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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)

  • 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.

  • August 11, 1977

    Record of negotiations between Somali and Soviet Officials in Moscow (excerpts)

    Record of negotiations between Somali and Soviet Officials in Moscow (excerpts) regarding the resolution of the Somali-Ethiopian conflict and possible negotiations between Somalia and Ethiopia concerning territorial disputes.

  • August 23, 1977

    Memorandum of conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia Ratanov and Cuban Ambassador to Ethiopia Jose Perez Novoa

    Memorandum of conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia Ratanov and Cuban Ambassador to Ethiopia Jose Perez Novoa regarding the question of inviting Cuban military personnel to Ethiopia

  • August 26, 1977

    Record of Soviet-Somali Talks, Moscow (excerpts), with Somali aide-memoire, 10 August 1977

    Record of Soviet-Somali Talks, Moscow (excerpts), with Somali aide-memoire, 10 August 1977 regarding Soviet evaluations of the situation in Somalia and the Somali-Ethiopian conflict

  • August 31, 1977

    Record of negotiations between Somali and Soviet officials in Moscow from 15-19 August 1977 (excerpts)

    Record of negotiations between Somali and Soviet officials in Moscow (excerpts) regarding Somali-Ethiopian tensions and reactions by Somalis of negative comments in Soviet press regarding Somalia

  • September 02, 1977

    Message from Yugolav Embassy Addis Ababa, 'The Soviet Ambassador on the Ethiopian-Soviet Relations'

    A detailed view of Soviet reactions toward the Ethiopian-Somali conflict as of early September 1977, showing Moscow’s envoy to Addis Ababa’s conviction that Ethiopia would emerge victorious from the war. However, this document also gives a somewhat critical view on the part of Yugoslav’s diplomat regarding the Soviets’ unofficial and unsuccessful attempt to persuade Ethiopia to surrender part of Ogaden in order to appease the Somalis.

  • September 05, 1977

    Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia Ratanov and Mengistu

    Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia Ratanov and Mengistu regarding fighting between Ethiopian and Somali forces and Ethiopia’s support of the People’s Independent Movement in Djibouti

  • September 06, 1977

    Memorandum of Conversation, Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov with US Charge d'Affaires A. Tienkin, 3 September 1977

    Memorandum of Conversation, Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov with U.S. Charge d'Affaires A. Tienkin regarding US feelings of improved US-Ethiopian and US-Somalian relations and US lack of interest in Soviet military aid to Ethiopia

  • September 10, 1977

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

    Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov, memorandum of meeting with Mengistu with heads of diplomatic missions for the European socialist countries regarding the "imperialist" plot on the part of the US and other countries to overthrow the Ethiopian government

  • September 14, 1977

    Memorandum of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia A.P. Ratanov and Ethiopian Foreign Minister Feleke Gedle-Giorgis

    Ratanov and Giorgis discuss the reactions of various countries to the news of the Ethiopian Revolution. They also talk about the war going on with Somalia and various other events going on in the Horn of Africa.

  • September 29, 1977

    Memorandum of Conversation with Ethiopian Foreign Secretary Dawit Wolde Giorgis, 17 September 1977

    The memorandum concerns an Operation named Torch, which the United States was supposedly planning in order to destabilize the Ethiopian regime. It involved the arming of internal opposition groups with US weapons.

  • September 29, 1977

    Attachement to the memorandum of conversation with Ethiopian Foreign Secretary Dawit Wolde Giorgis.

    Memorandum on US Operation "Fakel" [Torch], which the United States was supposedly planning in order to destabilize the Ethiopian regime. It involved the arming of internal opposition groups with US weapons. This report was attached to the memorandum of conversation with Ethiopian Foreign Secretary Dawit Wolde Giorgis.

  • November 07, 1977

    Conversation between F. Trappen and K. Brutents (excerpts)

    The conversation focuses on the problems that Ethiopia is encountering with the Eritrean Liberation Movement

  • November 08, 1977

    CPSU CC to SED CC, Information on 30-31 October 1977 Closed Visit of Mengistu Haile Mariam to Moscow

    The memo concerns the visit of Mariam to Moscow and his meeting with the Central Committee. During the meeting he described the problems facing the Ethiopian regime, primarily the war with Somalia and relations with the other countries in the Horn of Africa.

  • December 07, 1977

    Memorandum of Conversation, East German Official with Soviet Ambassador to Ethiopia Ratanov

    The memo details a conversation between Ratanov and an East German official. The talk covered the ongoing war with Somalia and the internal political situation of Ethiopia

  • 1978

    Information from D. Stoyanov to T. Zhivkov on the Internal Situation and Foreign Policy of Ethiopia

    The Minister of Internal Affairs, Dimitar Stoyanov reports on the political situation in Ethiopia during the late 1970s. The economic hardship is pushing Mengistu’s government to accept Western aid, in addition to the support it is getting from the Soviet bloc. Mengistu also seems to be critical of the anti-Soviet policy of China.

  • January 16, 1978

    British Foreign Office, 'Soviet Role in the Horn of Africa'

    Drawing upon British concerns with respect to their possible reaction to Moscow’s support for Ethiopia against Somalia’s aggression, the Foreign Office Planning Staff looks into the wider international implications of the conflict in the Horn.