In response to Dr. Yacob’s and Ambassador Kassa Kebede‘s assertions that Eritrea was always part of Ethiopia historically, except during the Italian colonization of Eritrea. For the sake of the truth, the history of a country and its people should be told as it was without white-washing.
The history of Eritrea in the last 500 years includes the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire stretched from Turkey to Yemen on the Arabian side of the Red Sea; on the African side of the sea, it stretched from Egypt through Sudan, the coastal plains of Eritrea and into Agordat and Keren, and further south into Djibouti and parts of north east Somalia. The Ottoman Empire existed in Eritrea from 1517-1865, well over 300 years.
When the Ottoman Empire collapsed, the Egyptians took control of Sudan and the Eritrean coastal areas up to Assab; Djibouti became French Somaliland. At this juncture Egypt, because of the Mahdist-Sudanese uprising, was very much sickbed and was unable to supply its army garrisons stationed in Keren and Massawa. It was during this time, in 1882, that the Italian army arrived on Eritrea’s shores. The powerless Egyptians could not do much except but plead for help from the British. But the British only offered to help evacuate the Egyptians back home, thus allowing the Italians to occupy the Eritrean coast and from there, over time, expand its hold to incorporate the present-day borders of Eritrea.
The country south of Eritrea, known as Abyssinia by foreigners and as Ethiopia by its kings, stretched as far south as northern Shewa, and all the way north up to the Mereb River for most of its history and at intervals of time incorporating highland Eritrea. During the time of the arrival of Italians at Assab, Abyssinia was under the rule of King Yohannes until his death in 1889. King Menelik then assumed power and made a peace agreement with Italy for mutual recognition of their territory. King Menelik went on to conquer and expand his rule westward to the borders of British-Sudan, south to the border of British-Kenya and east to the border of Somalia; thus creating the present-day borders of Ethiopia.
The above summary and the attached maps totally dispute Dr. Yacob’s and Ambassador Kassa’s claims on Eritrea. For anyone who wants to dispute my summary, I am ready to learn if it is backed by concrete facts.
By Solomon Goitom