Ethiopian government

Tigrean secessionists










Ethiopia is a multi-ethnic state put together in the late 19th century by the emperors, but based on an Amharic speaking core. In many ways it has been analogous to Russia. Its state religion was a form of Christianity similar in some social respects to Russian Orthodoxy (though it is actually Monophysite in doctrine rather than Orthodox). The landholding system was feudal and the ruler was, like the Tsars, essentially absolute - though, considering the poor communications, less effectively in control.

The ruling ethnic group has been the Amharic speakers.

Eritrea was occupied the Italians as a colony from 1899 until 1941. From it the Italians invaded Ethiopia itself in 1935, from which they were removed during the second world war.

Following the war the Italians were reinstated in Eritrea under UN trusteeship after a short period of British control. In 1952 Eritrea was transferred to Ethiopian control, with the condition that it would remain a separate territory. In 1962 Haile Selassie ignored this condition and annexed Eritrea as a province. The Eritrean Liberation Front was formed in 1966 after corrupt Ethiopian administration. From then the Eritreans fought for independence.

Ethiopia was part of the American system of alliances while neighboring Somalia was supported by the Soviet Union.

In 1974 there was a revolution which overthrew the last emperor, Haile Selassie. He was replaced by a military government, still drawn from the Amharic group. This government, the Dergue, allied itself with the Soviet Union and adopted Marxist-Leninist symbolism and policies.

The Americans and their satellite tracking station were ejected and transferred their alliance to Somalia.

Soviet advisors then assisted the Ethiopian government in fighting the Eritrean People's Liberation Front and the Eritrean Liberation Front and other secessionists - no doubt using their experiences in Afghanistan, with the same unsuccessful result.

There have also been wars with Somalia over the Ogaden territory, inhabited by Somalis but occupied by Ethiopia.

In 1990 the Soviet Union had withdrawn its help and the Ethiopian government came under serious pressure. It was defeated in May 1991. Following this the rebels formed a government. Local insurgencies continue on a smaller scale.

By September 1992 it seemed likely that the Oromo peoples were resuming the civil war. However, this war did not develop. Nevertheless there are many potential conflicts.

In 1998 a new war broke out with Eritrea. It is not clear what cause there was, other than the ownership of a piece of land where the frontier had been demarcated in the time when Eritrea was an Italian colony.

In 2006 there is a new threat of war. The arrival of the Islamic Courts Union to power in parts of Somalia is seen by the Ethiopian government as a threat. There are Ethiopian "advisers" in Somalia assisting the Somali Provisional government, based in Baidoa. There are also reports that Eritrea may be assisting the ICU in Mogadishu. Thus there is the possibility of a proxy war with Eritrea, in Somalia. The ICU has threatened Jihad with Ethiopia in response.

Ethiopia invaded Somalia and dispersed the ICU. Their troops now face constant guerrilla activity. Ethiopia was supported by the US.

There have been renewed attacks on Eritrea in March 2012 because of Eritrea’s support for the Shabab faction in Somalia.

Last revised 20/03/12


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Since 21/03/12

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