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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - February 7, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Wednesday, February 7, 1973 - THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD - 9 Viet Cong guerrilla fighters control 30 per cent of South Vietnam By SEYMOUR M. HEItSH New York Times Service WASHINGTON - One of the mysteries oE the Vietnam war has been the other side, those South Vietnamese Communists and Nationalists who - with the support of North Vietnam - have battled the Saigon government and the United States to a standstill. They have been called by the names Vietcong, a phrase - a pejorative, in their view - meaning Vietnamese Communists, and National liberation front, and now provisional revolutionary government of South Vietnam. Today, with the sanction of the recently signed Vietnam peace accords, this group of guerrilla fighters controls upward of 30 per cent of the area of South Vietnam and is in the process of tightening its administrative grip in "liberated" zones. Despite its existence, the Nixon administration has said that it will recognize the Saigon leadership of President Nguyen Van Thieu as the "sole legitimate government" of South Vietnam. In a recent television interview, William H. Sullivan, a deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, noted that what he termed the "so called" provisional revolutionary government "does not have a capital, does not have any outward manifestations that make it feasible to be called a government." This absence of "outward manifestations" - in the western view, at least - has been almost a way of life for the1 South Vietnamese guerrillas. U.S. and South Vietnamese military forces have looked, and bombed, in vain for the famed political and military headquarters of the guerrillas - known as COSUN, for central office of South Vietnam - since the early 1960's. It was then that the guerrilla movement, led largely by Communists, announced the formation of the national liberation front, described as a coalition of Communist and non - communist forces against the Saigon government. The announcement in a clandestine radio broadcast told of a convention in December, 1960s, somewhere in the jungles of Vietnam at which the liberation front was set up. Similarly, the formation of the provisional revolutionary government was announced in June, 1969, by the guerrilla radio, which described a three-day meeting somewhere in South Vietnam. The meeting was apparently attended by scores of delegates representing what the guerrillas said were "various political parties,, mass organizations, nationalities, religious and patriotic personalities from both the rural and urban areas." U.S. officials described the coalition in the time as "old wine in new bottles." U.S. VIEW The official view of the U.S. government, as expressed in a state department white paper in 1965 and repeatedly stated since, is that the war in South Vietnam was directed and fi- nanced by North Vietnam. Some scholars argue, however that there is equally persuasive evidence indicating tuat the conflict was a civil war, one that might be aided and abetted, but could not have been instigated, by outsiders. That basic division of view extends to the analysis, now going on, of the background of the provisional revolutionary government delegates to the joint four - member military commission meeting this week in Siagon. U.S. officials and scholars are also closely watching the names suggested by the guerrilla radio as possible members of the National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord, the three-party group whose functions, according to the peace agreement, would revolve around the organization of general and local elections in the south as soon as possible. U.S. officials, convinced that those they call hard-core Communists have control, maintain that while the non-communist members of the coalition may have nominal authority, they lack real political power. One relatively well-known figure much in dispute is Nguyen Huu Tho, a former Saigon lawyer who has been chairman of the central committee of the liberation front and its leading official since it was set up 13 years ago. He is not a member of the Communist Parly of South Vietnam - the people's Revolutionary Party, which is the southern branch of the North Vietnamese Communist Party -and is, therefore, widely considered by U.S. experts to be more of a figurehead than a policy maker. In an interview last week, Tran Van Dinh, a former deputy South Vietnamese ambassa-or to the United States, noted that Tho led the first anti-United States demonstration in Saigon more than 20 years ago to protest American support of the French. "He is extremely popular with the people in South Vietnam," said Dinh, a critic of the war who has been living in exile in Washington since he left the South Vietnamese diplomatic sen-ice in 1964. "It is wrong to just assume that he was just a figurehead. You Americans exaggerate party affiliation too much as a key to power." Most experts - critics of the war and those who support it - acknowledge that the most significant members of the provisional revolutionary government are also members of tho Communist Party, and all agree.' that Hanoi experts direct influence on its policies. But it was also suggested in interviews that there may be more autonomy than is generally realized. A government expert noted that there were three. Potential clashes between the North and South Vietnamese communists: personality disputes, bureaucratic disputes between operatives in the field and higher officials and - most significant, in this official's view - obvious fact thai the south has been told by the north that they're on their own." COME FIRST AT SAFEWAY Extra Saving Specials! Small Shrimp,,65' m A #� Uptons Chicken, A �fAij Cup A Soup rirv. 2 79* Pie Fillers---