The "Ethiopian Civil War" (Also known as the "Imperial Civil War" or "Fourth Civil War"), Is a conflict following the assassination of Emperor Yohannes, in which several factions competed for control over the Ethiopian government. The conflict changed nature as it continued, starting as a conflict between Sahle and a pro-democracy movement, but evolving into a conflict between Sahle and the supporters of his much more liberal brother Yaqob. Though the official cause of the war was the assassination of Yohannes, the seeds of the war date back to the First Civil War during the reign of Yohannes's father Iyasu V, who's oppressive treatment of Christians and disregard for traditional African society bred contempt. This contempt eventually bubbled over during the reign of Yohannes, sparked by the destructive Tswanan War in which Ethiopian forces suffered both tactical and human losses, leading to unrest and economic decline. The Assassination of Yohannes magnified these problems, and led to a violent democratic movement that soon included the Emperors younger brother Yaqob and the Ethiopian military. Sahle survived with European backing from British oil interests and German and Belgian interest in the Congo, but when the European forces withdrew support, Sahles forces quickly were over ran and Yaqob's supporters took control of the country.
When the Muslim Iyasu V became emperor, the traditional Christian nobility revolted. The Emperors of Ethiopia had been Christian for several millenia, and had traditionally referred to themselves as a continuation of the Solomonic dynasty of ancient Israel. The position of the Emperor as a Christian authority and descendent of a holy bloodline was considered important to the Ethiopian Church. Even though members of the Ethiopian Orthodox church were roughly equal in number with the Muslim population of Ethiopia, power had traditionally been held in Christian hands.
Iyasu V shifted power very quickly to the Islamic population, using the support of Germany and the backdrop of the Great War to put down the first revolts and annex Somalia and Eritrea, which both had a signifigant Muslim population willing to support Iyasu, seeing him as a liberator after years of Colonial oppression. The Christian nobility was driven out of the country and the remnants of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church were stripped of their power.
In the late twenties into the early thirties, another revolt by the traditional nobles threatened Iyasu's reign, and after a civil war that lasted several years Iyasu defeated the rebels and secured his control of the country again. Treatment of Christians after this period became increasingly harsher, with public conversion to Islam becoming more and more popular as a method of avoiding poor treatment.
A third revolt was effected in the Christian north in the early nineteen fifties, but was quickly put down and it's leaders; remnants of the old nobility, were massacred. This solidified Islam in the country, though it still continued to be a point of contention in which the people were not happy with. When Iyasu died, Yohannes took less interest in religion and the treatment of Christians improved, but by then the damage had been done and the Islamic regime was still seen in a negative light by many of the nations citizens.
Yohannes expected African rebels whom he funded to swear fealty to him, and when Belgium was driven out of the Congo by Congolese rebels aided by Ethiopian weapons and funding, Mobutu; the leader of the Congolese state, gave control of the Congo to Ethiopia in exchange for continued support and governorship; feeling threatened by a European back lash for the revolt and desperately wanting to keep aid from Ethiopia flowing in. Ethiopia went on to gain Sudan from Florida during the Turkish Jihad against the Egyptian Sultan, and later Hejaz during the three way invasion of Arabia by India, Persia, and Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Empire lacked the resources to effectively govern this land, and instead focused on managing the big cities, borders, and areas where resources were being put to use. Due to this, much of the Ethiopian Empire, especially in the Congo, remained lawless. Rapid expansion also meant the stretching of tax dollars, which meant money collected in Ethiopia; the financial heartland of the Empire, was being sent out to maintain and build the frontiers.
When the British territory of Rhodesia rebelled and named itself "Tswana", Ethiopia became directly involved; lending air support to the Tswanan ground forces as they drove the British out. Unbeknownest to Emperor Yohannes or virtually any other members of government, the Commander of the Ethiopian military, Ras Hassan, put into effect a conspiracy with several higher members of the Ethiopian Intelligence offices to have the Tswanan rebel leaders executed. The reasoning was that, because the Tswanan leadership had refused to enter the Ethiopian Empire, Tswana was poised to become an unstable state that was a threat to security, but if the leadership of Tswana were eliminated then an excuse for Ethiopian occupation would exist.
Yohannes fell for the conspiracy and Ethiopia invaded Tswana in mid-1971. The war became a brutal and non-ending conflict between the Ethiopian military and Tswanan warlords who had no interest in being subjugated. The war would continue for three bloody years until 1974 when internal problems in Ethiopia required the recall of the military
The above situations, combined with the growth of education in Ethiopia, caused unrest in the Ethiopian homeland itself. Starting in the universities of the large cities, a political movement began asking for more power to be put in the hands of the people. Though most in this movement were looking for no more then increased representation for the common man, many on the fringe of the movement were looking for the complete abolishment of the Imperial Throne and conversion into a more modern form of government. This movement became backed by tribes outside of the Ethiopian heartland that didn't feel culturally reperesented, and more notably the Ethiopian Coptic Church, which had been marginalized throughout the decade and wanted religious freedom. The movement fueled protests and riots, opposed to the Emperor and his expansionist war in Tswana, starting on college campuses and branching out into other places where oppression was felt.
Assassination of Emperor YohannesEdit
In January of 1974, Emperor Yohannes was assassinated. This sparked massive changed in the following months. The Tswanan war was abruptly ended and the military recalled. The democritization movement seen this as their opportunity and riots escalated throughout the nation, turning into armed revolts. Because of the revolts, January of 1974 is often named as the official beginning of Civil war, though a more correct way of explaining it is that it was a critical point in the slow descendence of Ethiopia into war.
Sahle Crowned EmperorEdit
In order to keep the government as stable as possible, Sahle; the inept eldest son of Yohannes, was named Emperor. As pro-democracy riots exploded in Addis Ababa, Sahle and the Queen Mother fled to Austria and left Ras Hassan in charge of the country as steward. While in Europe, European partisans began to convince the gullible Sahle that China was behind the democracy movement; citing socialist rhetoric within some of the Ethiopian democrats as proof. Acting from Austria, Sahle cut ties with China and began to reforge ties with with the Germans of Prussia. Some Imperialists in Ethiopia seen this as a betrayal of the legacy of Yohannes, who had forged ties with China in order to break what was seen as intristically enslaving ties with Europe. This started a movement within the Imperialists of Ethiopia to put Yaqob, Sahles younger brother who was in China finishing up a military education he started under his father Yohanness Reign, on the throne. This movement slowly began to merge with the more moderate members of the Democracy movement, who seen the much more liberal Yaqob as an ideal choice as Emperor.
Entrance of Germany and British PetroleumEdit
Sahle struck a deal with the Germans and British Petroleum. The former wished to put the Congo back in Belgian hands, and the latter wished to replace oil lost in Persia and Arabia earlier in the decade with Ethiopia oil. In exchange for mineral rights and the Congo, Germany and BP agreed to help quell the revolts which the Ethiopian government was failing to contain. This was an incredibly unpopular move, which was seen by most Ethiopians as a betrayal by their own Emperor and the fall of Ethiopia to colonialism.
The Ethiopian Military DefectsEdit
Among those who felt betrayed by Sahles alliance with Europe was Ras Hassan, who with the support of the Ethiopian military defected. The Emperor was now at war with his own military. A coordinated assault by BP and German forces forces Hassan to focus his defense on the Congo, entangling the Germans in a guerilla war with Ethiopia. Sahle, with help from BP and a handful of German regiments, occupied Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan, and Hejaz; with the oil in Sudan and Hejaz being exploited by BP.
Hassan promoted Yaqob as the true emperor, gaining him the support of the pro-democracy movement and forging an awkward alliance between the two forces that had just a year previous been at odds with each other. The sentiment in the country changed from wishing there be no emperor, to simply just wishing there was a good emperor. In 1975, the Germans began to loose ground, and in July of 1975 Hassan occupied Kinshasha, the capital of China. It was at this point that Yaqob, still in exile in China, officially accepted the requests by the Ethiopian people to be Emperor, and he went to work promoting the war as potentially something for China to get involved in.
German forces launched a counter attack in September, and in four brutal months of fighting Hassan had been pushed out of Kinshasha and back to Mbandaka, where the lines evened out.
As 1975 became 1976, the war had been reduced to raids being conducted by the Ethiopian forces on German lines. The Germans remained on the defensive, however, as they were spending much of their resources switching control of the port cities to the Belgian Force Publique, hoping to free up more German regiments for the front. In May, the Germans began to scout past the lines to find out where the Ethiopian forces were concentrated. These recon missions suffered heavy casualties and were not considered a success. Some knowledgable Germans and Belgians were lost, and information about German movements fell into Ethiopian hands.
The Germans began using roads in their southern mining territories in order to fund the war. Ethiopian raids on these convoys caused major losses of diamonds and gold to the Ethiopian forces, who in turn sold the resources to other nations in exchange for weapons and supplies. A Kinshasha psychologist, Dr. Babukar Sisi, heading a large portion of the Congo undeground became an ally of Hassan, hoping to get government support for his scientific work while using the money he gained from his crime syndicate to fund both his work and his extravagent lifestyle. Through Sisi, Hassan gained much of his supplies that allowed him to continue the war longer and with more strength the the Germans could have predicted. Through Sisi, Hassan would gain Canadian weapons bought with stolen gold, as well as get increased funding from China in exchange for diamonds.
The Bouar OffensiveEdit
In order to stall a potential German offensive, in June of '76 the Ethiopian forces attacked the market town of Bouar in the Northern Congo hoping to cut off German supplies by taking possession of important roads in the north. The battle quickly became a stalemate, with forces entrenched just North of Bouar. The Ethiopians managed to push the Germans back during a portion of the Bouar Offensive named "The Battle of the Monoliths", but similar attacks by both sides would fail, causing the battle to last for three months, ending only after the Germans left the war.
Though heavy casualties were sustained by both sides and neither managed to gain any signifigant ground, the battle is considered a Ethiopian tactical victory because it did what Hassan wanted it to do; it kept the Germans too preoccupied to launch a signifigant assault elsewhere. The war by this time had became unpopular with the Germans, and Hassan knew that if he kept the Germans tied up in a stalemate, the Germans would eventually give in. Though Bouar would ultimately not be the immediate reason fo the German retreat, it's ability to keep the Germans occupied was effective.
In late August of 1976, members of the Pro-Democracy forces in Somalia massacred the British Petroleum Mercenaries in Mogadishu during the Mogadishu riots. In respone, BP withdrew all of their mercenary forces in Kenya and Somalia, causing this southern states to declare independence from Sahle. When the news reached Germany, the Germans decided to pull out of the war; freeing the Ethiopian military to move east. The Belgians followed suit, and quickly the western coast of Ethiopia was in Hassan's hands. When news of the German and Belgian pullout reached Addis, the BP executives abandoned Sahle and their mercenaries in Ethiopia, leaving both to the mercy of the Ethiopian people and the nations military. Most mercenaries quickly streamed out of the country, but many found themselves trapped and were massacred.
As news spread in Addis that the Europeans had fled, a revolt broke out among those who supported Yaqob, the revolutionaries trapping Sahles supporters and the remaining mercenaries in sections of the city. Violence spilled through the streets as Yaqobists and Sahlians clashed all across the city. As Sahlian control of the city slipped, people were massacred in large numbers. This conflict for control of the city would last a week until the arrival of the military, which restored order.
Sahle, stuck in the city while all this was going on, attempted to escape the city by dressing as an arabic woman and fleeing for the countryside by jumping across rooftops in the slums of the city. His attempt was almost successful, but an unlucky fall caused him to be captured by Yaqobist forces in the city. This capture and the humiliating circumstances surrounding it sapped the morale of the Sahlians, and when Hassans military arrived the Sahlian forces surrendered willingly, officially ending the war.
End and LegacyEdit
Yaqob returned to the country quickly after the war ended, being proclaimed its rightful emperor
(to be cont.)