The Guardian March 15, 2000


Washington poses as "Honest Broker"

by Johnnie Stevens

After decades of financing wars and assassinations that decapitated 
national liberation struggles in Africa, the US imperialist political 
establishment is now trying to appear as peacemaker. It is offering its 
"help" in ending the massive suffering caused by the very wars it 
created.

Nowhere has this suffering been greater than in Angola. There, Washington's 
support for the mercenary UNITA army in the 1970s and 1980s left a nation 
of refugees, land mines, amputees and orphans.

In a recent offensive, however, the Angolan Army pushed the UNITA bands 
right to the border. 

It is obvious that UNITA has long outlived its usefulness for the US, so in 
December, Richard Holbrooke, US ambassador to the United Nations, met 
Angola's President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. Holbrooke announced a new US 
"focus" on the civil war in Angola and called for stricter sanctions 
against UNITA and "human rights reform" on all sides  except for the 
planners of the mass destruction in Washington.

Bloody mercenaries financed from outside

UNITA, under the leadership of Jonas Savimbi, has been fighting the elected 
MPLA government for 29 years. It was first funded by the colonial 
Portuguese and then by the South African apartheid regime. The United 
States openly sent millions of dollars to the group during the 1970s and 
1980s. As a demonstration of their relationship, President Ronald Reagan 
received Savimbi as a virtual head of state at the White House in 1985.

When the anti-apartheid movement came to power in South Africa, the US 
agreed to UN sanctions banning fuel and war supplies to the rebels. But 
they had little effect.

Counter-offensive

In September of last year, the Angolan Army (FAA) started a counter-
offensive that has successfully pushed UNITA out of the central highlands 
of Balundo. The FAA has continued to inflict military defeats on UNITA, 
which is showing signs of internal disintegration. In November a senior 
UNITA general, Jacinto Bradun, went over to the government side. 

The 14-nation Southern African Development Community made moves to tighten 
sanctions against UNITA and will speed up humanitarian assistance programs 
to the Angolan government.

Two-thirds of Angola's population are refugees. An estimated 100,000 land 
mines make normal existence impossible. Malnutrition is reported to be up 
43 percent. Yet the country has one of Africa's richest soils, with the 
potential to feed the whole African continent.

In November Angola's Social Welfare Minister announced that the government 
was releasing $20 million to provide displaced persons with seeds and tools 
in an attempt to get people to grow their own food. Another $54 million 
will be forthcoming next year.

Peace accord sabotaged

In their meeting, the Angolan President reminded Holbrooke that the United 
Nations' last peacekeeping effort failed to end the war. Even after the US 
stopped openly financing Savimbi his access to diamonds and to the 
international diamond market provided UNITA with the funds to continue 
fighting.

DeBeers, the dominant diamond-purchasing company based in South Africa 
bought Angolan diamonds from Savimbi. However, DeBeers announced in October 
1999, that it would no longer buy Angolan diamonds not accompanied by a 
certificate of origin. This decision was prompted by the new government of 
South Africa, which told DeBeers it could no longer buy diamonds from 
UNITA.

Angolan President Dos Santos told Holbrooke that the Angolan government 
rejected a political role by the UN. In a letter to UN Secretary General 
Kofi Annan, the Angolans stated that the UN's role could only be effective 
if restricted to humanitarian assistance.

Holbrooke used the occasion to raise "concerns" about the Lusaka Accord, an 
African effort to end the struggle in eastern Congo. The Lusaka Accord was 
brokered by South Africa's Minister of Foreign Affairs and signed by 
Angola, Congo, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda in August last year and 
did not involve the US.

Holbrooke's record

Holbrooke reminded the Angolans that he now heads a 500-strong UN military 
"peacekeeping" force while the Angolan leaders remember Holbrooke for the 
war-hawk he has been in Vietnam, Cambodia, Bosnia, Kosovo and EastTimor. 
His call for sanctions on UNITA puts the struggle in the arena of 
international trade and finance, where the imperialists have the upper 
hand. Sanctions also hit the masses the hardest.

What Angola needs is the complete defeat of UNITA and international support 
to rebuild their shattered country.

* * *
Acknowledgment to Workers World

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