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Ethiopia’s War With Its Tigray Region: Explained

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“Nothing good will come out from this war for any side,” said Mehari Taddele Maru, who lectures on governance and migration at the European University Institute, a graduate study center in Italy. “This is a transition gone wrong.”

Experts believe that a full-blown war in Ethiopia will be bad not only for Ethiopia, but also for the six countries that surround it.

The violence in Tigray could draw in nearby Eritrea, which is now allied with Ethiopia’s federal government and has a long-established resentment toward the T.P.L.F. Many veterans from the T.P.L.F. who participated in the Ethiopian-Eritrean war between 1998 and 2000 are now part of the Tigray region’s paramilitary forces.

Tigray has a paramilitary force and a local militia thought to number about 250,000 troops, according to the International Crisis Group.

At 44, Mr. Abiy is among the youngest and one of the most closely watched leaders in Africa.

Since coming to power two years ago, he has reshaped Ethiopia’s political and economic trajectory. The son of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, he has freed political prisoners, welcomed back exiled opposition groups, helped end hostilities with neighboring Eritrea and played a role in mediating regional conflicts inside and between nations, including Sudan, South Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia. His efforts earned him the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.

As part of his vision for a more unified Ethiopia, he last year launched the Prosperity Party, which has brought together members of the former ruling coalition — with the exception of the Tigray — along with previously excluded ethnic groups.

But over the past year, Mr. Abiy has come under criticism as his government detained opposition leaders, and security officers were accused of killing hundreds of people following unrest involving different ethnic groups. Mr. Abiy’s government has also resorted to old tactics by shutting down the internet and arresting journalists.

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