1977 Zaire Turns Back Angolan Invasion


Democratic Republic of the Cong

A small force of Angolans invaded the Shab province of Zaire. The Zairan forces proved ineffectual, so 1,500 Moroccan troops transported by the French and financed by the Saudis were flown in to turn back the Angolan invasion..

In the late 1970s, amidst the backdrop of its own internal conflict, Angola became involved in a border skirmish with its neighbor Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). A small contingent of Angolan forces invaded Shaba province, an area rich in mineral resources like copper and cobalt. This move was a part of Angola's broader strategy to establish regional influence and to confront perceived threats along its borders.

The Zairian military proved to be largely ineffectual in repelling the invasion, prompting the intervention of external actors. Around 1,500 Moroccan troops were rapidly deployed to assist the Zairian government. This operation was coordinated by France, which provided logistical support, including airlift capabilities to transport the Moroccan forces. Financial backing for the operation came from Saudi Arabia, which had its own interests in preventing the spread of communist influence in Africa.

This international response served to halt the Angolan advancement and eventually push the invading forces back across the border. The episode illustrates the complex interplay of regional and global geopolitics during the Cold War era, where local conflicts often drew in a myriad of external actors, each with their own vested interests. It also highlights how the Angolan civil war was not merely an isolated event but was intertwined with broader geopolitical currents, including rivalries and alliances that extended beyond the African continent.