In this sense, fractures exposing discontent in Asmara have certainly been revealed, and the potential for similar events to gain traction until evolving into a wider and stronger push for regime change at grassroots level exists. Yet while recent events have demonstrated Asmara’s weaknesses and the increased challenges Afewerki faces as he struggles to maintain a hold on power, they have also allowed an opportunity for his regime to exhibit its strengths.
The continued exodus of Eritreans is a clear indication that the nation is not improving, and Ali Abdu’s disappearance is a signal that even the elite are not immune. Yet with each discontented border-crossing, the pool of agents for change within the nation diminishes, and Afewerki’s rule perseveres. If Ali Abdu found Afewerki’s system impossible to work within, and Operation Forto demonstrates how difficult it can be to challenge, then the hopes that these recent expressions of discontent in Eritrea signal increasing momentum for change, rather than a continuation of the same old system, may be misplaced.