PORTUGAL AND SOUTH AFRICA: CLOSE ALLIES OR UNWILLING PARTNERS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA DURING THE COLD WAR?

  • Paulo Correia
  • Grietjie Verhoef

Abstract

The popular perception of the existence of a straightforward alliance betweenPortugal and South Africa as a result of the growing efficacy of African nationalistgroups during the 1960s and early 1970s has never been seriously questioned.However, new research into recently declassified documents from the Portuguesemilitary archives and an extensive overview of the Portuguese and South Africandiplomatic records from that period provide a different perception of what wascertainly a complex interaction between the two countries. It should be noted that,although the two countries viewed their close interaction as mutually beneficial, theexisting political differences effectively prevented the creation of an open strategicalliance that would have had a greater deterrence value instead of the secretivetactical approach that was used by both sides to resolve immediate security threats.In addition, South African support for Portugal’s long, difficult and costlycounterinsurgency effort in three different operational theatres in Africa – Angola,Mozambique and Guinea Bissau – was not really decisive since such support wasnever provided on a significant scale.
Published
2011-08-08
Section
Articles