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Foreign intervention and warfare in civil wars

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2011

Abstract

This article explains how foreign assistance to one or both sides in a civil war influences the dynamics of the conflict. It submits that external assistance has the potential of affecting the military capabilities available to the belligerents. It then argues that the balance of those capabilities impacts significantly on whether the warfare in a civil war assumes a conventional, guerrilla or irregular form. These theoretical assertions are tested against the case of the Angolan Civil War. It is shown that during that war, variations in the form of warfare correlated closely to the type, degree, and direction of foreign intervention given to each of the belligerents.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British International Studies Association 2011

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References

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12 Indeed, the only major difference between my typology and Kalyvas' is in terminology. Where Kalyvas has employed the term ‘systematical non-conventional warfare’, I have used ‘irregular warfare’. See Kalyvas, , The Logic of Violence in Civil WarsGoogle Scholar ; Kalyvas, ‘Warfare in Civil Wars’.

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44 Frequently irregular warfare is depicted as ‘criminal, depoliticized, private, and predatory’, and this phase of the Angolan Civil War received a similar portrayal. For example, Portuguese officials described much of the violence occurring in the Angolan capital as ‘some bandits and criminals creating disorders under the names of liberation movements’. See Johnson, , ‘Violence on wane in Angola capital after 50 killed’, p. 6; Stathis N. Kalyvas, ‘“New” and “Old” Civil Wars: A Valid Distinction?’, World Politics, 54:1 (2001), p. 100Google Scholar . Also see, Marcum, , The Angolan Revolution, p. 259; Bender, ‘Kissinger in Angola: Anatomy of Failure’, pp. 79–80Google Scholar .

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53 Ibid.

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82 Hegre, Håvard and Raleigh, Clionadh, Population Size, Concentration, and Civil War: A Geographical Disaggregated AnalysisGoogle Scholar , World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, No. 4243 (2007).

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85 James, , A Political History of the Civil War in Angola, p. 75Google Scholar . Tvedten supports this assessment arguing that ‘The US refusal to lend further support was one of the main reasons for the withdrawal of South African forces, which on November 20, 1975, stood only 100 kilometres south of Luanda’. Tvedten, Inge, Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction (Boulder: Westview, 1997), p. 37Google Scholar .

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88 Personal correspondence with Edward George on 2 August 2007. Also see, George, , The Cuban Intervention in AngolaGoogle Scholar , 303 (appendix 4). Indeed, it was clear that victory in 1975 had ‘went to the best trained, armed and supplied of the three groups, the MPLA’ Human Rights Watch, Angola: Violations of the Laws of War By Both Sides, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1989), p. 28Google Scholar .

89 Most estimates are close to this figure, for instance Ebinger calculated FNLA strength in 1975 at 14,000. Ebinger, ‘External Intervention in Internal War’, p. 674.

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95 Ibid.

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