The leader of Ethiopia's ruling military Dergue, Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, has threatened to break off diplomatic relations with NATO countries if they continue to support Somalia in its war with Ethiopia over the Ogaden desert.
The leader of Ethiopia's ruling military Dergue, Lieutenant Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam, has threatened to break off diplomatic relations with NATO countries if they continue to support Somalia in its war with Ethiopia over the Ogaden desert. Colonel Mengistu gave the warning at a press conference for 80 foreign journalists in Addis Ababa on Tuesday (14 February). Colonel Mengistu also accused the United States of indirectly arming Somali troops.
SYNOPSIS: Colonel Mengistu's decision to address foreign journalists follows reports that Ethiopia has made major territorial gains in its efforts to drive Somali-backed forces out of the Ogaden desert. In his three-hour speech, he told newsmen that, after the recent Ethiopian counter-thrust, American-made weapons had been found in Somali hands. He accused the United States of adopting a new covert diplomatic tactic designed to give them a semblance of neutrality. Colonel Mengistu claimed that American weapons were being transferred to Somalia through intermediary states.
He identified the intermediary states as Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and what he called other reactionary Arab regimes. The leader added that Ethiopian forces had captured vast quantities of American weapons supplied by these countries, including tanks, jeeps and heavy artillery. And he accused the United States of replenishing the ??? of the countries he had listed.
Colonel Mengistu also contended that NATO countries had supported Somalia's initial aggression against Ethiopia, and that they wanted to try to dislodge his revolutionary government. He warned that, unless the United States, Britain, France and West Germany changed their policy, maintaining diplomatic relations with them would be totally meaningless.
He also denied recent allegations that Ethiopia was planning to invade Somalia, and stressed that the defensive war his country was waging would not extend beyond its frontiers. Summing-up, Colonel Mengistu said it was hard to visualise any lasting peace in the Horn of Africa, unless Somalia renounced its aim of annexing neighbouring territory into a "greater Somalia".