Moscow's Response to the Diplomatic Challenge in Southern AfricaJH"
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Analysis Division, Office of Sovietwith
African and Latin American
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Moscow's Response to tbe Diplomatic Challenge^ In Southern
Moscow is clearly apprehensive lhal Sooth Africa's recent agreements with Angola and Mozambique may weaken the Soviet position in these key southern African stales and undermine efforts to support Namibian aad South African insurgents. Soviel commentary has focused on Angola ruber than on Mozambique, because lhe USSR has more at stake in Luandareater ability to affect developments thcrcJJB
While criticizing US and South African motives for arranging it. ibe Soviets have not criticized the Angolan cease-fire itself. We believe this reflects their beliefoulh African withdrawal from southern Angola will improve the worsening miliury position of the ruling Popular Movemeni for ihe Liberation or Angola (MPLA)he disengage-icnt isjialikcly to lead io an overall settlemeni of lhe Namibia question.
If the Soviets believed ihc MPLA leaders were movingamibia accord thatuban troop withdrawal from Angola, they would bring pressure to bear on tbcm, as ihey have done in ihe past.astMoscow mighl iry lo protect ils interests byoup by MPLA hardliners. Given the risks inherent in coups, however, and given MPLA determination to resolve ihe Namibia question, we believe lhe Soviets would ultimately accede to Luanda's wishes. Moscow would continue to work behind tbe scenes lo maintain its influence wiibin the MPLA and to sustain Luanda's suspicions of Washington and Pretoria.
Although lbc Soviets have less ability lo influence evenu in Mozambique and are evidently dismayed by Ihe extent of President Michel'swith South Africa, Ihey have not written off Mozambique. Moscow almost certainly will seek lo exploit Machel's continued need for miliury assisuncc in aa effort to limit his turn lo ihc West, but we do not believe it is any more willing than in the past to subsidize Maputo's economic development
Elsewhere in southern Africa, the Soviets will try to foment and exploit new tensions to undermioe South African diplomacy and to sustain the struggle againsi white minority rule in Pretoria. They will seek to channel additional assisuncc to the Namibian and South African insurgents wherever possible. Without the traditional conduits in Angola andhowever, ihey are unlikelynjoy much succcssJjgW-'
Moscow's Response to tbe Diplomatic Cballenj in Southern Africa I
position in soulhern Africa rests primarily on iu role as the region's leading arms supplier. In February andowever, ils key allies there, Angola and Mozambique, concludedwith South Africa. These are clearly designed to reduce lhe military pressures that have made the two countries so dependent upon Soviet military assistance. This paper discusses Moscow's response io (he challenges posed by Pretoria's initiatives toward Luanda and MaputoJ
Soviet Interests In Southern Africa
The Soviets haveizable commitment in arms and money to the socialist-oriented regimes in Angola and Mozambique: the Popular Movement for Ihe Liberation of Angola (MPLA, and thc Mozamb" Liberation Front (FRELIMO).
basic aims in southern Africa are toor supplant Western and Chinese influence and to promote leftist change. More specifically, it seeks to consolidate the emerging leftist, pro-Soviet regimes in Angola and Mozambique, to bring tbe South-West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) to power in Namibia, and ultimately, to undermine (he white minority regime in South Africa. Angola is central to these objectives because it positions the USSR io support and influence Namibian and South African insurgents and to exploit potential instability inZaire. Through their unqualified support of black African self-determination, tbc Soviets have alsosomeAfrican antipathy toward Pretoria to promote suspicion and distrust of tbe United States, which Moscow portrays as South Africa's major "ally.^
Thc Soviets also seek access to southern African landing fields and ports for their air and naval forces. Soviet long-term objectives may also include denial or obstruction of Western access to tbc region's strategic mineral resources. Even if white minority rule in South Africa ended, however,denialwould encounter serious obstacles, such as thc reaction of Western nations and resistance from African leaders who depend on the hard currency from mineral sales.
.Moscow's Responseouth Africa's Agreements With Angola and Mozambique
General Secretary Cbernenko offered the mostSoviet comment on recent developments in southern Africainner speech onarch. He implicitly expressed grudging approval of thc accords, while criticizing Washington and Pretoria for exploiting African desires for peace aad stability to impose their solutions on the region and indicating his doubts as to whether Angolan security and Namibian independence arc "truly" guaranteed. |
Soviet media commentaries reflect (he ambivalence with which Moscow views the Angolan and Mozambi-can accords with South Africa. Onarch on SovicI television, political analyst Aleksandr Bovin candidly cited the factors and benefits lhat had induced Luanda and Maputo to reach agreements with Pretoria. Nonetheless, he criticized (he accords, saying it was "naive" to think that Pretoria's destabi-lization efforts could be stopped by "treaties ande concluded by noting that tbcfundamental problems were all linked to the existence of the white minoritya need for continued armed0 April Pravda
Angolam-South African Disengagements
4 agreement between Angola and South Africa calls for the staged withdrawal of South African forces from southern Angola In ex-changefor an Angolan commitment not to allow the Namibian guerrillas of the South-West AfricaOrgoniiation (SWAPO) to operate in the area vacated by Pretoria Both tides agreed tooint Monitoring Commission to police thearea and prevent SWAPO infiltration of northern
In our fudgment. Angola views the cease-fire as an opportunity to improve Its capability to deal with its own insurgencyincreasing threat posed by Jonas Savimbl's Notional Union for tht Total Independence of AngolaNITA has grown steadily stronger since the civil war begann recent yearsorces have ranged far beyond iheir traditional stronghold in southeastern Angola, devastating the Angolanby the preindependence departure of Portuguesenow threatening politically sensitive areas of cenlral and northern Angola Jf
The MPLA regime has not been able to devote its full military resources to combat the UNITA insurgency.0 Angolan and Cuban troops have been lied down in the south to guard against South African intervention. The South Africans havearge chunk of southern Angola sincend have staged repeated incursions deep into Angolan territory In search of SWAPO guerrilla
Pretoria agreed to the withdrawalariety of reasons. US pressureesture af good faith on
art to break the stalemate in thenegotiations was important. Moreover. Pretoria probably views the risk asas the disengagement agreement requires Luanda to keep SWAPO out of Namibia. The agreement also benefits Pretoria domestically as it eases public concern about Soutk African casualties and lhe high economic costs of ihe seemingly endless mfrJ*
The first three months of disengagement have been successful, but we believe that building on them ioroader regional settlement will bebecause:
Pretoria continues to link the implementation ofthe UN plan foe Namibia to the withdrawal of Cuban combat troops from Angola.
Luanda maintains that Cuban troops will not begin to leave Angola until all South African troops have left Angola, all outside old to UNITA has stopped, and the UN plan for Namibia has been implement-
Many South Africans believe ihat Luanda will not agreeuban troop withdrawal until it can deal with the UNITA threat. Consequently, they argueegional settlement Is possible only if the MPLA and UNITA reconcile, thusuban troop withdrawal and NamibianMPLA leaders, including moderates, still flatly reject the idea of an accommodation with Savimbtjg'
report, on Mozambique tugblighted Maputo'scomo socialism and noted somewhat skeptically of the nonaggrcsskm pact thai "time will show how events will develop.""
Soviet media have focused on Ihe Angolan-South African disengagement. No mention was made of Mozambiflue'i nooaggreuion pact with South Africa uniilatch, tbe day it was tignt "
Despite Moscow's uneasiness, we have seenoviet effort to stop the Angolan-South African dialogue since the cease-fire was signed. While castigating Washington and Pretoria, Soviet media have not condemned the agreement iiie :f
Thc Soviets may feel there currently is little reason to sabotage Angola's talks with South Africa. Tbeand the South African withdrawal from southern Angola have diminished the security threat to the MPLAthreat that had prompted the Soviets to send record levels of arms to Luandaoreover, if thc cease-fire holds, the Angolans and Cubans could focus all of their energies toward thcnsurgency. The Soviets may haveabout temporarily leaving the Namibian SWAPO guerrillas in tbe lurch, but preserving the regime in Luandaore important*
Moscow has not changed its overall position on Na-nubia. It continues to callnilateral withdrawal of South African forces from Namibia and formentation of UNt also continues to cnucixc any formula that links the South African presence in Namibia to the Cuban troop presence in Angola, stating that thc Angolans and Cubans can consider the issue of Cuban withdrawal only after Namibia is independent and the security threat to Angola is eliminated. The Soviets presumably were pleased with the Angolan-Cuban joint statementonarch, which reaffirmed that the Cubans would not withdraw until after South Africa ends its support of UNITA. withdraws from both Angola and Namibia, and implements the UN plan for theOf N
UN 4JS calli forewK-tUe.phased withdrawal ol Sc-ib African torecs from Namibia, mi (be> UN fo to overwe pepamhoru for Namibia" rl-cuontSBJ
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In contrast to the publicity it has accorded the Angolan cease-fire. Moscow only belatedlythe security accord between Mozambique and South Africa. We believe the delay reflects Soviet displeasure with FRELIMO leader Samora Machel.
The Soviets have grounds for concern over Machel's about-face. His rapprochement with Pretoria clearly undercuts Soviet interests and prestige and opens up new opportunities for Western inroads inMore importantly, from Moscow's perspective, it diminishes the already limited capabilities of thc African National Congress (ANCr-the Southinsurgent group iothus obstructs thc USSR's long-term objective of undermining theretoria jB"^
The Soviets evidently tried to dissuade Machel from his rapprochement with Pretoria, reportedlythe threat of oil cutbacks with offers of free oil. In thc past, however, Moscow's aid commitments have not matched Maputo's economic needs, and wethc Soviets are still unwilling to increaseassistance enough to dissuade Machel from talking with the South Africa* '
Amidst ike flurry of diplomatic activity in southernumber of Signals suggested that Havana was reevoluaiing its position on lhe Cuban troop presence in Angola. An article ihat appeared in tke Cuban dotty Granma ons discussed lhe Angolan-Souih African disengagement,speculation that Castro was preparing ihe wayuban withdrawal from Angola. |
therefore, is not linked as closely to (he survival of the Machel regime. Moreover, lhe Soviets have lessin Maputo than in Luanda.
Moscow has not written off Mozambique, however. President Machel was accorded high-level attention at the Andiopov funeral in mid-February: the Pravda account of his meetings wiih Politburo member Tik-hortov and Deputy Foreign Minister ll'ichcv noted that prospects for further development of bilateral relationsfavorable. Moreover, deliveries ofmilitary equipment have continued since the accord with South Africa was
lhearch joint communique issued during the dos Santos visit seems uncompromising on the preconditionsroop withdrawal fromit may be designed more to protectublic image than to halt progress on the Namibia Question. The fact lhal Havana has risked raising domestic expectations on the sensitive withdrawal issue indicates thai ils private posture Is not as rigid os the communique suggests SV*
Whatever Castro's thoughts on iht Angolanwe believe Havana would ultimately accede to Moscow's wishes, whether they be to send additional combat troops or to disengage from Angola entirely. Although tensions could emerge if Castro fell the USSR had sold oul in Angola or had used the Cuban troop issueawn in the bigger game of US-Soviet relations, the Soviet-Cuban relationship wouldlargely unchanged, because Havana's economic and military dependence upon the Soviet Union is so great
Prospects and Options
In both Angola and Mozambique. Moscow'sobjective is to ensure that the accords concluded in February and March do not lead to broaderwith South Africa,
Moscow's major concern in Angola is that there be no agreementuban withdrawal that woulddiminish Soviet influence. It probably feels that the current talks are unlikely to lead to such athe deep-seated nature of regional tensions, tbe UNITA threat, and tbe Soviet belief that South Africa remains unwilling to relinquish Namibia. Pub-lie statements by Lucio Lara and his fellow MPLA hardliner Paulo Jorge suggest that some in Luanda sec the current cease-fire and South Africanas an end in itself and that no decision has been reached on any stepsease-fire We believe Moscow shares ihis asse*sment.JgV
The Soviets have acquiesced in Machei's policy shift, at least partly because they have less at stake in Mozambique than inoviet and Cuban intervention brought toMPLA in Angola, but the Soviets did notomparable role in Mozambique. Soviet prestige.
Mozambique's Uneasy Detente With South Aftieti
a formal ceremony on4 al ihr border town of Nkomoti. Mozambique and South Africaonaggression pact slating ihaigovernment would allow its lerrilory lo be used to prepare acts of violence against the other. In practical lerms. Pretoria agreed to stop supporting theaiional Resistance (RENAMO) Insurgents In return for Maputo's pledge lo prevent guerrilla attacks against South Africa by lhe African national Congress
Machtl's decisionign the Nkomaiifirst of its kind between South Africaeighbor. Ing blackhard to make. Il stemmed largely, in our judgment, from the economic collapse in Mozambique. Beset by three years of drought and ihe debilitating attacks of RENAMO guerrillas, large areas of Mozambique were suffering from(moreoiombtcons havehe Motambican securitylarge Infusions of Soviet miliiaryincapable of defeating RENAMO. which focused iu attacks on keytargets and foreign economic advisers. Theroam freely in much of the countryside,food production and impeding the government's provision of drought relief supplies to the peasants.
roader perspective. Meckel's signing of lhe accordajor departure from's heretofore rigidly pro-Soviet. anti-Wesiern policies. Il reflectsalculation that lhe value of new South African investments and possible increases In Wesiern economic assistance would oui-wtigh tht risk that ihe Soviets would cut off their miliiaryin any case had not turned Ihe tide against lhe insurgents
We expeel both sides to work hard to make their detente succeed. Mozambican security personnel have raided ANC facilities inPretoria thai Machel Is ho/ding up his side of lhe bargain. And Pretoria does not want to see its diplomatic triumph tarnished, as South African businessmen flock into Maputo with offers of new investment. In the short term, therefore. Machel'swith black Africa's devil, ihe white minority regime into be paying off. In the long term, however, political support for the gamble could be undermined by continued RENAMO activity,ai reduced levels once the insurgents' stockpiles are consumed, and by poor economic conditions, even if they are better than today's,
Nonetheless. Machel's aboui-face in Mozambique probably hu shown Moscow that events in Luanda could also moveay damaging lo Soviethould the Soviets become suspicious about do*ultimate aims in dealing with Pretoria, theylyacn direct pressure on him. They havej thu icvenl times in the
The Soviets would react more strongly if theturned out to be the first stepamibia settlement thathasedof thc Cubans. With tbc departure of tbe Cuban combat troops, the Soviets would lose much of their leverage in Luanda.ettlement actually did cut UNff from its South African supply lines, and if the MPLA concentrated its military efforts against
Fif arene MiMjltr Boiha ana1 Prtstdtnt Idachcl ali"II -c'Nkomaii Accord be-iwrin South Africa and Moiamelaui.arch
UNITA. dos Santos would still depend on the USSR for military support- Moscow would hardly beabout tbe MPLA's success,its inability to defeat UNITA even0 Cubans on its side.l
If dos Santosoalition that was prepared to take action on the US Namibia package and comeeconcuiation with UNITA. the Soviets could:
Use disinformatiOB and other active measures to exploit Luanda's fears that Pretoria andare working together to force onN1TA-MPLA coalition government (or, evenNITA seizure of power).1
Press SWAPO to step up its activities inside Namibia in hopes of turning Pretoriaamibia settlement.
oup in Luanda in hopes that, if the pro-Soviet hardliners came to power, Angola wouldore confrontational approach toward South Africa and tbe SWAPO issue.
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Disinformation might succeed, given the historical suspicion and distrust between Pretoria and its black African neighbors. On the other hand, it probably would be ineffective if both Luanda and Pretoria were determined toettlement The Namibian insurgent* would welcome additional Soviet arms support, io step up their activities, but Moscow would have difficulty supplying SWAPO wiihout itsAngolan conduit,
A coup by MPLA hardliners would bring more pro-Soviet leaden to power and. by alienating supporters of tbe ousted leadership, make the new regime more dependent on Soviet aid to keep itself in power. Yet. given the complex of factors that shape MPLAtribe, ideology, andcould not be certain thatuccessful coup would have the desired result Tensions between the contesting MPLA factions could weaken thestrengthening tbe position of Savimbi and his UNITA insurgents. If the coup failed, moreover, Moscow could find itself with no influence inoviet attempt toamibia accord that enjoyed the support of most Africans also could jeopardize Soviet credibility and equities among other Hack African statesj
Disinformation, coups, and similar measures also fail to take Angola beyond tbe basic dilemmas that prompted it to respond to South African overtures. If tbc USSR succeeded in destroying the recent gains. South Africa could resume its pressure on Luanda by reentering southern Angola and stepping up aid to UNITA. This would create another security crisis much like thc one that prompted Moscow to send record levels of arms to Luandaoscow may be prepared to up the military ante, as it warned tbc South Africans last November, in pan because the expense would not be great. (Luanda's oil earnings have minimized Soviet and Cuban financial costs inbe Soviets are unlikely, however, to pick up the economic assistance burden if thcotal shambles.
We believe that, if the Angolans resolve their internal debate on the Cuban withdrawal and decide towith the US packageif it leads
econciliation withSoviett would 'tryissuade them but would ultimately bow to ibeir wishes-inimum, the Soviets presumably would seek strong assurances that Luanda would retain its leftist political orientation and iu close bilateral ties to the USSR. In that case, Moscow would continue totake in Angola through iu miliury assistance.
Moscow probably would seek toositive face onettlement, noting Luanda's continued leftist orientation, US recognition of the MPLA (albeitoalition withnd the honorable intentions of the Cubans, claiming that they had eliminated the South African security threat and then left when requested to do so. Moscow might go so far as to claim thai the Namibia settlementictory for the Cubans and the MPLA. While con-tinning to cultivate Luanda, the Soviets would turn their attention to independenta SWAPO electoralpursuit of newfor influence and peneirationJJ
There Ls some slight evidence that the Soviets may be preparing for such an eventuality. Infficials from the Africa Institute and the Foreign Ministryisiting US academicilitary solution was not possible in Angola and that peace could only succeed with theformation of athough both officials had doubu about Savimbi's role incenarioJ(J*
Increasing candor in the Soviet press about Angola's precarious economic condition also suggesu thatrecognizes that tbe MPLA may take somesteps to get out of an increasingly untenable position. Recent articles in New Times, Za Rubez-hom, and Komsomolskayo Pravda have provided aUrming details about Angola's predicament: thatercent of tbe country's bridges andercent of iu transport facilities have been destroyed by thethat tens of thousands of teenagers were drafted inhat Luanda ishortage of food and other essentials as iu population has doubled due to the influx of refugees from the south; and that not only the territorial integrity but thc independence of the young republic has been endangered. Bkj
In comparison to Angola. Moscow's options inare much more limited since Machei's dramatic about-face in his dealings with SouthStill, thc friendly reception accorded Machel during his February trip to Moscow reflects tbc Sovieu' desire toole and presence in Mozambique. We believe tbey will try to sustain the miliury assistancethey have inandthc rcccni setback to iheir intcrcsu. Indeed, deliveries of MIG-?ls haveapace since lbc accords with Pretoria were signed. As for economic assistance, however. Moscow is unlikely to make any new commitmenu while Machel continues to accommodate Pretoria. The Sovieu have shown little sympathy for Mozambique's plightthe current drought, although they havetheir recent food aid commitmenu to theregime in Nicaragua^
la Relations With SWAPO and Ibe ANC
Tbe Sovieu will trychannel additional assistance to SWAPO and tbe ANC wherever possible. Moscow's efforts on their behalf, however, could increasingly strain itt relations with Angola and Mozambique. The US Embassy in Maputo, for example, reports lhal local security officials were surprised and uneasy about tbe amounts and quality of weapons uncovered in recent confiscations of ANC arms caches there; tbey suspect thai tbe Sovieu and East Germans had transported this material without approval of the Mozambican Government
Both ihe Angolans and the Mozambicans may welloviet hand in any future actions by SWAPO or theas terrorist atucks or bombings in Namibia or Southmight undermine their accords with Pretoria. Moscow's public emphasis on tbe need to continue the liberation struggle is likely to compound such suspicions.problems for tbe Sovieu could arise in thc other Frontline States, which, despite ihcir publicof solidarity with SWAPO and tbe ANC. are reluctant to provoke South African reprisalsj
SWAPO and the ANC. in turn, are likely to be concerned that Moscow might sacrifice ibeir interests in order to strengthen iu position in Luanda and Maputo. Both liberation movements have beentheir tics to thc Chinese, but they will ultimately be more dependent on the USSResult of the Angolan and Morambican agreemenu with South Africa. Indeed. SWAPO and the ANC probably attach greater importance to Soviet backing than ever before, in hopes that Moscow's continued support of the liberation struggle may force Luanda and Maputo io help them also Without access to camps and transit points in Angola and Mozambique, respectively. SWAPO and the ANC would behampered in their efforts to continue thc armed struggle
Black Africa* Responsehe Recent Accords
While many black African leaders have offered cautiously favorable comments aboul the recem agreements wiih Pretoria, they are reluctant to lay anything that might be interpreted as approving Soulh African behavior, lest they Indirectly relieve inter national pressure on Pretoriaeform itspolicies. At the same time, some Africans, such as ihe Ethiopians, have refrained from publicly criticizing the accords in order io avoid embarrassing "brotherccording to tht US Embassy inm
The Sovieu may be concerned that the recent accords with South Africa might be perceived by otherstates as evidence of the USSR's inability or unwillingness to
As part of iu propaganda efJBrt, the USSR will tryblack African antipathy toward Pretoriathc various aspects of Southpolicies. I
Sovieu naturally have focused oa those issues where theyommon position with the blacka lea. Soviet media, for example, have highlighted the calls of all tbe Frontline leaders that South Africa implement the UN plan for Namibia without Unking ituban troop withdrawal from Angola.Soviet commentaries have quoted the public state-menu of Zambian President Kaunda (that South Africa is using iu peace initiative to buy time and delay Namibian independence) to reinforce the long-sunding Soviet theme that Pretoria is acting in bad
The negotiations wtth Pretoria haveixed reaction from the Frontline Slates not directlyTanzania and Zimbabwe have only been lukewarm in expressing support. Zambia andare more supportive of lhe negotiations, but do not trust South Africa and are fearful thai the settlement tffarl will fall. Many African leaders outside Ihe immediate region are less interested in ihe negoiiations. but have indicated theirthat severe security and economic problems led Luanda and Maputoeal with Pretoria. Those countries thai are privately critical of theoften have focused on tht risk that ihe injeresis of SWAPO and tht ANC will be sacrificed. Even Zairian President Mobutu has expressed suchaccording to the US Embassy in Kinshasa