Mozambique Merits the Reagan Doctrine

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Mozambique Merits the Reagan Doctrine

March 31, 1987 17 min read Download Report
Daryl Plunk
Former Senior Visiting Fellow
Daryl is a former Senior Visiting Fellow

(Archived document, may contain errors)

572 March 31 1987 MOZAMBIQUE MERITS THE REAGAN DOCTRINE INTRODUCTION Since gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique has been one of Moscow's closest allies in Africa. This alliance was forged ten years ago today, when Mozambique signed a 20- y ear Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union. In return for military advisers and a large arsenal of Soviet weapons, Mozambique's communist regime known as the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique FRELIMO has given the Soviet navy acce ss to ports, has supported Soviet-backed insurgents, and allowed Moscow's allies preferred access to Mozambique's natural resources.

Soviet weapons.and advisers are used to fight the -nine-year-old insurgency of the Mozambique National Resistance, or RENAM O. Its 22,000 pro-Western freedom fighters have waged an increasingly successful guerrilla campaign against the FRELIMO regime controls 80 percent of the countryside RENAMO now Mozambique faces other problems: economic and military pressure from neighbori n g South Africa, a famine that threatens 5 million Mozambicans, and the normal problems associated with a leadership change, after President Samora Machel wa's killed last October in a plane crash. He was replaced by Joaquim Chissano, who promptly 1. See " The Resistance Can Win ib Mozambique," Heritage Foundation National Secu ri Record June 1986. reconfirmed pis regime's commitment to Marxism-Leninism and to the Soviet bloc.

Many observers believe that RENAMO is so close to victory that it could become the Third World's first triumphant anti-communist insurgency. A main obstacle to this, strangely is the Reagan Administration. Instead of invoking the Reagan Doctrine and supporting the democratic zesistance.gforces as .the -Reagan -Doctrine seemingly would r equire, the U.S. has sided with the Soviet-backed communist regime. For the last six years, the State Department ostensibly has sought to "wean away the FRELIMO regime from the Soviet bloc by providing FRELIMO with political, diplomatic, and economic supp ort.

Since 1981, the U.S. directly has provided Mozambique $78 million in bilateral assistance and has voted for another $154 million in multilateral assistance.

Mozambique's communist rulers, however, refuse to be weaned.

They are no closer to the West and no further from Moscow than they were six years ago. It is thus time for the U.S. to recognize that its Mozambique policy has failed. As such, Washington should end all bilateral assistance to Mozambique. The U.S. also should demand the withdrawal of a ll foreign forces from Mozambique and pressure FRELIMO leaders to negotiate with RENAMO to devise a plan for national reconciliation and internationally supervised elections refuses, Washington should consider providing Reagan Doctrine assistance to RENAM O's democratic resistance forces If FRELIMO FRELIMO'S ASSUMPTION OF POWER Eduardo Mondlane founded the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique in Tanzania in 19

62. He organized FRELIMO out of several groups working to end Portuguese rule of its African col onies these groups, forced out of Portugal by the Portuguese secret police had resettled. in newly independent Algeria This "Algeria Grouptg contained the most radical members of the FRELIMO leadership Marcelino dos Santos (who led the group), Joaquim Chi s sano, Pascual Mocumbi, Sergio Veira, Oscar Monteiro, Aquino de Braganca, and Jorge Rebelo One of 2. See "Chairman Chissano Speaks to FRELIMO Committee in Foreign Broadcast Information Service-Middle East and Africa (hereinafter referred to as "FBIS-MEA No vember 4, 1986 pp. U2-5.

Between 1962 and 1969, rival factions battled for power. The issue: black nationalism vs. radical communism In February 1969 Mondlane, a'black nationalist, was assassinated. The Algeria Group put Samora Machel in power. Soon after, Soviet bloc assistance to FRELIMO increased.

Caetano regime, FRELIMO was Mozambique's only opposition movement.

When Portugal's new rulers decided to abandon their centuries-old African colonies, they merely turned power over to FRELIMO, without any election. FRELIMO took power on June 25, 1975.

Machel quickly nationalized major segments of the economy, and then the state took control of all private property (some of which has been returned agriculture. At a FRELIMO party congress in February 1977, Mach el transformed his "liberation movementIm into a full-fledged vanguard communist party of feudalism and colonialism, but fundamentally to crush capitaiism which is the most advanced form of exploitation of man by man By the time of- the-.Apri1-+1974 coup i n Lisbonp which toppled the He also launched a campaign to collectivize He declared "Our struggle is to destroy all vestiges THE MOSCOW-MAPUTO CONNECTION Cuban agents first courted FRELIMO in Algeria in the early 1960s FFtELIMO participated in the January 1966 Tricontinental Congress in Havana, where Fidel Castro brought together representatives of revolutionary movements from all over the world. During the 19608 FRELIMO members were sent to Cuba for military training. FRELIMO also joined other Soviet bloc fronts, including the World Peace Council and the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization.

By the time Machel visited Moscow in May 1976, he already had signed Treaties of Friendship and Cooperation with Bulgaria Czechoslovakia, Romania, and North Kor ea. In Moscow, his Soviet patrons apparently told him that before they would give him such a treaty, he would have to demonstrate his commitment to Marxism-Leninism by formally transforming his movement into a vanguard communist party. As a promise of goo d things to come, Moscow signed an arms agreement. Machel accepted these conditions, and the 3. Though the official FRELIMO version blames the Portuguese secret police, some have suggested that radical FRELIMO members were responsible 4. See Edward P. Cain Mozambique's Hidden War in Charles Moser, ed., Combat oq Communist Ter ritory (Chicago: Regnery Gateway, 1985 p. 40. transformation took place in February 19

77. One month later pe was rewarded with a 20-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation.

Since then, Soviet military assistance to Mozambique has been substantial. Moscow sold FRELIMO $978 million worth of arms on very favorable credit terms between 1977 and 1983, including,MiG-21 jet fighters, MI-24 helicopter gunships, and T-54/55 tanks. Ov e r the last two years, Moscow has upgraded .Mozambique's -arsenal Following a March 1986 Machel visit to Moscow, the Soviets signed a five-year arms agreement that for the first time,would provide FRELIMO forces with MiG-23 jets and heavy T-62 tanks. And e a rlier this month, the Soviets signed a nfw arms agreement with FRELIMO, the details of which are still unknown The Soviets reap benefits from their alliance with FRELIMO Soviet ships use the Mozambican ports at Nacala and Maputo. FRELIMO meanwhile support e d Soviet-backed anti-government insurgents operating in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa. The Soviet bloc also has been allowed preferred access to Mozambique's natural resources Moscow takes fish; East Germany, agriculture products (mainly citrus fruit and rice), textiles and coal; Cuba, tobacco, sugar andQIcoffee Romania, cotton; and Bulgaria, wheat, maize, rice, and beef review Soviet policy toward Mozambique. They apparently decided to speed arms deliveries Immediately following Machel's death, Soviet leaders gathered to Another 100-man contingent of Soviet bloc 5. This condition reflected a change in Soviet strategy toward Africa. Previously, the.

Soviets had been invited into, and then out of, several African countries. They apparently decided in the early 1970s that an African leader's personal commitment to a vague Marxism was not enough of a basis on which to commit themselves to providing assistance. Accordingly, they began to demand the establishment of formal vanguard communist parties. O ther nations that have accepted this condition in exchange for Soviet commitments include Angola, Ethiopia, and the Congo (Brazzaville 6. See U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Porld Militarv ExDenditures and Arm Tranu (Washington, DC Government Pr inting Office, 1985 p. 1

31. Mozambique apparently pays for the weapons by allowing the Soviets and their allies access to Mozambique's plentiful natural resources. The hard currency received from the sale of those resources is then used to pay for the wea pons 7. Conversations with Western intelligence sources, March 1987 8. See "Prime Minister Machungo Meets USSR's Koshelev in FBIS-MEA, March 12, 1987, p u1 9. See "The Da Costa File in Sco~e magazine, February 25, 19

83. This is the extraordinary account of Jorge Da Costa, former head of the Mozambican secret police, who defected to South Africa in June 1982 4advisers was dispatched to Maputo, the Mozambique capital. And Red Army General Yevgeny Ivanovsky, deputy defense minister and commander-in-chief of Soviet ground forces, was sent to Machel's funeral go demonstrate publicly Moscow~s commitment to Mozambique's def ense I F:!J w i 5 u ir THE TURN TO THE WEST"

By 1980, socialist economic policies and mismanagement had so devastated Mozambique's economy t hat Machel asked to join the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON the Soviet bloc economic organization. Machells request. He then turned to the West for assistance. Mog,cow, itself financially strapped, turned down U.S. Assistant Secretary of S tate for African Affairs Chester Crocker responded enthusiastically. If Machel was willing to accept Western economic assistance, Crocker apparently believed, perhaps he would be willing to drop his ties to the Soviets as well. And, over time, Machel woul d come to realize that while Moscow could provide him with military aid, only the West could provide him the economic aid he needed. the West.

Faced with such a choice, Crocker hoped, Machel wou+d choose Accordingly, the U.S. sponsored Mozambique for membe rship in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and gave Mozambique direct bilateral assistance. Coupled with the economic assistance was a diplomatic campaign aimed at achieving a treaty between Mozambique and South Africa. The Nkomati Accor d , signed in March 1984, committed South Africa to end its support for the-FZENAMO freedom fighters Mozambique agreed to.expe1 Soviet-trained cadres of the African National Congress, which had used Mozambique as the headquarters for their actions against S outh Africa.

The zenith of the U.S. campaign to woo Mozambique came in September 1985, when Machel visited Washington. There he met'with Ronald Reagan,--who called him "amigo, I' or l'friend even asked Congress go give Mozambique $4.6 million over two year s in military assistance. To date, the U.S. has provided $78 million in The Administration 10. See "Mozambique: Soviet Signal in. Africa Co nfidential, October 29, 19

86. See also above-cited conversations with. Western. intelligence sources 11. Moscow's decision to refuse Mozambique entry into.COMECON.also may have been part of a new Soviet strategy for dealing with its Third:World'client"regimes. See below 12. Congress turned down the. request.

I I 5 i direct bilateral assistance to Mozambique, and has voted for $154 million more in multilateral loans.

But the %urn to the West1# has not been genuine. The Machel regime never gave up any of its fundamental communist beliefs or its ties to the Soviet Union. Too many observers err in calling Machel-and othe r Third World comm~ists--llMarxists.ll In fact, these leaders are not so much "MarXiStS as they are J%eninists That is they care less about organizing their national economies than about achieving and maintaining power. Their attraction to the Soviet mode l is not to its economic system, which has proved disastrous, but to its political system, which offers a guaranteed method of obtaining and keeping power regimes that provide support for their power consolidation.

And their attraction to Moscow and Havana . is to As long as Leninism flourishes in Mozambique, nothing fundamental has changed economic aid in no way signals any lessening of its commitment to Leninism or of its ties to the Soviet bloc The FRELIMO regime's willingness to accept Western In fact, i t may reflect a new stage of Soviet strategy for the Third World: use whatever means are neccesary and appropriate to establish communist regimes in the Third World, then encourage them to accept Western .economic. assistance. This accomplishes three goal s : it releases Moscow from the economic burden of supporting its burgeoning Third World empire, it seduces the West into expending its own scarce resources in the elusive search for a communist regime that can be weaned away from the Soviet bloc, and it st abilizes Soviet-backed regimes which otherwise would deteriorate because of ruinous economic policies THE CHISSANO REGIME: NEW AND IMPROVED?

Machel, FRELIMO chose former,foreign minister Joaquim Chissano as the new president. The reasons: First, Chissano w as known to have supported Machel's "turn to the West," and clearly was viewed as the contender most likely to guarantee continued Western assistance to. the regime. Second, he was younger than the other candidates, and was believed to have the vitality n e cessary to shoulder the triple tasks of heading the party, government, and armed forces. Third, Chissano After weeks of deliberation following the October death of Samora 6was black, and was not subject to incEeasing anti-mestico (i;e mixed race) resentme n t in Mozambique Chissano's selection was greeted with relief by liberals and diplomats in the West. They portrayed him as a moderate The Washinaton Post, for instance, headlined its story %oderate Marxist Succeeds Machel, and called Chissano I1Mozambiquen s pragmatic westward-leaning foreign minkster.J 4 1 1 1 The truth is that Chissano was a member of the original group of radicals, the Algeria Group. According to his official FRELIMO biography, he was sent 'lout of the countrytw (presumably to either Cub a or th~ Soviet Union) for military training twice between 1964 and 19

66. He holds the rank of major general in the Mozambique Armed Forces, granted for his service as FRELIMO's security chief durhng the war, when he purged the party of non-communists.

Marxist-Leninist commitment He declared: "We are going to strengthen our FRELIMO party...we will be instransigent with deviations that are contrary to party policy of socialism the objective of Mozambican society because only a socialist society guarantee s to the people as a whole equal rights and opportunities.l bloc, he added The FRELIMO party will cont'inue to follow the principles contained in its Statutes and in its relations with the Marxist-Leninist parties and with other socialist states Ill7 In hi s first speech as party Chairman, Chissano reaffirmed his Our party has defined the construction In case anyone doubted his commitment to the Soviet Earlier this month, another regime official specifically rejected the notion of Mozambique's Ifiturn to the West.I

Information Minister 13. This last factor may have played a larger role than'is immediately apparent. The leaders of Mozambique's armed forces increasingly have voiced resentment over the lack of black control over the party and government. For in stance, of the original Algeria Group-which controls FRELIMO, and. hence, Mozambique--only Chissano and Pascual Mocumbi are black. The others are all mesticog 14. See William Claiborne Moderate Marxist Succeeds Machel," The Washinaton Post November 4, 198 6, p. A14 IS. See "Radio Carries Biography of Chairman Chissano," in FBIS-MEA November 4, 1986, pp.


6. Jorge da Costa, the defector, claims Chissano was sent to the Soviet Union 16. As even that same Washinaton Post story admitted, "During the guerril la war against Portugal, Chissano headed FRELIMO's security department j ust before independence, he sided with radicals in ousting conservatives from the party See Claiborne, QD. cit 17. See "Chairman Chissano Speaks to FRELIMO Committee go. cit 7- Teoda t o Hunguana declared in London that "Mozambique is not shifting from one side to the other, from West to East The Soviet Unionlahas been a historic ally," he said, adding that this had not changed THE MOZAMBIQUE NATIONAL RESISTANCE L The Mozambique Nationa l Resistance (RENAMO) was established in April 1977 by Andre Matsangaisse, with the help of disaffected FRELIMO militants Portuguese exiles, and the Rhodesian Central Intelligence Organization (CIO Rhodesia backed RENAMO to retaliate for Machel's support f or anti-Rhodesian guerrillas. Matsangaisse was killed in 1979, and his lieutenant, Afonso Dhlakama, took control of RENAMO.

When Robert Mugabe successfuly wrested power from Ian Smith in Rhodesia, he immediately cut off assistance to RENAMO. South African Military Intelligence (SAMI) took on the task of aiding the insurgency, and through the early 19808, RENAMO continued to grow.

RENAMO first unveiled its political platform in August 19

81. In effect it is a draft constitution for post-FRELIMO Mozambique Its seven chapters deal with politics, economics, justice, constitutional matters, health and education, public services, and foreign policy.

It calls for the dissolution of the communist system of government and guarantees ''the people's right to choose and 5reely vote on the country's political, social and economic system."

The Nkomati Accord of March 1984 ending South African support stunned Dhlakama. But RENAMO did not dissolve, as Samora Machel had assumed it would puppet In fact, RENAMO became even stronger, carrying the .war for the first time into all ten of Mozambique's provinces increased its combat contacts with FRELIMO forces over the next three years: in 1983, RENAMO averaged 100 contacts per month: in 1984, 150 per month; in 1985, 200 per mo n th; and by 1986, the average approached 250 per month. Moreover, in an important indicator of trends in a 0 Dhlakama proved that he was not a "South African RENAMO 18. See Andrew McEwen, 'Minister denies tilt to West by Maputo The T imeg of London March 7 , 1987 is. See Cain, 9 cit 8guerrilla war, RENAMO began initiating an increasing share o& the contacts, from 60 percent in 1984 to 85 percent by mid-1986 THE REGIME WEAKENS As FRELIMO's positiomweakened; Mache1,began consulting his regional allies. Returni n g from one such meeting, his plane crashed on South African territory. In the. debris, South African authorities found documents outlining a conspiracy by Mozambique, Zimbabwe, the Soviet Union, and Cuba to overthrow the neighboring Malawian government th e documents were forgeries, Zambian Prfisident Kenneth Kaunda reportedly confirmed their authenticity Though these nations denied the charges and claimed Zimbabwe, which already had contributed an estimated 10,000 troops to defending the Beira Corridor (wh i ch runs from the Mozambican port of Beira to the Zimbabwean capital, Harare) pledged more assistance. Zambia and Tanzania also increased their commitments to FRELIMO. The Soviets speeded the delivery of arms already promised and there are unconfirmed repo r ts that two battalions of Cuban copat forces have arrived in Beira, with another five expected shortly Following Chissano's installation as President, rumors spread through Mozapique and Lisbon that he would soon open negotiations with RENAMO rumors, the e vidence is strong. Senior members of the Mozambican Armed Forces are in contact with RENAMO, and have pressed Chissano to Though Chissano continues publicly to deny the 20. By controlling the contacts, RENAMO forces fought only at times and places of thei r own choosing. These classic guerrilla tactics resulted in increasing effectiveness against FRELIMO forces: by early 1986, five FRELI.MO soldiers died for every two RENAMO insurgents. See John d'oliveira Military Initiative Lies with the MNR," the Johanne s burg Star, March 19, 1986, p. 13 21. Following a September 1986 visit to northern Mozambique with Sovicd and Cuban military advisers, Machel had put extreme pressure on Malawi to expel RENAMO forces which had used Malawi as a sanctuary 22. See "Crash Docu ments Reportedly Reveal Malawi Coup Plot," in FBIS-MEA November 7 1986, pp. U7-

11. On Kaunda's verification, see "Kaunda: Document To Overthrow Malawi Authentic in FBIS-MEA, January 14, 1987, p. U4 23. See above-cited conversations with Western intelligen ce sources 24. See for example FRELIMO Officials Reportedly Seek MNR Talks in FBIS-MEA, February 17, 1987, p. U1, and Peter Younghusband Mozambican president is expected to.extend feelers to RENAMO," The Washington Times, March 4, 1987, p. 6A 9 open talks secretly of upcoming government attacks on RENAMO bases.

They also are believed to have warned RENAMO leaders U.S. POLICY TOWARD MOZAMBIQUE ConstructPve engagement has.-been.;Assistant Secrekary of State Chester Crocker's policy of dealing diplomatically with all the governments of southern Africa. He believed that by reducing conflict in southern Africa, he could reduce Soviet influence. The flaw was in the premise: not all reductions in violence decrease Soviet influence. Crocker's mistake was in identi f ying U.S. interests with a particular regime, instead of with the nation as a whole. Mozambique, that meant aligning the U.S. with a self-proclaimed Marxist-Leninist regime closely tied to the Soviet Union. If that meant downplaying FRELIMO's ideological b eliefs so be it. In congressional testimony earlier this month, Crocker said "We do not consider the Government of Mozambique to be...a communist g~vernment He continued: "The Government of Mozambique has been working systematically in the past four or fi v eyears to move away from ilts previously close embrace with Moscow I2 In But FRELIMO has not reduced its ties to the Soviet bloc; it merely has taken U.S. and other Western nations' economic assistance and quite likely will continue to do so as long as it is offered with no political strings An estimated 3,500 Soviet, Cuban, and East German military advisers still are in Mozambique, and the Chissano regime recently requested-and received--even more to help fight RENAMO. Early this month, delegations from t he Soviet Union, East Germany, and North Korea were in Maputo simultaneoply, all negotiating*increased support levels with FRELIMO. FRELIMO is not moving away from the Soviets; the Mozambican communists are moving closer not worked.

Clearly, the campaign t o wean away Mozambique from Moscow has A new U.S. policy is needed. The U.S. should o Terminate economic assistance to FRELIMO, The State Department justification for aiding FRELIMO is that it will entice FRELIMO into cominu closer to the West. But makinu FRELIMO's economv run more efficientiy is not enough; that simply w&ld mean helping 50 create a lean, efficient communist regime in Mozambique. FRELIMO's putative movement away from Marxism is not nearly as-important as its 25. See Neil A. Lewis Bid To Ha v e U.S. Back Mozambique Rebels Halted," The New York Time& March 16, 1987, p. A9 26. See coverage of Mozambique in the March 12, 1987, edition of FBIS-MEA 10 break with Leninism. As long as the regime maintains its Lenknist political structure, nothing fun damental has changed provide FRELIMO 50 million in famine aid. The most recent U.S experience with famine aid to a communist government in Africa was disaetrouq.

Ethiopia 2aiB Until- U. S famine relief off iciaks can. guarantee that aid to FRELIMO will not be misused in a similar fashion, it should be held up be terminated o Launch a D ublic diDlomacv car~aian in particular, has been fooled by the FRELIMO regime r i gidly communist as it ever was, and will continue to be so. The U.S. should launch a diplomatic campaign aimed at exposing the true nature of the FRELIMO regime and at persuading other Western,allies to terminate assistance to FRELIMO has ever met a RENAM O representative lack of knowledge about RENAMOIs .structure, political goals, land military strategy, that has manifested itself in the current flawed policies envoy to RENAMO-held areas of Mozambique to report back on the real o End famine assistance. Th e U.S. recently announced it would Some U.S. aid actually contributed to the death 'toll in If FRELIMO cannot make such guarantees, the program should The West, and the U.S.

FRELIMO is as 0 UDU rade contacts with RENAMO. No high-level U.S. policy maker Thi s has resulted in a profound The Administration should immediately send a high-level situation I o Demand withdrawal of all foreicm forces. Only the combined forces of the Soviet Union, Cuba, East Germany, North Korea, Zimbabwe Zambia, and Tanzania keep t he Chissano regime in power. Their withdrawal would force the regime to open national reconcilidtion talks and would be the best indicator of the regime's sincerity in its professed desire to "turn to the West.Il o Push for national reconciliation.

It will not allow political and economic stabilization in Mozambique unless its goals are met.

Mozambique is to negotiate an end with RENAMO The U.S. should push FRELIMO to begin negotiations immediately RENAMO will not go ,away.

The only way to end the strife in l 0 Consider Reaaan Doctrine assistance to RENAMO. If the Chissano regime refuses to negotiate with RENAMO, the U.S. should signal strongly itsbreak with the communists and place itself squarely on the side of the democratic resistance forces. Such act i on, in the context of U.S. the UNITA freedom fighters in Angola, would restore consistency to U.S. policy in 27. See William Pascoe, "Time for Action Against Mengistu's Ethiopia," Heritage Foundation Backeroundet No. 568, March 11, 1987 11 I I I, t southern Africa. As in Angola, RENhOIs greatest needs are the anti-aircraft missiles necessary to deprive regime forces of air superiority.

CONCLUSION I aI A. I a 1 I. I For ten years the communist FRELIMO regime in Mozambique has been one of MOSCO W~S staunchest allies in Africa. It has provided support to Soviet-backed insurgents operating against pro-Western governments given the Soviets access to ports on the Indian Ocean, and allowed Soviet bloc nations preferred access to Mozambique's natural r esources. Meanwhile, a pro-Western. insurgency has waged an increasingly successful guerrilla war against the regime, and now controls 80 percent of the countryside. The communist regime is so weak that it must depend on 16,500 foreign troops-and military advisers to keep it in power.

U.S. policy toward Mozambique has been a failure. Instead of pursuing the promising path of the Reagan Doctrine, and supporting the democratic resistance forces, Ronald Reagan and George Shultz have listened to those who clai m they can wean away the communist FRELIMO regime from its close ties to the Soviet Union. For six years, the U.S. has tried this strategy, providing political and economic support to the Mozambican communist regime, while specifically rejecting the cause of the pro-Western RENAMO insurgents. After six years and $78 million, U.S. influence has not increased and Soviet influence has not decreased. Clearly, it is time for a new policy-one aimed at winning freedom for Mozambique and one that affirms the Reaga n Doctrine.

William Pascoe Policy Analyst 12 -


Daryl Plunk

Former Senior Visiting Fellow