From: Tsegai Emmanuel (email@example.com)
Date: Fri Jun 05 2009 - 09:54:00 EDT
Angola: A Rising Regional Power Meets with Moscow Stratfor Today
»<http://www.stratfor.com/analysis>June 4, 2009 | 1832 GMT
MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
A worker on an oil platform off the Angolan coast in 2003
An official Angolan delegation in Moscow continued bilateral talks June 4.
Angolan state media agency Angola Press reported that the delegation — which
includes representatives from the Education, Foreign Affairs, Geology and
Mining, Higher Education, Home Affairs and Transport ministries — arrived in
Moscow on June 2 and will spend a week in Russia. Meanwhile, Alexey
Vassiliev, director of the Institute for African Studies at the
Kremlin-controlled Russian Academy of Sciences, concluded a four-day visit
to Angola on June 4, during which he likely negotiated a possible visit to
the country for Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Medvedev is likely to
visit Angola as part of a four-country tour of Africa that begins June 24 or
25 in Namibia, followed by visits to Angola, Nigeria and Egypt.
The Angolans, who want to become a regional power broker on par with Nigeria
and South Africa, will use the visits and the ensuing negotiations over
Angola’s mineral wealth to boost their influence on the African stage.
The flurry of Angolan and Russian diplomatic activity comes about two weeks
after Angola’s foreign minister visited the United
During that trip, Foreign Minister Assuncao dos Anjos held talks with a
series of senior Obama administration officials, including Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton. His visit provided an opportunity to strengthen a
relationship that, while cordial, has been limited by lingering mistrust
from the Cold War era.
While Luanda will seek greater cooperation with the United States, it will
not act exclusively with Washington. The ruling Popular Movement for the
Liberation of Angola (MPLA) regime will never forget that Washington
financed the opposition National Union for the Total Independence of Angola
(UNITA) rebel group during the Cold War. (A civil war between the MPLA and
UNITA that began when the country achieved its independence from Portugal in
1975 did not really conclude until 2002.) While UNITA does not currently
possess any military capability, it remains the country’s official
opposition party. The MPLA cannot ignore that UNITA might seek to redevelop
an insurgent capability out of frustration over the limited role of the
opposition in Angola.
Negotiating with the Russians to develop together Angola’s mineral wealth,
chiefly oil and diamonds, will provide the Angolans another means to finance
their dreams of becoming a regional hegemon — this time with a Cold War-era
ally. (The Soviet Union backed the MPLA.) But While the Angolans will sign
cooperation deals with the Russians, Luanda will not form an exclusive
partnership with Moscow, either. These days, the financial bottom line, not
political ideology, is Angola’s guiding principle. Thus, whatever deals the
Angolans ultimately reach with Russia will be used to extract additional
concessions from the United States and other players interested in Angola,
such as China and South Africa.