- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2003

‘Speedy intervention’

African ambassadors in Washington are urging President Bush to send U.S. troops to Liberia as part of an international force to end the civil war in the West African nation, where 250,000 people have died in 12 years of conflict.

The “situation in Liberia has turned chaotic and warrants an immediate and sustained attention to help end the carnage and heed the desperate call [for peace] by Liberians of all walks of life,” said the African Diplomatic Corps, headed by Ambassador Roble Olhaye of Djibouti.

The ambassadors, in an open letter, called on Mr. Bush “to take a lead role in the nascent efforts under way in Liberia toward the achievement of an enduring peace and sustainable development in that part of Africa, which witnessed over the last decade violent crimes, unmitigated human suffering and brutality, dislocation and wanton destruction.”

The letter is titled, “Africa urges a speedy intervention in the crisis in Liberia.”

Mr. Bush yesterday met with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who also was urging the United States to intervene in Liberia to stop the fighting between President Charles Taylor and rebel armies that were threatening to take the capital, Monrovia. Mr. Bush has insisted that Mr. Taylor, an indicted war crimes suspect, go into exile before the president considers committing troops to the country.

Liberia was founded by freed American slaves in the 19th century.

The African ambassadors, representing about 50 countries, said the United States should “play a key role in all aspects of the peacekeeping operation” planned by countries of the Economic Community of West African States. That role would include the “provision of manpower and logistics and … direct support and help in any way possible.”

The ambassadors also praised Mr. Bush for his visit to Africa last week.

“This underscores the level of commitment the U.S. administration attaches to strengthening the bond between Africa and the United States and to enhancing the well-being, stability and progress of Africa,” they said.

The Afghanistan test

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah yesterday warned the United States that it must pump more money into the reconstruction of his country or lose credibility in the war on terrorism.

“Can we afford to fail the test in Afghanistan and be hopeful the we will make it somewhere else?” Mr. Abdullah asked yesterday at a forum organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Washington.

He insisted the “test is in Afghanistan,” where U.S. troops overthrew the Islamic extremist Taliban government and disrupted the terrorist base of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network after the September 11 attacks of 2001.

Mr. Abdullah said too little has been done to restore the country, where President Hamid Karzai has authority in the capital, Kabul, but warlords still control large areas of the rugged and lawless border lands.

“Are we doing enough? While grateful for the great contributions from the international community, I think and I believe strongly that we are not doing enough,” he said.

“If, in the year 2004, Kabul citizens are still in the dark because of [a lack of] electricity … this government will lose credibility [and] its friends will lose credibility.”

The foreign minister called for another international aid conference to commit up to $20 billion over the next five years, Reuters news agency reported. Donors have pledged $4.5 billion in aid but much of the promised money has not arrived, Mr. Abdullah said.

Kosovo’s next phase

Former U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, architect of the Bosnian peace plan, believes independence is the only solution for the Serbian province of Kosovo, the scene of massive fighting, ethnic cleansing and caravans of refugees in the late 1990s.

“Four years have passed since the end of the fighting, and Kosovo has developed a deep independent character with the support of the international community. Now it is time to pass on to the next phase,” the former assistant secretary of state told the Kosovo newspaper Koha Ditore.

The United States, which bombed Serbian forces to stop their offensive against Kosovar rebels in 1999, should support an independent state in Kosovo, he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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