How Ethiopian prince scuppered Germany’s WW1 plans
A hundred years ago, the Ethiopian prince Lij Iyasu was deposed after the Orthodox church feared he had converted to Islam. But it also scuppered Germany’s plans to draw Ethiopia into World War One, writes Martin Plaut.
In January 1915 a dhow slipped quietly out of the Arabian port of Al-Wajh. On board were a group of Germans and Turks, under the guise of the Fourth German Inner-Africa Research Expedition.
Led by Leo Frobenius, adventurer, archaeologist and personal friend of the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, its aim was nothing less than to encourage Ethiopia to enter World War One.
Germany believed that the Suez canal was Britain’s “jugular vein” allowing troops and supplies to be brought from Australia, New Zealand and India.