Tigrayan fighters weather a storm in Mekelle, Ethiopia, June 2021
Finbarr O'Reilly / Redux

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power at a tumultuous moment in 2018. Years of protests by the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, had prompted the government to declare a state of emergency, and long-simmering ethnic and regional tensions threatened to break apart the ruling coalition, known as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). An Oromo and a self-proclaimed reformer, Abiy promised sweeping economic and political changes and set out to make peace with Ethiopia’s archenemy, Eritrea. The United States welcomed these early initiatives, embracing the prime minister’s reform agenda and lavishing promises of

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