Angola: Another Oil War

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November 9, 2007: The government is still dealing with the political after-effects of its long-running civil war with the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA). That was a complex struggle. For example, the US and South Africa backed UNITA, while Communist China backed the FNLA. The Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, (MPLA), the faction which won the civil war, had Russian and East German support. The Cold War sputtered to a close but Angola's civil war didn't end until 2002. Oil income has helped ease the transition to peace, at least somewhat. Angola is now America's sixth largest supplier of oil. From January through April 2007 Angola exported over 68 million barrels of oil to the US. However, former UNITA supporters claim that their tribes are not getting a fair cut of the oil revenues. That may well be.

What is certain is that Angola's Cabinda Province isn't getting its fair share. Cabinda is Angola's biggest strategic asset and its biggest strategic problem. For starters, Cabinda is cut-off from the rest of Angola by a strip of Congolese territory. Cabinda's population also differs ethnically and linguistically from the rest of Angola. Historically, Cabinda wasn't tacked on to Portugal's Angolan colony until 1885. A majority of Cabindans speak French, not Portuguese (the lingua franca of Angola). By one estimate, Cabinda pumped (literally) over four billion dollars worth of oil royalties into the Angolan government's bank accounts. Cabindans claim they definitely don't get a fair share of the sales of their own natural resources. The Front for the Liberation of the Cabinda Enclave FLEC) is still active in the province, though the province is heavily "occupied" by Angolan military forces. The FLEC is militarily weak but is still a nasty political thorn. In 1977 the FLEC declared an independent Republic of Cabinda. The FLEC also appears to have the allegiance of a large number of native Cabindans.

 

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