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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Horn of Africa Crisis

This is a collection of primary source documents related to the conflict between Somalia and Ethiopia in the late 1970s (also known as the 1977-1978 Ogaden War or the Ethiopian-Somali Conflict). Somalia invaded Ethiopia in 1977 in an effort to capture the disputed Ogden region. The resulting crisis is discussed in this collection, as well as the later Eritrean Liberation Movement. Later documents cover Soviet policy toward the region, Ethiopian relations with the Eritreans, the role of the US in Africa, and US Operation Torch. (Image, Ethiopian soldiers in the Ogaden desert, 1978)

  • March 11, 1976

    Minutes of the Meeting between Todor Zhivkov and Fidel Castro in Sofia

    Conversation for the record between Zhivkov and Castro during a four-day-long state visit of the Cuban leader to Bulgaria. Among the main issues discussed was the state of economic development in both countries, their relations with Albania, China, Romania and Yugoslavia; the Cuban foreign policy in Africa and the Caribbean; the civil war in Angola; the battle for the Third World.

  • January 29, 1977

    Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Urgent note on Aid to Ethiopia from the Countries of the Socialist Community, Including Poland’s'

    Discusses the state of affairs in Soviet Bloc-Ethiopian relations, briefly charting other socialist states’ involvement with Addis Ababa during that period. It also draws suggestions for the possible path of relationship expansion between Poland and Ethiopia, including small military deliveries, as suggested by the Soviets.

  • February 02, 1977

    Third African Department, Soviet Foreign Ministry, Information Report on Somali-Ethiopian Territorial Disputes

    Third African Department, Soviet Foreign Ministry, Information Report on Somali-Ethiopian Territorial Disputes and the position of the USSR in settling the dispute

  • February 02, 1977

    Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Counselor-Minister in Ethiopia S. Sinitsin with Political Counselor of the US Embassy in Ethiopia Herbert Malin

    Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Counselor-Minister in Ethiopia S. Sinitsin with Political Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia Herbert Malin regarding the tense situation in Ethiopia and US and Soviet positions with regards to Ethiopia

  • February 10, 1977

    Memorandum of conversation between Soviet Ambassador in Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov and Cuban Ambassador in Ethiopia Jose Peres Novoa

    Memorandum of conversation between Soviet Ambassador in Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov and Cuban Ambassador in Ethiopia Jose Peres Novoa concerning Mengistu’s request to Castro that Cuba supply arms to Ethiopia

  • February 18, 1977

    Soviet Embassy in East Germany, Report for CPSU CC Summarizing Visit to Somalia on 31 January-1 February 1977 by Delegation of the GDR Socialist Unity Party (SED) CC

    Soviet Embassy in East Germany, Report for CPSU CC Summarizing Visit to Somalia on 31 January-1 February 1977 by Delegation of the GDR Socialist Unity Party (SED) CC regarding the tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia and the need for a resolution, as well as the request by Somalia for East German aid

  • February 23, 1977

    Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Somalia G.V. Samsonov and Somali President Siad Barre

    Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Somalia G.V. Samsonov and Somali President Siad Barre regarding the Somalian request for Soviet aid and the situation between Somalia and Ethiopia

  • March 18, 1977

    Memorandum of conversation between Soviet acting Charge d'affaires in Ethiopia S. Sinitsin and Ethiopian official Maj. Berhanu Bayeh

    Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Acting Charge d'affaires in Ethiopia S. Sinitsin and Ethiopian official Maj. Berhanu Bayeh concerning the strained relations between Somalia and Ethiopia and and Ethiopian-Soviet cooperation

  • March 23, 1977

    Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Cuban Ambassador to Maputo commented on President Fidel Castro’s trip to some African countries'

    The information obtained by Romania’s ambassador to Maputo by his Cuban counterpart not only continues Castro’s praise of Mengistu’s revolutionary zeal, but also sheds more light on the wide scope of the Cuban President’s endeavors on the African continent.

  • March 31, 1977

    Report from CPSU CC to SED CC, Results of N.V. Podgorny's Visit to Africa (excerpts)

    Report from CPSU CC to SED CC, Results of N.V. Podgorny's Visit to Africa (excerpts) discussing the growing enmity between Ethiopia and Somalia and concerns from African nations over this tension

  • April 03, 1977

    Transcript of Meeting between East German leader Erich Honecker and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, East Berlin (excerpts)

    Transcript of a meeting between East German leader Erich Honecker and Cuban leader Fidel Castro, East Berlin (excerpts) regarding Castro’s visit to Somalia and Ethiopia, criticizing Siad Barre and discussing the need to help the revolution in Ethiopia

  • May 09, 1977

    Memorandum of Conversation Between Soviet Acting Charge d'Affaires in Ethiopia S. Sinitsyn and Political Counselor of the US Embassy in Ethiopia, Herbert Malin

    Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Acting Charge d'affaires in Ethiopia S. Sinitsyn and Political Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, Herbert Malin regarding US policies towards Ethiopia and worries by the US about Soviet-Ethiopian rapprochement

  • May 10, 1977

    Letter from Roger Barltrop of British Embassy in Addis Ababa, 'The Derg'

    Information obtained by the British from an Ethiopian officer who defected to West Germany. His report shows the strong influence of the Soviet Union in the Derg at the time.

  • May 13, 1977

    CPSU CC to SED CC, Information on Visit of Mengistu Haile Mariam to Moscow

    CPSU CC to SED CC, Information on Visit of Mengistu Haile Mariam to Moscow regarding Soviet-Ethiopian relations, Somali-Ethiopian tensions, and the opinion that the Soviet Union should support Ethiopia

  • June, 1977

    Additions to 2 February 1977 Report by Third African Department, Soviet Foreign Ministry, 'Somalia's Territorial Disagreements with Ethiopia and the Position of the USSR'

    Additions to 2 February 1977 Report by Third African Department, Soviet Foreign Ministry, on "Somalia's Territorial Disagreements with Ethiopia and the Position of the USSR," regarding a meeting between Siad Barre, Mengistu and Castro and Siad’s unwillingness to negotiate with Mengistu

  • June, 1977

    Report from CPSU CC to SED CC, Information about the Visit to the Soviet Union of Somalia Vice President Samanta

    Report from CPSU CC to SED CC, Information about the Visit to the Soviet Union of Somalian Vice President Samanta and discussions concerning the Somali-Ethiopian tensions and Soviet-Somali relations. Late May-early June 1977

  • June 29, 1977

    Memorandum of conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov and Mengistu

    Memorandum of conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov and Mengistu discussing the negative repercussions of possible conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia and the request for Soviet assistance from the Ethiopians to help with the withdrawal of Somali forces from Ethiopian territory

  • July 13, 1977

    Conversation with Provisional Military Administrative Council (PMAC) Chairman Mengistu Haile Mariam

    Demonstrates Soviet willingness to provide good offices to Somalia and Ethiopia in normalizing their relationships in July 1977. Even as late as July, Moscow believed the conflict between the two states could be solved through peaceful means.

  • July 17, 1977

    Memorandum of conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.N. Ratanov and Cuban military official Arnaldo Ochoa

    Memorandum of conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.N. Ratanov and Cuban military official Arnaldo Ochoa concerning the situation in Ethiopia and the recent losses of objectives in Eritrea by the Ethiopians as well as possible means to strenghten the Ethiopian army

  • August 04, 1977

    Transcript of CPSU CC Politburo Meeting (excerpt)

    Transcript of CPSU CC Politburo Meeting (excerpt) regarding the situation between Ethiopia and Somalia and the limited capability of the Soviet Union with regards to the situation