Ogaden WarJune 19, 2007 at 7:01 am | Posted in somalia | Leave a comment
In 1977 the Somali president, Siad Barre, was able to muster 35,000 regulars and 15,000 fighters of the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF). His forces began infiltrating into the Ogaden in May-June 1977, and overt warfare began in July. By September 1977 Mogadishu controlled 90 percent of the Ogaden and had followed retreating Ethiopian forces into non-Somali regions of Harerge, Bale, and Sidamo.
After watching Ethiopian events in 1975-76, the Soviet Union concluded that the revolution would lead to the establishment of an authentic Marxist-Leninist state and that, for geopolitical purposes, it was wise to transfer Soviet interests to Ethiopia. To this end, Moscow secretly promised the Derg military aid on condition that it renounce the alliance with the United States. Mengistu Haile Mariam, believing that the Soviet Union’s revolutionary history of national reconstruction was in keeping with Ethiopia’s political goals, closed down the U.S. military mission and the communications centre in April 1977. In September, Moscow suspended all military aid to Somalia, and began openly deliver weapons to Addis Ababa, and reassigned military advisers from Somalia to Ethiopia. This Soviet volte-face also gained Ethiopia important support from North Korea, which trained a People’s Militia, and from Cuba and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, which provided infantry, pilots, and armoured units. Somalia renounced the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union expelled all Soviet advisers, broke diplomatic relations with Cuba, and ejected all Soviet personnel from Somalia
By March 1978, Ethiopia and its allies regained control over the Ogaden. Siad Barre proved unable to return the Ogaden to Somali rule, and the people grew restive; in northern Somalia, rebels destroyed administrative centres and took over major towns. Both Ethiopia and Somalia had followed ruinous socialist policies of economic development, and they were unable to surmount droughts and famines that afflicted the Horn during the 1980s. In 1988 Siyaad and Mengistu agreed to withdraw their armies from possible confrontation in the Ogaden.
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