In the Ogaden War the advance of the Western Somali Liberation Front has been slowed down by floods.
In the Ogaden War the advance of the Western Somali Liberation Front has been slowed down by floods. The setback caused by the heavy rains came as a decisive battle was being fought near the city or Harar, which is one of Ethiopia's last remaining strongholds in the region.
SYNOPSIS: Two months ago there seemed to be no stopping the Somali advance across the desert. They met only pockets of resistance, but the weather and Ethiopia's new Soviet weaponry is changing the picture. Getting supplies through to the Liberation Front is a big problem. In certain areas it has been difficult to move military vehicles, and there have been reports of Somali setbacks. The Somalis say they have smashed the Ethiopian Army's first offensive against them in the mountains, but according to a report in London's Observer newspaper only a limited number of weeks are left to achieve a military victory.
The Somalis know that in the next few weeks, if they are going to be successful, they have got to complete their sweep across the Ogaden by seizing Harar and Dire Dawar, a manufacturing, railway and fuel storage centre. Meanwhile Ethiopia's military strength is increasing.
At the present time the Ethiopians are said to have more Soviet arms than they can handle, but as their mastery of these increases, the harder it is going to be for the Somalis. And another problem for the Liberation Front is the massive support the Ethiopians are said to be getting from the Cubans. Speaking in Mogadishu on Wednesday (2 November), Somali President Siad Barre said that between 10 and 15,000 Cuban troops are fighting alongside Ethiopian forces in the Ogaden. This is the first time that an accusation of Cuban involvement in Ethiopia has been made by Somalia at such a high level. Somalia guerilla force fighting the Addis Ababa government have claimed in recent weeks that at least 10,000 Cuban soldiers are supporting Ethiopia. Somalia backs the guerrilla forces, but has constantly denied that any of its regular troops are in the battlefield.