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1982 Ethiopian–Somali Border War...sparking a larger conflict?

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  • 1982 Ethiopian–Somali Border War...sparking a larger conflict?

    Ethiopia and Somalia have had their differences. In the late 1970s, after the Soviet Union openly assisted Ethiopia against them, even they though they were supposedly a communist nation, too, Somalia cut ties with the Soviets and built stronger ties with the U.S.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogaden_War

    In 1982, Ethiopia helped Somali rebels attack Somali towns...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1982_Et...ali_Border_War

    ...historically, the war ended quickly with U.S. assistance to Somalia. But what if the Soviets had seen this as an opportunity to make Ethiopia more of a stronghold in the Horn of Africa, an Africa Cuba of sorts? What if they had openly backed Ethiopia, encouraged them to actually attack Somalia, provided them with military supplies, perhaps even put troops on the ground to help them, etc.?

    1. Is this likely? What would the Soviets have had to gain here?

    2. Would the U.S. have tried to help Somalia, and how? Naval blockade to prevent Soviet supplies from reaching Ethiopia? More troops on the ground in Somalia? What other options would have been available?

  • #2
    Its a interesting question in terms of the larger Cold War context. By this point the US stood up its RDF with its stratigic role in this region, and the Regain administration was prone to use force in those days. However there was a policy of avoiding any fights that would last very long. Intervention in this Somali/Ethiopean affair would require some fundamental policy changes and perhaps alterations in the US military

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mgellis View Post

      But what if the Soviets had seen this as an opportunity to make Ethiopia more of a stronghold in the Horn of Africa, an Africa Cuba of sorts?
      You mean like what they already had in The People's Democratic Republic of (South) Yemen?
      Кто там?
      Это я - Почтальон Печкин!
      Tunis is a Carthigenian city!

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      • #4
        I think any conflict in that part of the world would be limited because of the poor logistical situation.Even at the height of the ogaden the numbers involved esp in terms of heavy equipment were not huge and last scale movements limited because of the paucity of transport available to both sides.Soviets would have little interest in such a conflict as it would pit a muslim somalia against a christian Ethiopia and give the NATO golden chance to exploit the "jihaid" wild card.Crusade to drive the infidels from the islamic land of somalia will deprive soviets of a lot of local support.Best for them to keep this conflict localized.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nastle View Post
          ... it would pit a muslim somalia against a christian Ethiopia and give the NATO golden chance to exploit the "jihaid" wild card.Crusade to drive the infidels from the islamic land of somalia will deprive soviets of a lot of local support.Best for them to keep this conflict localized.
          Good call, and this is probably why they didn't do it. They had A-stan to deal with at that time.

          But... what if they HAD ?
          They would have been able to choke-off that end of the Red Sea at will, an option that would have appealed to the USSR in 1982. A few shiploads of trucks and fuel would have helped with the logistical bottleneck, but yes... they would have still had to go around the back-door to the Ogaden.

          Right across that little bit of water is South Yemen, called the only Honest-to-god Marxist state in the Middle East at that time.
          An amphibious move across into northern Somalia, however weak, would have taken away the Christian vs Moslem angle, and have been a serious diversion from the Ethiopian front for Somalia.
          "Why is the Rum gone?"

          -Captain Jack

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          • #6
            Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
            But... what if they HAD ?
            They would have been able to choke-off that end of the Red Sea at will, an option that would have appealed to the USSR in 1982. A few shiploads of trucks and fuel would have helped with the logistical bottleneck, but yes... they would have still had to go around the back-door to the Ogaden.

            Right across that little bit of water is South Yemen, called the only Honest-to-god Marxist state in the Middle East at that time.
            An amphibious move across into northern Somalia, however weak, would have taken away the Christian vs Moslem angle, and have been a serious diversion from the Ethiopian front for Somalia.
            Thats a good point, esp since the yemenis are true arabs and somalis arab speaking africans.
            Will the french intervene ? given they have a big presence in Djiboti
            What naval forces are available to the soviets ? AFAIK the indian ocean squadorn is very weak.

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            • #7
              I wish somebody would step into that mess and straighten it out.
              In Vino Veritas

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