Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Eritrea/Ethiopia/Somalia - Soviet Bloc relations confidential declassified documents

Eritrea/Ethiopia/Somalia - Soviet Bloc relations confidential declassified documents

On Eritrea: 14 confidential declassified documents 1977 - 1991

On how the Soviet Union and Germany wanted to solve the Eritrean problem and on the secret negotiations they conducted between delegations of the Derg and Eritrean Liberation Fronts


Ethiopian - Soviet Bloc relations:  86 confidential declassified documents (1956 - 1991)

Among other issues, on the Ethiopian-Somali war of 1977 and how they tried to prevent it and later solve it; on how they assessed the final years of the Derg


Somali  - Soviet Bloc relations:  52 confidential declassified documents (1971 - 1991)


Sunday, 4 March 2018

Letter from Erich Honecker, leader of the German Democratic Republic to Brezhnev on the Derg and EPLF talks in 1978


Erich Honecker, the General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), leader of  the German Democratic Republic from 1971 until the weeks preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989

Esteemed Comrade Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev! On 23 March 1978, the second meeting between the representatives to the Provisional Military Administrative Council of Socialist Ethiopia and the Eritrean Liberation Front took place. Upon request by the Politburo of the CC of the SED, Comrade Hermann Axen, member of the Politburo and CC secretary, participated in the talks. [Berhanu Bayeh and Aforki declared again their desire to terminate the bloodshed and to do everything to solve the Eritrean problem by peaceful means.] 

Among other things both sides agreed in the first meeting on:

1. Both sides confirm their resolve to stop the bloodshed immediately and bring about a political solution. 

2. The Provisional Military Administrative Council of Ethiopia will make a public declaration expressing its concrete proposals for the implementation of regional autonomy for Eritrea in the framework of the Ethiopian state and under inclusion of all willing positive forces in Eritrea. 

The Central Committee of the EPLF recognizes the achievements of the Ethiopian Revolution and declares itself ready for cooperation in the interest of implementation of regional autonomy. 

3. Revolutionary Ethiopia's secure access to the Red Sea must be guaranteed by its uninterrupted access lines and its control over Asmara and the ports of Massawa and Assab. 

4. Both sides form a common commission for the purpose of implementing the above points and all other steps for the security of the Revolution in Ethiopia and regional autonomy in Eritrea. It was agreed to inform the leadership organizations of Ethiopia and of the EPLF and have them communicate their positions on the results of the second meeting and the proposals of the SED at a third meeting in the GDR in mid May.

Read the whole report:



January 31, 1978 Memorandum of a Conversation between East German leader Erich Honecker and Siassi Aforki, General Secretary of the Revolutionary Party of Eritrea, in Berlin

Aforki: We are very proud and very happy about this meeting. It is a historical meeting. The first visit of our comrades in the GDR already brought very positive results. [...] We highly appreciate the good offices of your country and your party. What we have achieved so far is already a turning-point in our fight. The results of the meeting with the Ethiopians are still uncertain, but in any case it will be a historic meeting. In the past 17 years a fierce battle has been waged. Not one meeting took place between Eritreans and Ethiopians. If something developed from this first meeting, this will not only be good for our two countries but for the peoples of the entire world. The only pre-condition for it is goodwill on the Ethiopian and on our side. 

Comrade S. Aforki: The main problem is in how far Ethiopia is willing to meet our demands. It is clear from the start that if Ethiopia is not bringing along new proposals, a solution will not be possible. There is no point in discussing the possibility of unifying both revolutions. What we need are guarantees that the fight against imperialism and reaction will continue. Only one principal question is of importance. Everything depends on the capabilities and tactics of our organization. We won't be picky in minor questions. It is totally clear to us that in the case of an actual agreement its implementation is the important thing. Then we will check the details and implement them patiently. Eritrea has many enemies within and without. If they all find out about it, we will have many difficulties. But we are preparing for it. It is true that we are not the only organization. That, however, does not worry us. Because of our great influence and military strength we can succeed. The other two organizations in Eritrea have allied themselves with the imperialists and the reaction in the Arabic region.


The Communist Party of the Soviet Union on Talks of Ahmed Nasser (ELF-RC) in the USSR Solidarity Committee, 1978

June 07, 1978 Information from the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) on Talks of Ahmed Nasser (ELF-RC) in the USSR Solidarity Committee

In effect, the three talks which were held with Ahmed Nasser proved that the Eritrean friends are not yet willing to approach the question by giving up the slogan of independence for Eritrea. Their argumentation is that neither side should coerce the other one into negotiations and a solution could only be a result of unconditional negotiations.

In the first conversation on 7 June, A. Nasser indicated that the ELF-RC would possibly consent to a federation. In the following talks it was not mentioned again, and by the time the third talk took place on 8 June, the position of the Eritrean friends had even hardened.

You can read the whole report here:

The rest of 14 confidential documents of the Soviet Bloc on Eritrea related issues 1977 - 1991:


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

'Italian Proceedings on the African Coast of the Red Sea.' 1880

'Italian Proceedings on the African Coast of the Red Sea.' 1880 Confidential correspondence by the British Foreign office

The first section describes the course of events at and around Assab from May 1880 to September 1881, including protests made by the Egyptian Government to the Italian Government at their purchase of the whole coastline around Assab Bay and the islands nearby, and an enquiry that followed the massacre of an Italian exploring party. This section concludes with two reports suggesting that, although the Italians had not made much progress at Assab Bay, they had shown their intention to get a foothold on the African continent.

The second section reproduces correspondence between the British, Italian and Egyptian governments, and between the India Office and the Foreign Office from May 1880 to September 1881. The correspondence relates to the purchase of land at Assab Bay by the Rubattino Company; Italian Government denials that the territory would be used for military purposes; attempts made by the Italian Government to legitimise their occupation of the place by encouraging the British Government to accredit a British Agent there, both for commercial purposes and for the purpose of co-operation in the suppression of the slave trade; and a British Government proposal that the Italian Government enter into a formal convention about the matter with the Egyptian Government.
The final section reproduces correspondence connected with a proposed disembarkation of Egyptian troops at Raheita to the south of Assab Bay; Egyptian appeals for a British warship to be sent to the area; Italian protestations that disembarkation at Raheita would constitute a provocation; and the British Government's reaffirmation that the sovereignty of the coastline at Raheita and Assab Bay belongs to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and the Khedive of Egypt.

Source: British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/B22a, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100000000788.0x0003e5> [accessed 18 February 2018]

Thanks to Dawit Ayalew Makonnen fo sharing

Kush: Journal of the Sudan Antiquities Service 1954 - 2002

Open Access Journal: KUSH : Journal of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM)

KUSH: Journal of the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM)
[Formerly Kush : journal of the Sudan Antiquities Service ISSN: 0075-7349]

Kush:   Journal of the Sudan Antiquities Service

The Editorial Notes of the first issue of KUSH, stated: ' The Sudan, by its intermediate position between the Near East and Central Africa has a peculiarly important position in archaeology '. Unfortunately for too long the importance of this position was not adequately appreciated by scholars, and the archaeology and ancient history of the Sudan was considered but a poor relation of Egyptian history.
It includes articles in English, French and German and includes an editorial note on " The countries of the Ethiopian Empire of Kash (Kush) and Egyptian old Ethiopia in the New kingdom",  By Ernest Zyhlarz

The full volumes are available here>

Arkell's , 1954 on the  Agordat Four Occupation Sites can be accessed here, pp. 33 - 62 on this issue:



 Vol VI 1958:


Wednesday, 21 February 2018


THE HOLOCENE PREHISTORIC ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE TEMBEN REGION, NORTHERN ETHIOPIA By Agazi Negash, a PhD thesis, Graduate School of the University of Florida 


Evidence from agronomy and bio-geography shows that northern Ethiopia is a center of origin of several economically important African plant domesticates that played a major role in the emergence of Neolithic societies. Although archaeologists have speculated on how and why these food producing societies have emerged, in the past, there was virtually no archaeological data with which to test the hypotheses they have developed. Recent systematic archaeological surveys and excavation in the Temben area of northern Ethiopia have identified sites that have provided radiometrically datable stratified cultural sequences containing preserved faunal remains, a necessary temporal sequence that would allow us to begin testing the various hypotheses. The analysis of the cultural materials and ecofacts t recovered from these sites would lay the groundwork for future archaeological investigations in northern Ethiopia by furnishing significant necessary data towards the understanding of the Neolithic of northern Ethiopia, an area that is situated in the bio-geographical heart of the hypothesized center of Ethiopian plant domestication.

Can be downloaded at: 


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Hanish Islands on the spotlight between Italy and Britain 1928 - 1935

The Hanish Islands on the spotlight between Italy and Britain 1928 - 1935

This file primarily concerns the sovereignty status of the Hanish Islands, as well as that of other islands in the Lower Red Sea. It documents concerns held by the British Government that the Italian Government is in the process of attempting to establish some kind of informal control over certain islands.

Matters discussed in the correspondence include:

• The content and wording of a proposed Red Sea Lights Convention, the result of negotiations between the British and French governments, which ostensibly relates to the construction and maintenance of lighthouses – both on islands in the Lower Red Sea and in the territory of Mocha – but also concerns questions of sovereignty.
• Whether the Italian Government's plan to construct a lighthouse on South-West Haycock Island constitutes a claim of sovereignty over the island.
• The establishment of Italian military posts on the Hanish and Jebel Zukur [Jazīrat Jabal Zuqar] islands.
• Concerns expressed by the Admiralty and Foreign Office that by establishing these posts the Italian Government could be attempting to enforce rights of sovereignty over the islands.
• The extent to which either the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) or the Rome Conversations of 1927 (between Britain and Italy) provide any basis to contesting an Italian claim to sovereignty over the islands.

• Reports of attempts by the Italian military posts to restrict fishing and pearling

Source: Qatar University digital archive