A Difficult Decolonization: Italy and the Horn of Africa Abstract

Following the defeat in 1941 and the loss of African colonies, Italians worked out a strategy of keeping Eritrea tied to Italy. The strategy of the former colonial power was determined to maintain its political and economic hegemonic position over the country. The political changes after 1947 were connected with a relevant supply of secret funds from Rome to Italian community in Eritrea to consolidate the pro-Italian organizations for an eventual return of Italy as a trustee power. Funds were used also to undercut anti-Italian political movements and co-opt pporters. The secret organization known as CAE - mitato di Assistenza Eritrea – funded Eritrean political organizations and the press in order to contrast the partition of the country or the incorporation into Ethiopia. The independence of Eritrea was seen by Italians as a priority in order to maintain the political influence. Equally important Italian secret plans towards Somalia in order to gain consents within the international community and increasing economic and commercial interests in the area. Starting from 1948 Italian secret policy aimed to achieve different goals. First of all, Italian community living in the former colony was demanded to rectify the hostile attitude towards Great Britain. Secondly, Italian policy aimed to get close to the members of Somali Youth League and to moderate its anti-Italian features. In achieving that some pro-Italian members got secretly inside the League. To a large extent in both cases, Eritrea and Somalia, independence and trusteeship were designed to protect the interest of Italy and the Italian community. New evidence from Italian archives  - Min. of Foreign Affairs, Rome - not available before 2006 confirms this hypothesis.