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Ethiopia’s policy of anti-imperialism and African liberation

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As a result of their direct armed confrontation with the allied international forces of imperialism, the people and government of Ethiopia became the most persistent and uncompromising anti-imperialist conscience and spirit of Africa.

In this respect, in his famous letter of 1891 to the European Heads of State, Menilik II declared that he “cannot tolerate the partition of Africa among the alien governments”.

After the Adwa victory of 1896 over the Italian imperialists, the Ethiopian leaders called upon the Mahdist rulers of the neighbouring Sudan to create an African alliance against the European imperialists as their common enemies.

They declared that “your enemy is our enemy and our enemy is your enemy, and we should stand together as firm allies.”

Moreover, in his 1897 letter of December 15th to the Sudanese leader, Khalifa Abdallahi, Menilik II wrote that:

“This is to inform you that the Europeans who are present round the White Nile with the English have come out from both the east and the west, and intended to enter between my country and yours and to separate and divide us. And I, when I heard of their plan, dispatched an expedition, sending detachments in five directions. The group of Europeans who are near are the English and the French, who are located in the direction from which the Belgians came…
“And you look to yourself, and do not let the Europeans enter our midst a great disaster befall us and our children have no rest.”

In their Tripartite Agreement of 1906, the British, French, and Italian imperialists, who had already occupied its natural and historical frontiers, conspired to further divide the rest of Ethiopia into their spheres of influence.

Lastly, in 1935-36, under the conspiratorial consensus of the British and French Governments, the Italian imperialists and fascists, with massive forces of 300,000 soldiers and 126 armored cars, 325 war planes, 994 cannons and mortars, 6,286 motor vehicles, and mustard gas, launched the largest colonial war in history against the rest of Ethiopia simultaneously from their Eritrean and Somali colonies and occupied parts of the country until 1941 during which time they killed some one million Ethiopians.

The Ethiopian peasant armies under the feudal chiefs endured such modern weapons of war and mustard gas of the enemy at the Battle of Ogaden and Tigrai for more than six months in 1935-1936.

The 1935-1941 Italian invasion and partial occupation of Ethiopia intensified the struggle of the Ethiopians under Italian occupation in the northern maritime region, the former Bahrenegash, and this led ultimately to their reunion with Ethiopia in 1952.

After they seized Ethiopia’s ancient and maritime region of Bahrenegash by the dubious ways and means of diplomatic intrigues and military actions, the Italian imperialists undertook a series of political, ideological, legal, and racial actions including changing its name to Eritrea to destroy its Ethiopian identity and the awareness of its inhabitants.

Nevertheless, all these and other actions of colonial oppression and exploitation, contrary to Italian expectation drove the Eritreans to fight under the banner of the Ethiopian national flag for their liberation and unconditional reunion with Ethiopia.

In fact, during the 1935-1941 Italian invasion and partial occupation of Ethiopia, 20,757 Eritrean soldiers, officers, and patriots were wounded or died for the national survival, independence, and unity of Ethiopia.

Also, during the post-war reconstruction of the country in the 1940s, 200,000 Eritreans migrated to the southern and free regions of Ethiopia, where they continued their organized struggle to liberate the nation’s historic northern region from the British occupation of 1941-1952, after the defeat and departure of the Italian imperialists and fascists.

After the British occupied Eritrea in 1941, the Eritreans in the north and in the free southern regions of the country formed the Unionist Party under their historic slogan of “Motherland or Death”, and waged a victorious war of liberation against the British imperialists until the region was liberated and reunited with Ethiopia on the basis of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution of 2 December 1950.

Moreover, Ethiopia as a member state of the former League of Nations and a Charter Member of the United Nations has been a constant and persistent anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist campaigner for the continental liberation and unity of Africa, and has become the headquarters of the Organization for African Unity (OAU), which is now called African Union (AU).

The anti-imperialist people and Government of Ethiopia have given special importance to the national independence of its neighbouring sister states of Sudan (1956), Somalia (1960), Uganda (1962), Kenya (1963), and Djibouti (1977), from colonial rule, and the liberation of these new states has ended the imperialist siege and encirclement of Ethiopia.

Keywords: Ethiopia, Menilik II, Adwa, Mahdist rulers, Bahrenegash, Eritrea, Khalifa Abdallahi, Italian invasion, African Unity, African Union,


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