Eritrea: Ethiopia and Emperor Haile Selassie Essay

Submitted By mewael97
Words: 654
Pages: 3

At the end of the 19th century, Italians colonized Eritrea, joining together loosely related people from nine ethnic groups. The original ratio of 50% Orthodox Christians and 50% Sunni Muslims still exists today. Their forced colonization disrupted already existing economic, social, and legal systems in these communities. The Italians developed Eritrea as a settler colony, setting up roads, plantations, seaports, and an army of 65,000 Eritreans that would fight in Italy's other colonies, Libya and Somalia.
In 1952, the UN combined Eritrea with neighboring Ethiopia under a federation, giving Eritrea two official languages and its own flag, constitution, and parliament. The United States, interested in the strategic Red Sea access from Eritrea, backed this pact, gaining several military and communication bases in Eritrea as a payback for the arrangement. No poll was ever taken asking the Eritrean people to vote on the matter.

Immediately after this federation was formed, the emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, completely stripped Eritreans of all rights and autonomy as had been agreed upon in the pact, and banned all forms of public protest. Eritreans were met with silence when they petitioned the UN to at least uphold the terms of the federation pact. Further, Emperor Haile Selassie disbanded the Eritrean national assembly and annexed the territory, triggering a 30-year liberation war by Eritreans. It is widely believed among Eritreans and non-Eritreans alike that these events and the failure of the international community to act justly without underlying interests is the source of the current suffering in Eritrea.

The next thirty years of the liberation war are critical years in defining the Eritrean government's growing distrust with international agencies. Although Eritrea and Ethiopia share roughly the same geography and demographics, Eritrea was left to fend for itself in gaining its freedom and keeping its population from starving to death. Meanwhile, many of the world's great powers looked upon Ethiopia with mainly the political motivation of controlling this strategic geographic location, and contributed billions and billions of dollars in food and military aid. In fact, from 1952-1976, more than half of all U.S. Aid to Africa's 54 countries went to Ethiopia.

In the 1950's, in the midst of a war fought by civilians in rubber sandals with rifles, the United States introduced the first jet fighters to appear on the African continent. Their mission was to fight for Ethiopia to conquer Eritrea in return for prime land on the Red Sea's coast for communication and spy bases to monitor Europe and Asia. The jet fighters raised…