1. Successful Attacks Against Enemy Forces that Boosted the Morale and Participation of the Public
The public upraising that begun in 1974 in Ethiopia declined the power grip of the Emperor. Despite the public opposition and struggle, there was no substantial front that would establish a democratic government in the country as well as rally the masses. However, this vacuum was utilized by the Derg, a military junta that came to power and established the Provisional Government of Ethiopia. Deciding that the Eritrean question was to be solved by use of the bayonet from the onset, the Derg began preparations to destroy the struggle of Eritreans for liberation after it consolidated its power. When the Civil War among the Eritrean Liberation Fronts ended in 1974, the forces of struggle were able to emphasize its forces against enemy. Realizing the outcome of the end of the civil war, enemy forces began attacks at the beginning of February, 1975. On the battles held around the city of Asmara, enemy forces were unable to move outside the city, and lost a large number of its soldiers and weaponry. Two airplanes, one by the ELF forces and one by the People’s Liberation front were shot down during those battles. On the second attempt it made, it was accompanied by forces from the capital, Addis Ababa but the attempt ended in utter failure where the forces were limited to environs of the Asmara.
The end of the civil war and the victories of the struggle boosted the moral and hope of the public, as a result people from all around the country and outside the country start to join the struggle in large: the material contribution of the public also sky-rocketed.
Enemy forces that couldn’t accept their defeat and threatened by the support of the public to the struggle started to commit atrocities, especially in the cities of the country, by killing civilians. Secret police, afagn guad, killed a number of innocent civilians, chaos and fear ruled were all over the country. Enemy forces burned 47 villages in the highlands and killed hundreds of civilians. The towns of Hirgigo, Om-hajer, Agordat and many other towns were burned in this same year. Inhabitants of those towns were brutally killed, and those that escaped the killings fled the country.
Those atrocities cut the few ties the public has with the colonizers, which also increased the number of people joining the struggle. Nationals who used to work in the police, commanders of different ranks, and soldiers in the Ethiopian force begun to defect to the fronts. The flow of the public to the struggle had great impact in the development of the liberation struggle.
2. The Flow of Nationals to the Struggle and its Impact
Majority of the nationals that were joining the struggle after the end of the civil war, 1974, failed to have a profound understanding of the Eritrean struggle; as a result many joined the ELF assuming that both fronts are struggling for liberation of the country.
The newly recruited fighters were mainly from the cities and majority of them were composed of proletariat workers as well as students and intellectuals. Viewing the previous members of the struggle, this force is more understandable to the idea of the overall liberation of the country and was free of ethnic and religious affiliations.
Unlike those new fighters, the veteran members of the fronts were mainly from rural areas where they were pastoralists and farmers and have limited exposure and knowledge about the world outside their vicinity. Many of them were also illiterate.
Although those fighters were brave and determined, due to their limited experiences they often became the victims of the religious and ethnic affiliation of the power hungry individuals in the leadership. The enrollment of those new recruitments to the fronts also changed the establishment of the forces in the struggle.