Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s forces have not lost the war that he launched one year ago against the rebellious ruling party of the country’s northern Tigray region, though the conflict appears to be spiraling out of control as militias and separatist groups mobilize and join forces against the government.

But even if fighters loyal to Abiy manage to pull off a military victory against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Abiy has forever lost the image of savior and peacemaker. The young leader who was once compared to Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama is now mentioned in the same breath as war criminals such as deposed Sudanese strongman Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

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