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Angolan Civil War

The Angolan Civil War (Portuguese: Guerra civil ango- 1 Outline of main combatants
lana) was a major civil conflict in Angola, beginning in
1975 and continuing, with some interludes, until 2002. Angola’s three rebel movements had their roots in the
The war began immediately after Angola became inde- anti-colonial movements of the 1950s.[14] The MPLA
pendent from Portugal in November 1975. Prior to this, was primarily an urban based movement in Luanda and its
a decolonisation conflict, the Angolan War of Indepen- surrounding area.[14] It was largely composed of Mbundu
dence (1961–74), had taken place. The civil war was es- people. By contrast the other two major anti-colonial
sentially a power struggle between two former liberation movements were rurally based groups, the FNLA and
movements, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of UNITA.[14] The FNLA largely consisted of Bakongo peo-
Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total In- ple hailing from Northern Angola. UNITA, an offshoot
dependence of Angola (UNITA). At the same time, the of the FNLA, was mainly composed of Ovimbundu peo-
war served as a surrogate battleground for the Cold War ple from the Central highlands.[14]
and large-scale direct and indirect international involve-
ment by opposing powers such as the Soviet Union, Cuba,
South Africa and the United States was a major feature 1.1 MPLA
of the conflict.[14]
Main article: MPLA
The MPLA and UNITA had different roots in the An-
golan social fabric and mutually incompatible leader-
ships, despite their shared aim of ending colonial rule. Since its formation in the 1950s, the MPLA’s main so-
Although both had socialist leanings, for the purpose of cial base has been among the Ambundu people and
mobilising international support they posed as "Marxist– the multiracial intelligentsia of cities such as Luanda,
Leninist" and "anti-communist", respectively.[15] A third Benguela and Huambo.[16] During its anti-colonial strug-
movement, the National Front for the Liberation of gle of 1962–74, the MPLA was supported by several
Angola (FNLA), having fought the MPLA alongside African countries, as well as by the Soviet Union. Cuba
UNITA during the war for independence, played almost became the MPLA’s strongest ally, sending significant
no role in the Civil War. Additionally, the Front for the contingents of combat and support personnel to Angola.
Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), an asso- This support, as well as that of several other countries of
ciation of separatist militant groups, fought for the inde- the Eastern Bloc, e.g. Romania and East Germany, was
pendence of the province of Cabinda from Angola. maintained during the Civil War.[17]
The 27-year war can be divided roughly into three peri-
ods of major fighting – from 1975 to 1991, 1992 to 1994, 1.2 FNLA
and from 1998 to 2002 – broken up by fragile periods of
peace. By the time the MPLA finally achieved victory in Main article: National Liberation Front of Angola
2002, more than 500,000 people had died and over one
million had been internally displaced. The war devas-
tated Angola’s infrastructure, and severely damaged the The FNLA formed parallel to the MPLA,[18] and was ini-
nation’s public administration, economic enterprises, and tially devoted to defending the interests of the Bakongo
religious institutions. people and supporting the restoration of the historical
Kongo Empire. However, it rapidly developed into a na-
The Angolan Civil War was notable due to the combi- tionalist movement, supported in its struggle against Por-
nation of Angola’s violent internal dynamics and massive tugal by the government of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire.
foreign intervention. The war became a Cold War strug- During the early 1960s, the FNLA was also supported by
gle, as both the Soviet Union and the United States, along the People’s Republic of China, but when UNITA was
with their respective allies, provided significant military founded in the mid-1960s, China switched its support to
assistance to parties in the conflict. Moreover, the An- this new movement, because the FNLA had shown lit-
golan conflict became closely intertwined with the Second tle real activity. The United States refused to give the
Congo War in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of FNLA support during the movement’s war against Por-
the Congo, as well as with the South African Border War. tugal, which was a NATO ally of the U.S.; however, the
FNLA did receive U.S. aid during the decolonization con-
flict and later during the Civil Wars.


1.3 UNITA Tribes

Ambo Haneca-Humbe
Main article: UNITA Herero Kongo

Xindonga Kimbundu

Ganguela Chokwe

UNITA’s main social basis were the Ovimbundu of cen- Ovimbundu

tral Angola, who constituted about one third of the non-Bantu

Cabinda Khoisan group
country’s population, but the organization also had roots
among several less numerous peoples of eastern Angola.
UNITA was founded in 1966 by Jonas Savimbi, who un-
til then had been a prominent leader of the FNLA. Dur- LUANDA
ing the anti-colonial war, UNITA received some support Malanje

from the People’s Republic of China. During the subse- Henrique

de Carvalho

quent decolonization conflict, the United States decided

Rio Cassai

Novo Redondo
to support UNITA, and considerably augmented their aid Luso

to UNITA during the Civil War. However, in the latter Benguela

Nova Lisboa

period, UNITA’s main ally was the Republic of South

Vila Serpa Pinto

2 Roots of the conflict

Main articles: History of Angola and Portuguese West
Africa Map of Angola’s major ethnic groups, c.1970

Angola, like most African countries, became constituted

as a nation through colonial intervention. In Angola’s ing these cleavages and fostering the emergence of new
case, its colonial power – Portugal – was present and ac- and distinct social identities.
tive in the territory, in one way or another, for over four
2.2 Portuguese colonialism

2.1 Ethnic divisions At the end of the 15th century, Portuguese settlers made
contact with the Kongo Empire, maintaining a contin-
The original population of this territory were dispersed uous presence in its territory and enjoying considerable
Khoisan groups. These were absorbed or pushed south- cultural and religious influence thereafter. In 1575, Por-
wards, where residual groups still exist, by a massive in- tugal established a settlement and fort called Saint Paul
flux of Bantu people who came from the north and east. of Luanda on the coast south of the Kongo Empire, in
an area inhabited by Ambundu people. Another fort,
The Bantu influx began around 500 BC, and some con-
tinued their migrations inside the territory well into the Benguela, was established on the coast further south, in a
region inhabited by ancestors of the Ovimbundu people.
20th century. They established a number of major po-
litical units, of which the most important was the Kongo Neither of these Portuguese settlement efforts was
Empire whose centre was located in the northwest of what launched for the purpose of territorial conquest. It is true
today is Angola, and which stretched northwards into the that both gradually came to occupy and farm a broad area
west of the present Democratic Republic of the Congo around their initial bridgeheads (in the case of Luanda,
(DRC), the south and west of the contemporary Republic mostly along the lower Kwanza River). However, their
of Congo and even the southernmost part of Gabon. main function was trade – overwhelmingly the slave trade.
Also of historical importance were the Ndongo and Slaves were bought from African intermediaries and sold
Matamba kingdoms to the south of the Kongo Empire, to Brazil and the Caribbean. In addition, Benguela devel-
in the Ambundu area. Additionally, the Lunda Empire, oped a commerce in ivory, wax, and honey, which they
in the south-east of the present day DRC, occupied a por- bought from Ovimbundu caravans which fetched these
tion of what today is north-eastern Angola. In the south goods from among the Ganguela peoples in the eastern
of the territory, and the north of present-day Namibia, lay part of what is now Angola.[21]
the Kwanyama kingdom, along with minor realms on the Nonetheless, the Portuguese presence on the Angolan
central highlands. All these political units were a reflec- coast remained limited for much of the colonial period.
tion of ethnic cleavages that slowly developed among the The degree of real colonial settlement was minor, and,
Bantu populations, and were instrumental in consolidat- with few exceptions, the Portuguese did not interfere by
2.3 Build-up to independence and rising tensions 3


Former Colonies Portuguese Army soldiers operating in the Angolan jungle, in the
early 1960s

Portuguese colonies in Africa at the time of the Portuguese Colo-

nial War (1961–74)
2.3 Build-up to independence and rising

In 1961, the FNLA and the MPLA, based in neighbour-

ing countries, began a guerrilla campaign against Por-
tuguese rule on several fronts. The Portuguese Colo-
nial War, which included the Angolan War of Indepen-
means other than commercial in the social and political dence, lasted until the Portuguese regime’s overthrow in
dynamics of the native peoples. There was no real delim- 1974 through a leftist military coup in Lisbon. When the
itation of territory; Angola, to all intents and purposes, timeline for independence became known, most of the
did not yet exist. roughly 500,000 ethnic Portuguese Angolans fled the ter-
In the 19th century, the Portuguese began a more seri- ritory during the weeks before or after that deadline. Por-
ous program of advancing into the continental interior. tugal left behind a newly independent country whose pop-
However, their intention was less territorial occupation ulation was mainly composed by Ambundu, Ovimbundu,
and more establishing a de facto overlordship which al- and Bakongo peoples. The Portuguese that lived in An-
lowed them to establish commercial networks as well as gola accounted for the majority of the skilled workers
a few settlements. In this context, they also moved fur- in public administration, agriculture, and industry; once
ther south along the coast, and founded the “third bridge- they fled the country, the national economy began to sink
head” of Moçâmedes. In the course of this expansion, into depression.[23]
they entered into conflict with several of the African po- The South African government initially became involved
litical units.[22] in an effort to counter the Chinese presence in Angola,
Territorial occupation only became a central concern for which was feared might escalate the conflict into a local
Portugal in the last decades of the 19th century, during theatre of the Cold War. In 1975, South African Prime
the European powers’ "Scramble for Africa", especially Minister B.J. Vorster authorized Operation Savannah,[24]
following the 1884 Berlin Conference. A number of mil- which began as an effort to protect engineers construct-
itary expeditions were organized as preconditions for ob- ing the dam at Calueque, after unruly UNITA soldiers
taining territory which roughly corresponded to that of took over. The dam, paid for by South Africa, was felt to
present-day Angola. However, as late as 1906 only about be at risk.[25] The South African Defence Force (SADF)
6% of that territory was effectively occupied, and the mil- despatched an armoured task force to secure Calueque,
itary campaigns had to continue. By the mid-1920s, the and from this Operation Savannah escalated, there be-
limits of the territory were finally fixed, and the last “pri- ing no formal government in place and thus no clear
mary resistance” was quelled in the early 1940s. It is thus lines of authority.[26] The South Africans came to commit
reasonable to talk of Angola as a defined territorial entity thousands of soldiers to the intervention, and ultimately
from this point onwards. clashed with Cuban forces assisting the MPLA.
4 3 1970S

3 1970s Agostinho Neto, the leader of the MPLA, declared the in-
dependence of the Portuguese Overseas Province of An-
gola as the People’s Republic of Angola on 11 November
Main articles: 1970s in Angola and Cuban intervention
1975.[31] UNITA declared Angolan independence as the
in Angola
Social Democratic Republic of Angola based in Huambo,
and the FNLA declared the Democratic Republic of An-
gola based in Ambriz. FLEC, armed and backed by
the French government, declared the independence of
3.1 Independence the Republic of Cabinda from Paris.[32] The FNLA and
UNITA forged an alliance on 23 November, proclaim-
ing their own coalition government based in Huambo[33]
After the Carnation Revolution in Lisbon and the end of
with Holden Roberto and Jonas Savimbi as co-Presidents,
the Angolan War of Independence, the parties of the con-
and José Ndelé and Johnny Pinnock Eduardo as co-Prime
flict signed the Alvor Accords on 15 January 1975. In July
1975, the MPLA violently forced the FNLA out of Lu-
anda, and UNITA voluntarily withdrew to its stronghold In early November 1975, the South African government
in the south. By August, the MPLA had control of 11 of warned Savimbi and Roberto that the South African De-
the 15 provincial capitals, including Cabinda and Luanda. fence Force (SADF) would soon end operations in Angola
South Africa intervened on 23 October, sending between despite the failure of the coalition to capture Luanda and
1,500 and 2,000 troops from Namibia into southern An- therefore secure international recognition for their gov-
gola in order to support the FNLA and UNITA. Zaire, in ernment. Savimbi, desperate to avoid the withdrawal of
a bid to install a pro-Kinshasa government and thwart the South Africa, asked General Constand Viljoen to arrange
MPLA’s drive for power, deployed armored cars, para- a meeting for him with Prime Minister of South Africa
troopers, and three infantry battalions to Angola in sup- John Vorster, who had been Savimbi’s ally since Octo-
port of the FNLA.[27] Within three weeks, South African ber 1974. On the night of 10 November, the day before
and UNITA forces had captured five provincial capitals, the formal declaration of independence, Savimbi secretly
including Novo Redondo and Benguela. In response to flew to Pretoria to meet Vorster. In a reversal of pol-
the South African intervention, Cuba sent 18,000 soldiers icy, Vorster not only agreed to keep his troops in Angola
as part of a large-scale military intervention nicknamed through November, but also promised to withdraw the
Operation Carlota in support of the MPLA. Cuba had SADF only after the OAU meeting on 9 December.[35][36]
initially provided the MPLA with 230 military advisers The Soviets, well aware of South African activity in
prior to the South African intervention.[28] The Cuban in- southern Angola, flew Cuban soldiers into Luanda the
tervention proved decisive in repelling the South African- week before independence. While Cuban officers led
UNITA advance. The FNLA were likewise routed at the mission and provided the bulk of the troop force,
the Battle of Quifangondo and forced to retreat towards 60 Soviet officers in the Congo joined the Cubans on 12
Zaire.[29][30] The defeat of the FNLA allowed the MPLA November. The Soviet leadership expressly forbade the
to consolidate power over the capital Luanda. Cubans from intervening in Angola’s civil war, focusing
the mission on containing South Africa.[37]
In 1975 and 1976 most foreign forces, with the exception
of Cuba, withdrew. The last elements of the Portuguese
military withdrew in 1975[38] and the South African mil-
itary withdrew in February 1976.[39] However, Cuba’s
troop force in Angola increased from 5,500 in December
1975 to 11,000 in February 1976.[40] Sweden provided
humanitarian assistance to both the SWAPO and the
MPLA in the mid-1970s,[41][42][43] and regularly raised
the issue of UNITA in political discussions between the
two movements.

3.2 Clark Amendment

Main articles: Operation IA Feature and Clark Amend-


President of the United States Gerald Ford approved

Burning MPLA staff car destroyed in the fighting outside Novo covert aid to UNITA and the FNLA through Operation
Redondo, late 1975. IA Feature on 18 July 1975, despite strong opposition
3.3 'Cuba’s Vietnam' 5

from officials in the State Department and the Central vealed IA Feature to the public on 13 December 1975.[48]
Intelligence Agency (CIA). Ford told William Colby, the Clark proposed an amendment to the Arms Export Con-
Director of Central Intelligence, to establish the opera- trol Act, barring aid to private groups engaged in military
tion, providing an initial US$6 million. He granted an or paramilitary operations in Angola. The Senate passed
additional $8 million on 27 July and another $25 million the bill, voting 54–22 on 19 December 1975, and the
in August.[44][45] House of Representatives passed the bill, voting 323–99
on 27 January 1976.[45] Ford signed the bill into law on 9
February 1976.[49] Even after the Clark Amendment be-
came law, then-Director of Central Intelligence, George
H. W. Bush, refused to concede that all U.S. aid to Angola
had ceased.[50][51] According to foreign affairs analyst
Jane Hunter, Israel stepped in as a proxy arms supplier for
South Africa after the Clark Amendment took effect.[52]
Israel and South Africa established a longstanding mili-
tary alliance, in which Israel provided weapons and train-
ing, as well as conducting joint military exercises.[53]
The U.S. government vetoed Angolan entry into the
United Nations on 23 June 1976.[54] Zambia forbade
UNITA from launching attacks from its territory on 28
December 1976[55] after Angola under MPLA rule be-
came a member of the United Nations.[56]

3.3 'Cuba’s Vietnam'

Senator Dick Clark

Two days before the program’s approval, Nathaniel

Davis, the Assistant Secretary of State, told Henry
Kissinger, the Secretary of State, that he believed main-
taining the secrecy of IA Feature would be impossi-
ble. Davis correctly predicted the Soviet Union would
respond by increasing involvement in the Angolan con-
flict, leading to more violence and negative publicity for
the United States. When Ford approved the program,
Davis resigned.[46] John Stockwell, the CIA’s station chief
in Angola, echoed Davis’ criticism saying that success
required the expansion of the program, but its size al-
ready exceeded what could be hidden from the public eye.
Davis’ deputy, former U.S. ambassador to Chile Edward
Mulcahy, also opposed direct involvement. Mulcahy
presented three options for U.S. policy towards Angola
on 13 May 1975. Mulcahy believed the Ford admin-
istration could use diplomacy to campaign against for-
eign aid to the communist MPLA, refuse to take sides
in factional fighting, or increase support for the FNLA Communist military advisors with MPLA troops in Angola, 1983
and UNITA. He warned however that supporting UNITA
would not sit well with Mobutu Sese Seko, the president The Vietnam War tempered foreign involvement in An-
of Zaire.[44][47] gola’s civil war as neither the Soviet Union nor the United
Dick Clark, a Democratic Senator from Iowa, discovered States wanted to be drawn into an internal conflict of
the operation during a fact-finding mission in Africa, but highly debatable importance in terms of winning the Cold
Seymour Hersh, a reporter for The New York Times, re- War. CBS Newscaster Walter Cronkite spread this mes-
6 3 1970S

sage in his broadcasts to “try to play our small part in About 1,500 members of the Front for the National Lib-
preventing that mistake this time.”[57] The Politburo en- eration of the Congo (FNLC) invaded Shaba Province
gaged in heated debate over the extent to which the Soviet (modern-day Katanga Province) in Zaire from eastern
Union would support a continued offensive by the MPLA Angola on 7 March 1977. The FNLC wanted to over-
in February 1976. Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and throw Mobutu, and the MPLA government, suffering
Premier Alexei Kosygin led a faction favoring less sup- from Mobutu’s support for the FNLA and UNITA, did
port for the MPLA and greater emphasis on preserving not try to stop the invasion. The FNLC failed to cap-
détente with the West. Leonid Brezhnev, the then head ture Kolwezi, Zaire’s economic heartland, but took Kasaji
of the Soviet Union, won out against the dissident faction and Mutshatsha. The Zairean army (the Forces Ar-
and the Soviet alliance with the MPLA continued even mées Zaïroises) was defeated without difficulty and the
as Neto publicly reaffirmed its policy of non-alignment FNLC continued to advance. On 2 April, Mobutu ap-
at the 15th anniversary of the First Revolt.[58] pealed to William Eteki of Cameroon, Chairman of the
Organization of African Unity, for assistance. Eight
The MPLA government and Cuban troops had control
over all southern cities by 1977, but roads in the south days later, the French government responded to Mobutu’s
plea and airlifted 1,500 Moroccan troops into Kinshasa.
faced repeated UNITA attacks. Savimbi expressed his
willingness for rapprochement with the MPLA and the This force worked in conjunction with the Zairean army,
formation of a unity, socialist government, but he in- the FNLA[59] and Egyptian pilots flying French-made
sisted on Cuban withdrawal first. “The real enemy is Zairean Mirage fighter aircraft to beat back the FNLC.
Cuban colonialism,” Savimbi told reporters, warning, The counter-invasion force pushed the last of the mil-
“The Cubans have taken over the country, but sooner itants, along with numerous refugees, into Angola and
or later they will suffer their own Vietnam in Angola.” Zambia in April 1977.[60][61][62][63]
MPLA and Cuban troops used flame throwers, bulldoz- Mobutu accused the MPLA, Cuban and Soviet govern-
ers, and planes with napalm to destroy villages in a 1.6- ments of complicity in the war.[64] While Neto did sup-
mile (2.6 km) wide area along the Angola-Namibia bor- port the FNLC, the MPLA government’s support came
der. Only women and children passed through this area, in response to Mobutu’s continued support for Angola’s
“Castro Corridor,” because MPLA troops had shot all FNLA[65] The Carter Administration, unconvinced of
males ten years of age or older to prevent them from join- Cuban involvement, responded by offering a meager $15
ing the UNITA. The napalm killed cattle to feed govern- million-worth of non-military aid. American timidity
ment troops and to retaliate against UNITA sympathizers. during the war prompted a shift in Zaire’s foreign policy
A number of civilians fled from their homes; 10,000 go- towards greater engagement with France, which became
ing south to Namibia and 16,000 east to Zambia, where Zaire’s largest supplier of arms after the intervention.[66]
they lived in refugee camps.[56] Neto and Mobutu signed a border agreement on 22 July
John Stockwell, the CIA’s station chief in Angola, re-
3.4 Shaba invasions
signed after the invasion, explaining in the April 1977
The Washington Post article “Why I'm Leaving the CIA”
that he had warned Secretary of State Henry Kissinger
that continued American support for anti-government
rebels in Angola could provoke a war with Zaire. He also
said that covert Soviet involvement in Angola came after,
and in response to, U.S. involvement.[68]
The FNLC invaded Shaba again on 11 May 1978, cap-
turing Kolwezi in two days. While the Carter Ad-
ministration had accepted Cuba’s insistence on its non-
involvement in Shaba I, and therefore did not stand with
Mobutu, the U.S. government now accused Castro of
complicity.[69] This time, when Mobutu appealed for for-
eign assistance, the U.S. government worked with the
French and Belgian militaries to beat back the invasion,
the first military cooperation between France and the
United States since the Vietnam War.[70][71] The French
Foreign Legion took back Kolwezi after a seven-day bat-
tle and airlifted 2,250 European citizens to Belgium, but
Shaba Province, Zaire not before the FNLC massacred 80 Europeans and 200
Africans. In one instance, the FNLC killed 34 European
Main articles: Shaba I and Shaba II civilians who had hidden in a room. The FNLC retreated
to Zambia, vowing to return to Angola. The Zairean army
3.5 Nitistas 7

then forcibly evicted civilians along Shaba’s border with

Angola. Mobutu, wanting to prevent any chance of an-
other invasion, ordered his troops to shoot on sight.[72]
U.S.-mediated negotiations between the MPLA and
Zairean governments led to a peace accord in 1979 and
an end to support for insurgencies in each other’s respec-
tive countries. Zaire temporarily cut off support to the
FLEC, the FNLA and UNITA, and Angola forbade fur-
ther activity by the FNLC.[70]

3.5 Nitistas
Main article: 1970s in Angola

By the late 1970s, Interior Minister Nito Alves had

become a powerful member of the MPLA govern-
ment. Alves had successfully put down Daniel Chipenda's
Eastern Revolt and the Active Revolt during Angola’s Agostinho Neto, MPLA leader and Angola’s first president, meets
War of Independence. Factionalism within the MPLA with Poland’s ambassador in Luanda, 1978
became a major challenge to Neto’s power by late 1975
and Neto gave Alves the task of once again clamping MPLA Action Committee. The brigade asked citizens to
down on dissent. Alves shut down the Cabral and Henda show their support for the coup by demonstrating in front
Committees while expanding his influence within the of the presidential palace. The Nitistas captured Bula and
MPLA through his control of the nation’s newspapers Dangereaux, generals loyal to Neto, but Neto had moved
and state-run television. Alves visited the Soviet Union his base of operations from the palace to the Ministry of
in October 1976, and may have obtained Soviet support Defence in fear of such an uprising. Cuban troops loyal
for a coup against Neto. By the time he returned, Neto to Neto retook the palace and marched to the radio sta-
had grown suspicious of Alves’ growing power and sought tion. The Cubans succeeded in taking the radio station
to neutralize him and his followers, the Nitistas. Neto and proceeded to the barracks of the 8th Brigade, recap-
called a plenum meeting of the Central Committee of the turing it by 1:30 p.m. While the Cuban force captured
MPLA. Neto formally designated the party as Marxist- the palace and radio station, the Nitistas kidnapped seven
Leninist, abolished the Interior Ministry (of which Alves leaders within the government and the military, shooting
was the head), and established a Commission of Enquiry. and killing six.[74]
Neto used the commission to target the Nitistas, and or-
dered the commission to issue a report of its findings in The MPLA government arrested tens of thousands of sus-
March 1977. Alves and Chief of Staff José Van-Dunem, pected Nitistas from May to November and tried them in
his political ally, began planning a coup d'état against secret courts overseen by Defense Minister Iko Carreira.
Neto.[73] Those who were found guilty, including Van-Dunem, Ja-
cobo “Immortal Monster” Caetano, the head of the 8th
Alves and Van-Dunem planned to arrest Neto on 21 May Brigade, and political commissar Eduardo Evaristo, were
before he arrived at a meeting of the Central Commit- shot and buried in secret graves. At least 2,000 follow-
tee and before the commission released its report on the ers (or alleged followers) of Nito Alves were estimated to
activities of the Nitistas. However, the MPLA changed have been killed by Cuban and MPLA troops in the af-
the location of the meeting shortly before its scheduled termath, with some estimates claiming as high as 70,000
start, throwing the plotters’ plans into disarray, but Alves dead.[75][76][77] The coup attempt had a lasting effect on
attended the meeting and faced the commission anyway. Angola’s foreign relations. Alves had opposed Neto’s for-
The commission released its report, accusing him of fac- eign policy of non-alignment, evolutionary socialism, and
tionalism. Alves fought back, denouncing Neto for not multiracialism, favoring stronger relations with the So-
aligning Angola with the Soviet Union. After twelve viet Union, which Alves wanted to grant military bases
hours of debate, the party voted 26 to 6 to dismiss Alves in Angola. While Cuban soldiers actively helped Neto
and Van-Dunem from their positions.[73] put down the coup, Alves and Neto both believed the So-
In support of Alves and the coup, the People’s Armed viet Union opposed Neto. Cuban Armed Forces Minis-
Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) 8th ter Raúl Castro sent an additional four thousand troops
Brigade broke into São Paulo prison on 27 May, killing to prevent further dissension within the MPLA’s ranks
the prison warden and freeing more than 150 Nitistas. and met with Neto in August in a display of solidar-
The 8th brigade then took control of the radio station in ity. In contrast, Neto’s distrust of the Soviet leadership
Luanda and announced their coup, calling themselves the increased and relations with the USSR worsened.[74] In
8 4 1980S

December, the MPLA held its first party Congress and

changed its name to the MPLA-Worker’s Party (MPLA-
PT). The Nitista coup took a toll on the MPLA’s member-
ship. In 1975, the MPLA had reached 200,000 members,
but after the first party congress, that number decreased
to 30,000.[73][78][79][80][81]

3.6 Replacing Neto

The Soviets, wanting to establish permanent military

bases in Angola, tried to increase their influence, but
despite persistent lobbying, especially by G. A. Zverev,
the Soviet chargé d'affaires, Neto stood his ground, re-
fusing to allow the construction of permanent military
bases. With Alves no longer a possibility, the So-
viet Union backed Prime Minister Lopo do Nascimento
against Neto for the MPLA’s leadership.[82] Neto moved
swiftly, getting the party’s Central Committee to fire
Nascimento from his posts as Prime Minister, Secretary
of the Politburo, Director of National Television, and Di-
rector of Jornal de Angola. Later that month, the posi-
tions of Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister were
Neto diversified the ethnic composition of the MPLA’s
political bureau as he replaced the hardline old guard with
new blood, including José Eduardo dos Santos.[84] When
he died on 10 September 1979, the party’s Central Com-
mittee unanimously voted to elect dos Santos as Presi-
dent. Map of SWAPO and South African operations, 1978–1980.

4 1980s again, this time in Cuando-Cubango, and the MPLA

threatened to respond militarily. The SADF launched
Main article: 1980s in Angola a full-scale invasion of Angola through Cunene and
Under dos Santos’s leadership, Angolan troops crossed Cuando-Cubango on 7 June, destroying SWAPO’s oper-
the border into Namibia for the first time on 31 Oc- ational command headquarters on 13 June, in what Prime
tober, going into Kavango. The next day, dos Santos Minister Pieter Willem Botha described as a “shock at-
signed a non-aggression pact with Zambia and Zaire.[85] tack”. The MPLA government arrested 120 Angolans
In the 1980s, fighting spread outward from southeastern who were planning to set off explosives in Luanda, on 24
Angola, where most of the fighting had taken place in June, foiling a plot purportedly orchestrated by the South
the 1970s, as the National Congolese Army (ANC) and African government. Three days later, the United Na-
SWAPO increased their activity. The South African gov- tions Security Council convened at the behest of Angola’s
ernment responded by sending troops back into Angola, ambassador to the UN, E. de Figuerido, and condemned
intervening in the war from 1981 to 1987,[39] prompt- South Africa’s incursions into Angola. President Mobutu
ing the Soviet Union to deliver massive amounts of mil- of Zaire also sided with the MPLA. The MPLA govern-
itary aid from 1981 to 1986. The USSR gave the ment recorded 529 instances in which they claim South
MPLA more than US$2 billion in aid in 1984.[86] In African forces violated Angola’s territorial sovereignty
1981, newly elected United States President Ronald Rea- between January and June 1980.[89]
gan's U.S. assistant secretary of state for African af- Cuba increased its troop force in Angola from 35,000 in
fairs, Chester Crocker, developed a linkage policy, tying 1982 to 40,000 in 1985. South African forces tried to
Namibian independence to Cuban withdrawal and peace capture Lubango, capital of Huíla province, in Operation
in Angola.[87][88] Askari in December 1983.[87] Also, in order to enhance
The South African military attacked insurgents in Cunene MPLA’s combat capacity, Romania sent 150 flight in-
Province on 12 May 1980. The Angolan Ministry of De- structors and other aviation personnel, who contributed
fense accused the South African government of wounding to the establishment of an Angolan Military Aviation
and killing civilians. Nine days later, the SADF attacked School.
4.1 War intensifies 9

On 2 June 1985, American conservative activists held

the Democratic International, a symbolic meeting of
anti-Communist militants, at UNITA’s headquarters in
Jamba.[90] Primarily funded by Rite Aid founder Lewis
Lehrman and organized by anti-communist activists Jack
Abramoff and Jack Wheeler, participants included Sav-
imbi, Adolfo Calero, leader of the Nicaraguan Contras,
Pa Kao Her, Hmong Laotian rebel leader, U.S. Lieu-
tenant Colonel Oliver North, South African security
forces, Abdurrahim Wardak, Afghan Mujahideen leader,
Jack Wheeler, American conservative policy advocate,
and many others.[91] The Reagan administration, al-
though unwilling to publicly support the meeting, pri-
vately expressed approval. The governments of Israel
and South Africa supported the idea, but both respec-
tive countries were deemed inadvisable for hosting the
The participants released a communiqué stating,

“We, free peoples fighting for our national in-

dependence and human rights, assembled at
Jamba, declare our solidarity with all freedom
movements in the world and state our commit-
ment to cooperate to liberate our nations from
the Soviet Imperialists.”

The United States House of Representatives voted 236 to

185 to repeal the Clark Amendment on 11 July 1985.[92]
The MPLA government began attacking UNITA later
that month from Luena towards Cazombo along the Map of SWAPO and South African operations, 1981–1984.
Benguela Railway in a military operation named Con-
gresso II, taking Cazombo on 18 September. The MPLA
government tried unsuccessfully to take UNITA’s sup- 2,000 troops to the 35,000-strong force in Angola to
ply depot in Mavinga from Menongue. While the at- protect Chevron oil platforms in 1986.[93] Savimbi had
tack failed, very different interpretations of the attack called Chevron’s presence in Angola, already protected
emerged. UNITA claimed Portuguese-speaking Soviet by Cuban troops, a “target” for UNITA in an interview
officers led FAPLA troops while the government said with Foreign Policy magazine on 31 January.[94]
UNITA relied on South African paratroopers to defeat
the MPLA attack. The South African government ad- In Washington, Savimbi forged close relationships with
mitted to fighting in the area, but said its troops fought influential conservatives, including Michael Johns (the
SWAPO militants.[93] Heritage Foundation's foreign policy analyst and a
key Savimbi advocate), Grover Norquist (President of
Americans for Tax Reform and a Savimbi economic ad-
4.1 War intensifies visor), and others, who played critical roles in elevating
escalated U.S. covert aid to Savimbi’s UNITA and visited
By 1986, Angola began to assume a more central role with Savimbi in his Jamba, Angola headquarters to pro-
in the Cold War, with the Soviet Union, Cuba and other vide the Angolan rebel leader with military, political and
Eastern bloc nations enhancing support for the MPLA other guidance in his war against the MPLA government.
government, and American conservatives beginning to el- With enhanced U.S. support, the war quickly escalated,
evate their support for Savimbi’s UNITA. Savimbi devel- both in terms of the intensity of the conflict and also in its
oped close relations with influential American conserva- perception as a key conflict in the overall Cold War.[95][96]
tives, who saw Savimbi as a key ally in the U.S. effort to
In addition to escalating its military support for UNITA,
oppose and rollback Soviet-backed, non-democratic gov-the Reagan administration and its conservative allies also
ernments around the world. The conflict quickly esca- worked to expand recognition of Savimbi as a key U.S.
lated, with both Washington and Moscow seeing it as a ally in an important Cold War struggle. In January
critical strategic conflict in the Cold War. 1986, Reagan invited Savimbi to meet with him at the
The Soviet Union gave an additional $1 billion in aid White House. Following the meeting, Reagan spoke of
to the MPLA government and Cuba sent an additional UNITA as winning a victory that “electrifies the world”.
10 4 1980S

Two months later, Reagan announced the delivery of

Stinger surface-to-air missiles as part of the $25 million
in aid UNITA received from the U.S. government.[87][97]
Jeremias Chitunda, UNITA’s representative to the U.S.,
became the Vice President of UNITA in August 1986 at
the sixth party congress.[98] Fidel Castro made Crocker’s
proposal—the withdrawal of foreign troops from Angola
and Namibia—a prerequisite to Cuban withdrawal from
Angola on 10 September.

Map of Angola’s provinces, with Cuando Cubango province

Maximum extent of South African and UNITA operations in An- highlighted.
gola and Zambia

UNITA forces attacked Camabatela in Cuanza Norte After the indecisive results of the Battle of Cuito Cua-
province on 8 February 1986. ANGOP alleged UNITA navale, Fidel Castro claimed that he increased the cost
massacred civilians in Damba in Uíge Province later that to South Africa of continuing to fight in Angola and
month, on 26 February. The South African government placed Cuba in its most aggressive combat position of
agreed to Crocker’s terms in principle on 8 March. Sav- the war, arguing that he was preparing to leave Angola
imbi proposed a truce regarding the Benguela railway with his opponents on the defensive. According to Cuba,
on 26 March, saying MPLA trains could pass through the political, economical and technical cost to South
as long as an international inspection group monitored Africa of maintaining its presence in Angola proved too
trains to prevent their use for counter-insurgency activity. much. Conversely, the South Africans believe that they
The government did not respond. In April 1987, Fidel indicated their resolve to the superpowers by preparing
Castro sent Cuba’s Fiftieth Brigade to southern Angola, a nuclear test that ultimately forced the Cubans into a
increasing the number of Cuban troops from 12,000 to settlement.[108]
15,000.[99] The MPLA and American governments be- Cuban troops were alleged to have used nerve gas against
gan negotiating in June 1987.[100][101] UNITA troops during the civil war. Belgian criminal tox-
ologist Dr. Aubin Heyndrickx, studied alleged evidence,
including samples of war-gas “identification kits” found
4.2 Cuito Cuanavale and New York Ac- after the battle at Cuito Cuanavale, claimed that “there is
cords no doubt anymore that the Cubans were using nerve gases
against the troops of Mr. Jonas Savimbi.”[109]
Main articles: Battle of Cuito Cuanavale and New York The Cuban government joined negotiations on 28 Jan-
Accords uary 1988, and all three parties held a round of negotia-
tions on 9 March. The South African government joined
UNITA and South African forces attacked the MPLA’s negotiations on 3 May and the parties met in June and
base at Cuito Cuanavale in Cuando Cubango province August in New York and Geneva. All parties agreed to a
from 13 January to 23 March 1988, in the second ceasefire on 8 August. Representatives from the govern-
largest battle in the history of Africa,[102] after the ments of Angola, Cuba, and South Africa signed the New
Battle of El Alamein,[103] the largest in sub-Saharan York Accords, granting independence to Namibia and
Africa since World War II.[104] Cuito Cuanavale’s im- ending the direct involvement of foreign troops in the civil
portance came not from its size or its wealth but its lo- war, in New York City on 22 December 1988.[87][101]
cation. South African Defense Forces maintained an The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution
overwatch on the city using new, G5 artillery pieces. 626 later that day, creating the United Nations Angola
Both sides claimed victory in the ensuing Battle of Cuito Verification Mission (UNAVEM), a peacekeeping force.
Cuanavale.[87][105][106][107] UNAVEM troops began arriving in Angola in January
5.1 Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly 11

1989.[110] ciding with the withdrawal of the last Cuban troops, defin-
ing Angola as a “democratic state based on the rule of
law" with a multi-party system.[117] Observers met such
4.3 Ceasefire changes with skepticism. American journalist Karl Maier
wrote: “In the New Angola ideology is being replaced
As the Angolan Civil War began to take on a diplomatic by the bottom line, as security and selling expertise in
component, in addition to a military one, two key Savimbi weaponry have become a very profitable business. With
allies, The Conservative Caucus' Howard Phillips and the its wealth in oil and diamonds, Angola is like a big swollen
Heritage Foundation’s Michael Johns visited Savimbi in carcass and the vultures are swirling overhead. Savimbi’s
Angola, where they sought to persuade Savimbi to come former allies are switching sides, lured by the aroma of
to the United States in the spring of 1989 to help the Con- hard currency.”[118] Savimbi also reportedly purged some
servative Caucus, the Heritage Foundation and other con- of those within UNITA whom he may have seen as threats
servatives in making the case for continued U.S. aid to to his leadership or as questioning his strategic course.
UNITA.[111] Among those killed in the purge were Tito Chingunji and
President Mobutu invited 18 African leaders, Savimbi, his family in 1991. Savimbi denied his involvement in the
and dos Santos to his palace in Gbadolite in June 1989 Chingunji killing and blamed it on UNITA dissidents.[119]
for negotiations. Savimbi and dos Santos met for the
first time and agreed to the Gbadolite Declaration, a
ceasefire, on 22 June, paving the way for a future peace 5.1 Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly
agreement.[112][113] President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia
said a few days after the declaration that Savimbi had
agreed to leave Angola and go into exile, a claim Mobutu,
Savimbi, and the U.S. government disputed.[113] Dos San-
tos agreed with Kaunda’s interpretation of the negotia-
tions, saying Savimbi had agreed to temporarily leave the
On 23 August, dos Santos complained that the U.S. and
South African governments continued to fund UNITA,
warning such activity endangered the already fragile
ceasefire. The next day Savimbi announced UNITA
would no longer abide by the ceasefire, citing Kaunda’s
insistence that Savimbi leave the country and UNITA dis-
band. The MPLA government responded to Savimbi’s
statement by moving troops from Cuito Cuanavale, un-
der MPLA control, to UNITA-occupied Mavinga. The Building in Huambo showing the effects of war
ceasefire broke down with dos Santos and the U.S. gov-
ernment blaming each other for the resumption in armed Main article: Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly
Government troops wounded Savimbi in battles in Jan-
uary and February 1990, but not enough to restrict his
5 1990s mobility[120] He went to Washington, D.C. in December
and met with President George H. W. Bush again,[112]
Main articles: 1990s in Angola, Angolagate, United the fourth of five trips he made to the United States. Sav-
Nations Angola Verification Mission II, and First Congo imbi paid Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly, a lobbying
War firm based in Washington, D.C., $5 million to lobby the
Federal government for aid, portray UNITA favorably in
Political changes abroad and military victories at home Western media, and acquire support among politicians in
allowed the government to transition from a nomi- Washington. Savimbi was highly successful in this en-
nally communist state to a nominally democratic one. deavour.
Namibia's declaration of independence, internationally Senators Larry Smith and Dante Fascell, a senior member
recognized on 1 April, eliminated the threat to the of the firm, worked with the Cuban American National
MPLA from South Africa, as the SADF withdrew from Foundation, Representative Claude Pepper of Florida,
Nambia.[116] The MPLA abolished the one-party system Neal Blair's Free the Eagle, and Howard Phillips' Con-
in June and rejected Marxist-Leninism at the MPLA’s servative Caucus to repeal the Clark Amendment in
third Congress in December, formally changing the 1985.[121] From the amendment’s repeal in 1985 to 1992
party’s name from the MPLA-PT to the MPLA.[112] The the U.S. government gave Savimbi $60 million per year, a
National Assembly passed law 12/91 in May 1991, coin- total of $420 million. A sizable amount of the aid went to
12 5 1990S

Savimbi’s personal expenses. Black, Manafort filed for- Camama cemetery and Morro da Luz ravine, shot them,
eign lobbying records with the U.S. Justice Department and buried them in mass graves. Assailants attacked Chi-
showing Savimbi’s expenses during his U.S. visits. Dur- tunda’s convoy on 2 November, pulling him out of his car
ing his December 1990 visit he spent $136,424 at the and shooting him and two others in their faces.[128] The
Park Hyatt hotel and $2,705 in tips. He spent almost MPLA massacred over ten thousand UNITA and FNLA
$473,000 in October 1991 during his week-long visit to voters nationwide in a few days in what was known as
Washington and Manhattan. He spent $98,022 in ho- the Halloween Massacre.[124][129] Savimbi said the elec-
tel bills, at the Park Hyatt, $26,709 in limousine rides tion had neither been free nor fair and refused to par-
in Washington and another $5,293 in Manhattan. Paul ticipate in the second round.[127] He then proceeded to
Manafort, a partner in the firm, charged Savimbi $19,300 resume armed struggle against the MPLA.
in consulting and additional $1,712 in expenses. He also
Then, in a series of stunning victories, UNITA re-
bought $1,143 worth of “survival kits” from Motorola. gained control over Caxito, Huambo, M'banza Kongo,
When questioned in an interview in 1990 about human
Ndalatando, and Uíge, provincial capitals it had not
rights abuses under Savimbi, Black said, “Now when held since 1976, and moved against Kuito, Luena, and
you're in a war, trying to manage a war, when the enemy
Malange. Although the U.S. and South African govern-
... is no more than a couple of hours away from you at any ments had stopped aiding UNITA, supplies continued to
given time, you might not run your territory according to come from Mobutu in Zaire.[130] UNITA tried to wrest
New Hampshire town meeting rules.” control of Cabinda from the MPLA in January 1993. Ed-
ward DeJarnette, Head of the U.S. Liaison Office in An-
5.2 Bicesse Accords gola for the Clinton Administration, warned Savimbi that,
if UNITA hindered or halted Cabinda’s production, the
Main article: Bicesse Accords U.S. would end its support for UNITA. On 9 January,
UNITA began a 55-day battle over Huambo, the War of
the Cities. Hundreds of thousands fled and 10,000 were
President dos Santos met with Savimbi in Lisbon, killed before UNITA gained control on 7 March. The
Portugal and signed the Bicesse Accords, the first of three government engaged in an ethnic cleansing of Bakongo,
major peace agreements, on 31 May 1991, with the me- and, to a lesser extent Ovimbundu, in multiple cities, most
diation of the Portuguese government. The accords laid notably Luanda, on 22 January in the Bloody Friday mas-
out a transition to multi-party democracy under the su- sacre. UNITA and government representatives met five
pervision of the United Nations' UNAVEM II mission, days later in Ethiopia, but negotiations failed to restore
with a presidential election to be held within a year. The the peace.[131] The United Nations Security Council sanc-
agreement attempted to demobilize the 152,000 active tioned UNITA through Resolution 864 on 15 September
fighters and integrate the remaining government troops 1993, prohibiting the sale of weapons or fuel to UNITA.
and UNITA rebels into a 50,000-strong Angolan Armed
Forces (FAA). The FAA would consist of a national army Perhaps the clearest shift in U.S. foreign policy emerged
with 40,000 troops, navy with 6,000, and air force with when President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order
4,000.[122] While UNITA largely did not disarm, the FAA 12865 on 23 September, labeling UNITA a “continuing
complied with the accord and demobilized, leaving the threat to the foreign policy objectives of the U.S.”[132] By
government disadvantaged.[123] August 1993, UNITA had gained control over 70% of
Angola, but the government’s military successes in 1994
Angola held the first round of its 1992 presidential elec- forced UNITA to sue for peace. By November 1994,
tion on 29–30 September. Dos Santos officially received the government had taken control of 60% of the coun-
49.57% of the vote and Savimbi won 40.6%. As no can- try. Savimbi called the situation UNITA’s “deepest crisis”
didate received 50% or more of the vote, election law dic- since its creation.[118][133][134] It is estimate that perhaps
tated a second round of voting between the top two con- 120,000 people were killed in the first eighteen months
tenders. Savimbi, along with eight opposition parties and following the 1992 election, nearly half the number of
many other election observers, said the election had been casualties of the previous sixteen years of war.[135] Both
neither free nor fair.[124] An official observer wrote that sides of the conflict continued to commit widespread and
there was little UN supervision, that 500,000 UNITA vot- systematic violations of the laws of war with UNITA in
ers were disenfranchised and that there were 100 clandes- particular guilty of indiscriminate shelling of besieged
tine polling stations.[125][126] Savimbi sent Jeremias Chi- cities resulting in large death toll to civilians. The MPLA
tunda, Vice President of UNITA, to Luanda to negoti- government forces used air power in indiscriminate fash-
ate the terms of the second round.[127][128] The election ion also resulting in high civilian deaths.[136] The Lusaka
process broke down on 31 October, when government Protocol of 1994 reaffirmed the Bicesse Accords.[137]
troops in Luanda attacked UNITA. Civilians, using guns
they had received from police a few days earlier, con-
ducted house-by-house raids with the Rapid Intervention
Police, killing and detaining hundreds of UNITA sup-
porters. The government took civilians in trucks to the
5.4 Arms monitoring 13

5.3 Lusaka Protocol

Main article: Lusaka Protocol

Savimbi, unwilling to personally sign an accord, had for-

mer UNITA Secretary General Eugenio Manuvakola rep-
resent UNITA in his place. Manuvakola and Angolan
Foreign Minister Venancio de Moura signed the Lusaka
Protocol in Lusaka, Zambia on 31 October 1994, agree-
ing to integrate and disarm UNITA. Both sides signed a
ceasefire as part of the protocol on 20 November.[133][134]
Under the agreement the government and UNITA would
cease fire and demobilize. 5,500 UNITA members, in-
Decommissioned UNITA BMP-1 and BM-21 Grads at an assem-
cluding 180 militants, would join the Angolan national bly point.
police, 1,200 UNITA members, including 40 militants,
would join the rapid reaction police force, and UNITA
generals would become officers in the Angolan Armed South African President Mandela in May. Shortly af-
Forces. Foreign mercenaries would return to their home ter, on 18 June, the MPLA offered Savimbi the position
countries and all parties would stop acquiring foreign of Vice President under dos Santos with another Vice
arms. The agreement gave UNITA politicians homes President chosen from the MPLA. Savimbi told Man-
and a headquarters. The government agreed to appoint dela he felt ready to “serve in any capacity which will
UNITA members to head the Mines, Commerce, Health, aid my nation,” but he did not accept the proposal un-
and Tourism ministries, in addition to seven deputy min- til 12 August.[139][140] The United States Department of
isters, ambassadors, the governorships of Uige, Lunda Defense and Central Intelligence Agency's Angola oper-
Sul, and Cuando Cubango, deputy governors, municipal ations and analysis expanded in an effort to halt weapons
administrators, deputy administrators, and commune ad- shipments,[138] a violation of the protocol, with limited
ministrators. The government would release all prison- success. The Angolan government bought six Mil Mi-
ers and give amnesty to all militants involved in the civil 17 from Ukraine in 1995.[141] The government bought
war.[133][134] Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and L-39 attack aircraft from the Czechoslovakia in 1998
South African President Nelson Mandela met in Lusaka along with ammunition and uniforms from Zimbabwe
on 15 November 1994 to boost support symbolically for Defence Industries and ammunition and weapons from
the protocol. Mugabe and Mandela both said they would Ukraine in 1998 and 1999.[141] U.S. monitoring signifi-
be willing to meet with Savimbi and Mandela asked him cantly dropped off in 1997 as events in Zaire, the Congo
to come to South Africa, but Savimbi did not come. The and then Liberia occupied more of the U.S. government’s
agreement created a joint commission, consisting of of- attention.[138] UNITA purchased more than 20 FROG-7
ficials from the Angolan government, UNITA, and the scuds and three FOX 7 missiles from the North Korean
UN with the governments of Portugal, the United States, government in 1999.[142]
and Russia observing, to oversee its implementation. Vi-
olations of the protocol’s provisions would be discussed The UN extended its mandate on 8 February 1996. In
and reviewed by the commission.[133] The protocol’s pro- March, Savimbi and dos Santos formally agreed to form
visions, integrating UNITA into the military, a cease- a coalition government.[39] The government deported
fire, and a coalition government, were similar to those 2,000 West African and Lebanese Angolans in Operation
of the Alvor Agreement that granted Angola indepen- Cancer Two, in August 1996, on the grounds that dan-
dence from Portugal in 1975. Many of the same environ- gerous minorities were responsible for the rising crime
mental problems, mutual distrust between UNITA and rate.[143] In 1996 the Angolan government bought mili-
the MPLA, loose international oversight, the importation tary equipment from India, two Mil Mi-24 attack heli-
of foreign arms, and an overemphasis on maintaining the copters and three Sukhoi Su-17 from Kazakhstan in De-
balance of power, led to the collapse of the protocol.[134] cember, and helicopters from Slovakia in March.[141]
The international community helped install a Govern-
ment of Unity and National Reconciliation in April 1997,
5.4 Arms monitoring but UNITA did not allow the regional MPLA govern-
ment to take up residence in 60 cities. The UN Secu-
In January 1995, U.S. President Clinton sent Paul Hare, rity Council voted on 28 August 1997, to impose sanc-
his envoy to Angola, to support the Lusaka Protocol tions on UNITA through Resolution 1127, prohibiting
and impress the importance of the ceasefire onto the UNITA leaders from traveling abroad, closing UNITA’s
Angolan government and UNITA, both in need of out- embassies abroad, and making UNITA-controlled areas
side assistance.[138] The United Nations agreed to send a a no-fly zone. The Security Council expanded the sanc-
peacekeeping force on 8 February.[39] Savimbi met with tions through Resolution 1173 on 12 June 1998, requiring
14 5 1990S

government certification for the purchase of Angolan di- 5.5 Diamond trade
amonds and freezing UNITA’s bank accounts.[130]
During the First Congo War, the Angolan government Main articles: Economy of Angola and Blood diamonds
joined the coalition to overthrow Mobutu’s government § Angola
due to his support for UNITA. Mobutu’s government
fell to the opposition coalition on 16 May 1997.[144] UNITA’s ability to mine diamonds and sell them abroad
The Angolan government chose to act primarily through provided funding for the war to continue even as the
Katangese gendarmes called the Tigres, which were movement’s support in the Western world and among the
proxy groups formed from the descendents of police units local populace withered away. De Beers and Endiama,
who had been exiled from Zaire and thus were fight- a state-owned diamond-mining monopoly, signed a con-
ing for a return to their homeland.[145] Luanda did also tract allowing De Beers to handle Angola’s diamond
deploy regular troops.[144] In early October 1997, An- exports in 1990.[154] According to the United Nation’s
gola invaded the Republic of the Congo during its civil Fowler Report, Joe De Deker, a former stockholder in De
war, and helped Sassou Nguesso's rebels overthrow the Beers, worked with the government of Zaire to supply
government of Pascal Lissouba. Lissouba’s government military equipment to UNITA from 1993 to 1997. De
had allowed UNITA the use of cities in the Republic Deker’s brother, Ronnie, allegedly flew from South Africa
of Congo in order to circumvent sanctions.[146] Between to Angola, directing weapons originating in Eastern Eu-
11–12 October 1997, Angolan air force fighter jets con- rope. In return, UNITA gave Ronnie bushels of dia-
ducted a number of air strikes on government positions monds worth $6 million. De Deker sent the diamonds to
within Brazzaville. On 16 October 1997 rebel militia De Beer’s buying office in Antwerp, Belgium. De Beers
supported by tanks and a force of 1,000 Angolan troops openly acknowledges spending $500 million on legal and
cemented their control of Brazzaville forcing Lisouba illegal Angolan diamonds in 1992 alone. The United Na-
to flee.[147][148] Angolan troops remained in the country tions estimates Angolans made between three and four
fighting militia forces loyal to Lissouba engaged in a guer-
billion dollars through the diamond trade between 1992
rilla war against the new government.[149] and 1998.[132][155] The UN also estimates that out of that
The UN spent $1.6 billion from 1994 to 1998 in main- sum, UNITA made at least $3.72 billion, or 93% [156]
of all
taining a peacekeeping force. [39]
The Angolan military diamond sales, despite international sanctions.
attacked UNITA forces in the Central Highlands on 4 Executive Outcomes (EO), a private military company,
December 1998, the day before the MPLA’s fourth played a major role in turning the tide for the MPLA,
Congress. Dos Santos told the delegates the next day that with one U.S. defense expert calling the EO the “best
he believed war to be the only way to ultimately achieve fifty or sixty million dollars the Angolan government ever
peace, rejected the Lusaka Protocol, and asked MONUA spent.”[157] Heritage Oil and Gas, and allegedly De Beers,
to leave. In February 1999, the Security Council with- hired EO to protect their operations in Angola.[157] Exec-
drew the last MONUA personnel. In late 1998, several utive Outcomes trained up to 5,000 troops and 30 combat
UNITA commanders, dissatisfied with Savimbi’s lead- pilots in camps in Lunda Sul, Cabo Ledo, and Dondo.[158]
ership, formed UNITA Renovada, a breakaway militant
group. Thousands more deserted UNITA in 1999 and
2000.[130] 5.6 Cabinda separatism
The Angolan military launched Operation Restore, a
Main article: Cabinda (province)
massive offensive, in September 1999, recapturing
The territory of Cabinda is north of Angola proper, sep-
N'harea, Mungo and Andulo and Bailundo, the site of
Savimbi’s headquarters just one year before. The UN
Security Council passed Resolution 1268 on 15 October,
instructing United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan
to update the Security Council to the situation in Angola
every three months. Dos Santos offered an amnesty to
UNITA militants on 11 November. By December, Chief
of Staff General João de Matos said the Angolan Armed
Forces had destroyed 80% of UNITA’s militant wing and
captured 15,000 tons of military equipment.[130][150][151]
Following the dissolution of the coalition government,
Savimbi retreated to his historical base in Moxico and
prepared for battle.[152] In order to isolate UNITA, the
government forced civilians in countryside areas subject
to UNITA influence to relocate to major cities. The strat- Unofficial flag of Cabinda
egy was successful isolating in UNITA but had adverse
humanitarian consequences.[153] arated by a strip of territory 60 km (37.3 mi) long in the

Democratic Republic of the Congo.[159] The Portuguese

Constitution of 1933 designated Angola and Cabinda as
overseas provinces.[160][161] In the course of administra-
tive reforms during the 1930s to 1950s, Angola was di-
vided into districts, and Cabinda became one of the dis-
tricts of Angola. The Front for the Liberation of the
Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) formed in 1963 during the
broader war for independence from Portugal. Contrary
to the organization’s name, Cabinda is an exclave, not
an enclave. FLEC later split into the Armed Forces of
Cabinda (FLEC-FAC) and FLEC-Renovada (FLEC-R).
Several other, smaller FLEC factions later broke away
from these movements, but FLEC-R remained the most
prominent because of its size and its tactics. FLEC-R
members cut off the ears and noses of government of-
ficials and their supporters, similar to the Revolutionary
United Front of Sierra Leone in the 1990s.[162] Despite
Cabinda’s relatively small size, foreign powers and the na-
tionalist movements coveted the territory for its vast re-
serves of petroleum, the principal export of Angola then
and now.[163]
In the war for independence, the division of assimilados
versus indigenas peoples masked the inter-ethnic conflict
between the various native tribes, a division that emerged
in the early 1970s. The Union of Peoples of Angola, the
predecessor to the FNLA, only controlled 15% of An-
gola’s territory during the independence war, excluding
MPLA-controlled Cabinda. The People’s Republic of Savimbi meeting the European Parliament deputies in 1989
China openly backed UNITA upon independence despite
the mutual support from its adversary South Africa and
Frenchman, two Portuguese, and an Angolan, in March
UNITA’s pro-Western tilt. The PRC’s support for Sav-
1999. While militants released the Angolan, the gov-
imbi came in 1965, a year after he left the FNLA. China
ernment complicated the situation by promising the rebel
saw Holden Roberto and the FNLA as the stooge of the
leadership $12.5 million for the hostages. When António
West and the MPLA as the Soviet Union’s proxy. With
Bento Bembe, the President of FLEC-R, showed up, the
the Sino-Soviet split, South Africa presented the least odi-
Angolan army arrested him and his bodyguards. The An-
ous of allies to the PRC.[164][165]
golan army later forcibly freed the other hostages on 7
Throughout the 1990s, Cabindan rebels kidnapped and July. By the end of the year the government had arrested
ransomed off foreign oil workers to in turn finance further the leadership of all three rebel organizations.[167]
attacks against the national government. FLEC militants
stopped buses, forcing Chevron Oil workers out, and set-
ting fire to the buses on 27 March and 23 April 1992. A
large-scale battle took place between FLEC and police in 6 2000s
Malongo on 14 May in which 25 mortar rounds acciden-
tally hit a nearby Chevron compound.[166] The govern- Main articles: 2000s in Angola, Angolagate, and Second
ment, fearing the loss of their prime source of revenue, Congo War
began to negotiate with representatives from Front for the
Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda-Renewal (FLEC-
R), Armed Forces of Cabinda (FLEC-FAC), and the Illicit arms trading characterized much of the later years
Democratic Front of Cabinda (FDC) in 1995. Patronage of the Angolan Civil War, as each side tried to gain the
and bribery failed to assuage the anger of FLEC-R and upper hand by buying arms from Eastern Europe and
FLEC-FAC and negotiations ended. In February 1997, Russia. Israel continued in its role as a proxy arms dealer
FLEC-FAC kidnapped two Inwangsa SDN-timber com- for the United States. On 21 September 2000, a Rus-
pany employees, killing one and releasing the other af- sian freighter delivered 500 tons of Ukrainian 7.62 mm
ter receiving a $400,000 ransom. FLEC-FLAC kid- ammunition to Simportex, a division of the Angolan gov-
napped eleven people in April 1998, nine Angolans and ernment, with the help of a shipping agent in London.
two Portuguese, released for a $500,000 ransom. FLEC- The ship’s captain declared his cargo “fragile” to mini-
R kidnapped five Byansol-oil engineering employees, two mize inspection. The next day, the MPLA began at-
tacking UNITA, winning victories in several battles from
16 6 2000S

22 to 25 September. The government gained control over ment’s military inferiority and the need to cut a deal.[170]
military bases and diamond mines in Lunda Norte and Four days later UNITA released the children to a Catholic
Lunda Sul, hurting Savimbi’s ability to pay his troops.[39] mission in Camabatela, a city 200 kilometres (124 mi)
Angola agreed to trade oil to Slovakia in return for arms, from where UNITA kidnapped them. The national orga-
buying six Sukhoi Su-17 attack aircraft on 3 April 2000. nization said the abduction violated their policy towards
The Spanish government in the Canary Islands prevented the treatment of civilians. In a letter to the bishops of
a Ukrainian freighter from delivering 636 tons of mili- Angola, Jonas Savimbi asked the Catholic Church to act
tary equipment to Angola on 24 February 2001. The as an intermediary between UNITA and the government
in negotiations.[171] The attacks took their toll on An-
captain of the ship had inaccurately reported his cargo,
falsely claiming the ship carried automobile parts. The gola’s economy. At the end of May 2001, De Beers,
the international diamond mining company, suspended
Angolan government admitted Simportex had purchased
arms from Rosvooruzhenie, the Russian state-owned its operations in Angola, ostensibly on the grounds that
negotiations with the national government reached an
arms company, and acknowledged the captain might have [172]
violated Spanish law by misreporting his cargo, a com- impasse.
mon practice in arms smuggling to Angola.[169] Militants of unknown affiliation fired rockets at United
Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) planes on 8
June near Luena and again near Kuito a few days later.
As the first plane, a Boeing 727, approached Luena some-
one shot a missile at the aircraft, damaging one engine
but not critically as the three-man crew landed success-
fully. The plane’s altitude, 5,000 metres (16,404 ft), most
likely prevented the assailant from identifying his target.
As the citizens of Luena had enough food to last them
several weeks, the UNFWP temporarily suspended their
flights. When the flights began again a few days later, mil-
itants shot at a plane flying to Kuito, the first attack tar-
geting UN workers since 1999.[173] The UNWFP again
suspended food aid flights throughout the country. While
he did not claim responsibility for the attack, UNITA
spokesman Justino said the planes carried weapons and
soldiers rather than food, making them acceptable tar-
gets. UNITA and the Angolan government both said
the international community needed to pressure the other
side into returning to the negotiating table. Despite the
looming humanitarian crisis, neither side guaranteed UN-
WFP planes safety. Kuito, which had relied on inter-
More than 700 villagers trekked 60 kilometres (37 mi) from national aid, only had enough food to feed their popula-
Golungo Alto to Ndalatando (red dot), fleeing an UNITA attack. tion of 200,000. The UNFWP had to fly in all aid to
They remained uninjured. Kuito and the rest of the Central Highlands because mil-
itants ambushed trucks. Further complicating the situa-
UNITA carried out several attacks against civilians in tion, potholes in the Kuito airport strip slowed aid deliv-
May 2001 in a show of strength. UNITA militants at- eries. Overall chaos reduced the amount of available oil
tacked Caxito on 7 May, killing 100 people and kidnap- to the point at which the UN had to import its jet fuel.
ping 60 children and two adults. UNITA then attacked Government troops captured and destroyed UNITA’s
Baia-do-Cuio, followed by an attack on Golungo Alto, a Epongoloko base in Benguela province and Mufumbo
city 200 kilometres (124 mi) east of Luanda, a few days base in Cuanza Sul in October 2001.[176] The Slovak gov-
later. The militants advanced on Golungo Alto at 2:00 ernment sold fighter jets to the Angolan government in
pm on 21 May, staying until 9:00 pm on 22 May when 2001 in violation of the European Union Code of Con-
the Angolan military retook the town. They looted lo- duct on Arms Exports.[177]
cal businesses, taking food and alcoholic beverages be-
fore singing drunkenly in the streets. More than 700 vil-
lagers trekked 60 kilometres (37 mi) from Golungo Alto 6.1 Death of Savimbi
to Ndalatando, the provincial capital of Cuanza Norte,
without injury. According to an aid official in Ndala- Government troops killed Jonas Savimbi on 22 Febru-
tando, the Angolan military prohibited media coverage of ary 2002, in Moxico province.[178] UNITA Vice Pres-
the incident, so the details of the attack are unknown. Jof- ident António Dembo took over, but died from dia-
fre Justino, UNITA’s spokesman in Portugal, said UNITA betes 12 days later on 3 March, and Secretary-General
only attacked Gungo Alto to demonstrate the govern- Paulo Lukamba became UNITA’s leader.[179] After Sav-
7.1 Humanitarian efforts 17

imbi’s death, the government came to a crossroads over age.[185]

how to proceed. After initially indicating the counter- There was an exodus from rural areas in most of the coun-
insurgency might continue, the government announced it try. Today the urban population represents slightly more
would halt all military operations on 13 March. Mili- than half of the population, according to the latest census.
tary commanders for UNITA and the MPLA met in Cas- In many cases, people went into cities outside the tradi-
samba and agreed to a cease-fire. However, Carlos Mor- tional area of their ethnic group. There are now impor-
gado, UNITA’s spokesman in Portugal, said the UNITA’s tant Ovimbundu communities in Luanda, Malanje, and
Portugal wing had been under the impression General Lubango. There has been a degree of return, but at a
Kamorteiro, the UNITA general who agreed to the cease-
slow pace, while many younger people are reluctant to go
fire, had been captured more than a week earlier. Mor- to a rural life that they never knew.
gado did say that he had not heard from Angola since Sav-
imbi’s death. The military commanders signed a Memo- In rural areas, one problem is that some were for years
randum of Understanding as an addendum to the Lusaka under the control of the MPLA-government, while others
Protocol in Luena on 4 April, with Santos and Lukambo were controlled by UNITA. Some of the population fled
observing.[180][181] to neighbouring countries, while others went into remote
mountainous areas.
The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution
1404 on 18 April, extending the monitoring mechanism
of sanctions by six months. Resolutions 1412 and 1432,
passed on 17 May and 15 August respectively, suspended
the UN travel ban on UNITA officials for 90 days each, 7.1 Humanitarian efforts
finally abolishing the ban through Resolution 1439 on
18 October. UNAVEM III, extended an additional two The government spent $187 million settling internally
months by Resolution 1439, ended on 19 December.[182] displaced persons (IDPs) between 4 April 2002, and
UNITA’s new leadership declared the rebel group a po- 2004, after which the World Bank gave $33 million to
litical party and officially demobilized its armed forces continue the settling process. The UN Office for the Co-
in August 2002.[183] That same month, the United Na- ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated
tions Security Council replaced the United Nations Office that fighting in 2002 displaced 98,000 people between 1
in Angola with the United Nations Mission in Angola, a January and 28 February alone. IDPs comprised 75%
larger, non-military, political presence.[184] of all landmine victims. The IDPs, unacquainted with
their surroundings, frequently and predominantly fell vic-
tim to these weapons. Militant forces laid approximately
15 million landmines by 2002.[184] The HALO Trust be-
7 Aftermath gan demining Angola in 1994, and had destroyed 30,000
landmines by July 2007. 1,100 Angolans and seven for-
eign workers are employed by the HALO Trust in An-
gola, with demining operations expected to finish by

7.2 Child soldiers

Human Rights Watch estimates UNITA and the govern-

ment employed more than 6,000 and 3,000 child soldiers,
respectively, some forcibly impressed, during the war.
Additionally, human rights analysts found that between
5,000 and 8,000 underage girls were married to UNITA
militants. Some girls were ordered to go and forage for
Destroyed road bridge in Angola, 2009. food to provide for the troops – the girls were denied
food if they did not bring back enough to satisfy their
The civil war spawned a disastrous humanitarian crisis in commander. After victories, UNITA commanders would
Angola, internally displacing 4.28 million people – one- be rewarded with women, who were often then sexually
third of Angola’s total population. The United Nations abused. The Angolan government and UN agencies iden-
estimated in 2003 that 80% of Angolans lacked access to tified 190 child soldiers in the Angolan army, and had
basic medical care, 60% lacked access to water, and 30% relocated 70 of them by November 2002, but the gov-
of Angolan children would die before the age of five, with ernment continued to knowingly employ other underage
an overall national life expectancy of less than 40 years of soldiers.[188]

8 In popular culture • Mozambican Civil War, another proxy war which

also started soon after the country gained indepen-
In John Milius's 1984 film Red Dawn, Bella, one of the dence from Portugal
Cuban officers who takes part in a joint Cuban-Soviet in- • Reagan Doctrine
vasion of the United States, is said to have fought in the
conflicts in Angola, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.[189][190] • Republic of Cabinda
Jack Abramoff wrote and co-produced the film Red Scor- • South African Border War
pion with his brother Robert in 1989. In the film, Dolph
Lundgren plays Nikolai, a Soviet agent sent to assassi-
nate an African revolutionary in a fictional country mod-
eled on Angola.[191][192][193] The South African govern-
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9 See also communist rhetoric for reasons of convenience, and also
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June 2001. Retrieved 10 February 2008.
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[181] “Angolan military meets Unita rebels”. BBC News. 16
March 2002. Archived from the original on 18 February • Une Odyssée Africaine (France, 2006, 59mn)
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12 External links
• All Peace Agreements for Angola – UN Peacemaker

• Armed Conflict Events Data: Angolan Civil War


• “Savimbi’s Elusive Victory in Angola” – Michael

Johns, U.S. Congressional Record, 26 October 1989.
• Arte TV: Fidel, der Che und die afrikanische
• Departement Sozialwissenschaften der Universität
Hamburg über den Krieg in Angola – Hamburg Uni-

• Afrika-Bulletin Nr. 123, August/September 2006

mit Schwerpunktthema Angola

• Deutsches Auswärtiges Amt zur Geschichte Ango-

las – German foreign ministry

• Welt Online: Wie Castro die Revolution exportierte

• Christine Hatzky: Kuba in Afrika – Duisburg Uni-
• The National Security Archive: Secret Cuban Doc-
uments on Africa Involvement
• U.S. Involvement in Angolan Conflict from the Dean
Peter Krogh Foreign Affairs Digital Archive
• Village of the Living Dead: With the Cubans in An-

13 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

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• File:SWAPO_and_SA_operations_1978-1980,_Angola_civil_war.png Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/
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operations 1978-1980, Angola civil war es.png Original artist: translated by Pjones
• File:SWAPO_and_SA_operations_1981-1984,_Angola_civil_war_es.png Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/
commons/e/ea/SWAPO_and_SA_operations_1981-1984%2C_Angola_civil_war_es.png License: CC BY-SA 2.5 Contributors: No
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• File:Sempreatentos...aoperigo!.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a6/Sempreatentos...aoperigo%21.jpg
License: Copyrighted free use Contributors: The copyright holder of this work allows anyone to use it for any purpose including unre-
stricted redistribution, commercial use, and modification. Original artist: Joaquim Coelho, author from Espaço Etéreo, a compilation of texts
and pictures from people involved in the war. Permission is granted here, and personal e-mails between me (Nuno) and Joaquim (backed
up for reference).
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