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Most analysts thought it would take a year or two of guerilla war for the rebels in Tigray to drive Ethiopian federal forces out of their state, but it has only taken eight months.
Tigray is gone, and other states may follow.
This could even be the first act in the disintegration of the old Ethiopian empire.
Ethiopia is now officially a federal republic, but its borders are still those of the Christian-ruled multi-national empire that was built by Amhara conquerors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Four of its 80-odd languages have more than 5 million speakers each, and one-third of the population is Muslim. Every Tuesday Commentary A weekly digest of Monitor views and insightful commentary on major events.
The chief task of any Ethiopian government has always been to hold this wild mixture of ethnic and religious groups together, and force or the threat of force has always played a big role in that task.
Until 2018, when a relatively young politician called Abiy Ahmed was chosen as prime minister.
He was chosen above all because, although he was an Oromo, as a very young man in 1991 he fought in the overwhelmingly Tigrayan army that overthrew the Derg, the brutal Communist regime that had oppressed Ethiopia since 1977.
So he was trusted by the Tigrayans.
This was crucial, because he was really chosen as prime minister to pry the fingers of the Tigrayans from the levers of power without starting a civil war.
The Tigrayan elite had become both arrogant and corrupt, and everybody else knew their time was up.
Maybe Abiy could persuade them to go peacefully.
The Tigrayans were predictably unhappy about being evicted from power in Ethiopia.