A Spanish-Moroccan War in 2002

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Dr. Strangelove, Aug 11, 2007.

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  1. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person Banned

    Sep 26, 2005
    Well, this is my first attempt to do a TL in two years, and it probably must be full of mistakes and innacuracies, so feedback is welcome. This is the beginning:


    What if the Perejil Island Incident in July 2002 had gone terribly wrong?


    July 11th 2002: at 7.00 AM Moroccan gendarmes land in Perejil Island and raise a moroccan flag above it.

    11 AM: a Spanish Guardia Civil patrol boat approaches the island. When the Guardia Civil agents try to land, the Moroccan gendarmes force them back at gunpoint.

    14 PM: Most Spanish news broadcasters mention the incident but don’t give it a great importance.

    17 PM: First contacts between Spanish and Moroccan diplomats.

    20 PM: The Rabat government announces that Moroccan forces in Perejil are there to stay since it belongs to Morocco. All over the country people celebrates the liberation of Perejil, alongside with the King’s wedding.

    July 12th 2002: Spanish forces in North Africa are put in alert, while several warships are dispatched to Ceuta.

    12PM: Spanish foreign affairs minister Ana Palacio speaks to her Moroccan counterpart Benaissa. Benaissa states that Perejil is Moroccan territory and that the Moroccan gendarmerie has only set up a watching outpost to monitor illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

    3PM (POINT OF DIVERGENCE): A Spanish patrol boat enters the channel between Perejil and the Moroccan coast and exchanges shots with 3 moroccan patrol boats. Tension builds up [In OTL both patrol boats faced off but no gunshots were fired]

    5PM: Spanish PM Aznar is informed of the patrol boats incident.

    7PM: Since it is unclear who fired first, Moroccan officers are afraid that Spain would try to take the island back by force. It is decided that Moroccan forces facing Ceuta and Melilla will be reinforced.

    In the middle of an unusually hot summer, the Perejil Incident has become the conversation theme. While the average Spaniard thinks this is a really lame incident, and that things will be sorted out peacefully. The overall insignificancy of the island only makes things more ridiculous. In the rest of Europe and North America commentators mock this “Goat War”, after the goats that are the only inhabitants of the island.

    July 13th 2002:

    9AM: Spanish frigates Numancia and Navarra arrive to the port of Ceuta, being greeted by the population. Unlike the jesting attitude in mainland Spain, the morale in Ceuta and Melilla is very different: all kinds of crazy rumours about Moroccan artillery pointing directly to the city center and suspicious troop movements in the other side of the border spread. [In OTL these rumours were widespread in Ceuta and Melilla but turned out to be false or greatly exaggerated. In TTL, due to the greater tension since the first days and the Moroccan redeployment, they’ll turn out to be true)

    12PM: Danish presidency of the European Union condemns the incident and expresses support for the Spanish. Only France and Portugal will not openly condemn the Moroccan takeover.

    17PM: Tension keeps building up in North Africa when a Spanish frigate approaches the Island.

    July 14th 2002:
    Spanish and Moroccan diplomats reunite to agree to a diplomatic solution to the incident. In fact, this meeting is more of a smoke curtain, since the Moroccan army is preparing a military force to substitute the gendarmes. Meanwhile, several infantry and artillery units are being moved towards Ceuta and Melilla.

    14PM: Another armed incident happens between Spanish and Moroccan patrol boats. Spanish TV broadcasts images of bullet holes in the hull of a Spanish patrol boat.

    19PM: Spanish intelligence learns from the Moroccan troop movements.

    20PM: PM Aznar is informed about the Moroccan deployment. After consulting with his Chief of Staff and informing King Juan Carlos, he decides to deploy more forces in Ceuta and Melilla.

    11PM: The Tercio Juan de Austria of the Legion based off Almeria is mobilized.

    In the last two days, the attitude in Spain has slowly changed to a more worried climate. Military recruiters have detected an unusual rise on the recruitment petitions [this happened in OTL], and the calls to radio stations asking for a military expulsion of Moroccan occupiers of Perejil now come not only from right-wing wackjobs, but from more moderate people.

    A secret CIA report informs that the odds of a war over the Straits of Gibraltar are very unlikely.

    July 15th 2002:

    9AM: To mark the ending of the Congressional year, the traditional Debate on the State of the Nation is held at Madrid. The crisis with Morocco holds an important place on the debate.

    11AM: the newest ship in the Spanish arsenal, the AEGIS frigate Álvaro de Bazán is mobilized to the conflict zone.

    12AM: the Spanish carrier Príncipe de Asturias and her battlegroup are mobilized at her Rota Naval Base near Cadiz.

    [In OTL only the frigate was mobilized. The addition of the Carrier to the task fleet is a sample on how the tension is bigger than in OTL]

    15PM: NATO condemns the Moroccan action and urge for a diplomatic solution, but remind Spain that Spanish north African holdings are not under the NATO umbrella.

    17PM: Spanish soldiers arrive to the Spanish outposts in Alhucemas and the Chafarinas islands to reinforce the garrisons.

    21PM: 30 Moroccan royal marines arrive to Perejil Island and relief the gendarmes. They proceed to build rudimentary defensive positions [In OTL they arrived one day later, were only 12 and didn’t take any defensive precaution. Actually, they were all sleeping when the Spanish commandos assaulted the island]

    July 16th 2002:
    11AM: Spain withdraws its ambassador at Rabat. Morocco will do the same shortly after.

    12PM: Legion troops arrive to Ceuta and Melilla.

    13 PM: the Principe de Asturias battlegroup take positions in international waters at the Gulf of Cadiz.

    15PM: The Debate on the Nation State ends with the tacit support of every political group, except Catalonian radical nationalists, to the governments’ stance on the Moroccan crisis.

    16 PM: The Moroccan fleet based at Tangiers, Alhucemas and Casablanca is mobilized.

    During the entire day, the Spanish PM and the Joint of Staff chiefs have been debating about how to end the crisis. When news of the Moroccan deployment arrive, it becomes clear that only a military solution is feasible.

    20PM: Spanish submarines leave the Cartagena naval base towards the conflict zone.

    21PM: PM Aznar talks to US president Bush about the possibility of a Spanish assault on Perejil Island. Bush declares the US’ neutrality in the conflict [Yep, this happened in OTL]

    2130 PM: Frigates Numancia and Navarra take positions in the Strait, along with a small support fleet
    22PM: preparations start for the assault on Perejil Island. Despite the Moroccan defensive setup, the operation is expected to be bloodless. PM Aznar reports to the king, and promises that he takes all responsibility: he will resign from his charge if something goes wrond.

    2330 PM: Soldiers of the MOES (Mando de Operaciones Especiales) leave their base at Rabassa, near Alicante. Their mission is to assault and retake Perejil Island with as little violence as possible. They will be supported by F-18 and Mirage F-1 planes, several Sikorsky helicopters, frigates and submarines.

    The next day, July 17th 2002, a full scale war will erupt in the Straits of Gibraltar.
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  2. Dan1988 Vamos abrir a porta da esperança!

    Feb 23, 2007
    ATL Royaume du Canada
    Okay, so in addition to Perejil Island, this would also bring Ceuta and Melilla into play, as well as the remaining "plazas de soberanía". How would Spain deal with them?
  3. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person Banned

    Sep 26, 2005
    The spanish doctrine in case of a moroccan agression is that, while Ceuta is easily defendable, Melilla and the rest of the plazas are not. The spanish strategy is to hold onto Ceuta, destroy the moroccan fleet and secure a beachhead in northern morocco to capture Tangiers and Tetuan. Once those cities were taken, Morocco is supposed to be willing to negotiate.

    A map showing the different plazas. Only Ceuta and Melilla have civilian population, the rest are mere military garrisons:

  4. Nekromans Mernber

    Mar 25, 2006
    In the event of a Moroccan victory, it'd be interesting to see whether Spain is forced to relinquish claims on Gibraltar to the UK, or whether the Moroccans simply take it.
  5. stevep Member

    Mar 21, 2006

    Duh:confused::confused::confused:. Even presuming a Moroccan victory that results in it taking all the Spanish possessions that would give it no claim on Gibraltar, let alone any capacity to take it. Even presuming such a victory you can expect heavy Moroccan losses, especially in equipment. For it then to pick a fight with Britain, especially since the later could definitely call on allied support.

    I can't see the Spanish giving up their imperial claim on Gibraltar, any more than southern Ireland on Ulster. Just the possibility that as in the latter case it represents a desire that the bulk of the population ultimately realise is pointless and counter productive. In one way a Moroccan victory would actually boost the Spanish position. They would no longer be open to charges of hypocrisy in terms of seeking to simultaneously demand the seizure of Gibraltar while holding their own outposts in a similar position.

  6. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person Banned

    Sep 26, 2005
    Morocco has no way of crossing the Strait. To put it simply, the flagship of the Spanish Navy is an aircraft carrier; the flagship of the Moroccan navy is a corvette. :D
  7. BlackMage Has an Archnemesis. (It's ES.)

    Jan 30, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    Very interesting idea for a TL, and one I'd never even heard of before...you are going to continue this, right?

    So, how do the European Union and Arab League get drawn in? If the EU does nothing, it could do serious damage to their relations with Spain, which could potentially jeopardise the whole union. If they do get involved, it could damage their relations with the whole Arab world, but it would certainly ensure a rather short war.

    So the first strike would be a Spanish attempt to retake Perejil. What happens next? Moroccan strikes the 'plazas de soberina', presumably, but how far could they presumably get? If they do conquer the exclaves, do they place them under military administration or do they attempt to integrate them into Morocco? (This would be, incidently, the first occupation of part of a genuinely democratic nation since at least Croatia; how does the world respond?)

    What exactly could the end result of the war be? Suing for peace would require massive losses for the Spanish, even though actual Moroccan landings in Spain are impossible (...aren't they?) On the other hand, the Spanish could potentially do real damage to Morocco; what could a post-war Morocco look like? Would the monarchy be left in charge?
  8. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

    Aug 1, 2006
    France will be in a very funny position.
  9. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person Banned

    Sep 26, 2005
    In-deedy. :D
  10. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person Banned

    Sep 26, 2005
    And now shit hits the fan:

    The Perejil War, Day 1: July 17th 2002

    In an ironical twist of fate, this war will start in exactly the same place and date than the last war Spain suffered 66 years before.

    2AM: the Spanish airspace is closed; every plane on it asked to land ASAP. The civilian airports of Cádiz, Málaga , Almería, Ceuta and Melilla are closed too. [This happened in OTL, although the closure would only last a few hours]

    3-5 AM: Spanish submarines and warships take positions near Perejil . The straits of Gibraltar are closed to civilian traffic; ships crossing it are ordered to move to the nearest available port.

    5.30 AM: 5 transport helicopters escorted by loading the assault team take off from Ceuta and head for Perejil while the sun rises.

    6AM: the helicopters reach Perejil Island and hover above it.

    6.05 AM: It is unclear who shot first. The Moroccans say that a Spanish helicopter shot first upon seeing the Moroccan positions. The Spaniards say that the Moroccan defenders shot first to prevent a landing. Anyway, a few minutes after the arrival of the commandos, what was supposed to be a bloodless operation has become a total mess, with Spanish helicopters firing to the Moroccan positions while they try to find a good spot to land.

    6.15AM: after some minutes of chaos and with both sides already sustaining some casualties, the first squad of Spanish commandos is able to land in the highest point of the island while some of the Messerschmit combat helicopters escorting them open fire on the Moroccan positions.

    6.25 AM: the Spaniards have won a decent foothold on the island despite having suffered heavy losses. Meanwhile, the Moroccan defenders call for support.

    6-30 AM: PM Aznar is informed that things have gone horribly wrong. He still can’t suspect that they will go much, much, worse.

    6.45 AM: Moroccan light artillery based off the coast opens on the Spanish positions in Perejil. [heavy artillery would probably reduce the entire island to rubble :p]

    6.50 AM: Spanish F-18 patroling the zone bomb the Moroccan batteries, evading before any enemy AA battery can lock on them. Unfortunately for a lot of people, the Moroccan commander is able to send a radio message informing that his position is under attack of Spanish warplanes.

    7 AM: The Moroccan commanders in Rabat debate on which measures to take. It seems that the Spanish assault has become a bloodbath. Not only that, but it seems that the Spanish air force has attacked what is without any doubt Moroccan soil. A decision is taken of answering with all force. With luck, it is even possible that the Spaniards are definitively expelled from Africa…

    7.30 AM: the last defenders of Perejil surrender after one hour of sustained combat. Both sides have suffered several dead and wounded.

    8 AM: Events at Perejil suddenly seem irrelevant as Moroccan heavy artillery opens fire on Ceuta, Melilla and the Spanish plazas of Velez de la Gomera and Alhucemas.

    [To be continued..]
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  11. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

    Oct 4, 2005
    Did I miss something or did MOROCCO just start a WAR with a NATO member less than a year after 9/11?

    Wow! On the stupid scale, this one would be off the chart.
  12. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person Banned

    Sep 26, 2005
    1- Ceuta and Melilla are not protected by the NATO treaty. Whatever happens there, Spain has to face it alone (at least in theory). As I posted in the July 15th events (and I didn't make it up, those were actual NATO declarations in OTL), NATO stated that the incident was not NATO business.
    2- The american and french attitude has always been rather pro-moroccan, mostly due to the moroccan support to french and american oil prospectors in Western Sahara, and historical reasons such as France being Morocco's former colonial master and America's traditional friendship with Morocco.
    3- I left deliberately unclear who shot first. It is true that Morocco attacking two spanish cities is way over the top, but moroccans can always state that spanish planes attacked moroccan positions first.

    In the public opinion field, Spain has all sympathies, but in the realpolitik field, americans will insist in keeping neutrality in the conflict, trusting that it can be easily and fastly solved. Moroccans also trust on their numerical superiority to overrun the spanish positions as fast as possible before the spaniards can set up a proper defense and force them into the negotiating table.
  13. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

    Oct 4, 2005
    THE SPANISH? How about the Sixth Fleet? Or the American, French, Italian & British aircraft that are about to turn Rabat into a smoking hole in the ground and destroy the entire Moroccan military.

    The Arab League? How about NATO? GW is POTUS in 2002 & let's face it, Islamic states are not exactly in favor. INVADING a NATO member, WITHIN NATO's agreed upon defensive perimeter? Even IVAN never tried something THAT dumb.

    We're not talking the Falklands here with Reagan in office, this is in the MED with Bush 43 in the White House. This is WAY past insane. NATO can put 500 attack planes on station inside 36 hours, depending on where the CBG's are, maybe 200 inside of 12 hours.

    This ends only one way, badly. Morocco (and anybody bloodly stupid enough to try & help them) gets its ass kicked between it's shoulder blades, a moderate (relatively) Islamic state gets crushed, resulting in another breeding group for terror, & Spain winds up with a foreign occupation it never really wanted.
  14. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

    Oct 4, 2005

    The U.S. stays neutral until it actually turns into a shooting war, especially if it appears, even for half a tick, that Spain might run into trouble. Rabat or Madrid? That's the choice the U.S. has to make? Yep, that's a tough one.

    Allow a NATO member, who is providing at least political support in Afghanistan, to get fought to a standstill or, God forbid, LOSE to an Islamic state 10 MONTHS after 9/11. Not a chance in hell, not with Bush 43 in office, actually not with ANY American president in the foreseeable future.
  15. BrotherToAll Student of G.K. Chesterton

    Aug 3, 2007
    The United States as well as France and Italy would get involved most likely England also plus the Spanish will turn the full force of their military on the Moroccans smashing them into the dirt. Compare the quality of equipment as well as air power and naval power the Moroccans dont stand a chance it would be a Moroccan blood bath.
  16. Wendell Wendell

    Jun 8, 2005
    Lost in what might have been
    Actually, I think that the U.S. would remain neutral. However, it might tacitly support Spain. That said, Morocco and the U.S. are on fairly friendly terms.

    Anyway, this conflict could surely impact the Western Sahara mater.
  17. Dr. Strangelove a very bad, bad person Banned

    Sep 26, 2005
    The fact is that Morocco is one of the few muslim states clearly friendly of the US. I do not see that far fetched that the US seek neutrality to prevent the loss of such an ally, especially if the moroccans manage to convince the world that it was the spaniards who attacked first. [I'm going to rework the last events since on a second read they seem too sudden and unrealistic.]

    The assumption of the spanish military has always been that, in case of a moroccan agression, no NATO help can be expected besides supplying weaponry and that Spain will have to fight alone. For the US, neutrality is the best option since the spaniards have always had the assumption that they can't expect help and the moroccans would see neutrality as a tacit consent.

    Spain has been lobbying for years to reform the NATO treaty so it includes Ceuta, Melilla and the Canary Islands, with no success so far.
  18. Alratan Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    The US would be in a very difficult position indeed. After activating the NATO treaty in response to terrorism post 9/11 (which other NATO powers didn't do in response to state sponsored terrorism directed against them), not coming to the aid of one of its allies which had suffered such an attack would probably destroy NATO, particularly with Spanish troops serving alongside American forces in Afghanistan at the time.
  19. ironram Shark-tamer

    Mar 16, 2007
    Very fascinating POD. What about the rest of North Africa? What are their stances on this issue, politically (especially Algeria)?
  20. Hecatee Traveller of the pasts

    May 20, 2007
    Now a wild card is the Moroccans terrorist groups which are inside Spain and the thousands of more peaceful Moroccans workers who work in southern Spain. Demonstrations we will surely have, but will the massive Attocha bombing that OTL happened in 2004 happen earlier ? It could spark the dreaded "civilizations war" between the Christian ( and remember that Spain is very catholic, even today ) and Islamic worlds ( and remember that the King of Morocco is "commander of the faithful" since the fall of the last Ottoman sultan )...
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