In 2019, after ending Ethiopia’s decades-long war with its neighbor, Eritrea, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It seemed like a new beginning for Ethiopia. After decades of dictatorships and oppressive regimes, he appeared to finally be setting the country on a new path.
But less than a year later, Abiy launched a military attack — on Tigray, a regional state in his own country. When he became prime minister in 2018, he had largely supplanted Tigray’s main political party, the TPLF, as the country’s center of power. Since then, tensions between Abiy and the TPLF have escalated quickly. The political rivalry led to a dispute over an election, which led to an alleged attack on a military base — and finally to Abiy’s deployment of the military.
Abiy promised to bring peace to Ethiopia; now he’s presiding over a war that escalated from a dispute to devastation in a matter of weeks and has no obvious end in sight. Much of Tigray’s territory has been captured by local armies and militias. Thousands have died or fled their homes. Many Ethiopians are left wondering how Abiy, a leader who promised a break with the past, brought them here instead.