Eritrean–Ethiopian border conflict

Eritrean–Ethiopian border conflict
Part of the conflicts in the Horn of Africa
Eritrean–Ethiopian War Map 1998.png
Territory claimed by both sides of the conflict
Date6 May 1998 – 9 July 2018
(20 years, 2 months and 3 days)[1]
LocationEritreaEthiopia border

Eritrean victory

Badme ceded to Eritrea
 Eritrea Ethiopia
Casualties and losses

The Eritrean–Ethiopian border conflict was a violent standoff between Eritrea and Ethiopia as part of the violence in the Horn of Africa. This included sporadic clashes of their militaries, some of which took part in the larger Second Afar Insurgency. The border conflict had been ongoing since the Eritrean–Ethiopian War of 1998–2000, and included multiple clashes with numerous casualties, such as the 2016 Tserona clashes. Ethiopia eventually stated in 2018 that it would cede Badme to Eritrea, which effectively ended the twenty-year conflict. The two countries formally ended the conflict at the 2018 Eritrea–Ethiopia summit on 9 July 2018, by signing a joint agreement to resume peaceful diplomatic relations.[3][4]


Colonisation and border conflict

Italian prisoners of war waiting for repatriation in the First Italo-Ethiopian War.

By March 1870, a shipping company from Italy had thus become claimant to territory at the northern end of Assab Bay, a deserted but spacious bay about half-way between Annesley Bay to the north and Obock to the south.[5] However, the area, — which had been long dominated by the Ottoman Empire and Egypt[6]— was not settled by the Italians until 1880.[7] In 1884, the Hewett Treaty was signed, by the British Empire and Ethiopia under reign of Emperor Yohannes IV (r. 1871–1889). The British Empire promised the highlands of modern Eritrea—and free access to the Massawan coast to Ethiopia in exchange for its help evacuating garrisons from the Sudan, in the then-ongoing Mahdist's War.[8] In 1889, the disorder that followed the death of Emperor Yohannes IV, General Oreste Baratieri occupied the highlands along the Eritrean coast and Italy proclaimed the establishment of a new colony of Eritrea (from the Latin name for the Red Sea), with capital Asmara in substitution of Massawa.[9] On 2 May 1889, The peace and friendship treaty in Wuchale was signed between Italy and Ethiopia, which made Italian Eritrea officially recognised by Ethiopia as part of Italy.[10]

However Article 17 of the treaty was disputed in the Italian version stated that Ethiopia was obliged to conduct all foreign affairs through Italian authorities, in effect making Ethiopia an Italian protectorate, while the Amharic version gave Ethiopia considerable autonomy, with the option of communicating with third powers through the Italians.[11][12][13] This resulted in a war called the First Italo-Ethiopian War,[14] the war resulted in favour of the Ethiopians. In October 1896, a new peace treaty was signed. Italy pay an indemnity of 10 million Italian liras for their upkeep. Most surprisingly, the Italians would retain most, if not all, of the territories beyond the Mareb-Belessa and May/Muni rivers they had taken; According Abyssinian monarchists' Menelik gave away a sizable portion of Tigray which had been treated as part of the Ethiopian empire since time immemorial.[15][16]

Decades later on 2 August 1928, Ethiopia and Italy signed a new friendship treaty.[17] This relationship deeped again six years later, on 22 November 1934, when Italy claimed that a force of 1,000 Ethiopian militia with three fitaurari (Ethiopian military-political commanders) arrived near Walwal and formally asked the Dubats garrison stationed there (comprising about 60 soldiers) to withdraw from the area.[18] The Somali NCO leading the garrison refused to withdraw and alerted Captain Cimmaruta, commander of the garrison of Uarder, 20 kilometres (12 mi) away, to what had happened.[19]

Italian artillery in Tembien, Ethiopia (1936).

Ethiopia under Italian rule

East Africa Campaign northern front: Allied advances in 1941.

Between 5 and 7 December, for reasons which have never been clearly determined, there was a skirmish between the garrison of Somalis, who were in Italian service, and a force of armed Ethiopians. According to the Italians, the Ethiopians attacked the Somalis with rifle and machine-gun fire.[20] According to the Ethiopians, the Italians attacked them, supported by two tanks and three aircraft.[21] In the end, approximately 107 Ethiopians[nb 1] and 50 Italians and Somalis were killed.[nb 2] By 3 October 1935, the Italian Army led by General Emilio De Bono launched an assault against Ethiopia at 5 a.m. in the morning by crossing the Mareb River without any Italian "Declaration of war". This was the start of a new war called the Second Italo-Ethiopian War.[24] By May 1936, the Italian Royal Army occupied the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, soon after the fall of the Ethiopian capital the officially Ethiopian Government and Emperor Haile Selassie I (r. 1930–1936 and 1941–1974) goes into exile.[25] The occupied country was annexed into the Italian East African colony together with the other Italian east African colonies.[26] The war ended in the year 1939, according by some historians Denis Mack Smith, Gerrit Jan Abbink, Mirjam De Bruijn and Klaas Van Walraven due the 10,000 Ethiopian troops whom still fighting against their occupiers under their Commander Aberra Kassa, until his death.[27][28][29] On 10 June 1940, Mussolini declared war on Britain and France,[30] but less a year later in March Britain started an invasion against the Italians in the region.[31] In November, that year Britain occupied the whole Italian East Africa colony, however thousands Italian soldiers started a guerrilla warfare in their fomer colony.[32] Until October 1943, when the last Italian soldiers surrenerd to Britain,[33] Ethiopians did get their independent back and Eritrea was under Britain military administration until the 1950s.[34]