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Ethiopia And Southern Yemen

Volume 978: debated on Thursday 7 February 1980

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Q1.

asked the Prime Minister if she will raise in the United Nations as a threat to world peace the involvement of Soviet civilian and military personnel in the internal affairs of Ethiopia and South Yemen.

We are concerned at the scale and nature of Soviet involvement, and that of their surrogates, in Ethiopia and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. However, I do not consider it would be effective to raise the matter at the United Nations.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this region and these countries are of crucial strategic importance? At present, 17,500 Cubans and 2,200 East German and Russian advisers pose a grave threat to Western interests in the area.

I agree with my hon. Friend that the region is of crucial importance and that there is a grave threat in that area. We are considering with our Allies the whole question of the defence of the Gulf. We recognise what my hon. Friend has said.

Is not part of the unpalatable truth that the West is reaping the whirlwind for having endorsed, with military aid, despotic regimes in the Yemen and Ethiopia in the past? Given the deep resentment among the Baluchis in Pakistan, will that lesson be drawn in relation to Pakistan?

I do not wholly agree with the hon. Gentleman's analysis, but we are very much aware of the dangers in the area, and very much aware, too, of the extent to which the Soviet Union has its surrogates not only there but throughout Africa. There are 45,000 Cuban troops in Africa as a whole. We are trying to learn from the lessons of the past.

In view of the staunch support rightly given by my right hon. Friend to President Carter in relation to Soviet aggression and imperialism in Asia, and because of the importance of Southern Africa, would not some solidarity from the United States over Zimbabwe-Rhodesia be welcome?

Southern Africa is undoubtedly of great strategic importance. I think that my hon. Friend is possibly referring to the motion passed in the Security Council on Zimbabwe Rhodesia the other day, and perhaps to some of the votes. May I draw his attention to some of the explanations of vote in particular, as he refers to that of the United States. The speech that the United States representative made in the Security Council contained this phrase:

"Those of us who are not parties to this difficult agreement should exhibit forbearance in our criticism. In particular, we doubt that the British need lectures on the conduct of free and fair elections from some who obviously have no experience with such elections."