Ethiopia’s civil war: how the country is on the brink of ‘irreversible state collapse’

Ethiopia is facing an “existential crisis”, said Haitham Nouri in Al-Ahram (Cairo). As the country’s civil war entered its second year this month, the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) was advancing deep into territory controlled by federal forces, and threatening to march on the capital Addis Ababa.

On Facebook, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called on all Ethiopians “to organise and march... using every weapon and power... to prevent, reverse and bury the terrorist TPLF”. The war had begun last November with Abiy promising a swift operation to bring the rebellious northern Tigray region under control.

He declared victory within a month; but since then, the TPLF has launched an astonishing fightback. It has created a rebel alliance with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), drawn from the nation’s largest ethnic group, which last week was 150 miles from the capital. Most of the inhabitants of Addis Ababa are Amhara, the nation’s second-largest group, under whose leadership the country was united in the 19th century. They still “dominate the country’s political elite and middle class and therefore fear revenge from the Tigray and other groups”.