Abyssinia is the only country in Africa that has successfully resisted colonisation. The current emperor is the young Iyasu V. Iyasu as yet remains uncrowned but this is not stopping him from pursuing some interesting new policies. Abyssinia was one of the first countries in the world to embrace Christianity, but it has a substantial Muslim majority thanks to the empire’s expansion under Iyasu’s grandfather. Iyasu has been courting these Muslims, who have experienced some disaffection towards their Christian rulers.
In normal times the internal politics of Abyssinia would be of little concern to the world at large. But these are not normal times, with the world’s major powers locked in a battle for supremacy. Turkish agents have been operating in Abyssinia, seeking to secure an alliance with Iyasu. Iyasu appears to be increasingly close to the Turks and there are rumours that he has secretly converted to Islam. The Allies are concerned that he is promoting unrest among their Muslim subjects in neighbouring colonies, which could ultimately threaten control of the vital Red Sea trade route.
So the Allies have sent their own agents to Abyssinia, encouraging the country’s nobles to overthrow their young emperor. The nobles are happy to help, fearing that Iyasu will convert the country to Islam and undermine their prerogatives. Today, on the Christian feast day of Meskel, they strike in the capital Addis Ababa, declaring Iyasu overthrown. His aunt Zewditu is proclaimed Empress, with Duke (or Ras) Tafari Makonnen taking the role of regent. Ras Tafari is also declared to be Zewditu’s heir.
The Allies breathe a collective sigh of relief at Iyasu’s overthrow and effective replacement by the more sympathetic Ras Tafari, but they are not yet rid of Iyasu. He was outside the capital when the nobles struck. Now he starts to assemble an army with which to regain his throne.
Iyasu V (Wikipedia)
Ras Tafari Makonnen (Wikipedia)
map (with anachronistic names) (BBC News)