Eden has made an important observation in this post which I had made in my earlier posts . Isaias Afewerq lost the war in 1993 when his group decided to opt for referendum and separation from Ethiopia instead of playing major role in Ethiopian affairs with all its resources, 95 million people, market share and its global diplomatic power.
Isaias biggest mistake was to over estimate and project Eritrea's limited power. He was trying to compete against Ethiopia instead of effecting Ethiopian politics from within. Finally, he ended up being a leader or shall I say a provincial governor of little Eritrea with very limited resources to affect no change even in smaller Dijibouti. Just look around how the Meles Woyannies have changed Ethiopia and Tigrai forever and ever, such as ethnic federalism and language pride, economic infrastructure, diplomacy, military, industrialization ... These will never be reversed.
No one has changed Ethiopia or any African nation to this extent the way Meles had changed Ethiopia in the last 21 years with the exception of South Africa. The changes he brought to Ethiopia will be felt in the next 500 years. This is what Isaias had missed by opting out of Ethiopia.
With 95 million people and the ports, the present Qatari servant would have changed the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia into a super power.
On the down side, the [Eritrean] elite thought, it risked losing power soon after it comes to power because it then had to face the elites coming from a much larger elite pool than the much smaller elite pool of Eritrea. They probably strongly felt that once they did the hard work and sacrifice in removing the central government, they would have to choose between sharing substantial power with the much larger elite base of Ethiopia or face heading a nation very ungovernable.