Angola: January 7, 2000


The Angolan government announced that it had positioned army units along the Zambian border in an attempt to block retreating UNITA guerrillas. Another report said that Zambia had put its own troops on alert. Zambian and Angolan are best described as "poor." The report said that the Zambian forces would move to the border to help Angolan refugees (read that as UNITA supporters) fleeing into Zambia and to prevent Angolan government troops from crossing the border. Angola accuses Zambia of supporting UNITA -- and Angola is right. Could this lead to an Angolan-Zambian border war? Yes, but not likely. One key is Angola's estimate of just how badly its offensive has wounded UNITA in southern and southeastern Angola (ie, along the Namibian border). If the Luandan government concludes that UNITA is smashed in that area it may gamble on reorganizing for a "showdown battle" along the Zambian border. Such a campaign could well include attacks into Zambia against UNITA rebels and UNITA refugees. The other key is Zambia's reaction. UNITA has been beaten badly. Zambia might conclude that it doesn't want to expend anymore political and military capital on a losing cause. 


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