Ethiopia Military

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The wars of imperialist and fascist aggression

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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.

The British invaders burned the Tewodros court and looted the country before their departure with the European agents released by the late Emperor from prison before his suicide.

With the support of their British allies, the Italian imperialists seized the Ethiopian Red Sea ports of Assab and Mitsiwa in 1882 and 1889, respectively. Between 1886-1889, they advanced from Mitsiwa, and managed to seize the region of Bahrenegash.

They renamed it “Eritrea”, in 1890. In 1895-96, the Italians from Eritrea made unsuccessful attempts to conquer and colonize the entire country of Ethiopia. They suffered the defeat at the great battle of Adwa on March 2, 1896 at the hands of the Ethiopian armies under the leadership of Menelik II.

Forty years after the Battle of Adwa, the British and French governments gave a free hand in 1935 to the Italian Fascists to invade and colonize the rest of Ethiopia.

Accordingly in 1935-36, the Italian fascists, from their colonies of Eritrea and Somaliland, simultaneously launched the largest colonial war of aggression in history against Ethiopia with massive forces of some 300,000 soldiers and officers, armed with 8626 machine guns, 672,800 rifles, 59 tanks, 126 armored cars, 325 planes, 994 cannon and mortars, 6,286 motor vehicles, and quantities of mustard gas.

The war lasted for five years, 1935-1941. During the last phase of the war, 1940-1941, the enemy deployed a total of 325,000 soldiers and officers in Ethiopia and Somalia, of which 15,211 were killed, 38,152 were wounded and 100,000 were captured by the allied forces and the Ethiopian Patriots, before Ethiopia became the first country to be free from the fascist attempt at global occupation.

The fascist invasion of Ethiopia also created the internal and external conditions for the liberation and reunion of Eritrea with Motherland Ethiopia in 1952.

During the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-1941, a total of 20,757 Eritrean soldiers, officers, and patriots fought, and many were wounded, and died for the national existence, liberation, and unity of Ethiopia.

After the liberation of Ethiopia in 1941, and between 1941 and 1952, out of Eritrea’s estimated population of 1,000,000 more than 200,000 migrated to the south and launched a political and propaganda struggle against the new British forces of occupation for the immediate and unconditional liberation and reunion of Eritrea with the Motherland.

This joint struggle of the Eritrean Unionist Party, the Eritrean migrants in the southern regions of Ethiopia, and the entire people and government of Ethiopia between 1941 and 1952 ended in the successful liberation and reunion of Eritrea with the Motherland in September, 1952.

(Source: National Atlas of Ethiopia)

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