Following the independence of Angola in 1975, the country descended into a decades-lasting civil war between three indigenous movements who previously had fought for independence from Portugal. The first period of the civil war from 1975 until 1988 was characterized by significant involvements from several international actors, including South Africa, Cuba, the United States and the Soviet Union. Especially the involvement of the two superpowers and the dominating nature of the Cold War in international politics in the second half of the 20th century, raises the question, whether the Angolan civil war was a proxy war of the Global Cold War. Particularly the involvement of South Africa casts doubt on this notion since the apartheid-regime directed vast recourses towards preventing majority-ruled countries in southern Africa from consolidating their power to protect its domestic sociopolitical system.
By analyzing the actions and motives for the involvement of the international actors and their interactions with each other, this paper aimes at finding out whether the Angolan civil war was a proxy war in the Cold War or if the conflict was driven by a different rational, i.e. the struggle of majority-ruled countries against apartheid-South Africa.
The analysis concludes that the Angolan civil war was primarily a regional conflict during which South Africa tried to hinder an anti-apartheid government from assuming power in Angola while Cuba, out of revolutionary idealism, became South Africas staunchest enemy. The two superpowers misinterpreted the conflict because of their Cold War-focused conduct of international politics. Yet, due to their involvement, the Cold War became a part of the regional conflict, however, it only had a catalyzing effect on the regional conflict and was not the primary reason for the escalation of the Angolan civil war.