THE bitter conflict on the ground in Angola and growing
diplomatic concerns present President Clinton with another
immediate foreign policy challenge in dealing with the legacy of
the cold-war era.
"The ending of the cold war does re-orient things," says Chester
Crocker, a former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
who initiated a complex regional settlement process in Angola.
President Jose Eduardo dos Santos made an appeal to Clinton Jan.
25 in a letter to the new US president and in a Monitor interview.
He argued that, as the sponsors of the rebel movement during the
16-year civil war, the US has a special responsibility to recognize
the democratically elected government in Luanda.
Mr. dos Santos said that, as one of the three guarantors of the
peace process, the US should distance itself from the rebel
National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) - whose
tactics include the kidnapping of foreign nationals and the
destruction of economic targets.
"To maintain a position which does not recognize Angola, is to
favor UNITA," Dos Santos told the Monitor.
"We are giving serious consideration to the question of
recognition," the US State Department said in a statement Jan. 25.
In the past two weeks, the tide of international opinion has
been turning against UNITA and in favor of the MPLA.
"The urgency of the Angolan challenge is underscored by the fact
that the two parties to the peace process are locked in a bitter,
undeclared war which could cost tens of thousands of lives and drag
on for years if the international community washes its hands of
Angola," a Western diplomat in South Africa says.
"Given the presence of US oil interests in the northern enclave
of Cabinda, Angola could end up as an even greater problem than
Somalia five years down the line."
Angolan officials argue that the US shares blame for the
inadequate manpower and resources of the United Nations mission in
Angola and the fact that it failed to ensure UNITA's demobilization.
UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has recommended that
a scaled-down UN monitoring group should quit Angola by the end of
April if the government forces and UNITA rebels have not resumed
negotiations. The UN was expected to begin a round of discussions
Jan. 26 on its UN presence in Angola.
Western diplomats in Luanda say a cease-fire will top the agenda
at talks between MPLA and UNITA military leaders scheduled to take
place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Jan. 27. They add that the MPLA has
backed down on its refusal to discuss political issues - apparently
because of UNITA's military advances. …