Nearly one thousand miles south of Suez lies Ethiopia, a tormented country on the east coast of Africa, close to the Red Sea. Two other areas actually flank the crucial Red Sea: Somalia, which curls around Ethiopia’s southern and eastern boundaries, and Eritrea. the northern section of Ethiopia.
But Eritrea is waging a highly successful battle for independence from Ethiopia. And the Somalis who live in the Ogaden desert of Ethiopia are desperate to reunify wit h their own nation of Somalia.
The railway through the disputed Ogaden region provides Ethiopia’s sole access to the sea — the port of Djibouti.
Ethiopia’s military regime refuses to grant self-determination to the Eritreans and the Ogaden Somalis, both of whom are oppressed nationalities — victims of forced assimilation. The Ogaden Somalis were conquered by Ethiopia, with British and Italian help, between 1880 and 1900, and Eritrea became an Ethiopian colony in 1950.
The regime — the Dergue — not only wants to maintain control of the railway to Djibouti, it also wants to defuse the revolutionaries in Ethiopia proper by diverting their energy into a phony war against “aggression” and for “socialism.”
Disguising its capitalist nature with rhetoric that sounds Marxist but isn’t, the Dergue has used Soviet and, regrettably, Cuban aid to smash the revolt in Ogaden.
The four-year-old Ethiopian revolution is at stake.
The workers and peasants who overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974 spurred the Eritreans into a new offensive, which in turn impelled the Somalis into a new uprising. Such is the contagion of permanent revolution: workers in Addis Ababa, peasants in the countryside. and nationalists in Eritrea. Ogaden, and Somalia all support each other and seriously threaten both imperialism and world Stalinism, which jointly crave the status quo.
It is only a matter of time before the Dergue tyrants are defeated by a consolidated revolutionary army in what is called the Horn of Africa