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68. Ethiopia/Ogaden (1948-present)

 

Crisis Phase (July 24, 1948-January 31, 1977):  Ethiopia regained authority over the Ogaden region from the British government as a result of an agreement signed on July 24, 1948.  General Asfaw Wold Giorgis was appointed as Governor of the Ogaden region and Commander of the Third Army Division.  Ethiopian government troops commanded by Major Tsige Dibu suppressed an uprising of ethnic Somalis in Gridida in November 1951.  In 1956, Emperor Haile Selassie toured the Ogaden in order to defuse tensions in the region.  In July 1959, the Ogaden region was administratively divided into two districts – Qabridaharre (Kebri Dahar) in the south and Jijiga in the north – each with its own governor.  Acting Governor of the Ogaden region, Demissie Teferra, became the governor of Qabridaharre (Kebri Dahar), and Germame Neway became governor of Jijiga.  The Ogaden Liberation Front (OLF) commanded by Garad Makhtal Garad Dahir launched a rebellion against the government in Hodayo in eastern Ethiopia on June 16, 1963.  Somalian government troops intervened in support of the OLF in January 1964.  The parties agreed to a ceasefire on March 6, 1964.  The Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) was established by Yusuf Dheere Mohamed Sugaal in 1976.

File:Ogaden Map.jpg

Conflict Phase (February 1, 1977-March 15, 1978):  The Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) led by Yusuf Dheere Mohamed Sugaal launched an insurgency against the Ethiopian government in the Ogaden region beginning in February 1977.  The WSLF received military assistance (weapons) from the government of Somalia.  Some 35,000 Somali government troops, including 250 tanks and 350 armored personnel carriers, intervened in support of the WSLF rebels beginning on June 18, 1977.  Ethiopian government troops and WSLF rebels clashed near the town of Dire Dawa on July 14, 1977.  On August 2, 1977, the Ethiopian government referred the matter to the Organization of African Unity (OAU), but failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote for an emergency session of the OAU Council of Ministers.  An eight-member ad hoc committee of foreign ministers (Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, Sudan, Cameroon, Tanzania, Mauritania, and Lesotho) met in Libreville, Gabon on August 5, 1977, and the foreign ministers appealed for a ceasefire on August 9, 1977.  The governments of the Soviet Union (1,500 advisers and weapons), Cuba (15,000 military troops), and South Yemen (2,000 military advisers) provided military assistance to the Ethiopian government beginning on November 26, 1977.  Ethiopian government troops captured Jijiga on March 5, 1978.  On March 9, 1978, the government of Somalia announced that its troops would withdraw from the Ogaden region.  The conflict ended with the defeat of the WSLF and the withdrawal of Somali troops from the Ogaden region on March 15, 1978.  More than 10,000 individuals were killed, including 6,133 Ethiopian government soldiers, 400 Cuban soldiers, 100 South Yemeni soldiers, and 33 Soviet military advisers, during the conflict.  Some 500,000 individuals were displaced during the conflict.

Post-Conflict Phase (March 16, 1978-present):  On August 15, 1984, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) was established by Abdirahman Mahdi (chairman of the Western Somali Liberation Movement Youth Union-WSLMYU), Mohamed Ismail Omar (Western Somali Liberation Front-WSLF), and other members of the WSLF.  Government troops killed some 81 civilians attending an ONLF rally in the town of Wardheer (Werder) on February 22, 1994.  ONLF rebels killed two government soldiers in Har Weyne on April 7, 2004, and ONLF rebels killed four government soldiers in Qabridaharre (Kebri Dahar) on April 8, 2004.  Government troops fired on a truck traveling between Qabridaharre (Kebri Dahar) and Wardheer (Werder) on June 16, 2004, resulting in the deaths of ten civilians.  Government troops clashed with ONLF rebels in the Ogaden region on October 1, 2004, resulting in the deaths of 17 government soldiers.  Government troops killed four civilians in the district of Qabridaharre (Kebri Dahar) on November 30, 2004.  Government troops clashed with ONLF rebels in April 2005, resulting in the deaths of 30 rebels.  Government troops killed six civilians in Shilaabo on June 29, 2005.  Government troops clashed with ONLF rebels in the Ogaden region on July 8-12, 2005, resulting in the deaths of nine government soldiers.  Government troops killed seven civilians in Farmadow on October 26, 2005.  Government troops killed some 36 civilians in the town of Qabridaharre (Kebri Dahar) on November 15, 2005.  Government troops clashed with ONLF rebels in the Ogaden region on March 25, 2006, resulting in the deaths of six government soldiers.  On July 18, 2006, ONLF rebels attacked and destroyed an Ethiopian military helicopter, resulting in the deaths of 26 military personnel.  ONLF rebels attacked government soldiers in the Ogaden region on January 15, 2007, resulting in the deaths of five government soldiers and one rebel.  At least 74 individuals, including 65 Ethiopian oil workers and nine Chinese oil workers, were killed in an attack by ONLF rebels on an oil field near the town of Abole on April 24, 2007.  The Chinese government condemned the ONLF on April 25, 2007.  On April 29, 2007, ONLF rebels released seven Chinese oil workers and two Ethiopian oil workers that were captured during the attack on April 24th.  At least six individuals were killed in grenade attacks by ONLF rebels in Jijiga in eastern Ethiopia on May 28, 2007, and five individuals were arrested for the attacks on May 29, 2007.  Government forces and ONLF rebels clashed in the Ogaden region in October and November 2007, resulting in the deaths of more than 200 individuals.  Representatives of the Ethiopian government and a faction of the ONLF signed a peace agreement on October 13, 2010.  Government troops clashed with ONLF rebels near Degahbur on November 23-25, 2010, resulting in the deaths of 35 government soldiers.  The government release some 402 leaders and members of the ONLF from prison on January 15, 2011.  Government troops clashed with ONLF rebels in the Ogaden region on May 10-15, 2011, resulting in the deaths of more than 100 civilians, including a driver for the World Food Programme (WFP).  The WFP decided to suspend food distribution in the Ogaden region on May 18, 2011.  On July 4 2011, government troops claimed to have killed 15 ONLF rebels in the Ogaden region.  ONLF rebels claimed to have attacked a government military convoy near Jijiga on August 30, 2011, resulting in the deaths of 25 government soldiers and several rebels.  A UN guard, Abdurahman Sheikh Hassan from Ethiopia, was found guilty of participating in the ONLF and sentenced to seven years in prison on June 22, 2012.  Representatives of the government and a faction of the ONLF held a first-round of Kenya-mediated negotiations in Nairobi on September 6-7, 2012.  Representatives of the government (Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa) and ONLF (Admiral Mohamed Omar Osman) held a second round of Kenya-mediated negotiations in Nairobi on October 15-17, 2012, but the negotiations ended without an agreement.  Representatives of a faction of the ONLF led by Abdinur Abdulaye Farah arrived in Addis Ababa for peace negotiations with the government on December 25, 2012.  Two negotiators for the splinter group of the ONLF, Painito Bera Ng’ang’ai and James Ngaparini, were kidnapped by Kenya police in Nairobi and turned over to Ethiopian authorities in January 26, 2014.  On December 3, 2014, ONLF rebels claimed to have killed 14 government soldiers during clashes in the Ogaden region.

[Sources:   British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), April 21, 2005, August 4, 2006, August 10, 2006, April 24, 2007, April 25, 2007, April 29, 2007, May 21, 2007, May 28, 2007, May 29, 2007, September 2, 2007, October 23, 2007, November 19, 2007, December 22, 2008, March 9, 2009, November 14, 2009, September 13, 2010, September 15, 2010, September 2, 2011, June 22, 2012, February 6, 2014; Reuters, November 26, 2010, May 14, 2011, May 16, 2011, May 18, 2011, December 23, 2012; Sudan Tribune, August 20, 2010, October 13, 2010, November 27, 2010, January 15, 2011, July 4, 2011, October 19, 2012, December 25, 2012; Voice of America (VOA), September 24, 2013.]

 

Selected Bibliography

Eshete, Tibebe, 1991. “The Root Causes of Political Problems in the Ogaden, 1942-1960,” Northeast African Studies, vol. 13 (1), pp. 9-28.

Jackson, Donna R. 2010. “The Ogaden War and the Demise of Detente,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 632, pp. 26-40.

Laitin, David D. 1979. “The War in the Ogaden: Siyaad’s Role in Somali History,” The Journal of Modern African Studies, vol., 17 (1), pp. 95-115.

Mayall, James. 1978. “The Battle for the Horn: Somali Irredentism and International Diplomacy,” The World Today, vol. 34 (9), pp. 336-345.