Ethiopia Military

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The Somali war of aggression

The Somali war of aggression against Ethiopia is but the extension and manifestation of the inherent contradictions of imperialism.

First, the British, French, and Italian imperialists balkanized the inhabitants of the Horn of Africa among themselves against the ethnic, linguistic, regional, and religious unity of the latter.

Second, however, the Italian imperialists between 1936 and 1941, and the British imperialists in the 1940’s, made unsuccessful attempts to unite the entire Horn of Africa under their respective colonial rule.

During this time the British imperialists promoted the notion of “Greater Somalia”, another imperialist design to bring under their own control the Horn’s five different Somali speaking regions.

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The Ahmed Gragn wars of revolt (1524 – 1543.)

Between 896 and 1577, the three Ethiopian Sultanates of Shewa (896-1285), Yifat (1285-1415), and Adal (1515-1577) succeeded one another in southeast Ethiopia over much the same territory and people with different dynastic and administrative centres in Shewa, Yifat, Zeila, Dakar, and Harer.

Between 1285 and 1577, the local Walasma dynasty and rulers of Yifat and Adal became tributary subjects of the Ethiopian Hatse State.

However, when the central leadership of the Hatse State of Ethiopia became weak or faced the frequent problems of succession and civil wars, the Walasma sultans of Yifat-Adal often revolted against the central Hatse Government until the rebellious Sultan Shihabadin Badlay (1433-1445) was killed in 1445 by Hatse Zara Yaeqob (1434-1468), at the Battle of Gmut in Dawaro.

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Wars and invasions

The strategic location of Ethiopia
Ethiopia is geographically located along the international waterway of the Red sea. Furthermore, the Ethiopian highlands are the sources of the Akobo, the Baro, the Abay, the Didesa, the Tekeze-Setit, and the Atbara river systems in the west. These major headstreams of the Nile river system connects Ethiopia with the Mediterranean Basin.

The western river system jointly contribute more than 80% of the Nile waters for the neighbouring countries of the Sudan and Egypt. The Wabe Shebele and the Juba river systems are found in the east, and they water mainly Somalia.

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The wars of imperialist and fascist aggression

Between 1867 and 1896, the British, French, and Italian imperialists made a series of frontier incursions against Ethiopia and seized four frontier regions along the Red Sea coast, the Gulf of Aden, and the Indian ocean with many ethnic groups to which they gave the new colonial names of “the Italian Colony of Eritrea”, “the French Somaliland”, “the British Somaliland”, and “the Italian Somaliland.”

In 1867-68, a British force of more than 30,000 men invaded Ethiopia and destroyed the army and court of Tewodros II and forced the latter to commit suicide.

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Wars in Ethiopia though time

Axumite Campaign against Meroe (c. 350)
Axumite Expedition into Yemen (517)
Axumite Expedition into Yemen (523-524)
Axumite Conquest of the Yemen (525)
Rebellion of Axumite Governor of the Yemen against Axumite rule (543)
Persian invasion of South Arabia (570)
Rebellion of/war with the non-christian Agew; decline of Axum (c.900-1000)
War against Ethiopian-Christian Kgd. of Shewa; the Zagwe dynasty toppled, their kingdom annexed by Shewa (1270)
Expedition against Muslim Yifat (1270)
Consolidation of Solomon Dynasty rule over independent-minded nobility tribes (1314-1344)
Expedition against Yifat (1316)
War with Yifat (1332-1337)
War with Adal (1443-1445)
Conquest of territory on the Red Sea; war with Mitsiwa (1448-1449)
War with Adal; loss of Yifat (1508)
War with Adal; loss of border regions (1527-1528)
War with Adal; since 1541 Abyssinia supported by a Portuguese force (1535-1543)
War with Ottoman Empire (1578-1589)
Civil War (1766-1769)
Civil War (1770-1771)
Conquest of Shewa (1813-1840)
Conquest of Gonder (1846-1847)
War with Egypt 1848
War with Kassa (1852-1853)
Shewa rebellion (1859)
British Expedition into Abyssinia (1867-1868)
Abyssinian War of Succession (1868-1872)
War with Egypt (1875-1879)
Expedition into Arsi (1880-1881)
Expedition into Arsi (1884)
Abyssinian conquest of Harar (1887-1889)
War with Italy (1888-1889)
War of Succession 1889
War with Italy (1895-1896)
Jihad of the “Mad Mullah”, affecting Abyssinia (1899-1905)
Jihad of the “Mad Mullah” (1907-1920)
Clash with Italian forces on the border to Italian Somalia (1934)
Italian conquest of Ethiopia (1935-1936)
WW II : Italian forces occupied British Somaliland 1940
WW II : British forces occupied Italian East Africa 1941
Clash on Somalian border 1960
Ogaden Rebellion 1960-
War of Eritrean Secession (1961-1993)
Tigray Rebellion, which at the end turned into national revolution (1975-1993)
War with Somalia over the Ogaden (1977-1978)
Clash on Somalian border 1982
War with Eritrea 1998
War with Eritrea (1999-2000)

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Ethiopian Navy in the Communist era

During the Communist-run governments of the Provisional Military Administrative Council (also known as the Derg, 1974–1977) and the dictatorial Mengistu (1977–1991), the Ethiopian navy grew under the influence of the Soviet Union.

Training: Officer training – The 1984 class comprised 48 ensigns; typical of the size of classes in subsequent years. After the rise of the Communist government in Ethiopia, select members of the navy attended the Soviet Union’s naval academy in Leningrad.
Enlisted training – Seamen, technicians, and marines enlisted men were trained at Mitsiwa; their term of service was for seven years.

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The Ethiopian Navy under Haile Selassie

After the end of World War II, Ethiopia was given control over Eritrea and its ports, allowing the creation an Ethiopian Navy.

In 1958, the Ethiopian Navy became a separate branch of the armed forces. Haile Selassie I appointed Norwegian naval officers to help organize a coastal navy.

Also, a number of retired British naval officers acted as advisors and trainers until the advent of the Derg in 1974.

The Emperor also founded the Ethiopian Naval College, located in Asmera (now part of Eritrea).

The education comprised a 52-month program of study. Some members of the navy also went on to study at Leghorn, Italy.

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Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam (1974–1991)


Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam (born 1937) was the most famous officer of the Derg, the military junta that governed Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987, and the president of the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

He oversaw the Ethiopian Red Terror of 1977-1978, a repression campaign against the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party and other anti-Derg factions.

After the downfall of Haile Selassie, Ethiopia was controlled by Communist regimes which shifted the equipment, organization and doctrines away from Western European and American influences towards those of the Soviet Union and other Communist countries, especially Cuba.

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The Ethiopian National Defense’s (ENDF) Equipment

The modern ENDF has a wide mix of equipment. It does not produce its own weapons, so all arms must be imported.

It has used its position to act as a reseller of arms to other African nations, such as Burundi and Somalia.

Many of its major weapons systems stem from the Communist era and are of Soviet and Eastern bloc design.

The United States was Ethiopia’s major arms supplier from the end of World War 2 until 1977, when Ethiopia began receiving massive arms shipments from the Soviet Union.

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First Italo-Abyssinian War (1895-1896)

The Battle of Adwa, Adwa also spelled ADOWA, Italian ADUA (March 1, 1896), military clash at Adwa, in north-central Ethiopia, between the Ethiopian army of King Menilek II and Italian forces.

The decisive Ethiopian victory checked Italy’s attempt to build an empire in Africa comparable to that of the French or the British.

The death (in 1889) of the Ethiopian emperor Yohannes IV was followed by great disorder, during which the Italians helped Menilek of Shewa (Shoa) win the throne.

In addition, the Treaty of Wichale (Ucciali), which Italy had signed with Menilek in 1889, was interpreted by the Italian premier Francesco Crispi as implying the declaration of an Italian protectorate over Ethiopia.

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