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From Lash to Red Star: The Pitfalls of Counter-Insurgency in Ethiopia, 1980-82

Gebru Tareke
The Journal of Modern African Studies
Vol. 40, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 465-498
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3876045
Page Count: 34
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From Lash to Red Star: The Pitfalls of Counter-Insurgency in Ethiopia, 1980-82
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Abstract

By 1980, Ethiopia was gripped in escalating civil wars. After a series of punitive expeditions had failed to suppress them, the government organised large-scale operations in the early igSos against the insurgencies in the eastern and northern territories. The operations seemed to have been informed by what is called 'total strategy'. Although the emphasis was on the coercive component, the state also used psychological and economic incentives. The results were mixed. The eastern rebels were defeated more easily because they were factious. The northern campaign failed because of the rebels' staunchness and the terrain's unsuitability. In a cold test of wills, the Eritrean fighters not only held the offensive to a stalemate, but also went on to win total military victory. Same strategy, different outcomes: this suggests that no single counter-insurgency strategy can always have the same results as it is influenced by numerous factors that may vary from one place to another.

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