September 25, 2007

JUST AS PEACE WAS SETTLING OVER NICARA- gua last spring, as if ordained by some cosmic see- saw, the Reagan Administration began to pay increased attention to the situation in Angola. The familiar signs of intervention appeared. The Angolan government identi- fied six bases in Zaire that the United States was using to train and supply Unita. European diplomats there saw a "tremendous upsurge in American material going to Unita through Zaire," and said this was part of an effort to move the group headed by Jonas Savimbi into Zaire, where the United States could "control them better."' In the months ahead the war in Angola could show that the reciprocity the CIA developed with Israel, South Af- rica and "private" operatives in Central America was not an ad hoc arrangement, but an evolving strategy for avoid- ing interference with its activities: When Congress bars the CIA from a certain war, its allies can slip smoothly into place and the operation goes forward. The CIA main- tains contact with its proxies, if not with its former clients, so that as soon as the coast is clear it can slip back in again. That strategy has already been put into play in Africa as well as in Central America, drawing the two theaters of operations together. It was first evident in a series of meetings between South Africa, Israel, Unita and the CIA beginning in 1983, one of which resulted in the signing of an agreement, presumably to cooperate against Angola at a time when the CIA was still restricted by the Clark Amendment. 2 In June 1985, columnist Robert Novak told the South African press that at a meeting of right-wing guerrilla groups from several continents, Unita's Jonas Savimbi announced he would send "advisers" to the con- tras. 3 Then, in early 1987, after the Secord-Hakim Enter- prise was grounded, it was reported that at least 15 South African pilots and cargo handlers were operating contra resupply flights from CIA facilities in Honduras, and us- ing intelligence provided by the CIA. 4 Next came the airlifts on St. Lucia Airlines. During the frenetic contra resupply period. of 1986 the flights went from Bradley Field in Connecticut to Panama, Honduras or St. Lucia, and then on to Johannesburg or Windhoek, Namibia, via Ascension Island or Cape Verde. Headquar- tered in Frankfurt and registered to the Caribbean nation of St. Lucia, the airline is believed to be a CIA proprie- tary. Government officials in St. Lucia said that in 1986 the airline had made at least half a dozen flights with arms for Unita which landed to refuel at St. Lucia. They traced the path of one flight from St. Lucia to Miami to Cape Verde. When asked about an April 17, 1986 flight from Kelly Air Force Base in Texas, base officials said the airline was under contract to the United States and its operations were classified. 5 Although it was legal for the CIA to supply Unita at the time, flights carrying arms to Johannesburg would be in violation of the arms embargo against the white regime. JOHANuyrM O" SOUTH AMERICA Suspected contra and Unita supply flight paths The stops in Panama and Honduras suggest a logistical connection between the Central America and southern Africa operations. N OW, WHEN IT LOOKS AS THOUGH SOUTH Africa might have to abandon Namibia-through which it supplies Unita-the CIA is setting up its alternate supply system in Zaire. For over a year St. Lucia cargo flights full of U.S. weapons have been landing at Kamina, the old Belgian air base in Shaba province, adjacent to Angola. In a pattern reminiscent of the contra.airlift from Ilopango Air Base in El Salvador, a C-130 flies the weap- ons to Unita positions in Angola. 6 It seems like Honduras all over again. Israel, which in 1982 began training a 5,000-man Zairian unit in Shaba province that was to be stationed along the border with Angola, 7 is well-positioned to take over advising Unita should the U.S. public ever force Congress to halt aid, as it did in 1975 and more recently with the contras. As one of the major right-wing guerrilla armies still in the field, Unita is almost certain to attract the covert action funds Saudi Arabia continues to wish to bestow upon Washington. In addition to whatever Saudi funds he may be receiving, Jonas Savimbi gets $75 mil- lion annually in South African aid.' And though "the Enterprise" has been put out of business, the fronts run by retired military and intelligence officers that competed to sell arms to the contras are still open for business to supply Unita. Honduras All Over Again 1. James Brooke, "Angola Charges That U.S. Uses 6 Zaire Bases to Train and Supply Rebels," New York Times, May 26, 1988. 2. According to Zimbabwe-based researchers Phyllis Johnson and David Matson, the meetings took place in May 1983 and Feb. 25-29, 1984 in Kinshasa, Zaire: in March 1984 in Morocco, and in Oct. 1985, memo National Security Archive: Observer (London), cited by Luanda Domestic Service, 0500 GMT. April 27, 1984, FBIS Middle East & Afiica, May 1, 1984, pp. U-1-I2. 3. South African Press Association (Johannesburg), 1445 GMT, June 8, 1985, FBIS Middle East & Afiia, June 10, 1985, p. U- 1. 4. Miguel Acoca, "South African mercenaries helping CIA in Nicaragua," San Antonio Light, March 13, 1987. 5. Jim Michaels, "Island airline tied to Kelly under probe," San Antonio Light, Feb I1, 1987, CANA (Bridgetown) 2116 GMT, Feb. 13. 1987, FBIS Latin America, Feb. 18, 1987, pp. S-2-3; David Keyes, "U.S. said to resume arms flights to Angola," The Independent (London), March 24, 1987. 6. James Brooke, "Americans Said to Oversee Airlift at Angola Rebel Base," New York Times, Dec. 15, 1987, and "U.S. Arms Airlift to Angola Rebels is Said to Go On," New York Times, July 27, 1987. 7. Richard Hall, "Angola worried by Israelis next door," Observer (Lon- don), Jan. 23, 1983. 8. James Brooke, New York Times, May 26, 1988.

Tags: CIA, arms trade, Angola

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