Hot spots that Reagan says threaten US-Soviet relationship
AFGHANISTAN: For nearly six years, Soviet troops supporting the puppet regime of Babrak Karmal in Afghanistan have been battling mujahideen (Afghan guerrilla resistance fighters) for control of the country. Since 5,000 Soviet troops first entered the country in December 1979, their numbers have increased to nearly 150,000, according to latest estimates. Western nations, much of the third world, and the UN General Assembly have called for an end to the occupation, but th e Afghan government maintains that the Soviets were ``invited'' into the country and did not invade it. It is estimated that more than $280 million in US covert military aid was supplied to the Afghan guerrillas last year, in addition to some $100 million provided by Saudi Arabia and other countries.
The mujahideen operate largely from rural bases and are supplied through Pakistan, where there are more than 3 million Afghan refugees. Effective Soviet control is largely confined to urban areas, while the mujahideen battle the Soviets in the countryside. CAMBODIA: Ten years ago, the Soviet Union was only a minor player in Southeast Asia. But since 1978, when it signed a Friendship Treaty with Vietnam, the Soviet role has grown significantly.
Since 1979, when the Khmer Rouge fell from power, Cambodians have been fighting Vietnam and its puppet government in Phnom Penh for control of their country. The actors on the resistance side are the three factions of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea: the communist Khmer Rouge (backed by China) and the two noncommunist factions led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk and Son Sann (backed by the US and its allies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
To the US, the Cambodia problem is part of a larger threat: the perceived expansion of the Soviet military presence in Southeast Asia, symbolized by the huge Soviet military base at Cam Ranh Bay, southern Vietnam. ETHIOPIA: Originally a non-aligned country, Ethiopia began its shift toward almost total Soviet-bloc allegiance in 1974. Washington says that 7,000 Cuban troops in Ethiopia and 1,700 Soviet advisers constitute a threat to Ethiopian autonomy. Friction is heightened by questions concerning human rights, the dispersal of famine relief, and the impact on US assets of the nationalization of some industries. ANGOLA: Oil- and mineral-rich Angola, says Prof. Herbert Howe of George Washington University, is a natural object of Soviet interest. Since 1975, there has been a massive influx into Angola of Soviet and Cuban military aid, including some 35,000 Cuban troops. The professor added that this ``wedge'' of Soviet influence in southern Africa is an obstacle in the way of negotiations for the independence of Namibia (South-West Africa). The US and South Africa say the withdrawal of all C uban troops must precede negotiations. South Africa insists that its troops must remain in Namibia as long as there is a communist threat in Angola. NICARAGUA: Nicaragua's ruling Sandinistas overthrew the right-wing dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza Debayle in 1979. Since the end of 1981, the Central Intelligence Agency has funneled millions of dollars in funds to rebel groups (known as ``contras'') that seek to overthrow the Sandinistas. The Reagan administration opposes Nicaragua's ties with the Soviets and especially those with Moscow's ally, Cuba. Mr. Reagan has previously charged that Nicaragua is trying to export revolution to other Central American countries and is supplying arms to rebels in nearby El Salvador. Earlier this month, citing stepped-up US contra funding as justification, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Saavedra suspended most civil rights for the second since the Sandinistas came to power.