The West African Regional War Essay

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The West Africa Regional War For observers of the West Africa regional war, the recent calm in the war-torn Mano River Union (MRU) states Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea has given rise to optimism. Guarded, as this optimism might be, the decrease in violence in West Africa during the second half of 2001 is an important development given the scope and intensity of fighting that gripped these states earlier in the year. While observers agree that the current absence of widespread violent conflict in the MRU is a much-welcomed development, it must not mask the profound cleavages within these societies, the tenuous nature of the UN-imposed peace in Sierra Leone, and the continued serious threat of renewed warfare in the region. A brief…show more content…
The end of the 1990s housed over 500,000 refugees housed in hundreds of camps and settlements in Guinea, one of the largest refugee populations in the world (U.S. Commission for Refugees, Guinea: Country Report 1999, www.refugees.org/world/countryrpt/africa/1999/guinea.htm). While the destabilizing effects on Guinean society of large numbers of Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees was profound throughout the 1990s, sustained cross-border conflict did not break out between Guinea and her neighbors until 2000. Cross-border attacks into Guinea by Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and various Liberian-based rebel groups precipitated a harsh military response from the Guinean military, which led to thousands of militia and civilian casualties. Of course, fighting in West Africa during the 1990s was not confined to the MRU states. Serious bloodshed occurred in Guinea-Bissau (1999), the southern Casamance region of Senegal (ongoing), and Nigeria (ongoing) and conflict threatens to engulf c?te d'Ivoire. Sometimes referred to as "the arc of conflict" in West Africa, these wars escape simple classification. While the war that started in 1989 in Liberia has become regionalized in the rest of the MRU, the other areas of instability in West Africa are based on intra-state phenomena. Nevertheless, the broader and deeper that instability grows in West Africa, the greater the risk that conflicts will merge and spread, further
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