Foreign policy and defense
Based on geographical map from Digopaul, Liberia is a nation in Western Africa. Its capital city is Monrovia. Liberia had long ties with the United States and received extensive US support after the Second World War. Politically dominated by Americanized slave settlements, the country had for a long time had a relatively limited exchange with its West African neighbors.
Following Samuel Do’s takeover of power in 1980, US financial support increased, including for the CIA intelligence service to use Liberia to counter Libya’s influence in Africa and to promote Israel’s interests on the continent. During the 1990s civil war, the United States mainly provided military and financial support to the world’s peace efforts.
- Countryaah: Overview of business holidays and various national observances in Liberia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
The post-1989 conflicts in Liberia had links to the entire region and affected developments in several countries. The West African Economic Cooperation Organization Ecowas sent a military squad, called Ecomog, in 1990 to try to make peace in Liberia. Ecomog was dominated by soldiers from the former British colonies of Nigeria and Ghana and eventually grew to about 13,000 men.
But while Ecomog protected the Liberian interim government, it came to be perceived by the rebels as a belligerent party. In addition, Nigeria’s dominant role was debated, as the country at the same time seemed to act as both peacemaker and arms supplier. A direct result of Ecomog’s intervention was that NPFL Rebels leader Charles Taylor helped his Sierra Leonean friend Foday Sankoh to form the Ruf rebel movement, which in 1991 took up arms against the army in Sierra Leone. This was Taylor’s revenge for Sierra Leone’s participation in Ecomog, which had prevented the NPFL from conquering Monrovia and taking power. In response to Taylor’s participation in the Sierra Leonean civil war, the neighboring government helped Liberian refugees fight the NPFL.
In 2000, the EU held promised aid of the equivalent of almost half a billion as a penalty for Taylor, who was then president, providing support to Ruf. The Liberian government was accused of holding guerrillas with new weapons and helping it smuggle out illegally broken diamonds. In 2001, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the Liberian government for its support for Ruf. Arms sales to Liberia were banned, as were diamonds and later timber exports from Liberia. Following the democratically elected government in 2006, the Security Council decided in June that year to lift the ban on timber exports. In 2007, the sanctions against diamond exports were also abolished.
Charles Taylor stayed during his country escape in the 1980s (see Modern History), among others in Libya and Burkina Faso, and built close ties with the governments there. NPFL received most of its weapons from both countries, which were smuggled in via the Ivory Coast. The French state and the arms industry also had good relations with Taylor for a long time. As Ruf weakened and the illegal trade with Sierra Leone was made more difficult by the United Nations, Taylor increasingly turned to the Ivory Coast, where he cultivated contacts with regime-critical groups in the military, among others. Liberian soldiers took part in the armed uprising that erupted in Ivory Coast in 2002 and the regime there is considered to have played a major role in the formation of the Model Rebel movement (see Modern History), who joined the rebellion against Taylor in early 2003.
Guinea was also drawn into the conflict in Liberia. Guinea received large numbers of Liberian refugees in the early 1990s and, like Sierra Leone, supported the militia that fought Taylor. Following the new outbreaks in northwestern Liberia in 1999, according to the UN and other sources, the Lurdre rebels (see Modern History) received significant support from the Guinean state.
Following the fall of the Taylor regime in 2003, Liberia’s relations with neighboring countries have been gradually normalized.
However, unrest has occurred in the border area between Liberia and Ivory Coast. Liberian mercenaries have been beaten on both sides during the violence in the neighboring country in the 21st century. In 2012 came reports that forces loyal to former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo were building new militia groups in eastern Liberia that made raids into the Ivory Coast (see also Ivory Coast: Calendar). In the autumn of the same year, the two countries’ governments agreed to work together to end this.
Compared to many other African countries, China has only had a limited presence in Liberia. However, since the Ebola epidemic began to erupt, China has promised to build new roads and several government buildings.
After Samuel Doe’s death in 1990, Liberia had long lacked a national army in the real sense. During the first civil war of 1989-1996, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) were in practice only a militia among others, and during Taylor’s time in power, the army consisted largely of former NPFL soldiers.
A new national defense force has begun to be built up and in mid-2015 consisted of approximately 2,500 men. The hope is that from mid-2016 it will be able to take over UNmil’s tasks. Until then, the order is maintained primarily by the UN force, which, after gradual cuts in the autumn of 2015, consisted of 3,590 soldiers and close to 1,500 police. Unmil came to Liberia in September 2003 and is mandated by the Security Council to stay until June 30, 2016; after that, only a small troop force remained in the country (see Calendar). At most, Unmil consisted of nearly 15,000 soldiers and a thousand police officers. From March 2004 to November 2006, Sweden contributed a heavily equipped mechanized army band of approximately 230 men.
A significant feature of all armed groups in Liberia during the war years was the large proportion of child soldiers.
FACTS – DEFENSE
Army: 2,000 men (2017)
The fleet: 50 men (2017)
Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 0.6 percent (2017)
Military spending’s share of the state budget: 1.7 percent (2017)
An anti-corruption commission is formed.
Court for crimes against women
A special court for violence against women is set up.
Premiere for census
The first census since 1984 is implemented.