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Military

February 3, 1999

ANGOLA'S 'DIRTY WAR': BOTH SIDES MUST RETURN TO THE CONFERENCE TABLE

With Jonas Savimbi's rebel UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) seizing town after town closer to Luanda and President dos Santos promising during his new government's swearing-in to smash the rebel movement once and for all, African observers expressed dire concern that Angola's decades-long civil war has again escalated. Most writers concluded, along with Lagos's independent Post Express, that "it is too late for either UNITA or the Angolan government in Luanda to expect a clear military victory in the conflict" and that "the best way to resolve these conflicts remains in the time-tested resort to the conference table." Both sides were urged to show more of a willingness "to make concessions" in order to end hostilities. Ouagadougou's independent Le Pays opined that, in fact, the best chance for Angola's future lies in "the emergence of a new political elite." These were additional themes:

UN'S DEPARTURE: Most papers strongly opposed the curtailment of UN operations in Angola, as recommended by Secretary General Kofi Annan. Harare's government-controlled Daily Chronicle called the UN's departure "a naked demonstration of the most monumental abdication of responsibilities...as peacemaker, to the forces of evil." Ouagadougou's independent Le Pays opined, "If the 'mouthing off' of Mr. Santos can be justified because the UN is nothing but an instrument in the hands of the United States, and because of this, cannot guarantee peace, it still remains true that by its presence, it [the UN] served at least as an observatory for humanitarian aid, gave security to those who provided this aid and constituted an alarm for the people in distress." A Nigerian daily pleaded for the "UN to quickly return to the scene in Angola."

OUTSIDE INTERVENTION: Observers' gravest criticism, however, was reserved for the alleged involvement of outsiders--including Zambia, Namibia, international diamond mining interests and Cuba. Pundits charged that by arming the belligerents--in most cases the UNITA war machine--outsiders had prolonged Angola's "dirty war" in which "civilian populations pay the high price" of the conflict. Lusaka's church-affilated weekly National Mirror called on the UN, the OAU and the Southern African Development Community to initiate "a full-scale inquiry" into Angola's allegations that Zambia is supplying arms to UNITA. Windhoek's independent Republikein 2000 remarked that Namibians should not be surprised if indeed Namibian soldiers are fighting in the Angolan civil war on the side of the government's MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), and warned Namibia's leaders not to look "so far beyond our borders that they stumble over the country's problems." The South African media reported that 2,000 Cuban soldiers are alleged to be deployed in Angola to assist the MPLA government. Pretoria's Afrikaans-language, centrist Beeld commented that to introduce such a foreign element would make the situation that much more volatile.

This survey is based on 9 reports from 7 countries, January 20-February 3.

EDITOR: Gail Hamer Burke

To Go Directly To Quotes By Region, Click Below

|  AFRICA  |   

AFRICA

BOTSWANA: "Weep For Angola"

The independent Gazette implored (1/20): "Weep for the generation of Angolans who have never known peace since they embarked upon their war of liberation from Portuguese colonial rule in 1961. Weep for the tens of thousands of Angolans who have lost their limbs to the millions of land mines scattered indiscriminately across the countryside. Weep for the children who have never been to school; who have spent their childhood fleeing from village to village, from town to town as war ranged back and forth. But above all, we should weep tears of frustration over the impotence of the United Nations, which has allowed the peace negotiated in 1994 to disappear.

"Angola is a rich prize. With the huge resources of oil, diamonds and other minerals and a fertile agricultural environment. It is no wonder that America fought a proxy war in that country using apartheid South African troops to keep the country from falling under the control of the former Soviet Union, which in turn used proxy Cuban troops in their ideological battle against the United States. The Organization of African Unity failed to broker peace and, true to form, buried its head in the sand. SADC was also helpless because some members continued to support Savimbi.... There are very strong suspicions that business interests with their eye on Angolan diamonds continue to supply the bandit army with weapons and other supplies. Unless these channels of support can be cut, then there is little hope that Savimbi will be defeated. This is why it is particularly disappointing that the UN peace-keeping force was unable to stop supplies from reaching Savimbi or even making any serious attempts at identifying sources of Savimbi's financial and material aid. The UN spent over $1 billion in its four years in Angola for nothing. The ball is therefore back in our own court, and we appeal to SADC countries to start an initiative to bring peace to Angola before a second generation grows up knowing only war."

BURKINA FASO: "Needed: The Emergence Of A New Political Class"

Independent Le Pays commented in its rubric, "Internal Dialogue" (2/3): "If the 'mouthing off' of Mr. Santos can be justified because the UN is nothing but an instrument in the hands of the United States, and because of this, cannot guarantee peace, it still remains true that by its presence, it [the UN] served at least as an observatory for humanitarian aid, gave security to those who provided this aid and constituted an alarm for the people in distress. In any case, the chances for peace in Angola reside in keeping in the backroom the old political class and for the future the emergence of a new political elite."

"Angola, The Dirty War"

Satirical weekly Le Journal du Jeudi held (1/28), "In this new logic of war, it is again the civil populations who will pay the high price. It is more than time for the international community to mobilize further if it wants to avoid innocent people paying for the deadly madness of men avid for power. The United Nations is particularly called on to bring down the mistrust that exists between the two parties. If by the repatriation of its Blue Helmets [the UN] has created the first failure, its responsibilities will be even greater should the logic of war become the only alternative."

NAMIBIA: "Namibia And The Angolan War"

Independent Republikein 2000 opined (1/26), "It shouldn't come as a surprise to Namibians, if it comes to pass that Namibian soldiers are indeed fighting in the Angolan civil war on the side of Mr. Jose Eduardo dos Santos' MPLA. It will be surprising if Namibia is not already involved, or that the Congo cease-fire is a way out through the back door for Namibia, to get out of Congo and into Angola. Question: If President Sam Nujoma's funeral speech is to be taken seriously, it will be [dereliction] of duty if Mr. Nujoma doesn't assist the MPLA government. There is no political maneuvering which Mr. Nujoma can offer not to come to MPLA's assistance, especially compared to the reasons why Namibia came to Kabila's assistance. Since Namibia proved in the DROC involvement that it can't be trusted...circumstantial evidence will do in the case of Angola.... Mr. Nujoma claimed that Namibia's own security was the reason for his involvement in the DROC.... Angola is a neighbor...and the war in Angola threatens Namibia's peace more than the rebellion in Congo.... That there are better reasons to help MPLA than Kabila, doesn't mean Namibia must give assistance.... Namibian leaders mustn't look so far beyond our borders that they stumble over the country's problems."

NIGERIA: "Return To The Conference Table"

Lagos's independent Post Express held (2/3), "The best way to resolve these conflicts (in Angola) remains the time-tested resort to the conference table. The insistence on armed conflict has failed in the Angolan instance for far too many years. It is too late for either UNITA or the Angolan government in Luanda to expect a clear military victory in the conflict. A bit more talking and a basic willingness to make concessions is what the situation requires. Even then, a situation needs to be urgently restored for the UN to quickly return to the scene in Angola."

SOUTH AFRICA: "2,000 Cubans On The Way?"

Afrikaans-language, centrist Beeld held (2/3), "The African and international communities need to keep a check on the situation in Angola if the reports that 2,000 Cuban soldiers are on their way there are true. Not because 2,000 soldiers might present a danger for the continent or any of its countries, but the scene might change if Fidel Castro uses this to gain a foothold in Africa.... The news...must have sent a shiver down the neck of many South Africans. The last of the Cubans left in 1989.... The situation in Angola nowadays is more or less the same as then.... To throw 2,000 foreign soldiers in that boiling pot is not a solution."

ZAMBIA: "Take Angola Threat Seriously"

The church-affiliated weekly National Mirror opined (1/23): "The Chiluba government should take seriously recent allegations by Angola that Zambia is supplying arms to the rebel UNITA movement of Jonas Savimbi.... If the assertions by the Angolans are true--and there is no smoke without fire--then there must be some top government leaders involved.... The United Nations, the Organization of African Unity and the Southern African Development Community should institute a full-scale inquiry into the allegations [as] the persistence of these allegations by Angola shows that it has no faith in this government, and, therefore, the Lusaka peace protocol that it brokered in order to reach a cease-fire in Angola is viewed merely as having been a ruse to divert attention from dirty work going on in [Zambia's] backyard."

"Nonsensical Allegations"

The government-owned Zambia Daily Mail contended (1/20): "Allegations that Zambia is providing logistical and military support to the Angolan rebel movement, UNITA, just don't make sense at all...[since] the need for landlocked Zambia to have genuine peace in all its neighboring countries is as real as the effort being made by the country to assist in achieving political serenity in the region.... All these accusations are beginning to look like an attempt to draw Zambia into one conflict or another in the region. But as already stated, Zambia has no reason to be involved in the [Angola] conflict other than through dialogue and it is best that other countries or stakeholders in the conflicts gave peace a chance and leave Zambia out of its conflicts."

ZIMBABWE: "UN's Stance Questionable"

A broadside editorial in the government-controlled Daily Chronicle (1/21) strongly opposed the curtailment of UN operations in Angola, as recommended by Secretary General Kofi Annan: "The UN's stance on Angola is likely to leave many wondering what this body is for.... Here is a naked demonstration of the most monumental abdication of responsibilities by the UN, as peacemaker, to the forces of evil. To abandon the suffering masses of Angola by pulling out of that country, is clearly to pave the way for war rather than doing everything possible, as the progressive world community would have expected, to stop war. Not only that, but the UN, by facilitating destructive war through its departure, is aligning itself with UNITA rebels who have steadfastly refused to honor peace accords or to support numerous peace initiatives by either the UN or the OAU. And to state, as Annan is quoted as saying, that the Luanda government, like UNITA, does not want to resolve the dispute by diplomatic means, is the most amazing thing to come from an African, who should be well aware of with the real situation in Angola. Annan's position is at best a sign of deliberate ignorance and, at worst, a cover-up for UNITA. If diplomacy has failed in Angola, as indeed it has, it is principally the UN's diplomacy which has proved to be toothless because those behind it are probably collaborators of Jonas Savimbi's and his bandits. The document on Angola circulated in New York also makes one wonder if it was authored by Annan himself or if it was dictated by forces in the West whose decisions hold sway in the UN and who have always backed the UNITA rebels."

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2/3/99

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