Abiy Ahmed took up the reins of government in Ethiopia at a time of profound strife, and through a serious of deft political gestures, including the release of thousands of political prisoners and overturning highly repressive restrictions on civil society and political groups, he probably averted a civil war.

His reforms may have been symbolic—critics have called them superficial—but there is no question that his leadership channeled the anger of the streets into a productive passion for reform, quelled protests, and thereby spared Ethiopia from a wave of unrest that many feared could have culminated in a bloodbath. For that, he certainly should be revered inside Ethiopia, and he deserves the recognition and gratitude of the Western powers, which were spared a nasty reckoning with the consequences of the disastrous regional policies they have pursued since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.