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Research Report

Angola’s Africa Policy

Paula Cristina Roque
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2017
Published by: Egmont Institute
Pages: 24
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 2-3)

    Angola is experiencing an existential transition that will change the way power in the country is reconfigured and projected. The pragmatism and survivalist instinct that have defined its internal and foreign policies will be sorely tested under the reins of the new President, a financial crisis and regional turmoil. After almost four decades of rule under President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, the country inaugurated a new president in September 2017. This is an existential moment given the usurpation and on-going manipulation of power that the Dos Santos family and elite clan have sustained. During the 1975-2002 war, the ruling People’s...

  2. (pp. 4-7)

    The experience of decades of proxy and direct involvement of forces and interests from Washington, Moscow, Pretoria, Havana, key African countries, Portugal and the UN during Angola’s 1975-2002 civil war continue to influence Luanda’s realpolitik approach to the world and in particular towards Africa. The country learned from Russia (in the post Cold War era) the virtue of remaining engaged even after a loss of power: essential in playing for long-term gains and building capacity to exert dominance and influence. The regime learned from the United States that permanent friends may not be as important as permanent interests, and that...

  3. (pp. 8-10)

    Angola’s foray into West Africa has previously been marred by miscalculations that have exposed its foreign policy contradictions. Its confidence led it to plough through regional interests and competing policies of countries that were undergoing political changes. Unable or unwilling to recognise these shifts, Angola was left isolated during its engagements in the Ivory Coast in 2010 and Guinea-Bissau in 2011. This led to the reformulation of the bilateral imperatives which may impact how it proceeds in supporting incumbents like President Joseph Kabila in the DRC who have become a political liability, and how it positions itself in countries that...

  4. (pp. 11-15)

    The Congos are for Angola a matter of national security and regime survival; this was the case in the 1990s and remains the case today. While eliminating support for rebel movements is no longer a driving force given UNITA’s military defeat in 2002 and the weakening and fracturing of the separatist Front of the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), Luanda fears the spill over of migrants, refugees, insurgents and wildcat diamond miners into border areas that are antagonistic to the regime. Angola has cemented its influence in the Congos through its robust and large-scale military interventions in the...

  5. (pp. 16-20)

    Bilateralism has dominated Angola’s international and regional engagements but a growing appreciation of the utility of multilateral forums has developed in recent years. The multilateral shift is aimed at enhancing the space to manoeuvre and protect specific interests. As part of Angola’s objective to achieve diplomatic cover, it is also an extension of the country’s ability to engage and steer diverse objectives. By playing a role in such fora Angola also learns about the different dynamics and policy positions of key countries: ‘Engaging with the AU and SADC is like an early warning system; it helps us avoid taking measures...

  6. (pp. 21-21)

    Luanda will continue to exert and seek to extend its influence throughout Africa with the aim of furthering its economic and security interests. Its growing multilateral engagement reflects a concerted effort to become a leading continental power broker, although it will face several challenges to its mediation and securitisation efforts in several regions. Its previously financially dominated foreign policy simplified issues through the lens of transactional politics. However, not all problems can be resolved financially and through client relationships. Opaque bilateral security and economic arrangements, including Angola’s propensity for president-to-president economic deals, may be further challenged by new leaders and...