“Liberian President George Weah’s trip to New York last month for the United Nations General Assembly was an unmitigated disaster for the West African country’s prestige and interests. The State Department gave Weah and his delegation (with the exception of Finance Samuel D. Tweah, Jr.) highly restrictive visas usually reserved for delegations from rogue regimes”, Says Michael Rubin, an American writer and fixer or public relations expert based in the United States, who has turned a staunch George Weah critic.
In a write-out released today on the Liberian leader’s trip to the UN General Assembly recently, Rubin said: “To disprove the reality that Weah received no high-profile meetings, he photobombed U.S. officials in an attempt to deceive the Liberian public. Perhaps partisan supporters accepted the fraud, but such behavior is amateurish and reflects poorly on Liberia at a time when Liberians hope to attract foreign investment.”
He said that was only the tip of the iceberg, however. “Visiting Brooklyn, Weah quipped on camera, after four years, it’s good to be back home.” Rubin stated that this is a curious sentiment for an elected leader of another country. President Barack Obama welcomed his return to Kenya and Indonesia, countries in which he respectively had family connections and spent part of his youth, but he never turned his back on the United States as his one true home.”
He added that Weah spokesmen demur discussion rather than deny that supposed dual citizenship. While under U.S. law dual citizens must enter or depart the United States with their American passport, it is unclear whether the State Department would make an exception for a foreign head-of-state, he pointed out in the case of the Liberian President.
Weah’s situation would not be unique, he added, referencing that former Somali president Mohamed Farmajo renounced his U.S. citizenship in order to bolster his nationalist credentials ahead of his unsuccessful re-election bid.
According to Michael Rubin, Farmaajo may regret his decision given his loss, but U.S. law does not permit temporary suspension of dual citizenship and so he has no recourse to regain his status nor is it clear that the State Department would even issue him a visa given his record of corruption as Somalia’s leader.
Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, meanwhile, resigned earlier this year after journalists reported he held dual citizenship with the Caribbean nation St. Kitts and Nevis, Rubin continued.
“Weah may prefer to keep his status secret. As with Armenia, Liberian law does not allow the president to hold foreign citizenship. At the same time, the likelihood Weah would lose a free and fair election makes him unwilling to repeat Farmaajo’s actions and risk his ability to return “home” to New York.”
Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).