Benito Mussolini - The Father of Illegal Eritrean Territorial Claims Against Djibouti and Ethiopia
Ethiopia has defined and demarcated its boundaries with all its neighbours with one exception - the former Italian colonies of Eritrea and Italian Somaliland.
The borders with these former Italian colonies were never demarcated due to the Fascist-era Italian expansionist policy directed by the notorious Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (shown with Hitler at right in 1941). Mussolini violated treaties signed by Ethiopia and Italy during the period 1900-1906 which provided the basic guidelines for future delimitation and demarcation of the Eritrea- Ethiopia border.
Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in September 1935 using Eritrea as his main base. Prior to the invasion, Ethiopia had been making futile attempts to peacefully resolve several border issues with Italy. Mussolini was using these issues as an excuse to invade Ethiopia - particularly the WalWal incident of 1934, where Italians had established themselves more than 60 kms inside Ethiopian territory for six years and provoked a clash with Ethiopian troops.
The League of Nations recognised the validity of Ethiopia's case but failed to impose effective sanctions on Italy. One reason for this failure was the actions of France. France secretly negotiated with Mussolini in order to gain his support against Germany. In 1935, Mussolini managed to extort several territorial concessions from France: - a small part of northern Djibouti for Eritrea, the Aouzou strip of Chad for Libya, and small pieces of mainland France itself to be included with Italy.
The French parliament never ratified this agreement, and Mussolini never supported France against Germany. In fact he became Hitler's ally as the above photo shows. When Eritrea became re-united with Ethiopia, the Ethiopian government demarcated the border between Eritrea and Djibouti. The Mussolini expansion of 1935 against Djibouti was regarded as void. Gadhafi however invaded and occupied the Aouzou strip of Chad on the basis of Mussolini's 1935 extortions. He tried for many years to gain international acceptance of his occupation. However, he was defeated by Chad and forced to submit his claims to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In 1993, the ICJ ruled that Libya's claims were null and void.
Imagine everyone's surprise then, when Eritrea issued a new map in 1996 which claimed the northern part of Djibouti on the basis of the Mussolini extortions of 1935! I have at this website 3 separate Eritrean maps and 4 separate news reports describing the Eritrean territorial ambitions against Djibouti. This is despite the final, peaceful demarcation on the ground that was performed by Ethiopia and France in the 1960s.
In the case of Ethiopia, Eritrea is trying to force Ethiopia to accept a unilateral Mussolini map from 1934 as the only legal document defining the Eritrea-Ethiopia border. This is never going to happen. The Eritrean territorial claims are sadly out of date, and are not supported by the historical treaties. They have no basis in Eritrean history. The land is of no special significance to Eritrea. In fact, a significant ethnic minority group in the vicnity of this region, the Kunama, are currently suffering persecution at the hands of the Eritrean government. (see background articles at this website for evidence)
What then is the motivation for Eritrean belligerence against all its neighbours? Unfortunately, it is the same disease that afflicted Italian nationalism and turned it into fascism. Eritrean nationalism in its current manifestation, is a diseased form of nationalism and it is exhibiting the same symptoms that led Benito Mussolini to his horrible fate.