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The Italian Invasion Of Abyssinia Essay

1103 words - 4 pages

Why did Italy invade Abyssinia?In 1896 Italian troops had tried to invade Abyssinia but had been defeated by the African tribesmen. This had hurt the Italian’s pride and Mussolini wanted revenge. Mussolini also had his eye on the fertile lands and mineral wealth of Abyssinia. Mussolini believed that to be a great leader he needed military victories and lots of glory and conquest. He wanted to expand his empire and he thought that Abyssinia was the perfect place.What happened?In December 1934 there was a dispute between Italian and Ethiopian soldiers at the Wal-Wal oasis (80 km inside Abyssinia). Mussolini took his chance and he claimed that it was actually Italian territory. He demanded an apology and he began preparing the Italian army for an invasion of Abyssinia. The Abyssinian emperor Haile Selassie appealed to the league for help.Phase 1 - January 1935 to October 1935Mussolini was supposedly negotiating with the league to settle the dispute, while at the same time he was shipping his army to Africa- he was preparing for a full scale invasion of Abyssinia. At the beginning Britain and France refused to handle the situation seriously. They were desperate to stay on good term with Mussolini, he seemed to be their strongest ally against Hitler. They signed an agreement with him in early 1935 known as the “Stresa Pact”. The Stresa Pact formalised a commitment to stand united against Germany. When meeting to discuss the Stresa Pact, they failed to even mention Abyssinia. it is thought that Mussolini believed that Britain and France had promised to turn a blind eye to the situation in Abyssinia in return for him joining them in the Stresa Pact. However, as the year wore on, there was public outcry against Italy’s behaviour. The League of Nations union took a ballot in Britain 1934-35. It showed that the majority of British people supported the use of military force to defend Abyssinia if necessary. They realised it was now time to “get tough”. At an assembly of the league, the British foreign minister, Hoare, made a speech about the value of collective security. There was much talking and negotiating. However, the league never actually did anything to discourage Mussolini. On 4 September, after eight months of consideration, a committee reported to the league that neither side could be held responsible for the Wal-Wal incident. The league put forward a plan that would give Mussolini some of Abyssinia. Mussolini rejected it.Phase 2 – October 1935 to may 1936In October 1935 Mussolini’s army was ready. He launched a full scale invasion of Abyssinia, the Abyssinians were no match for the Italian army equipped with tanks, aeroplanes and poison gas. The league was disputes like this one and unlike the Manchurian crisis it was ideally placed to act. The covenant made it clear that sanctions must be introduced against the aggressor. A committee was immediately set up to agree what sanctions to impose. However the...

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