We were surprised to see so little coverage of the Angolan situation in the Catholic. Herald. We were even more surprised to see, in your issue of January 30. the headline "CIIR hacks MPLA in Angola." Apart from being completely irrelevant, this is a total misrepresentation.
The Comment, in its conclusions. simply states the political reality: first. that the eventual government of Angola must accommodate the groups represented by the three movements.
Secondly, it states that, given the present military situation, it is from the ranks of the MPLA that a national administration will emerge because of MPLA's support among civil servants. the educated in Angola, its support in the urban areas and because it is the only movement which at present has a clear political programme. Comment emphasises that if the administration is to operate justly and effectively it must accommodate the' aspirations of the people at present supporting FNLA and UNITA. While MPLA is in the strongest position militarily, UN1TA's , popular support in the south cannot he ignored. Nor does the Comment dismiss or underestimate the threat posed by Russian and Cuban intervention, or assert that the South African threat is necessarily greater.
What we have tried to do in the Comment is to view the conflict on three levels — the first an internal one between the different Angolan movements: the second a continental one between white supremacy and African nationalism; and the third an international one involving the superpowers each with their own global strategy. What we do say is that, despite hostility at the OAU to Russian and Cuban intervention, from the African point of view the second conflict is the fundamental one.
Nor, as your report states. does the Comment see the Angolan conflict as primarily economic. Obviously. as Angola is potentially one of the richest countries in the southern African bloc. economic considerations are important.
However, in terms of foreign intervention the issue is fundamentally strategic. South Africa. Russia and the United States have all perceived strategic interest in the Angolan situation which are integral to the conflict and which are outlined in the Comment.
The present situation in Angola is extremely complex, constantly changing and has ramifications both for Angola's immediate neighbours and for the international community.
CI1R's Comment gives the background to the situation and tries to draw the various strands of the conflict together so that hopefully its readers will have a Netter understanding of the situation as it develops, Incompetent reports such as the
one in the Catholic Herald, which oversimplify the situation and therefore define it in misleading Left/Right terms, can only confuse rather than enlighten. We hope that anyone seriously interested in the Angola situation will not be put oft by this report but will read our document For themselves.
Hugo Young Chairman, Education Committee, Catholic Institute for International Relations I Cambridge Terrace, London NW I.