JIGJIGA (Halbeeg News) – Somalia and Ethiopia war in 1977, was one of the struggles to get rid of colonialism, the President of Somali regional state in Ethiopia said Sunday.
The two countries – Ethiopia then supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba and Somalia supported by the United States – fought one of their many wars over Ethiopian occupied ethnic-Somali region in 1977-1978.
President Mustafa Omer who assumed the office last month said that all the struggles which were series of activities whose ultimate aim was to free the region from the oppression of the former Ethiopian regimes.
“All struggles of Somali Western were rightful colonial resistance. 1977 war was one situation aimed to revolt colonialism,” Mr. Omer said. “We have to say the truth about our history and to reject anybody to explain our history for us.”
During the first phase of 1997, less than a month, fighters of Somali Werntern Liberation Front (SWLF) backed Somali military seized 60% of the region including Gode, on the Shabelle River.
In the phase of the battle, Ethiopia which was unable to withstand Somali military, was saved from a major defeat and a permanent loss of territory through a massive airlift of military supplies (worth $7 billion) by the Soviet Union.
16,000 Cuban troops, 1,500 Soviet advisors and two brigades from South Yemen airlifted to reinforce the desperate Ethiopian forces in Harar.
The Ethiopians prevailed at Harar, Dire Dawa and Jijiga, and began to push the Somalis systematically out of the region.
By March 1978, the Ethiopians had captured almost all of the region, prompting the defeated Somalis to give up their claim to the region.
According to reports, 15,000 soldiers from both sides were killed in the battle.
Ethiopian and Somalis have been rivals throughout history, and memories of the 1977-78 Ogaden war between the two were still fresh until the leaders of both countries met this year to end the enmity.