116. Paper Submitted to the 40 Committee1
PLAN FOR COVERT ACTION—ANGOLA
A. Intelligence Brief—Angola—16 July 75
- After almost a week of intense fighting in Luanda, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has forced its rival, the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), to withdraw from the city. The fighting may well have destroyed the fragile six-month-old transitional government set up to lead Angola to independence.
- The FNLA’s senior representative in the transitional government, Johnny Eduardo Pinnock has announced his resignation. Pinnock and a number of the FNLA’s leaders in Luanda have fled to Zaire.
- During the fighting, the Zairian press announced that Agostinho Neto, president of the MPLA, had been ousted by Major Nito Alves, one of his major military commanders. Although Neto’s ouster has not been confirmed, Pinnock said publicly that the MPLA is now controlled by “extremists” who have taken over from Neto. With Pinnock, and perhaps Neto, out of the way, and Front President Holden Roberto still apparently refusing to leave Zaire for Angola, the territory’s transition to independence has been severely jolted, even though the transitional government has been largely a facade during the more than six months it has been in existence.
- The Portuguese do not want their decolonization effort in the territory open to charges that independence was given to one group by default or by armed takeover. Lisbon will probably try to convince the FNLA to return to the government. The FNLA is unlikely to return unless the Portuguese can guarantee peace in the territory at least until national elections can be held.
- Pinnock’s resignation, which carried an acknowledgement that the FNLA is mobilizing for full-scale war throughout the northern part of the territory that it controls, was probably designed in large part to prod the Portuguese into imposing a truce through force of arms. Such a truce may be the FNLA’s best chance to pull itself together. With the exception of a few small garrisons scattered around the environs of Luanda, the FNLA is now isolated in northern Angola, separated from [Page 283] the capital by territory controlled by the MPLA. It is no doubt very low in ammunition and supplies. Despite its threats, the FNLA seems in no position to wage sustained war at the present time, particularly if it should try to force its way back into Luanda.
- It is probably too late for Portugal to guarantee security in the territory. Until now, Portuguese military authorities have been hoping they would not have to order the 24,000 Portuguese troops remaining in Angola to intervene between the two hostile liberation groups because they fear the very real danger that the troops would refuse. Lisbon is also faced with the possibility that troops from Portugal proper will refuse to go to Angola.
- Portuguese Foreign Minister Antunes rushed to Luanda but was unable to arrange a cease-fire. He subsequently informed UN Secretary General Waldheim that Lisbon may have to take “emergency measures” in order to guarantee a relatively peaceful transition to independence for the territory. Antunes hinted last Sunday2 night prior to his departure for Luanda that Lisbon might have to appeal to the UN in order to protect the decolonization process.
- Whatever the Portuguese and the FNLA may have in mind, the MPLA appears determined to score a military victory against its competitors, including the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), the smallest of the three liberation groups. The UNITA has refused to take sides in the fighting between its larger rivals but on several occasions has been attacked by the MPLA.
- Zairian President Mobutu is clearly in a quandary. Because of economic difficulties he has been forced to cut back drastically on his substantial aid to the FNLA at a time when the FNLA has met serious reverses.
- Mobutu strongly opposes the MPLA and wants to keep Neto from becoming president of an independent Angola. He probably has been seriously jolted by the FNLA’s poor showing in the latest fighting.
- Prior to that fighting, Mobutu was reassessing his relationship with Holden Roberto. Mobutu seems to have concluded that the FNLA would be unable to win a protracted war against its chief rival. Mobutu apparently also believes Roberto’s position has been damaged by his long-standing refusal to return to Angola from Zaire. Roberto fears that he would be politically embarrassed if he failed to match the personal popularity of Agostinho Neto on appearance in Luanda and that he could even be assassinated.
- According to reliable sources, Mobutu believes Jonas Savimbi of UNITA should be the primary political figure in an independent An[Page 284]golan government, with Roberto as a figurehead president and Neto as vice-president. Mobutu reportedly discussed his concerns with Savimbi in a meeting in Kinshasa in late May.
B. Other Developments
- President Mobutu continues to ask for a concrete demonstration of U.S. support for his efforts to prevent a takeover of Angola by the MPLA. He is alarmed by the large influx of Soviet arms to the MPLA and the defeat of the FNLA in Luanda.
- President Kaunda has also been concerned about an MPLA-dominated Angola on his borders. There have been recent signs, however, that MPLA successes may be causing him to feel obliged to make some accommodation with the MPLA.
- In addition to arms previously supplied to the FNLA by the PRC and Zaire, there may be deliveries of arms for Roberto and possibly Savimbi from other countries.
[Omitted here is detailed discussion of phases 1 and 2 of the covert action plan for Angola.]