Ogaden (pronounced and often spelled Ogadēn; Somali: Ogaadeen, Amharic: ውጋዴ/ውጋዴን) is one of the historical names used for the modern Somali Region which forms the eastern portion of Ethiopia and borders Somalia. It includes another region in the north known as the Haud.[1]

Map of the Ogaden region with Somali-inhabited land shaded in red
Map of the Ogaden region with Somali-inhabited land shaded in red
Region (non-administrative)Ogaden
 • Total327,068 km2 (126,282 sq mi)
ISO 3166 codeET-SO

The region is an arid area, and encompasses the desolate plain between the border of Somalia and Ethiopia, extending towards the eastern Ethiopian Highlands where larger cities like Harar and Dire Dawa are located. The primary river in the region is the Shebelle, which is fed by temporary seasonal streams. Towards the southwestern edge of the Ogaden is the source of the Ganale Doria river which joins Dawa river to become the major Jubba) river on the Somali border.

The region has a low population density and is predominantly inhabited by Somali people. The Ogaden is known for its oil and gas reserves,[2] although development efforts have been hindered by the instability prevailing in the area.

Etymology edit

The origin of the term Ogaden is unknown, however it is usually attributed to the Somali clan of the same name, originally referring only to their land, and eventually expanding to encompass most parts of the modern Somali Region of eastern Ethiopia.[3][4] An alternative (possibly folk) etymology analyses the name as a combination of the Harari word ūga ("road")[5] and Aden, a city in Yemen, supposedly deriving from an ancient caravan route through the region connecting Harar to the Arabian Peninsula.[6]

During the new region's founding conference, which was held in Dire Dawa in 1992, the naming of the region became a divisive issue, because almost 30 different ethnic Somali clans live in the region. The ONLF sought to name the region ‘Ogadenia’, whilst the non-Ogadeni Somali clans who live in the same region opposed this move. As noted by Abdul Majid Hussein, the naming of the region where there are several Somali clans as ‘Ogadenia’ following the name of a single clan would have been divisive. Finally, the region was named the Somali region.[7][8]

People edit

The inhabitants are predominantly ethnic Somalis, of almost 30 clans. The Ogaden clan of the Darod constitute the majority in the region,[9][10] and were enlisted in the Ogaden National Liberation Movement, That is why the region is associated with the Ogaden clan. However, this is disputed.[11] Other Somali clans in the region are Sheekhaal, Marehan, Isaaq, Geri Koombe Gadabuursi, Issa, Massare, Gabooye, Degodia and Jidle and Karanle clans of the Hawiye.[12]

Somali-inhabited region within Ethiopia shown as part of Greater Somali territory

History edit

There are few historical texts written about the people who lived in what is known today as the Somali Region, sometimes referred to as "The Ogaden” region of Ethiopia. What formerly was known as Rauso in Late Antiquity could potentially correspond with this region.[13] The vast majority of the inhabitants today are Muslim and ethnically homogenous.[14] In its early history, the Ogaden was inhabited by Harla, a now extinct people.[15][16] Harla are linked to the Harari and Somali Ogaden clan.[17] Ogaden served as capital of the Makhzumi Dynasty.[18] The region became one of the earliest footholds for the spread of Islam into Africa.[19] At the time, rivalries between the established Muslims in the Ogaden were recurring with those of the littoral in Zeila.[20] Ogaden was part of the Ifat Sultanate in the 13th and beginning of the 14th centuries AD. The borders of the sultanate extended from the northern seaboard of Somalia to the interiors of Ethiopia. The Ifat Sultanate was succeeded by the Adal Sultanate. There was an ongoing conflict between the Adal Sultanate and the Ethiopian Empire throughout this time. During the first half of the 16th century, most of Abyssinia was conquered and came under the rule of Adal when Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi, the Imam of Adal, took control.[21]

A regional successor to Ifat and Adal,[22] the Somali ruled Ajuran Sultanate governed it's territories from Qalafo along the upper Shabelle river in the eastern part of the Ogaden, until its decline over the 17th century.[23]

1800s edit

1873 cartography by John Bartholomew designating “Ugaden” east of Harar

The region during the pre-colonial era was neither under Ethiopian sovereignty, nor terra nullis, as it was occupied by organized Somali communities.[24] It has been observed that geographers mapping out regions of Africa for the British government in the mid to late 1800s made no reference of any Ethiopians in the Ogaden, and maps created before 1884 drew the Ethiopian Empire’s extent as bounded by the River Awash. Sir Richard Francis Burton's famous 1856 exploration book First Footsteps in East Africa, makes no mention of an Ethiopian presence while describing his time in the Ogaden.[25] Independent historical accounts are unanimous that previous to the penetration into the region in the late 1880s, Somali clans were free of Ethiopian and Shewan control.[26]

Menelik's invasions (1887-1897) edit

In the 1890s Ethiopian raiding parties led by Ras Makonnen made incursions into the Ogaden based on the supposed historical lands of Ethiopia which stretched from Lake Victoria to Khartoum according to Emperor Menelik. Ethiopian victories in these raids were largely due to the large amounts of firearms they received through the French port of Djibouti, whereas the European powers barred the Somalis from receiving any type of firearms.[27] British colonial administrator Francis Barrow Pearce writes the following concerning the Ethiopian raids into the Ogaden:

The Somalis, although good and brave fighting men, cannot help themselves. They have no weapons except the hide shield and spear, while their oppressors are, as has already been recorded, armed with modern rifles, and they are by no means scrupulous concerning the use of them in asserting their authority…The Abyssinians themselves have no more claim (except that of might) to dominate the wells than a Fiji Islander would have to interfere with a London waterworks company.[28]

However the Ethiopian aggressors were also defeated numerous times by poorly armed Somalis such as in 1890 near Imi where Makonnen’s troops had suffered a large defeat to Reer Amaden warriors. A British hunter Colonel Swayne, who visited Imi in February 1893, was shown "the remains of the bivouac of an enormous Abyssinian army which had been defeated some two or three years before."[29] In 1897 in order to appease Menelik’s expansionist policy Britain ceded almost half of the British Somaliland protectorate to Ethiopia in the Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1897. Ethiopian authorities have since then based their claims to the Ogaden upon the 1897 treaty and the exchange of letters which followed it.[30] I.M. Lewis argues a subtly different interpretation of this treaty, emphasizing that "the lost lands in the Haud which were excised from the Protectorate [i.e. British Somaliland] were not, however ceded to Ethiopia".[31] Legal scholar and former President of the International Court of Justice, Abdulqawi Yusuf, has argued citing the Island of Palmas Case that since the British government had no title to the land which it had ceded during the treaty that such cession was null and void.[30] A similar interpretation was put forward in parliament by British MP Fred Willey in 1955 in regards to the legality of the treaty

At any rate there was a case that the 1897 Treaty did not succeed in doing what it purported to do and that it was not within the power of the British Government to transfer these territories.[32]

As Emperor Menelik II carried his campaign of indiscriminate raiding and attacks against the Somalis of the Ogaden region between 1890 and 1899, Somali clans residing in the plains of Jigjiga were in particular targeted. The escalating frequency and violence of the raids resulted in Somalis consolidating behind the Dervish Movement under the lead of Sayyid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan.[33]

1900s edit

As the Ethiopian Empire began expanding into Somali territories at the start of the 1890s, Jigjiga came under intermittent military occupation until 1900. At the start of the year, Abyssinian troops occupied the town and completed construction on a fort.[34] Early in 1900, the anti-colonial Dervish Movement led by Sayid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan had its first major battle when it attacked the Ethiopian forces occupying Jigjiga to free livestock that had been looted from the local population.[35]

Statue of Mohammed Abdullah Hassan in Ethiopia, legend from the early 1900s

The Ethiopian hold on Ogaden at the start of the 20th century was tenuous, and administration in the region was "sketchy in the extreme". Sporadic tax raids into the region often failed and Ethiopian administrators and military personnel only resided in Harar and Jijiga.[36] Attempts at taxation in the region were called off following the massacre of 150 Ethiopian troops in January 1915. Due to native hostility the region was barely occupied by Ethiopian authorities, who exerted little presence east of Jijiga until the Anglo-Ethiopian boundary commission in 1934 and the Wal Wal incident in 1935.[37][38] Only in 1934 as the boundary commission attempted to demarcate the border, did Somalis who had been transferred to the Ethiopian Empire during the 1897 treaty realize what was happening. This long period of ignorance about the transfer of their regions was facilitated by the lack of 'any semblance' of effective administration of control being present over the Somalis to indicate that they were being annexed by Ethiopia.[39]

In the years leading up to the Second Italo-Ethiopian War in 1935, the Ethiopian hold on the Ogaden remained tenuous.[40] After the Italian conquest of Ethiopia in 1936, Ogaden was attached to Italian Somaliland, becoming the Somalia Governorate within the new colony of Italian East Africa. Following the British conquest of this colony, the Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement placed Ogaden under temporary British control. The British sought to unite Ogaden with British Somaliland and the former Italian Somaliland to realize Greater Somalia which was supported by many Somalis.[41] Ethiopia unsuccessfully pleaded before the London Conference of the Allied Powers to gain the Ogaden and Eritrea in 1945, but their persistent negotiations[42][43] and pressure from the United States eventually persuaded the British to cede Ogaden to Ethiopia in 1948. The last remaining British controlled parts of Haud were returned to Ethiopia in 1955.

Post-Somali Independence edit

During the 1963 Ogaden Revolt the first major armed resistance by Somalis to Ethiopian rule post independence began in the region after imperial authorities had attempted to tax the population. The revolt and brutal counterinsurgency campaign that followed resulted in the deterioration of Ethio–Somali relations and lead to the first war between the two nations during 1964.

Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) fighters in the Ogaden

In the late 1970s, internal unrest in the 'Ogaden' resumed. The Western Somali Liberation Front used guerilla tactics to resist Ethiopian rule. Ethiopia and Somalia fought the Ogaden War over control of this region and its peoples.

1980s to 1990s edit

During the new region's founding conference, which was held in Dire Dawa in 1992, the naming of the region became a divisive issue, because almost 30 Somali clans live in the Somali Region of Ethiopia. The ONLF sought to name the region ‘Ogadenia’, whilst the non-Ogadeni Somali clans who live in the same region opposed this move. As noted by Abdul Majid Hussein, the naming of the region where there are several Somali clans as ‘Ogadenia’ following the name of a single clan would have been divisive. Finally, the region was named the Somali region.[44][45]

2000s edit

Street scene in Jijiga, Somali Region

In 2007, the Ethiopian Army launched a military crackdown in Ogaden after Ogaden rebels killed dozens of civilian staff workers and guards at an Ethiopian oil field.[46] The main rebel group is the Ogaden National Liberation Front under its Chairman Mohamed O. Osman, which is fighting against the Ethiopian government. Some Somalis who inhabit in the 'Ogaden' claimed that Ethiopian military kill civilians, destroy the livelihood of many of the ethnic Somalis and commit crimes against the nomads in the region.[47] However, testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs revealed massive brutality and killings by the ONLF rebels, which the Ethiopian government labels "terrorists."[48] The extent of this war can't be established due to a media blockade in the 'Ogaden' region. Some international rights organizations have accused the Ethiopian government of committing abuses and crimes that "violate laws of war,"[49] as a recent report by the Human Rights Watch indicates. Other reports have claimed that Ethiopia has bombed, killed, and raped many Somalis in the Ogaden region, while the United States continues to arm Ethiopia in the United States' ongoing War on Terror in the Horn of Africa.[50][51] [52]

Geography edit


The Somali Region, the second largest in Ethiopia is around 300,000 square kilometres (120,000 sq mi), and borders Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia.[53] Important towns include Jijiga, Degahbur, Gode, Kebri Dahar, Fiq, Shilabo, Kelafo, Werder and Danan.

Ecology edit

The Ogaden is part of the Somali Acacia–Commiphora bushlands and thickets ecoregion. It has been a historic habitat for the endangered African wild dog, Lycaon pictus;[54] However, this canid is thought by some to have been extirpated from Ogaden.

The Ogaden is a plateau, with an elevation above sea level that ranges from 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) in the northwest, falling to about 300 metres (980 ft) along the southern limits and the Wabi Shebelle valley. The areas with altitudes between 1,400 and 1,600 metres (4,600 and 5,200 ft) are characterised as semi-arid, receiving as much as 500–600 millimetres (20–24 in) of rainfall annually. More typical of the Ogaden is an average annual rainfall of 350 millimetres (14 in) and less. The landscape consists of dense shrubland, bush grassland and bare hills.[55] In more recent years, the Ogaden has suffered from increasingly erratic rainfall patterns, which has led to an increasing frequency of major droughts: in 1984–85; 1994; and most recently in 1999–2000, during which pastoralists claim to have lost 70–90 percent of their cattle.[56]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ "Hawd Plateau | plateau, East Africa". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-10-10.
  2. ^ "Ethiopia Country Analysis Brief". Energy Information Administration. Archived from the original on 2007-12-24. Retrieved 2024-01-29.
  3. ^ Gérard Prunier; Éloi Ficquet (2015). Understanding Contemporary Ethiopia. Oxford University Press. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-84904-261-1.
  4. ^ Paolo Billi (2015). Landscapes and Landforms of Ethiopia. Springer. p. 324. ISBN 978-94-017-8026-1.
  5. ^ Leslau, Wolf (1959). "An Analysis of the Harari Vocabulary". Annales d'Éthiopie. 3: 292. doi:10.3406/ethio.1959.1310. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  6. ^ Eshete, Tibebe (1994). "Towards a History of the Incorporation of the Ogaden: 1887–1935". Journal of Ethiopian Studies. 27 (2): 69–70. JSTOR 41966038.
  7. ^ Adegehe, Asnake Kefale (2009). Federalism and ethnic conflict in Ethiopia : a comparative study of the Somali and Benishangul-Gumuz regions (PDF) (Thesis). Leiden University. p. 135.
  8. ^ Billi, Paolo (2015). Landscapes and Landforms of Ethiopia. Springer. ISBN 9789401780261.
  9. ^ Carment, David (2006). Who Intervenes?: Ethnic Conflict and Interstate Crisis. Ohio State University Press. pp. 75–76. ISBN 9780814210130.
  10. ^ Abramowitz, Sharon; Panter-Brick, Catherine (2015-09-17). Medical Humanitarianism: Ethnographies of Practice. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 9780812247329.
  11. ^ Markakis, John (2011). Ethiopia: The Last Two Frontiers. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. ISBN 9781847010339.
  12. ^ Marcus, Harold Golden; Hudson, Grover (1994). New Trends in Ethiopian Studies: Social Sciences. Red Sea Press. ISBN 9781569020159.
  13. ^ Munro-Hay, S. C. (Stuart C. ) (2002). Ethiopia, the unknown land : a cultural and historical guide. Internet Archive. London ; New York : I.B. Tauris. p. 235. ISBN 978-1-86064-744-4.
  14. ^ Markakis, John (2011). Ethiopia: The Last Two Frontiers. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-84701-033-9.
  15. ^ Chekroun, Amelie. The Harla: archeology and memory of the giants of Ethiopia. French Center for Ethiopian Studies.
  16. ^ Wildings, Richard (1987). The shorefolk: aspects of the early development of Swahili communities. p. 33. ISBN 9789966833129.
  17. ^ B, Ulrich (2002). Islamic History and Culture in Southern Ethiopia: Collected Essays. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 18. ISBN 9783825856717.
  18. ^ Østebø, Terje (2011). Localising Salafism: Religious Change Among Oromo Muslims in Bale, Ethiopia. Brill. p. 56. ISBN 978-9004184787.
  19. ^ Ahmed, Hussein (2001). Islam in Nineteenth-Century Wallo, Ethiopia: Revival, Reform and Reaction. BRILL. p. 62. ISBN 978-90-04-11909-3.
  20. ^ Ahmed, Hussein (2001). Islam in Nineteenth-Century Wallo, Ethiopia: Revival, Reform and Reaction. BRILL. p. 62. ISBN 978-90-04-11909-3.
  21. ^ A History of the Ogaden (Western Somali) Struggle for Self-Determination, first edition (London: Mohamed Abdi, 2007), pp. 4–12.
  22. ^ Njoku, Raphael Chijioke (2013-02-20). The History of Somalia. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-313-37858-4. The Ajuuraan state is regarded as the successor to its more influential and resilient predecessors such as the Adal and Ifat
  23. ^ Cassanelli, Lee V. (1975). "Migrations, Islam, and politics in Somali Benaadir, 1500-1843". In Marcus, Harold G.; Schoonmaker, Kathleen M. (eds.). Proceedings of the First United States Conference on Ethiopian Studies, Michigan State University, 2-5 May, 1973. African Studies Center, Michigan State University. pp. 101–115.
  24. ^ Fitzgibbon 1985, pp. 33–34.
  25. ^ FitzGibbon 1985, p. 26-27.
  26. ^ FitzGibbon 1985, p. 29.
  27. ^ Lewis, I.M. (1962). The Somali Peninsula: A New Light on Imperial Motives. Mogadishu: Information Services of the Somali Government. pp. 36–40.
  28. ^ Pearce, Francis Barrow (1898). Rambles in Lion Land: Three Months' Leave Passed in Somaliland. London. pp. 176–177.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  29. ^ H. G. C. Swayne, "A Trip to Harar and Imé", Geographical Journal, 2 (September 1893), p. 251
  30. ^ a b Ahmed Yusuf, Abdulqawi (1980). "The Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1897 and the Somali-Ethiopian Dispute". Horn of Africa. 3 (1): 39.
  31. ^ I.M. Lewis, A Modern History of the Somali, fourth edition (Oxford: James Currey, 2002), p. 59
  32. ^ Willey, Frederick. "British Somaliland (Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement) Volume 537: debated on Friday 25 February 1955". www.parliament.uk.
  33. ^ Laitin, David D.; Samatar, Said S. (1987). Somalia: Nation In Search Of A State. Avalon Publishing. pp. 54–57. ISBN 978-0-86531-555-6.
  34. ^ Martin, B. G. (2003). Muslim Brotherhoods in Nineteenth-Century Africa. Cambridge University Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-521-53451-2.
  35. ^ Lewis, I.M (1965). The Modern History of Somaliland: From Nation to State. F.A. Praeger. p. 71.
  36. ^ Woodward, Peter; Forsyth, Murray (1994). Conflict and peace in the Horn of Africa : federalism and its alternatives. Dartmouth: Aldershot. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-1-85521-486-6.
  37. ^ Drysdale 1964, p. 56.
  38. ^ Lewis, Modern History, p. 61
  39. ^ Lewis 1983, p. 158.
  40. ^ Woodward, Peter; Forsyth, Murray (1994). Conflict and peace in the Horn of Africa : federalism and its alternatives. Dartmouth: Aldershot. pp. 105–106. ISBN 978-1-85521-486-6.
  41. ^ Bahru Zewde, History p. 180.
  42. ^ "Ethiopia offers Britain land in exchange for Zeila port of Somaliland – 1946 • Ethiopian Review". Ethiopianreview.com. 2012-02-10. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  43. ^ Louis, William Roger (1984). The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945–1951: Arab Nationalism, the ... Clarendon Press. ISBN 9780198229605. Retrieved 2012-09-10 – via Google Books.
  44. ^ Adegehe, Asnake Kefale (2009). Federalism and ethnic conflict in Ethiopia : a comparative study of the Somali and Benishangul-Gumuz regions (PDF) (Thesis). Leiden University. p. 135.
  45. ^ Billi, Paolo (2015). Landscapes and Landforms of Ethiopia. Springer. ISBN 9789401780261.
  46. ^ Ethiopian Rebels Kill 70 at Chinese-Run Oil Field
  47. ^ Ogaden Human Rights Committee (2006-02-20). "Mass Killings in the Ogaden: Daily Atrocities Against Civilians by the Ethiopian Armed Forces" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  48. ^ "US Committee on Foreign Affairs on Ethiopia". Foreignaffairs.house.gov. 2007-10-02. Archived from the original on 2012-11-27. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  49. ^ Peter Takirambudde (2007-07-04). "Ethiopia: Crackdown in East Punishes Civilians (Human Rights Watch, 4-7-2007)". Hrw.org. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  50. ^ "Ethiopia Ogaden rebels blast report on killing civilians". Sudantribune.com. Archived from the original on 2015-09-09. Retrieved 2012-09-10.
  51. ^ ONLF rebels accused of killing civilians in southern Ethiopia Archived 2010-08-11 at the Wayback Machine
  52. ^ Connors, Will (2007-09-05). "Why We Don't Hear About the Conflict in the Ogaden: When an American reporter started digging, he was forced out of Ethiopia". Slate.
  53. ^ Tareke, Gebru (2000). "The Ethiopia-Somalia War of 1977 Revisited". The International Journal of African Historical Studies: 636.
  54. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009. Painted Hunting Dog: Lycaon pictus, GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N. Stromberg Archived December 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  55. ^ Ayele Gebre-Mariam, The Critical Issue of Land Ownership, Working Paper No. 2 (Bern: NCCR North-South, 2005), p. 12 (accessed 19 January 2009)
  56. ^ CHF International, Grassroots Conflict Assessment in the Somali Region Archived July 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine (Aug. 2006), p. 12 (accessed 12 December 2008)

Bibliography edit

External links edit

7°17′N 44°18′E / 7.28°N 44.30°E / 7.28; 44.30