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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). During this period, the Somali people in Ethiopia wanted to join with Somalia. The resulting crisis is discussed at length, as well as the later Eritrean Liberation Movement. The documents are from Bulgarian, German, and Russian archives, and focus on the years of 1977 and 1978. They include numerous memorandums and reports concerning relations between Africa and countries such as the Soviet Union, the US, and Cuba. Later documents cover Ethiopian relations with the Eritreans, the role of the US in Africa, and the 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.

  • 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 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 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 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

  • August 05, 1977

    Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov, Memorandum of Conversation with Mengistu

    Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov, Memorandum of Conversation with Mengistu regarding Ethiopian responses to Somali actions and the Soviet role in providing supplies to Ethiopia

  • August 07, 1977

    Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov, Memorandum of Conversation with Mengistu

    Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov, memorandum of cnversation with Mengistu regarding Soviet support for Ethiopia and support from other nations for Somalia

  • August 11, 1977

    CC CPSU Politburo transcript (excerpt)

    CC CPSU Politburo transcript (excerpt) discussing the Ethiopian appeal for assistance

  • August 11, 1977

    Ethiopian Aide-Memoire to Soviet Officials in Moscow

    Ethiopian aide-memoire proposing grounds to end hostilities with Somalia.