The internationalisation of regional conflict - the case of Angola

This brief report describes the increasing internationalization of the conflict in Angola. The conflict has been fuelled by foreign support to both sides, with the Soviet Union supporting the MPLA, and the United States as well as South Africa aiding UNITA. The US acknowledges UNITA as a legitimate guerrilla movement and will continue to supply it, suggesting less inclination to recognise an MPLA government. However, South Africa is regarded as UNITA’s largest single supporter, also involved in military operations. The conflict has taken its toll on the Angolan economy, which forces the government to be more flexible towards Western demands. Remaining unresolved problems are South African control over Namibia and the presence of Cuban troops in Angola. However, the diplomatic initiative has broadened to include West European and Eastern Bloc countries, either on a diplomatic or a military level. This involvement emphasises the instability of the region, which could result in further violence. Yet there are indications that the conflict is moving towards a diplomatic settlement. Peace can only come through reconciling political and economic interests, and international involvement is essential for an agreement that holds any real hope for finding a solution acceptable to all sides and for ensuring stability in the region.