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Baghdad 7/4)
Last Reference p. 1703BC

NOVEMBER 27, 1970
vol 11, No 24
page 5-6

Ethiopia: The fighting in Eritrea continues
Civil war has now being going on in Ethiopia's northern province of
Eritrea for nearly a decade. Armed rebellion broke out early in the
1960s, prompted by growing dissatisfaction with conditions in Eritrea
after the territory was federated with Ethiopia in 1952.
Ethiopian dissolution of the federation in November, 1962 ended
Eritrea's autonomous status. Since then, true to the general pattern
of guerrilla warfare, the revolt has been characterised by periods of
intense military activity interspersed with periods of inertia. At the
same time, divisive forces within the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF)
have waxed and waned. There is evidence that, at the moment, the war
is passing through a phase, of heightened activity, but old rifts are
also re-opening in the guerrilla movement.
While the western border with Sudan has been relatively quiet since the
beginning of the year (see AFRICA CONFIDENTIAL, Vol. 11, No 6,
Eritieans operating from South Arabian bases have attempted to
establish forward posts on the Red Sea plain of Ethiopia and have
launched a number of raids on installations along the coast and the
eastern edge of the plateau. The port of Assab was attacked in May and
a series of ambushes were laid in which 65 Ethiopian soldiers were
killed, it was claimed. Buses moving along the Eritrean section of the
main Asmara-Addis Ababa road were only able to travel under armed
escort, while in Asmara itself two high court judges-Djezmach Zeroam
Kofley and Djezmach Hadgoug Gilliagabre-who had sentenced ELF
sympathisers to death, were machine-gunned in an Italian bar on Haile
Selassie Avenue, together with a policeman, a bartender, and three of
their friends. The assassin escaped.
The Ethiopian Govermnent countered this with an attack on ELF groups in
the Danakil desert by units of the Imperial Bodyguard, supported by air
strikes and by continuing repression along the eastern edge of the
plateau. In April and May, in the region of Akelli Guzai, 309 houses
and two mosques were destroyed in Arafali and 32 male villagers
executed, while the settlements of Hadees and Karadaf were burned down.
Further north, villagers in the area between Massawa and Ghinda have
been forcibly resettled in a single encampment--Shein Saieed, Chief of
the Atshoma, was killed, together with 87 of his followers when they
tried to resist this move.
Elsewhere in Ethiopia, and especially in the Amhara districts, there
have been public expressions of hostility directed against Eritreans,
particularly after a series of aircraft hijackings for which the ELF
claimed responsibility. In one such incident, 140 Eritrean students at
Bahar Dar polytechnic were deported to Asmara after local rioting
against them.
At the same time, the ELF is by no means the united front it claims to
be. It has always received support from amongst both Christian and
Moslem elements of the population, but for propaganda purposes it has
usually presented itself as a Moslem movement which is pro-Arab and
The policy has paid dividends in material terms, attracting aid from
the "revolutionary" Arab countrics (with Libya the most recent recruit
to the list of active helpers), as well as from the Soviet Union, China
and North Korea. But it has also been cleverly exploited by Ethiopia
and has served to a alienate many segments of Christian opinion.
Moreover, it has bred resentment and suspicion amongst Christian
members of the fighting force who stress that the movement is
revolutionary, socialistic, and non-sectarian. From time to time,
Christian elements have defected to the Ethiopian Government, claiming
that they failed to receive the necessary support from their Moslem
colleagues. Thus, in 1967, Wolday Kassaye and other members of the 5th
division, operating on the plateau, surrendered for this reason. The
Moslems, on their part, are fearful of possible Christian domination in
any future independent state, especially as the Christians 'are a more
educated ' group.
In addition to sectarian tensions, the movement has been passing
through an organisational crisis. Growing dissatisfaction with the
Supreme Command of seven led to the convening of revolutionary forces
at Adjoba in northern Eritrea on August 25 1969, when the Supreme
command was accused of living a life of idleness and luxury abroad, and
rarely visiting the battlefield and of losing contact with the needs of
the fighters and the wishes of the people. Accordingly, it was
dismissed and a new 38-member General Command established with a one-
year mandate to work out a satisfactory military strategy. At the end
of 12 months it was to call another open meeting. But the General
Command has in many respects proved no better than the old Supreme
Inevitably, the old hostilities between Christians and Moslems have
flared up and reached a climax with the ritual slaying in March of two
young Christian Eritrean guerrillas in Sudan. There followed a large-
scale exodus of these elements, principally to the South Arabian bases.
The ELF is thus now split into two branches, namely the supporters of
the General Command, operating from Sudan, and their opponents,
operating mainly from the other side of the Red Sea. The one-year
mandate of the General recently expired and no steps have yet been
taken to call another popular meeting.

November 1-30, 1970
page 1933

Ababa which said that Eritrean "rebels" had killed an Army General in
an ambush while he was on an inspection tour of the Province. He was
named as Major-General Teshome Ergetu, Commander of the Second
Division. The announcement said that the ambush came along the road
from Asmara to Keren in the north-eastern corner of Ethiopia. The body
of the General, who was killed on November 21 st, was flown to Addis
Ababa and was buried on the following day with full military honours.
(R. Nairobi 22/11)

Reporting from Addis Ababa, Associated Press stated that it was
believed that a number of soldiers were also killed in an attempt to
save the General. (DN 23/11) (See p. 192IA)

Last reference p. 1812C

November 1-30, 1970
page 1921

Eritrean Representative Present
The Secretary General of the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), Mr.
Uthman Salih, said on November 15th that his organisation was grateful
for Libya's support. He also thanked Libya for allowing the Eritrean
cause to be discussed during the AAPSO conference and announced that a
National Congress of the Revolution was to be held in Eritrea. He
added that the Eritrean Nationalists needed arms "urgently".
(R. Libya 15/11) (See p. 1932C)
Last reference p. 1303A

July 1-31, 1970

page 1813
question by bargaining and partial concessions. (R. Baghdad 15/7)

Ethiopia's Position Re-stated
Referring to the disturbances, the Ethiopian Minister of Information,
Mr. Makasha, said in an interview with Agence France Presse on July
2lst that Eritrea, which was previously under Italian trusteeship, had
freely chosen, in popular referendums, organised in 1949 and 1962 under
the control of the United Nations, to federate with Ethiopia, and later
to become part of the Empire.

"To consider it as an Arab land is a travesty of the truth," said the
Minister. "If there is historically a part of Ethiopia which most
faithfully represents the Ethiopian character, it is well and truly
Eritrea. It can even be said that the history of Ethiopia, going back
three thousand years, began there. Eritrea is not part of the Arab
world and, however you stretch your imagination, it cannot be included,
unless you pretend that the whole of Ethiopia is part of the Arab

The Minister considered that the "rebellion" was fostered by a "very
small minority" urged on by a "religious fanaticism carefully fomented
from outside. With the support of the population. it would be crushed
in a relatively near future. He went on to say, however, that arms
were being sent to the rebels by sea and by land. "Certain Arab States
have openly proclaimed that they are providing the rebels with arms and
funds. Among the countries supporting the rebellion are Syria, Iraq
and, more recently, Libya, who have all only recognised that they are
backing the rebellion."

The Minister did not mention Ethiopia's immediate neighbours, Sudan and
Somalia, probably, AFP thinks, because Sudan has promised to halt all
direct intervention in Eritrea and Somalia because the new regime has
not changed the relations of "good neighbourliness" which were
established with Ethiopia by the former Government of Mr. Egal.

As regards these two neighbours, AFP says that Ethiopia obviously
remains very vigilant. It is worried that they might team up and thus
encircle Ethiopia. This explains the prime importance the Ethiopian
Government attaches to the French presence in the French Territory of
Afars and Issas, which, lying between the two, prevents this junction.

As regards Eritrea, Mr. Makasha attributed the hostility of certain
Arab States towards Ethiopia by his Government's policy towards Israel.
"Certain Arab countries", he said, "would like to see us take up arms
and fight alongside them. But we prefer to observe in the Middle East
conflict a neutrality which does not fit in with the general plan of
the Arabs to isolate Israel. We would even prefer to play the roll of
honest broker if we are given the chance. The Arab States could
tomorrow call on us to do this."
Mr. Makasha was categorical that Ethiopia would not give in to any
pressure. He also denied reports that Israeli military advisers were
working in Eritrea and rejected rumours that Ethiopia had granted
Israel the right to set up military bases in two islands in the Red Sea
off the Eritrean coast. "In Eritrea, as in Ethiopia," he said, "there
are no Israeli effectives. The Israeli co-operation missions are
exclusively those which should be expected of civilians." (NA
(See pp. 1810BC, 1820AB, 1824AC)
Last reference p. 1785A

July 1-31, 1970
page 1812

Rebel Claims in Eritrea

Radio Baghdad claimed on July 8th that Ethiopian aircraft had continued
their "savage attacks" against Eritrean citizens. The Iraqi News
Agency correspondent in Khartoum had reported that the Ethiopian Army
had recently attacked unarmed citizens in Acchele Guzai Province
resulting in the death of more than 100 persons, many of them women and
children. These Ethiopian attacks, the Radio said, were in retaliation
for the successful attacks by the Eritrean Liberation Army and the
heavy losses they had inflicted on the Ethiopian forces in the area.
(R. Baghdad 8/7)

The Iraqi News Agency reported on July 16th another dispatch from its
correspondent in Khartoum, saying that the Ethiopian Government was
sending a mission abroad to meet dissolved Supreme Council of the
Eritrean Revolution (P. 1729) The Ethiopian Government's object,
according to the Agency, was to solve the Eritrean

December 1-31, 1970
page 1957
Yemen were among the States which were arming the gangs so that they
might carry out acts of subversion in the area in which a state of
emergency had now been proclaimed.
The paper emphasised the importance of protecting the lives and
property of civilians and of the preservation of peace and security in
these areas, a matter which obliged the Government to use every
available means.
(EH 17/12)
ELF's Objective Defined
In an interview with one of the leaders of the Eritrean Liberation
Front (ELF) published in Algiers in December, it was claimed that the
movement could count on nearly 10,000 equipped and well-trained men.
Leaders of the guerrilla army had been receiving political and military
training abroad for several years. The ELF representative told the
weekly newspaper Revolution Africaine that the force had automatic and
semi-automatic weapons, but some units were still equipped with old
rifles. The Army was backed up by a People's Militia, which played an
administrative role in "Liberated areas", each of which was run by a
"politico military general staff " to which the people were paying
The Front's goal was to destroy the "despotic, feudal Ethiopian regime"
an make Eritrea an independent democratic socialist State. The Baath
Party in Syria was the first body abroad to grant aid to the Front, in
1964. China, Cuba, and others had followed. The representative said:
"We have very close relations with the Palestinian Resistance,
particularly Al Fatah, which provides us with material and moral aid in
accordance with their means."
He added that hundreds of villages had been burnt or otherwise
destroyed by Ethiopian forces, and that over 50,000 refugees bad
crossed the border into Sudan. Thousands of men and women were in jail
in Eritrea.
The United States was giving Ethiopia over half its total aid to
Africa, while Israel had a base at Decamere in Eritrea and a military
academy which trained anti-guerrilla commandos. (TS 28/12)

Ethiopia Denies Allegations
The Ethiopian Government, on December 3Oth, denied allegations that
Ethiopian air force planes carried out an operation in Eritrea on
Christmas Day in which 500 people were said to have been killed.
The Ministry of Information said that December, 25th was a particularly
quiet day in which there were not even police searches of the area in
which the state of emergency bad been declared.
The Government statement said the state of emergency bad been imposed
in some areas of Eritrea because of "interference in Ethiopia's
internal affairs by expansionist Arab countries".
The ELF claimed in Beirut on December 3Oth that more than one thousand
Eritreans had been killed in operations against the Front, which seeks
Eritrea's independence from Ethiopia. Its spokesman said the
operations, which began with the declaration of a state of emergency in
Eritrea on December 16th, were continuing. (GD 31/12)
Last reference p. 1932C

June 1-30, 1970
page 1785
Internal Security

ELF's Headquarters Moved
A spokesman for the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) said on June 27th
that members of the Front in "exile" in Rome had decided to move their
"secret" headquarters to Copenhagen.
The decision was taken, the spokesman said, because the Italian police
were "totally incapable" of protecting Front members. The Front
claimed on June 2Oth that Ethiopian secret agents were hunting down the
clandestine refugee and guerrilla reception centre established in Rome
in the spring. The spokesman added that the Front's "exiles" had
already reached the Danish capital, most of them "secretly".
(NA 27/6)
Last reference p. 1757C

May 1-31, 1970
page 1757

Claims by Eritrean Liberation Front
Radio Damascus claimed on May 16th that Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF)
forces had, during the previous week, confronted an Ethiopian Imperial
Guard force estimated at 3,000 along the Red Sea shore. A four-day
battle raged, during which the Ethiopian force used all kinds of arms
and jets. The Imperial Guard lost 200 men killed or wounded. The
Eritrean fighters lost two "martyrs" and nine wounded, three of them
seriously. The fighters captured a quantity of ammunition and rockets.
According to Radio Damascus, the Ethiopian Imperial Guard does not
normally participate in fighting unless the situation becomes very
The Radio added that a commando group of the "Eritrean Liberation Army"
had attacked Assab port on the Red Sea, destroyed an Ethiopian Military
aircraft, killed 15 soldiers, and captured a military jeep. On the same
day, at the beginning of May, a mine blew up a vehicle carrying 30
Ethiopian soldiers killing all of them. Another mine on the same day
blew up another vehicle carrying 35 soldiers, likewise killing all of
them. Another commando group ambushed a large truck belonging to the
Israeli firm of Impolex along the Dessye-Addis Ababa road. The truck,
which was carrying a shipment of Ethiopian meat bound for Israel via
Assab was burnt out after it went off the road. (R. Damascus 16/5)

Libya condemned
Earlier, a spokesman for the Ethiopian foreign Minister said on May
14th, that the Government "strongly resented" the launching by the
Libyan Government of a fund-raising campaign for the "so called
Eritrean Liberation Front". Ethiopia was surprised that a sister
African country should violate the OAU and United Nations Charters.
He added:


Vol. 11 No 12
June 12, 1970

EMPEROR'S VISIT. Emperor Haile Selassie's visit to Moscow at the end of last
month was, as we expected, quite interesting (See AFRICA CONFIDENTIAL, Vol. 11,
No. 11). We hear from Addis Ababa that the visit was arranged on the initiative of the
Ethiopian Emperor rather than by the Russians. Our speculation that his desire to see the
Soviet leadership stemmed from his unease at Soviet support for Arab encouragement of
separatist movements within Ethiopia was, we understand, correct. We further hear that
the Russians hinted they might discourage Arab opposition to the present Ethiopian
regime if the Emperor would cut his close links with Israel. This he is extremely unlikely
to do.

His reception in Moscow was much cooler than on his two previous visits. Neither
Brezhnev nor Kosygin saw him and coverage of the visit by the Soviet press was
comparatively meagre. A possible result of the fruitlessness of the visit could be renewed
pressure by the Emperor on the US. He wants them to help him arm a fifth division of
Ethiopian armed forces. So far the Americans have been very unwilling to do this.

That the Emperor included in his Moscow party the governors of both Eritrea and
Bale-the two areas of Ethiopia where there is serious unrest-is not without significance.

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