International Handbook on Chemical Weapons Proliferation

By Gordon M. Burck; Charles C. Flowerree | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Sub-Saharan Africa

Unlike the situation of the Middle East, there is considerable disagreement on the identity of suspect countries in sub-Saharan Africa and on the validity of the evidence. The racial, ideological, and nationalistic forces of Africa have made it fertile ground for conflict and for CW allegations by the belligerents. Most of the concerns center on Ethiopia, Angola, and South Africa. Other countries have been mentioned as suspects and will be discussed briefly at the end of this chapter. Many of the allegations against Angola were matched by Angolan allegations against South Africa or the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola ( UNITA) forces it has supported. But all of the allegations lack strong physical evidence and many can be attributed to misinformation, misclassification, and exaggeration for propaganda purposes.


ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia (Abyssinia) is a known victim of chemical warfare inflicted by the Italians in the 1930s. Most of the CW allegations against Ethiopia stem from the secessionist war in Eritrea. The parallel attempts of a group in Tigre Province to overthrow the central government have not spawned such claims, even as the situation became desperate in early 1990. It was during the 1977-82 conflict with Somalia, however, when the USSR became Ethiopia's primary military supplier, that Ethiopia allegedly received CW munitions. Suspicion has also been raised about Cuba's support for Ethiopia, but that support was limited to the war against Somalia; Cuba has resisted involvement in the Eritrean struggle. There are no reliable reports that Ethiopia has ever used CW agents, nor does Ethiopia appear to have the necessary defensive capabilities for chemical warfare.

Among the principal suspect states of sub-Saharan Africa, press assessments are most in agreement on Ethiopia: it is mentioned in most of the surveys as seeking or possibly having a capability. Only US News & World Report, in

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