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Angola - Foreign Relations

Angola seeks a more prominent role in the region. It has engaged constructively in helping stabilize neighboring DRC (a strategic Angolan objective,) and it has provided some limited forces to peacekeeping operations in select parts of Africa but could do so much more in this regard. As chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC] Troika of the Organ on Politics, Defense, and Security Cooperation, Angola is pivotal in SADC efforts to find a solution to the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe.

From 1975 to 1989, Angola was aligned with the Soviet Union and Cuba. Since then, it has focused on improving relationships with Western countries, cultivating links with other Portuguese-speaking countries, and asserting its own national interests in Central Africa through military and diplomatic intervention, though ties with Cuba remain strong. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, initially the real contenders for hegemony in Angola were the US on one hand and the Europeans - EC members or not - on the other. The latter had the advantage of not having been identified with either rival during the civil war, which is not the case of the US-supported UNITA.

Increasingly, Angola is taking a larger leadership role in regional peace and security organizations such as the SADC and the African Union (AU). Angola joined the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in order to improve ties with its largely Anglophone neighbors to the south and east. Angola held the SADC presidency from September 2011 to September 2012. Multilaterally, Angola has promoted the revival of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries (CPLP) as a forum for cultural exchange and a means of expanding ties with Portugal and Brazil. Angola was elected to a 2-year term on the Council for Peace and Security of the African Union in January 2012 and assumed the rotating presidency of this body in April 2012. Angola also participates in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

During the 27 years of civil war, Angolas relations with its neighbors, particularly Mobutus Zaire and Zambia, were poor because both countries had links with UNITA. During the late 1990s Zambia had emerged as UNITA's primary point of supply, despite UN sanctions. Relations have since been normalised. Relations with its southern neighbour, Namibia, have always been excellent since Angola allowed SWAPO to use Angolan territory during its liberation struggle. Zaire also intervened in the conflict, as it had a long-standing border dispute with the Angolan government. Many skirmishes took place as a result of this feud until the agreement of 1978 between Agostinho Neto and Mobuto settled the quarrel. In 1996 Rwanda and Angola launched a successful war of to overthrow President Mobutu of the DRC. In 1997, Angolan and Namibian troops went in to Kinshasa to support Laurent Kabila against Ugandan/Rwandan forces. The invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in August 1998 by the armed forces of Uganda and Rwanda was successfully thwarted by the armed forces of Angola and Zimbabwe. They later withdrew, although Angola engaged in training the new Congolese army. In August 2002 Angola brokered an agreement between the DRC and Uganda on the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from the DRC.

Relations with South Africa, traditionally cool politically, improved in 2005 with the signature of a series of trade and cooperation agreements. Personal animosity between President Dos Santos and former South African President Mbeki had kept Angola-South Africa relations in the deep freeze for quite a while. In his maiden foreign diplomatic foray since assuming office, South African President Jacob Zuma visited Angola 19-21 August 2009. Zuma's singling out Angola as the destination for his first official foreign visit was well noted and duly appreciated by his Angolan hosts. Zuma's visit marks a turning point in the heretofore frosty relations between southern Africa's two heavy-weights. Using almost identical words, the two presidents separately termed the visit the launch of a new era of cooperation, committing to build a strategic partnership through continued high-level engagement.

Angola does offer South Africa a potentially lucrative partner for greatly expanded trade and investment. The biggest obstacle may well prove to be a clash of pride between the two nations, with Angola harboring notions of some day playing a much bigger role diplomatically and economically in the region, an expanded role that could clash with rather than complement South Africa's own preeminence.

For a long period, Angola's natural allies were the countries of the Soviet Bloc, including Cuba. At the height of Cubas engagement, there were 60,000 Cuban troops in Angola. They left in 1990. Western investment in the oil sector has changed the balance. For example, the USA supported UNITA for 2 decades and did not recognise the MPLA government until 1993. It is now a strong ally of the MPLA through the American oil majors. Angola's membership of lusophone organisations has brought her close to Brazil, a key commercial partner, and Portugal. Relations with China, long cool because of China's early support for UNITA, have been significantly enhanced by the new US$3 billion lines of credit agreed since 2004. Relations with France, frosty for several years, improved in 2007. Angola has good relations with the UK, enhanced by Ministerial visits in both directions.

Angola is one of Russia's key partners in the African region. The two countries have a common stance on a number of global issues, including the Syrian conflict. In 2013, Russia agreed to supply arms and military equipment to Angola worth $1 billion, including spare parts for the Soviet-made weaponry, light weapons, ammunition, tanks, artillery and multi-purpose helicopters.

Angola is firmly committed to the UN system. As an African nation, emerging from almost 30 years of civil war, Angola has substantial interest to having effective mechanisms for multilateral cooperation that complement our bilateral and regional relationships.

The UN's importance to Angola can be seen in core areas, such as international peace and security (including arms control and disarmament) and the development of international legal instruments and norms. It is also found in the work of the UN's programs and technical agencies, which deal with issues such as the provision of humanitarian assistance, assistance to vulnerable groups such as women and children, and protection of the environment and sustainable development.

One of Angola's main priorities in the UN's agenda has been the question of peace in the world, Africa, and particularly in sub-Sahara region. Angola has actively supported the UN popular consultation process at the UN Security Council level, to restore order and stability around the globe.

Terrorism has become increasingly an international issue, and close cooperation between governments has proved to be crucial. The UN plays a key role in the fight against the terrorist threat by providing a forum for the negotiation of international conventions. The existing conventions adopted by the UN impose a duty on parties either to extradite or prosecute an alleged terrorist found in their territory. The aim of these conventions is to limit the countries where terrorists may find safe haven.

Angola sees global disarmament efforts as central to international peace and security. As a member of the United Nations Angola is working hard to maintain progress on a range of issues such as arms and control initiatives. At the Security Council, Angola played a valuable role in enhancing the effectiveness of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime in the coming future.

Angola is also focused on expanding the international arms control agenda to address the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Angola also played a constructive role and has taken a tough stance on matters related to Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects, which has resulted in the adoption of an international program of action addressing areas such as management of weapons stockpiles, export controls and transparency.

Angola is a long-standing supporter of the UN's role in peacekeeping. Emerging from some three decades of civil war Angola have largely contributed to the promotion of policies enabling peace and security around the globe.

The UN's agenda on global environment issues is also a high priority for the Angolan Government. Angola is a signatory to a number of conventions on environmental protection and conservation.

Another important area for Angola in the UN system is the development and strengthening of international legal instruments and norms. Angola has been at the forefront of efforts to create an International Criminal Court (ICC) to address serious crimes of concern to the international community. On October 7 1998, Angola signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as a clear sign of our commitment to justice as well as strengthen the international legal system.

Angola also sees an important role for the UN in the promotion and protection of human rights. We are committed to the effective functioning of the UN's human rights system, which includes a suite of treaties and declarations, bodies such as the Human Rights Council, and a range of mechanisms for monitoring and advising States on human rights issues. Angola is a party to all major human rights treaties.

The Republic of Angola has been a strong proponent of revitalizing the UN for some time - not for reform's sake itself, but to make the system more efficient and effective, and more accountable to its Member States. Angola has for some time held the view that the Security Council should be enlarged to better reflect contemporary global political realities.





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