The origins of the Angolan civil war : international politics and domestic political conflict 1961-1976
This thesis views the Angolan civil war as a conflict that resulted from both internal and external political factors. The war, fought in the period 1975-1976 between the MPLA and the FNLA-UNITA coalition to succeed Portuguese colonialism in Angola, involved the intervention of external powers on behalf of both sides. This study examines, in part, the relationships that were established between these international powers and the Angolan movements. Due to the way in which these external relationships modified the nature of the internal political dispute, they became an intricate part of the origins of the conflict itself. The internationalization of the Angolan civil war was predicated, however, on an internal political conflict that emerged from a dynamic interaction of the effects of both Portuguese colonialism and divergent currents of Angolan anti-colonialism. While the particularities of Portuguese colonialism and the Salazarist regime played their part in establishing some of the conditions within which Angolan anti-colonialism emerged, the latter was also a product of specific political choices on the part of the movements involved. In this interaction there can also be found the roots of the conflict between the Angolan movements. This internal conflict was further exacerbated when the parties to it hoped to bolster their respective positions by establishing relationships with external powers. The establishment of these relationships was in part achieved by appealing to external rivalries, in particular to that of the competition between the superpowers, but also to regional rivalries, such as that between Congo and Zaire and wider continental divisions. The interaction between the internal conflict and these external rivalries is shown to have contributed significantly to the origins of the civil war. This thesis maintains its focus tightly on the specific question of the origins of the Angolan civil war. Those developments that led to the war, rather than the conflict itself are its main concern.