with Sierra Leone not authorized by that country’s government. It found that the sanctions on arms and diamonds were being broken with impunity and described clear links between trade in arms and weapons. It reported unequivocal and overwhelming evidence that the Liberian government and individuals closely tied to it, in addition to other countries named in the report, were complicit in this trade. It found that Liberia had actively supported the RUF in providing training, arms, logistical support, a staging ground for attacks on Sierra Leone, and safe haven for RUF fighters. The Panel made multiple recommendations aimed at halting the alleged sanctions busting, including a global trade certification scheme for diamonds, an embargo on weapons exports from certain producer countries, a travel ban on senior Liberian officials, and the creation of a permanent U.N. sanctions monitoring unit. The Liberian government has rejected the report’s findings as grossly unsubstantiated, as have Gambia, Burkina Faso, and Ukraine, which are also mentioned in the report. Mr. Taylor denied benefitting from illicit trade, challenged the U.N. to identify and seize any foreign bank account that held such funds, and offered to resign if such proof was found. The Taylor government has stated that it has disengaged itself from the Sierra Leone conflict, ordered RUF insurgents to leave its territory, and grounded all Liberian-registered aircraft. It has stated its readiness to cooperate with the U.N. by allowing it to monitor all Liberian airports, seaports and borders, and has proposed that the U.N. help it counter illicit Liberian diamond trading by setting up a U.N.-monitored, centralized trade certification regime. U.S. and British diplomats counter that Liberia’s claims are lacking in substance and are insufficient in the face of Liberia’s alleged actions. They have stated that the claims represent a cynical, last-minute attempt to avert the report’s recommendations. In late January 2001, the United States introduced a U.N. resolution, strongly backed by Britain, based on the findings and recommendation contained in the Panel report. The punitive measures aim to motivate the Taylor government to end its continued support of the RUF and its engagement in illicit trafficking in arms for diamonds. The resolution calls for a global prohibition on the direct or indirect import of all rough diamonds from or through Liberia; bans flights of Liberian-registered aircraft; bans the export of Liberian timber; broadens a still-current 1992 embargo on the export of arms and related materiel to Liberia; and bans foreign travel of senior Liberian government officials and their adult family members. The sanctions would remain in effect until the U.N. Secretary-General reports that the Liberian government is no longer assisting the RUF. The Liberian foreign minister, Monie Captan, asserts that the proposed sanctions would devastate the people of Liberia and bankrupt the government; timber produces 30% of government revenues, according to Captan. Some Security Council members, including France and China, have expressed reservations about the proposed bans and want time limits CRS-13 IB96025 02-06-01 placed on any sanctions imposed. France has reportedly called for a gradual adoption of the sanctions and an initial exclusion of the timber ban, due to a possible negative impact on the crisis-beset Liberian economy. U.S. Policy Issues Liberian-U.S. Relations Background. U.S. involvement in Liberia grew in the 1960s and 1970s with the installation of two communications facilities to direct U.S. intelligence and diplomatic communications to and from Africa, and the installation of a powerful Voice of America relay station. In the mid-1970s, the United States built another military facility, the Omega navigational station, to guide naval ships and aircraft in the Atlantic Ocean. Even after the 1980 military coup, which effectively ended the Americo-Liberian grip on power, U.S. political and military engagement remained strong. The Doe government continued to receive U.S. support for much of the 1980s, and in return Doe supported U.S. diplomatic initiatives in the U.N. and other U.S. initiatives in Africa. In the late 1980s, Cold War waned, human rights abuses under Doe increased, and U.S.-Liberian relations gradually deteriorated. When the civil war began in December 1989, many Liberians were disappointed that the U.S. did not intervene. Americans were evacuated from Liberia and hopes for a U.S. peacekeeping force were dashed. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Herman Cohen said that although he supported limited intervention by the United States, the majority of an interagency task force on Liberia felt otherwise. The United States, however, stayed engaged diplomatically in negotiations to end the conflict. Washington sought to involve the U.N., albeit unsuccessfully, and later supported ECOMOG financially and diplomatically. Recent U.S. Assistance to Liberia. During the civil war, the United States continued to provide humanitarian aid to Liberia, and this assistance continued this assistance during the post-conflict period (see Table 1, below). In strife-torn Monrovia in 1996, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) delivered water to Liberian refugees holed up in the Greystone compound and sought to bring food into the city by helicopter. USAID coordinated its relief efforts with multi-lateral government agencies and NGOs. In October 1999, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made export credits available to Liberia, among other African countries. From FY1991 through FY2000, no military aid was provided to Liberia. The FY2001 Administration budget request to Congress contains a modest $75,000 International Military and Education Training program request for Liberia. There is no Peace Corps program in Liberia. During calender year 2000 USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives undertook limited, targeted activities focused on initiating independent media projects, fielding a human and legal rights expert to assess Liberia’s rule of law, and funded an independent external audit of the Liberian Central Bank. Recent U.S. Government Actions. Liberia has continued to attract interest on Capitol Hill over the past decade. During a May 1994 congressional hearing, then-Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs George Moose outlined U.S. policy toward Liberia. He stated that the United States supported a negotiated settlement of the conflict that included total disarmament, repatriation of Liberian refugees, free and fair elections, respect for human rights, and improved fiscal management. Moose also testified that the United States was ready CRS-14 IB96025 02-06-01 to consider electoral assistance, refugees repatriation and IDP resettlement, and post-war reconstruction assistance, but warned that U.S. support would depend on Liberian progress toward these goals. On May 8, 1996, after fighting flared up in Monrovia, the House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa held a hearing to review the situation in Liberia and Clinton Administration actions and proposals for dealing with the crisis. On May 16, 1996, the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus urged the Clinton Administration to introduce a U.N. resolution to authorize the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force to restore and maintain order in Liberia. Reuters reported that many Liberians had taken this notion a step further, requesting that their country be taken over by the U.N. as a “trust territory.” Mr. Taylor angrily rejected the proposal, which reportedly had little support among U.N. members. In June 1997 the same Subcommittee held a hearing entitled The Liberian Election: A New Hope? Witnesses included U.S. Special Envoy to Liberia Howard Jeter, as well as NGO representatives. Mr. Jeter reviewed recent developments in Liberia, and described growing U.S. political and financial support since mid-1996 for ECOMOG and for ECOWAS’ effort to ensure “free, fair and credible elections in Liberia.” Kevin George, President of Friends of Liberia, explained the key role of elections in restoring stability to Liberia and described an agenda for post-war development. He stressed the need for reintegration of refugees and ex-combatants into society. Since their country’s civil war began, 12,000-15,000 Liberians have reportedly sought refuge to the United States. The Clinton Justice Department has annually renewed their temporary protective status (technically referred to as “deferred enforced departure”) several times, most recently on September 28, 2000, for an additional year. In March 1999, Senator Jack Reed and Representative Patrick Kennedy introduced legislation (S. 656 and H.R. 919) that would have granted permanent resident status to these Liberian nationals, provided they met other regulatory criteria. In June 2000, 1,193 Liberians were registered as winners of visas to immigrate to the U.S. through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. On June 26, 1999, Britain and the United States shut down 10 of their embassies in Africa, including the U.S. mission in Monrovia, due to possible threats from Islamic militants. The embassy reopened on June 29. Shortly thereafter, a newly formed Liberian anti-terrorist unit was deployed near the embassy, despite U.S. assertions that the situation was secure. On November 2, 2000, the State Department issued a travel advisory against travel in Liberia, particularly in the northwest border region, due to rebel activity in adjacent countries. It also terminated an earlier ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. embassy staff from Liberia but prohibited family members from accompanying U.S. government employees in Liberia. U.S. Issues and Interests. Current U.S. direct private investment in Liberia is low to negligible. In November 2000, Reuters reported that Freedom Gold had been licensed to explore for, and extract, minerals. Freedom Gold is an American mining company chaired by evangelist Pat Robertson that in 1999 had announced plans to invest $10 million in Liberia. U.S. views diverge on whether the United States should provide Liberia with additional assistance and, if so, what type and how much. Some policymakers believe that the historically close relationship between the United States and Liberia obligates the former to take special responsibility in answering Liberia’s humanitarian and developmental needs, help promote a democratic system, and work to stop human rights abuses. They criticize the U.S. response to the Liberian conflict as inadequate. Some in this camp believe it would have been appropriate for the United States to have sent in troops in 1996 to help restore order and CRS-15 IB96025 02-06-01 protect civilians. They point to Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo as recent examples of successful humanitarian interventions, and ask why the same was not done for an African country with historic U.S. ties. Other policymakers, however, see current U.S. interests in Africa in general as peripheral, see no special responsibility toward Liberia in particular, and advocate noninterference in Liberian internal affairs. Although intervention opponents may support humanitarian and developmental assistance, they argue that Liberia is not of strategic importance for U.S. foreign policy interests and that direct U.S. military intervention during the civil war was out of the question. They emphasize that external intervention in civil conflicts is often fruitless and dangerous. As a result of U.S. casualties in Somalia in 1993, they believe that public or congressional support for such an intervention in Liberia would have been lacking. During the 1996 conflict, U.S. policy toward Liberia favored non-intervention. The stated U.S. policy of not recognizing any future Liberian leader who took power by violent means was intended to check the ambitions of faction leaders. The United States also was active in seeking continued cooperation from West African countries, many of whose leaders has wearied of attempting to solve the 8-year old crisis – as was the international community. Following Mr. Taylor’s election, the U.S. government has sought to establish a dialogue with Liberia on key bilateral issues, particularly human rights and democratic strengthening. The Liberian government’s poor human rights record and reported support of the RUF, which the United States has repeatedly condemned, have tested those efforts. The Clinton Administration threatened to take punitive actions against the Taylor government in response to Liberian intervention in Sierra Leone, which has also resulted in congressional calls for hawkish, activist U.S. policy measures to counter these actions. In a May 12, 2000 editorial in the Washington Post, for instance, Senator Judd Gregg stated that “Taylor and his criminal gang must go; every feasible effort ought to be made to undermine his rule.” Table 1. U.S. Assistance to Liberia, FY1990-FY2001 ($ in Millions) a FY1990 FY1991 FY1992 FY1993 FY1994 FY1995 FY1996 FY1997 FY1998 FY1999 FY2000 FY2001 (Req.) Totals ESF .5 1 1.5 CSD 1 2.771 1.802 1.85 7.423 DA 3.742 7.5 7.5 6.5 5 4.89 7.822 42.954 PL 480, Title II 14.509 43.499 52.031 48.901 56.396 30.319 61.281 23.142 30.286 8.278 5.423 4.388 378.453 IMET .398 .075 .473 Total 14.907 43.499 52.031 49.401 60.138 30.319 68.781 31.642 37.786 16.049 12.115 14.135 430.803 Abbreviations: CSD=Child Survival and Diseases; DA=Development Assistance; ESF=Economic Support Fund; IMET=International Military Education and Training. For background on U.S. assistance to Africa, see CRS Issue Brief IB95052, Africa: U.S. Foreign Assistance Issues. Note: All figures are USAID-reported actual appropriations, except requested appropriations for FY2001. a. 1990 was the last year of funding for the Peace Corps program in Liberia, which received $1.897 million. CRS-16