NATIONAL SECURITY ENVIRONMENT
Through the mid-1980s, Mobutu had characterized Zaire
surrounded by a "red belt" of radical states supported by
Soviet Union and Libya. Except for Angola, however, these
lack either the motivation or the militarily means to
Zaire seriously. In the early 1990s, Zaire's relations
its most hostile neighbors had improved. As a consequence,
does not face any serious external threats, although
border flareups , cross-border smuggling, refugees, and mutual support
insurgent groups have caused strains between Zaire and
many of its
Relations, ch. 4).
most serious strains occurred in Zaire's relations with
Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola.
Relations with Uganda at times have approached open
Uganda's instability since the 1971 rise to power of Idi
concerns Zaire, particularly because the border region
two countries is remote and mountainous, and neither side
effective control over the area. A considerable amount of
also occurs along the border, often resulting in violence.
response to this violence, Zaire announced in June 1988
would set up a naval unit on the Zairian side of Lake
reinforce security and to stop smuggling and piracy.
intent to keep this force on the Zairian side of the
observers feared that Uganda might regard the measure as
Another contentious issue between the two countries is
perceived mutual support of insurgent groups. Zaire's
to Amin concerned successive Ugandan administrations. In
1989, the Zairian government rejected an attempt by the
Ugandan president to establish residence in Zaire. Amin
expelled from Zaire, bound for Saudi Arabia, although
earlier requested his extradition to Kampala. Zaire's
Uganda also concerned the activity of the Zairian
the Congolese Liberation Party (Parti de Libération
PLC), which operated primarily out of bases in the
Mountains along the Zaire-Uganda border. The organization
insurgent attacks in 1985, and during the next three years
several small towns along the Zairian side of the border.
the PLC was unable to take and hold any terrain, it
Zaire's inability to control the area effectively, and the
rout of small FAZ detachments highlighted the military's
Zaire's relations with Tanzania have been similarly
because of Kinshasa's belief that Tanzania supported and
Zairian insurgents, specifically the PRP. This
extreme embarrassment to the Zairian government in 1984
in 1985 when it captured the Zairian town of Moba along
of Lake Tanganyika. Although in both instances Zairian
forces were able to recapture the town a few days later,
demonstrated lack of control in integral parts of Zairian
and the poor performance of the Zairian troops who fled
PRP were sore points for Kinshasa. Nevertheless, although
Zairian government accused Tanzania of active complicity
attacks, observers believed it unlikely that Dar es Salaam
than provide safe haven for the PRP.
Much of the distrust centered on the poor relations
Mobutu and Tanzania's former president, Julius Nyerere.
opposed Nyerere's socialist orientation, and Nyerere
Mobutu a puppet of the United States. Nevertheless,
relations with Nyerere's successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi,
better, particularly when the latter stated that he would
permit insurgents to use his country as a springboard for
against a neighboring country. Observers believe that this
along with Tanzanian support for President Mobutu's
mediate national reconciliation in Angola, might presage
cooperation between the two countries.
Relations with Zambia have also been tense because of
extensive smuggling activity along the border. Also, the
of Zambian territory during its 1978 invasion of Zaire's
Region proved an irritant to bilateral relations, as did a
centuryold border dispute over the area between Lake Tanganyika
In the late 1980s, however, relations between the two
improved. Although smuggling continued to be an irritant,
Zambia settled their border dispute on September 18, 1989.
addition, Zambian support for Mobutu's efforts to mediate
an end to
the Angolan civil war contributed to improved relations.
Angola has presented the gravest potential threat to
national security. This threat has its roots in the
country gave to the other's insurgent groups. Zaire
Angolan insurgent group, the FNLA, against the
MPLA, and after the FNLA's demise, Kinshasa transferred
to the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola
Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola--UNITA).
the other hand, supported the FLNC and its invasions of
Shaba Region in 1977 and 1978. Although relations improved
periodically during the late 1970s and early 1980s,
for UNITA, particularly the alleged use of Kamina's
in Shaba Region as a transit point for supplies from the
States, kept relations somewhat tense.
Zaire's concern was based on the size and strength of
armed forces. Angola had the largest military (more than
personnel) of all of Zaire's neighbors. Its services were
best equipped, possessing large quantities of
weapons. Moreover, because of the experience gained in its
longrunning civil war against UNITA, the Angolan military's
easily surpassed that of the FAZ. This imbalance, along
long land border between the two countries, made Luanda
in Kinshasa's national security concerns.
Several factors, however, limited the Angolan
ability to threaten Zaire. The ongoing UNITA insurgency
Luanda to orient its military toward this internal threat.
Furthermore, past Western support for Kinshasa, especially
the Shaba crises, had not gone unnoticed in Luanda. There
close military ties between Zaire and the United States.
Reportedly, the United States had supplied weapons through
UNITA in the late 1980s.
Relations between Angola and Zaire started to improve
in late 1988 when negotiations began over repatriation of
to their respective countries. Although the repatriations
because of mutual suspicions, negotiations resumed, and on
September 27, 1989, the first refugees returned home.
310,000 displaced Angolans remained in Zaire in early
Also during this period, President Mobutu arranged for
of African leaders to discuss Angolan national
summit, which took place in Gbadolite, Zaire, on June 22,
to a temporary cease-fire in the Angolan civil war and
for subsequent negotiations on national reconciliation.
the Gbadolite Declaration, this agreement both
resulted in improved negotiations between Kinshasa and
Although the Gbadolite Declaration agreement was
1991 cease-fire agreement between Luanda and UNITA and
attempts to form a new broad-based Angolan government were
to reduce potential conflict between Angola and Zaire.
As for relations with other African states, Zaire's
Western initiatives and conservative regimes in Africa has
mixed consequences. Actions such as training Chadian
the Zairian Commando Training Center and sending troops to
support United States and French policy in that country
Zaire secure Western economic and military assistance, but
also earned Mobutu the enmity of many African leaders.
important in this regard was Zaire's support for the UNITA
insurgency in Angola.
Data as of December 1993