Opposing foreign intervention’s impact on the course of civil wars: the Ethiopian-Ogaden civil war, 1976-1980

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This paper examines the impact of opposing foreign intervention on the course and nature of warfare in the Ethiopian-Ogaden civil war. The Ogaden war, having been sporadically fought between 1963 and 1988, was one of the longest and bloodiest in the Horn of Africa’s turbulent history. It was typical of internal wars having directly or indirectly involved a range of regional and international actors; including the Soviet Union, the United States, Somalia, Cuba, South Yemen, Israel, East Germany and North Korea. This paper is an empirical study of the effect that external actors had on the warfare between the Ethiopian military junta (normally referred to as the Derg) and the main Ogaden Somali insurgent group, the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF), between 1976 and 1980. The warfare in the Ogaden during this period can be divided into three distinct phases: medium intensity guerrilla warfare (1976-77), conventional warfare (1977-78) and low-intensity guerrilla warfare (1978-80). It is argued that each phase was to a large extent determined by the type and volume of support the Derg and WSLF received from international sponsors. Finally, the paper concludes that current theory on foreign intervention, and opposing intervention in particular, fails to capture the true complexity of its impact on warfare in civil wars.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAustralasian Political Studies Association Conference
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherAustralian National University
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralasian Political Studies Association Conference - Newcastle, NSW
Duration: 25 Sep 200627 Sep 2006


ConferenceAustralasian Political Studies Association Conference
CityNewcastle, NSW


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