One of the 'little' tragedies of the World looks like it is about to heat up again. As this Times Online article reports, Eritrea and Ethipia look like they are on the path to another war. Eritrea has ordered all US, Canadian and European UN peacekeepers to leave the nation. This follows an expulsion of UN helicopters earlier.
Between 1998 and 2000 they fought a war over a disputed border that cost an estimated 70,000 lives. The disputed border area ran largely through deserts. The war ended with both sides agreeing to abide by the decisions of a Eritrean-Ethiopian Boundary Commission. When the Commission released its work the Ethiopians rejected their drawing of the boundary, demanding control of villages given to Eritrea. However, these villages are not the real cause of the problem, the root of the dispute is landlocked Ethiopia's desire to gain the Eritrean port city of Assab.
Eritrea seems to have a legitimate grievance that the international community did not exert pressure on Ethiopia to abide by the Boundary Commission's findings. None the less, it is difficult to see what tiny Eritrea hopes to gain by going to war. The title of this article alludes to what the previous war was described as... blood spilled for sand and rock for as foolish a reason as two bald men fighting over a comb.
As a personel aside, during the Yom Kippur war I was on a ship that ran a Somali/South Yemeni blockade of the Babal-Mendeb straights. We docked in the then Ethiopian, now Eritrean, port of Massawa. Wonderful people, but horrible beer. Eh, what else did you think would be important to a sailor?