Sunday, March 10, 2013


In November 1975, on the eve of Angola's independence, Cuba launched a large-scale military intervention in support of the leftist liberation movement MPLA against United States-backed interventions by South Africa and Zaire in support of two other liberation movements competing for power in the country, FNLA and UNITA. By the end of 1975 the Cuban military in Angola numbered more than 25,000 troops. Following the retreat of Zaire and South Africa, Cuban forces remained in Angola to support the MPLA government against UNITA in the continuing Angolan Civil War.
In 1988, Cuban troops intervened again to avert military disaster in a Soviet-led FAPLA offensive against UNITA, which was supported by South Africa, leading to the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the opening of a second front. This turn of events is considered to have been the major impetus to the success of the ongoing peace talks leading to the New York Accords, the agreement by which Cuban and South African forces withdrew from Angola while South West Africa gained its independence from South Africa. Cuban military engagement in Angola ended in 1991, while the Angolan civil war continued until 2002 (and fighting is still ongoing in the exclave of Cabinda).

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