Angola and the Reagan Doctrine

January 17, 1986

Report Outline
East-West Concerns
Angola's Troubled Past
Reagan Doctrine Debate
Special Focus

East-West Concerns

Controversy Over Resumption of U.S. Aid

One Of The First issues Congress is likely to address after it convenes Jan. 21 concerns the southern African nation of Angola. While American attention has focused on growing unrest in nearby South Africa, backers of the Reagan administration's policy of supporting anti-communist insurgents around the world are trying to add Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi and his forces to the list of “freedom fighters” worthy of U.S. aid.

Like the “contras” fighting to overthrow the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, Savimbi's forces, known as UNITA, are seeking to topple an avowedly Marxist government that enjoys the support of the Soviet Union and its allies. And like the U.S. support of the Nicaraguan rebels, the question of aid to Savimbi promises to generate considerable controversy hinging as much on domestic political considerations as on the national security.

The United States has not given aid to UNITA—the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola—for nearly 10 years. After a bungled attempt by the Central Intelligence Agency to prevent leftist forces from taking over the former Portuguese colony in 1975, Congress passed the Clark Amendment, named for its chief sponsor, former Sen. Dick Clark, D-Iowa. The measure prohibited the United States from providing aid to any of the factions fighting in the Angolan civil war. Since Congress repealed the aid ban last July, there have been repeated calls to restore funding for UNITA.

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