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The Soviet Union and Its World Influence Part XI

What deserves special praise is the political consciousness and maturity, the generosity as well as the firm support to the Eritrean struggle of the Sudanese people. Before 1961, the Sudanese people sheltered Eritrean patriots and assisted in the start of the armed struggle. And throughout, when the Eritrean people become victims of colonial atrocities and natural calamities, the Sudanese people gave refuge and succor to the Eritrean brothers. The Eritrean revolution could remain active despite changes in regimes in the face of the inconsistent policies of the Numeiri regime and continuous pressure, only because it had the solidarity of the Sudanese people. The increased support and sympathy that were evident in a democratic atmosphere were a continuation and proofs of the longstanding stand of the Sudanese people.

Among the problems of the Horn Africa, the border conflict between Ethiopia and Somalia remained unsolved. But the main problem was the cause of the Somali people of the Ogaden. During the decolonization period, when the Somali nationalism was at its peak, there was a political movement among the Somalis of both Italian and British Somali-land, as well as Djibouti, the Ogaden and the Northern Frontier District to set up a single Somali state. In Northern Kenya, the movement came to a virtual stop. Djibouti became independent in 1977. But the Somali national movement continued in the Ogaden. Moreover, it was the cause of conflict between Ethiopia and the Somali Republic. With the coming to power of the Dergue, the conflict reached its peak. The two countries went to war and the initial Somali advance was blocked when Cuban troops intervened on the side of the Dergue.

The negative repercussion of the Ogaden War, the economic problems it entailed and the aggravation of the tribal ethnic division which the Somali Revolution has set out to efface combined to weaken the Somali government. Internal and external opposition grew. Exploiting these developments, the Dergue won a section of the Somali opposition to its side under the guise of an opposition attack, sent its troops to invade the Somali territory.

After the break in Soviet-Somali relations in 1978, the Somali government approached the West the U.S. in particular and the Arab countries for military and economic aid, but failed to get substantial help. Hence, Somali’s defense capacity remains limited and its economic problem critical. The Dergue did not hesitate to exploit these problems. Exerting military pressure and expressing willingness to solve the conflict peacefully at the same time, the Dergue met with Somali leaders in Djibouti, given Somalia’s weaken position, the Dergue calculated it can force Somalia to capitulate on the border conflict, withdraw its support for the right to self-determination of the Somali people in the Ogaden and sign a peace agreement with Ethiopia. This enabled the Dergue to employ the troops deployed along the Somali border to crush opposition forces in Eritrea and Ethiopia. Since the Derguewas not interested in a genuine peaceful solution, indication of the failure of the Ethio-Somali talks are already apparent.   

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