Ogaden, region, SE Ethiopia, bordering on Somalia. It is an arid region, inhabited mainly by Somali pastoral nomads. The region was conquered by Menelik II of Ethiopia in 1891. A clash (Dec. 5, 1934) between Italian and Ethiopian troops at the watering hole of Welwel in the Ogaden was used as a pretext by Italy to begin a war (1935-36) against Ethiopia. Since 1960, Somali nationalists have demanded the union of the Ogaden with Somalia, and there have been violent clashes over the precise boundaries of the Ogaden. In the late 1970s, the Soviet Union, Cuba, South Yemen, and Libya all backed Ethiopian interests in the region, and Somalia withdrew its troops. However, fighting continued intermittently until 1988, when Somalia and Ethiopia signed a nonaggression pact. The war and devastating drought conditions resulted in millions of refugees and acute resettlement problems. Somali insurgents in the Ogaden supported the Ethiopian guerrillas led by Meles Zenawi, but after the guerrilla's success (1991) broke with the Meles government in 1993 over autonomy for the region. Subsequently the region has been the scene of fighting between Ethiopian forces and indigenous Somali insurgents.

Ogaden (pronounced and often spelled Ogadēn]]) is the international name of the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia. The inhabitants are predominantly ethnic Somali and Muslim. The title "Somali Galbeed", which means "Western Somalia," is often preferred by some clans.

The region, which is around 400,000 square kilometres, borders Djibouti, Kenya, and Somalia. Important towns include Jigjiga, Kebri Beyah, Raaso, Degehabur, (Dhagaxbuur in Somali), Gode (Godey), Jijiga (Jigjiga), Kebri Dahar (Qabridahare), Shilavo (Shilaabo) and Werder (Wardheer).


Ogaden was part of the Muslim Ifat Sultanate in the 13th and beginning of the 14th centuries. The sultante's borders extened to the Shoa - Addis Ababa area. The region developed its own Adal kingdom from late 14th to the last quarter of the 19th century. There was an ongoing conflict between the Adal kingdom and the Christian Kingdom of Abyssinia throughout this time. During the first half of the 16th century, most Abyssinian territory came under the rule of Adal, when Imam Ahmed Gurey, the leader of Adal's Army, took control.

During the last quarter of the 19th century, the region was conquered by Menelik II and Ethiopia solidified their occupation by treaties in 1897.

In practice, Ethiopia exerted little administrative control east of Jijiga until 1934 when an Anglo-Ethiopian boundary commission attempted to demarcate the treaty boundary. This boundary is still violently disputed.

The region was reunified with Italian Somaliland in 1936 by Italy. Following their conquest of Italian East Africa, the British sought to let the Ogaden be unified with British Somaliland and the former Italian Somaliland, to realize Greater Somalia which was supported by many Ogaden Somalis. Ethiopia unsuccessfully pleaded before the London Conference of the Allied Powers to gain the Ogaden and Eritrea in 1945, but their persistent negotiations and pressure from the USA eventually persuaded the British in 1948 to abandon all of the Ogaden except for the northeastern part called the Haud), and a corridor called the Reserved Area stretching from the Haud to French Somaliland (modern Djibouti). The British ceded these last parts to Ethiopia in 1954.

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

In 2007, the Ethiopian Army launched a military crackdown in Ogaden. The main rebel group is the Ogaden National Liberation Front under its Chairman Mohamed O. Osman, which is fighting to liberate the Ogaden from what they see as Ethiopian occupation. Somalis who inhabit Ogaden claim that Ethiopian military kill and torture civilians, destroy the livelihood of many of the ethnic Somalis and commit crimes against the nomads in the region. Numerous international rights organizations accuse Ethiopian regime of committing abuses and crimes that "violate laws of war, as a recent report by the Human Rights Watch indicates. According to US House of Representatives committee, the ONLF has killed people, tortured civilians and committed crimes against the nomads in the region. In late 2007 and early 2008, Voice of America reported that 200 civilians had been killed by the ONLF.

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