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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, right, signs a peace accord with Eritrea as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman looks on, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 16, 2018 (Saudi Press Agency photo via AP Images).

Amid Revolutionary Change at Home, Ethiopia Is Remaking Its Middle East Ties

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia—Since protests swept 42-year-old Abiy Ahmed into power as Ethiopia’s prime minister a year ago, the country has undertaken a dramatic series of changes. Abiy has ended Ethiopia’s two-decade conflict with its neighbor Eritrea, introduced ambitious reforms designed to lessen repression, and vowed to organize Ethiopia’s first free and fair elections. Taken together, these developments from Africa’s youngest head of state amount to an attempted revolution from within Ethiopia’s long-ruling coalition.

As Ethiopia remakes itself at home under Abiy, it is also forging a new set of ties with wealthy Middle Eastern nations across the Red Sea, breaking from a decades-old pattern of keeping them at a distance. Well before Abiy’s rise, an intense wave of Gulf Arab and Turkish outreach had begun stitching the Horn of Africa into the fabric of the greater Middle East, redrawing the geostrategic map in ways both promising and worrisome. To the surprise of many, Ethiopia is now reaching back. ...

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