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During the 1980s, political change within the Soviet Union would also lead to the shifting of power within Ethiopia. The decades long rule of Communist leader Mengistu Haile Mariam would come into doubt when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev begins to cut funding and support to Mariam's government. In combinations of famine and the rise of revolution within the Communist world, Ethiopians would follow suit, escalating the civil war into revolution. By May 1991, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front would successfully occupy the capital city of Addis Ababa. With the fleeing of Mariam to Zimbabwe, the Ethiopian Civil War was considered over.
Despite the end of Communism, Ethiopia was still on a long road to recovery, with fears of new chaos in the region. These fears seemed to escalate as the coastal province of Eritrea was on the road to independence. With tensions escalating, the Soviet Union began to intervene in Ethiopia. Considering that Gorbachev abandoned Mariam, and that the EPRDF and the EPLF were also social democratic (as was Gorbachev), it came as no surprise that the Ethiopians and the Eritreans would favor Soviet cooperation. Taking into account that ethnic divisions were growing in Ethiopia (as what happened in the USSR), the idea of Ethiopia adopting a Soviet-styled federation of ethnic-based sovereign republic became popular. In 1993, Eritrea held an independence referendum, with the people voting in huge favor for the separation of Eritrea. Despite opposition from Addis Ababa, Eritrea would be recognized as independent within the year.
Although Ethiopia was on the verge of breaking up in 1991, the Soviet Union decided to try and help opposition leader Merera Gudina regain control of the country. There were two major problems with this though, the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front wanted to install its chairman Meles Zenawi as president and was still fighting government forces and Gudina's groups, while the Eritrean People's Liberation Front continued to fight the Ethiopian forces in Eritrea. Therefore, the USSR supplied arms and equipment to Gudina and the capital was soon overrun by his forces. With the capital in Gudina's hands, though, the government and TPLF surrendered leaving the door open to peace talks between the EPLF and Ethiopia.
Gorbachev, therefore, decided to travel to Eritrea to fund pro-federation activities in Eritrea with Soviet equipment and arms. The pro-federation forces soon gained control of the Eritrean resistance movement and agreed to form a federation with Ethiopia. Gorbachev suggested that each of the nationalities in Ethiopia and Eritrea would become their own republics which would be sovereign states with control over all but international affairs. The Ethiopian federation was, therefore, formed on November the 12th with Gudina as a temporary president until elections could be held.
Gudina won the next election under the supervision of the Soviet and EU supervisors, the Elections were legitimate and the EU and USA both decided to resume aid shipments to Ethiopia. In the first years of his presidency Gudina spent millions of US dollars on improving Ethiopia's economy and national infrastructure. Gudina ordered food to be stockpiled and by 1996 Ethiopia was the largest economy in East Africa with only Egypt matching it in the whole of Africa.
Therefore, Gudina was able to begin financing the rest of his plans including a rebuilding of the Ethiopian road, telegraph, electric, and hospital network, billions of dollars continued to flow into Ethiopia though and the economy was also proving money to keep the governments programs in budget. With Ethiopia rebuilt to a stronger level then it was under the PDRE and Derg, Gudina was re-elected in 1999 as president and was able to continue his plans to rebuild Ethiopia and its armed forces.
With the majority of his reforms in place Gudina felt that he now had enough public support to try and remove the prominent position that the military had in public policies. In an unprecedented move that reminded people of the Derg regime Gudina had all military officials associated with the old regime removed from positions of power and sent to prison and replaced by people chosen from his own government. In addition to this Gudina arranged a deal with the USSR to transfer new equipment to Ethiopia to replace its current equipment, this included the majority of the USSR's old equipment including T-72 tanks, MiG-29 fighters, Su-25 attack fighters, Su-27 fighters and a variety of ships from the Soviet Navy including Kara Class cruisers and Sovremenny Class destroyers. In addition to this, however, the USSR sold one Kiev class carrier to the Ethiopian Federation on the condition that Ethiopia provide funding for the Yak-41 VTOL fighters and the new carrier under construction, Varyag which would be shared with the Ethiopian navy.
However, all these developments upset many in the military and in January 2004 the world was shocked when a group of Ethiopian air force and army officers attempted to size control of the capital of the most secure nation in East Africa. However, the Ethiopian Navy remained totally loyal and the Naval Infantry and FAA attempted to retake the capital. They succeeded a week later when they retook the capital and democratic government was restored.
Intervention in Somalia
In October 2004 al-Qaeda operatives in the Somali republic of Ethiopia planted a bomb in the city of Dire Dawa which exploded and killed 245 people. The Ethiopian security services conducted an investigation into the incident and concluded that the attack had been planed in Somalia by al-Qaeda in conjunction with the Islamic Courts Union (The government of Somalia excluding Somaliland). In response to this Ethiopia launched an invasion of Somalia with Ethiopian army troops capturing several large border towns within 24 hours. ICU troops couldn't survive against the far superior Ethiopian forces in open combat and retreated into the countryside where local knowledge favored them.
It wasn't enough, however, as the USSR angered by attacks on its citizens declared its support for the Ethiopian invasion and began shipping combat troops to Somalia. Within a week Ethiopian forces had captured the capital Mogadishu and secured parts of southern Somalia.
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a federation made up of 13 republics and two charter cities. Each republic is dominated by a distinct ethnic group. While the origins can be traced to the growing division between the many ethnic groups during and after the Civil War, the modern day division into ethnic-dominated republics was inspired by the similar divisions of the Soviet Union.
As well as republics, Ethiopia has two charter cities: Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. Addis Ababa was initially the only charter city (being the capital of the country), but the ethnically divided city of Dire Dawa gained charter status in 1998.
Ethiopia retains its strong relations with the former Soviet bloc nations and is still the USSR's largest ally in Africa. It remains a strong ally of the other socialist nations and acts as the unofficial leader of those nations that try to distance themselves from the USSR.
The Ethiopian Military is one of the most powerful and largest in Africa, Equipped with large numbers of Soviet equipment, the Ethiopian Military acts as the primary force in UN and AU peacekeeping operations in Africa as well as acting in the governments interests. However the large amount of training that it receives from the USSR has led to some accusing it of merely being the USSR's "arm in Africa" although this is total untrue.
The Ground Forces of Ethiopia are known as the Ethiopian Army. They are the second best in Africa and are equipped with a variety of Soviet equipment. It consists of 250,000 men split in 20 divisions, there are ten infantry divisions consisting of 10,000 men equipped with AK-74 assault rifles along with special equipment such as RPG-9's and Dragunov SVD sniper rifles. In addition it consists of six mechanized divisions consisting of infantry mounted in BMP-2 IFV's and four armored divisions equipped with T-72 and E-95 (An Ethiopian manufactured version of the T-90 tank) tanks.
The Ethiopian Air Force is the air arm of the Ethiopian Armed Forces, Like the rest of the Ethiopian Armed Forces it is one of the best in Africa. It is equipped with planes from a variety of suppliers from the East and the West including the USSR, USA, China and the UK. This variety of suppliers is represented by the large variety of equipment it uses, the main combat aircraft of the EAF are the Su-27, YAK-41, Northrop F-20 (The F-20 Program was restarted by Northrop in 1995 as an upgrade for F-5 users), English Electric Canberra, Antonov An-12, Mil Mi-24 and the Mi-8.