The Ethiopian regime remains embattled on two major fronts.
Routed by victorious nationalist rebels in Eritrea, the Ethiopian army is preparing to re-enter Eritrea, Ethiopia’s annexed northern territory.
Simultaneously, the Ogaden region is still in dispute, despite the withdrawal of Somalian forces in March. Somalian guerrillas have accelerated their struggle against Ethiopian-directed Cuban and Soviet troops, as the Somalis valiantly try to remold their nation, brutally carved apart by colonialism.
Barre Plays All Sides
Renewed fighting in the Ogaden was complicated by the unsuccessful April coup of soldiers and army officers against the phony “socialist” military junta of Somalian President Siad Barre.
Barre had been scrambling for increased Chinese aid-and reconsidering a Kremlin alliance, despite the USSR-Ethiopia collusion and his previous expulsion of Russian advisors after a Soviet attack on Ogaden rebels. He is also trying to secure materiel from the U.S., and arms sales talks are underway.
In return for military aid, Carter wants Barre to officially recognize the very borders under dispute-the colonial borders separating the Somalis in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
Agreement with Carter’s conditions would shatter the authority of Barre’s regime.
Castro and the Soviets echo Carter’s line. Castro claims it is highly practical to accept “the borders left by colonialism.” He calls Somalian revolutionaries “reactionaries,” labeling their attempt to reunify as “aggression.”
Such callous pragmatism deals a murderous blow to Somalian nationalism, with its enormous potential to resist the straitjacket of Barre’s regime and turn towards socialist revolution.
Faced with the impending onslaught of new Ethiopian offensives backed by USSR-Cuba, the rival factions of the Eritrean Liberation Front and the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front have united. Both organizations have waged unceasing warfare for Eritrea’s autonomy since its forced annexation to Ethiopia in 1952.
But Eritrea’s evolution from anticolonialism to anticapitalism may be slow, given the betrayal by the Stalinists of Eritrea’s right of self-determination. Eritrea is still in grave danger.