The country’s leader won the Nobel Peace Prize. Then he went to war.
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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 putting the country on a new path.
But less than a year later, Abiy had already launched a military attack — on Tigray, a regional state in his own country. When Abiy 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 had 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 exploded from 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. And many Ethiopians are left wondering how Abiy, a leader who promised a break with the past, brought them here instead.
Note: The headline on this video has been updated.
Previous headline: Why Ethiopia is invading itself
Sources and further reading:
Jen Kirby, Vox: https://www.vox.com/22370629/ethiopia-tigray-eritrea-amhara-war-ethnic-cleansing
International Crisis Group: https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/horn-africa/ethiopia/b171-ethiopias-tigray-war-deadly-dangerous-stalemate
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute: https://www.acaps.org/sites/acaps/files/products/files/20210223_acaps_secondary_data_review_ethiopia_pre-crisis_situation_in_tigray.pdf
Physical Geography Research Group: https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Physical-Geography-Research-Group-Jan-Nyssen
Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/02/11/ethiopia-unlawful-shelling-tigray-urban-areas
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