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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 Ogaden 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: Cuban artillery crew during the Ogaden War. Department of Defense Photograph)

Popular Documents

April 3, 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

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.

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.

September 2, 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.

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.