In addition to its tense border dispute with Ethiopia, Eritrea is involved in a heated geopolitical standoff with its significantly smaller neighbor to the south.

The tiny port nation of Djibouti, a key U.S. ally in the Horn of Africa, has urged the U.N. Security Council to take immediate action to prevent a conflict with its northern neighbor Eritrea.

In a letter to the council president circulated Tuesday, Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf said Eritrea has launched a major military buildup on their border overlooking critical Red Sea shipping lanes.

It is not yet clear how the Security Council will respond to Youssouf’s appeal, and Djibouti is as yet unsatisfied with the mediation from the Arab League and African Union. According to Djibouti’s president, the Eritrean and Djiboutian armies are each massed along the border, and “the situation is explosive.” With Russia and Georgia also — at least rhetoricallysparring over the region of Abkhazia, yet another regional confrontation over territory is clearly not in the UN’s interests. In the border spat with Ethiopia, though, Eritrea’s government did not exactly welcome the continued presence of UN peacekeepers, eventually forcing them out of the country by withholding necessary fuel supplies. In that case, the UN had even ruled that the disputed border territory at hand belonged to Eritrea, so one can only imagine how the country would react to UN involvement in a case in which its claim to Djibouti’s land seems much more dubious.

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