Case Study: Intervention in Sierra Leone
Zartman, I William
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Sierra Leone is a case of state collapse, in which the conflicts of the 1990s were not an independent event but merely the work of the maggots on a dead body. Thus no intervention could have done anything more, at best, than removing the momentary parasites taking advantage of the situation. It would require a longer, deeper, and more sustained effort of the Sierra Leoneans, necessarily with help from the international community, to restore a functioning political, economic and social structure necessary to prevent a recurrence of conflict. At the same time, it is noteworthy that this internal conflict was not an ethnic conflict, despite some secondary ethnic ramifications. The collapse of the Sierra Leonean state, already a weak creation of colonization and decolonization, took place under the long reign of Siaka Stevens (1968-85) and his All Peoples Congress (APC) drawing primarily on the interior Temne and Limba people from the northern part of the country, reacting against the previous predominance of the coastal Mende people from the south and east. Collapse was consummated under Stevens" handpicked, ineptsuccessor, Gen. Joseph Momoh, overthrown by dissatisfied junior officers led by Capt Valentine Strasser in April 1992. The main rebel groups operated under the name of the Revolutionary United Force (RUF), led by ex-cpl Foday Sankoh and Samuel Bokarie and operating with the active support of the rebel movement and then the government of Liberia under Charles Taylor. The rebellion expanded into neighboring countries and then wore down under the falling away of external and internal support.