Abyssinia, also known as Ethiopia but officially as the Ethiopian Empire is a country in Africa. Its borders are shared to the north by the Red Sea and the German colony of Somaliland, to the east by the Indian Ocean, to the south by the Freistaat Mittelafrika and to the west by Egypt-Sudan.
As Ethiopia was established along with Liberia during the 19th century by freed slaves emigrating from the United States, Abyssinia was one of the only countries in Africa remaining independent during the Scramble for Africa and successfully defeated an Italian invasion in 1896. Abyssinia is also known as one of the oldest countries in the world, ruled by an Imperial dynasty claiming descent from King Solomon of Israel and the Queen of Sheba, both mentioned in the Bible. After Armenia, it is also the second-oldest country to have become officially Christian. An ally of Germany in the last stages of the Weltkrieg, Abyssinia is undergoing a quick modernization with German support under its Emperor Haile Selassie I. However, high discontent arose from the ranks of the aristocratic landowners, and will only increase with the economic difficulties that Abyssinia is about to confront.
Fighting to keep independence
Abyssinia was finally reunited by Negus Negast Tewodros II on February, 11 1855, after centuries of feudal division and isolation since the Middle Ages. His reign ended with revolts from two of his rivals, along with British interference and military intervention in the Ethiopian territory, eventually leading him to commit suicide. His rival Yohannes IV succeeded him, but he had to deal with both British and the Italian purchase of Eritrea: the Italian forces had a first encounter with the Abyssinian army by April 1888, but fighting was avoided thanks to negotiations. On March 9, 1889, Yohannes IV was killed by a bullet during a victorious battle against the Egyptian dervishes: he was succeeded by his rival Menelik II. On May 2nd, Emperor Menelik signed the Treaty of Wuchale with the Italians, granting them a portion of Northern Abyssinia (the area that would later be Eritrea) and part of the province of Tigray in return for the promise of 30,000 rifles, ammunition, and cannons. The Italians notified the European powers that this treaty gave them a protectorate over all of Abyssinia. Menelik protested, showing that the Amharic version of the treaty said no such thing, but his protests were ignored. The conflict with the Italians was resolved by the Italians’ defeat at the Battle of Adowa on March 1, 1896. A provisional treaty of peace was concluded at Addis Ababa on October 26, 1896, which acknowledged the independence of Abyssinia. Beginning the modernization of the country, Menelik II was succeeded by his grandson, Lij Iyasu, but he was soon deposed due to his Muslim ties.
The overthrow of Iyasu V in 1916 created more problems than it solved, as when his aunt Zauditu ascended the throne she caved in to increasing pressure from the Progressive Party and made Ras Tafari Makonnen heir to the throne - a decision that would later prove to be a serious cause of trouble. Nevertheless, Abyssinia flourished under Zauditu, culminating in the country’s 1918 entry into the Weltkrieg on the side of Germany and the subsequent annexation of Italian Somaliland and Eritrea. Another sign of Abyssinia’s flourishing state of affairs was the expansion of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway into Freistaat Mittelafrika in 1925, which became the Deutsche Pan-Afrikanisches EisenBahn (DPAEB). The creation of this rail link initially brought relative prosperity to eastern Abyssinia, although lately it has shown signs of economic instability. When Empress Zauditu died in 1930 with no surviving children, Ras Tafari Makonnen ascended to the throne as Emperor Haile Selassie I without any significant problems. Upon climbing the throne the new Emperor started a series of sweeping political reforms to bring Abyssinia ‘into the west’. These reforms were fiercely opposed by the conservative elements of the nation, who had been greatly strengthened by the annexation of the Italian colonies and the subsequent expansion of the army. The Imperial administration has suffered another blow in 1935, when a report from the German Ministry of Trade announced that the DPAEB was about to go bankrupt, thus definitely proving the pointlessness of the Abyssinians rallying to the German sphere.
Some political experts describe Abyssinia/Ethiopia as being "nominally a constitutional monarchy; in fact a benevolent autocracy". The Negus Negast ("King of Kings"), claiming descent from King Solomon of Israel and thus considered as the descendant of one of the oldest dynasties in the world, is the head of state and head of government, with ultimate executive, judicial and legislative power in that country. The Crown Council that was established in the German-inspired 1931 Constitution gives only to the country an appearance of constitutional monarchy as the Council is filled with loyalists and aristocrats close to the Emperor, only to serve as yes-men. Thus, the powerful opposition that arose within the country concerns both democrats who argue against the reforms' hypocrisy and nobles who disapprove of the country's modernization and commitment to Germany, as well as the Muslims who still suffer from the grasp of the powerful Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Succession to the throne at the death of the Monarch can be claimed by any male blood relative of the Emperor: sons, brothers, uncles or cousins: primogeniture is preferred but not always enforced.
Negus Negast and Minister of Military Intelligence: Haile Selassie I
Prime Minister and Minister of Interior: Bedjironde Tekle Hawariate
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance: Herouy Wolde Selassie
Chief of Staff: Ras Mulugueta
Chief of the Army: Desta Damtew
Chief of the Navy: Ras Seyum
Chief of the Air Force: John Robinson
The Imperial Army was expanded after the end of the Weltkrieg. However, it was still mainly composed by militias before the coronation of Haile Selassie I. When he ascended to power, he started a process of modernization of the army with the intent of bringing it up to the European standard. For this reason he created the Kebur Zabangna, the Imperial Guard based in Addis-Ababa, trained by German military advisors and supplied with modern equipment. This elite unit was organized in three battalions of trained regular infantry armed with rifles, machine guns and mortars. The Emperor also created his own military school at Holeta in January 1935 and invited military advisors from Germany, Flanders-Wallonia (mostly residents of the formerly Belgian Congo) and Canada (exiled British officers).
Despite the re-annexation of Italian Somaliland and Eritrea, including the ports of Massaua and Mogadishu, a serious military naval program has never been attempted.
Abyssinia has a small and recently formed air force, composed exclusively ofinterceptors.
- unfriendly relations with Italian Federation, South Africa, Socialist Republic of Italy and Union of Britain.