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Why did Italy invade Abyssinia in 1935?
Italy had tried to invade Abyssinia in 1895, but had suffered a humiliating defeat at the battle of Adowa.
Mussolini also wanted to shift public opinion in Italy away from the failures of his domestic policies. In Italy he was becoming increasingly unpopular.
On 3 October 1935, the Italian armed forces invaded the African state of Abyssinia (now called Ethiopia). In early 1936, Mussolini ordered the use of poison gas.
In May 1936 the capital Addis Ababa was occupied and the Emperor Haile Selassie fled to Britain. Abyssinia was annexed by Italy and the King of Italy became Emperor of Abyssinia.
Why was the invasion important?
It created a crisis because Italy was a Permanent Member of the Council of the League of Nations.
Sanctions were applied to Italy but Britain and France opposed the addition of oil, which would have been most effective. They did not want to offend Mussolini and drive him over to Hitler's side.
Britain and France offered to arrange the Hoare-Laval Pact, which would have been a compromise. This would have given Mussolini control of most of Abyssinia. But when this became public it had to be dropped as a result of adverse opinion.
All in all Britain and France, and the League of Nations, appeared to be weak and to be allowing Mussolini to get away with naked aggression.
Although Mussolini did not resign from the League immediately, he did in 1937. There were now just two remaining Permanent Members of the Council, Britain and France.
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