The talks now under way between four of the main protagonists in the Angolan war - Angola, Cuba, South Africa and the United States - may just bring about a settlement. Yet peace remains a plausible outcome at best. South Africa has committed its forces to regular combat in Angola for thirteen years. In so doing, it has sought primarily to restrict the activities of exiled Namibian guerrillas based on Angolan soil. The decision of Angola's Marxist government to provide bases not only for the Namibian liberation movement, Swapo, but also for the African National Congress has incurred Pretoria's unmitigated fury and there can be little doubt that Angola has been a reluctant host. At the same time, South Africa's presence in Angola and its co-option of the Angolan rebel movement Unita have been consistent with the broader regional doctrine known as destabilisation, based on the (astute) belief that disarray in neighbouring states protracts the life of minority rule at home. The Angolan Government has relied heavily on the presence of 45,000 Cuban troops to combat South Africa and Unita, while the rebels themselves receive additional support from Washington. Disentangling this complex web of interests and arriving at a settlement will not be easy.
LRB 1 September 1988 | PDF Download