Wars of the Horn of Africa:

Wars involving Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia from the 1800s to the Present

Undeclared Italo-Ethiopian War (1887-1889)--Italy expanded her small base on the Eritrean coast, pushing inland with troops. Ethiopia also claimed Eritrea, resulting in an undeclared war.  The conflict ended with a treaty that awarded Eritrea to Italy.

First Italo-Ethiopian War (1894-1896)--Italy launched an invasion of Ethiopia with the goal of expaning the Italian colonial empire in Africa. Ethiopia defeated the Italians and preserved Ethiopian independence.  Italy was very embarrased by this defeat, which was considered the first military defeat of a European nation by an African nation.

Somali "Mad Mullah" Jihad (1899-1905)--Somali tribesmen led by religious leader Muhammad ibn Abd Allah Hasan waged a desert guerrilla war against Britain, Italy and Ethiopia. Following repeated defeats by the Somalis, the colonial powers offered him territory in Italian Somaliland in exchange for peace. He resumed his war in 1908 and harassed the occupiers of his country until 1920.

Second Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-1937)--Fascist Italy, ruled by Benito Mussolini, sought to expand her empire and recreat a new Roman Empire.  Italian forces invaded Ethiopia, forcing the government of Emperor Haile Selassi into exile.  Despite the official conquest in 1937, Ethiopian resistance continued.

World War Two East African Campaign (1940-1943)--When Italy joined Germany in World War Two, Italian forces seized neighboring British Somaliland, but soon were on the defensive as British and loyal Ethiopian forces invaded Italian-Occupied Ethiopia. Ethiopia was officially liberated in 1941. Some Italian troops in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia continued a guerrilla war, hoping that German forces fighing the British in Egypt would succeed and enable Axis forces to return to the Horn of Africa.  Italian guerrillas were also allied with local Oromo forces who had long been opposed to Haile Selassi's government. The guerrilla conflict ended when Italy joined the Allies in 1943.

Eritrean War of Independence (1962-1991)- Fought against Ethiopia. Also considered to be the First Eritrean-Ethiopian War.

Somali Border Wars with Ethiopia and Kenya (1964-1967)

Oromo Insurgency [Ethiopia] (1973?-Present)

Ogaden War (1977-1978)- Ethiopia against Somalia and Somali rebels in the Ogaden desert area. The Soviet Union and Cuba also involved on Ethiopia's side. Can be considered a part of the Cold War.

Eritrean Islamic Jihad (EIJ) Insurgency

Somali Civil War (1990-Present)

Yemen-Eritrea Border Conflict (1996)

Second Eritrea-Ethiopia War (1998-2000) -With the first war between Eritrea and Ethiopia being the long Eritrean War of Independence, this second war over the disputed border resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides, and, while major combat ended with a truce in 2000, the actual peace treaty ending official hostilities was not signed until September of 2018. The border area remained unchanged.

Ethiopian Intervention in Somali Civil War (2006-2008)- The long-standing Somali Civil War (1988-Present) entered a new phase with the growth of the Union of Islamic Courts, an Islamic militant group, gained control of Mogadishu and the central part of Somali. The UIC is in opposition to the official, yet weak, government based in Baidoa. In late 2006, Ethiopia sent troops to Baidoa to support the government against the Islamic forces. In late December, 2006, Ethiopian planes bombed the Mogadishu airport and ground troops seized control of three towns, including one on the border. Ethiopian forces then launched a full campaign against the Islamic Union Courts, seized Mogadishu and put the Transitional government into power. The Islamist forces continued to fight as guerrillas into 2007.

Somali Pirate Attacks (2007-Present)--New pirate scourge hits the Somali coast.

Tigray War (2020-Present)--Ethnic and political tensions that pitted the Tigrayan region against the Ethiopian Federal government erupted into war in November, 2020, as Ethiopian military forces, along with troops from allied Eritrea, attacked the Tigrayan regional government.  Combat has continued since then, with Tigrayan and allied Oromo militia forces pushing Ethiopian and Eritrean forces back.


Links and Resources:

The War for the Horn of Africa--Time.com

Ogaden War, 1977-1978

WHY OGADEN WAR?--Global Security.org

HORN OF AFRICA: Armed factions and the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict

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