The Footprint of Mussolini - TL

The Great Middle Eastern Crisis
Hey all, the War should be done in another post or two. I'm hoping that the Third (and final) part of the story can begin at New Year's.

The Great Middle Eastern Crisis

Extract from ‘The War that Ended a World’, by Francis Gautman

The Arab states were alternatively extremely conservative and relatively liberal. They were both modernized and primitive, urban and rural. But regardless of their differences, they were united in the suffering of war, and an unprecedentedly destructive one too. The Arab world had suddenly been decapitated without a clear system to know who replaced who. This led to personal rivalries, self-preservation and the lust for power being the order of the day. Compounded by the distances, gaps in language, religion and tribe, Pan-Arabism had fallen in perhaps the most discrediting way it could. The unity that Ba’athist propaganda had glorified was shown not merely to have died, but to have never existed at all. It was not the love of their neighbor that brought the Arabs together, but the radiance of Aflaq’s image and the fear of the whip. Once these were gone, the supposedly unbreakable bond that stretched from Gulf to Gibraltar was found to be as robust as the Emperor’s New Clothes. The chaos that followed the Italian nuclear attack would be well remembered among Arabs as the ultimate proof that the fellow members of their race were not necessarily on their side. It must be remembered, that while to Europeans the destruction of Arabia was indeed awe-inspiring, to the more traditionalist and conservative Arabs, it was as much a God-ordained, apocalyptic event in scale and wrath as Noah’s Flood or the Plagues of Egypt. Trade between the Arab states had vanished, with trucks full of food rotting on the borders with no one to allow them through. The electricity, where it had worked, was non-existent. The radio whizzed static, water didn’t come out of the tap and Western planes flew unimpeded over the sky like divine punishers, dropping clouds of death. Whole cities, cities that had stood for thousands of years and held millions in their sway, had vanished in seconds. The Second Nakba (Second Catastrophe) as Arabs call it, was the mental equivalent of the Soviet experience in World War 2, only combined with extreme religious ferver. The Arabs had never faced such a gigantic, universal catastrophe in their history, and people scrambled to find religious meaning in it. Sadly, the most popular one, which began to ferment even while Aflaq held out in the Baghdad Bunker, was that it was divine judgment for letting a Christian rule the primarily Muslim Arabs. Others even argued that Aflaq had been a European agent entrusted to sabotage the Arabs and render them enslaved. Even some of those who didn’t go as far as to attack Aflaq looked upon the Christians as fifth-columnists, a view which was greatly aided by the Phalangist takeover of Lebanon and subsequent events in Egypt and Iraq. Thus, even as the endgame began, the seeds of the next episode of suffering in the Arab World already began to grow.

Yemen was the first country to surrender to the Roman Alliance, quickly announcing that they would join the war on Italy’s side to improve their chances at the final negotiation. This would lead to longstanding jokes in Italy about the reliability of the Gulf state. Yemen would send its relatively unmolested forces both north against Saudi Arabia and east into Oman. They would meet Italian forces (who had invaded around the Mecca area) on October 6th at Balqarn while still bewildered they had barely fired a shot during their long march northward – their main impediment being the scores of starving civilians begging for food. The Saudi government could not respond to the threat because there was no Saudi government. By now, the Italians had been contacted by at least six different camps claiming to represent the legitimate heir to the Saudi throne. Some even suggest that the ultimate decision to accept the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia (Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al ash-Sheikh) as the true inheritor of the state was done by little more than frustration about working out whose royal claim was valid. The Mufti, who had venomously disagreed with King Saud over the alliance with Aflaq and the Soviets, gladly took the chance to pull the plug on the old alliance of the Salafists and Saud family. With the Mufti declaring that the Saud family had ‘forsaken the will of God by entrusting themselves to atheists and Christians’, their rule was consequently forfeit. On October 9th, the Mufti declared that all Saudi troops would stand down or ‘God would strike them dead’. The remaining members of the Saud family grabbed what little of their fortunes were left and fled the country, mostly to Brazil. Thus, the House of Saud came to an ignominious end as a ruling family.

The British, by now having recognized that the Roman Alliance was not acting remotely in the collective interest of the Western camp and were consequently furious at, had hurriedly organized a landing in Oman on September 26th. Sultan Said bin Taimur returned from exile, his former promises of allowing Western companies to have access to his natural resources still very much in play (though the British would muscle the Italians out of the deal). Landing in Salalah to cut off any attempted Italian incursion into Oman, the British quickly raced to the Yemeni border to stop them. Oman had likewise descended into turmoil since the Yom Kippur Nuclear Bombings. No two towns had the same leader and starvation had become the norm. The population, never particularly invested in the far away UAR imposing its control despite the popularity of its former leader Alhianai, put up scant resistance to the British. They were more worried about what the Italians and Yemenis would do to them (especially the latter if they were attempting to ‘prove their loyalty’), and often welcomed the English. Others were more than willing to cooperate with their new occupiers in return for more food or security – it was through this simple act of cooperation that a world-arresting revelation was about to assert itself. Meanwhile, the British landed another force close to Muscat on October 2nd, being likewise met with almost no resistance due to the shattered state of the Arab forces. Among them were many Israelis, all eager to find out the location where the Jews of Muscat had been imprisoned and hopefully save them from starvation. Of course, there was no one waiting to be rescued, and very soon, it was about to be known to the world.

But it was the fall of Egypt that would be the first major capitulation of the war. The Italians marched down the Nile to scant resistance; they had bypassed most of the fighting at Cairo due to the city’s extinction. The British and Sudanese marched steadily up the river, and all over the country’s skies, the Egyptian Air Force had been eliminated even as an afterthought. It was obvious to even the true believers that Egypt was finished. Yet Nasser continued to descend into deeper and deeper delirium. Sadat recalled the meeting that finally convinced him to act against his friend: “It was October 1st. Nasser was escorted to the table and we delivered a report discussing the situation in Kurdistan – about the Kurds rebelling and seeking Iranian help. Once we finished, and we talked for about fifteen minutes, Nasser spoke for a whole hour about nothing except how much he hated Aflaq and that we must plan a way to get him to lead the UAR instead of him. Then he left – the words ‘Kurdistan’ or ‘Kurds’ weren’t spoken. Yasser [Arafat] came to me after the meeting and said, ‘We can’t live like this – we need to do something’. He was right, and I told him he was. That was when, with the heaviest heart, I decided to put my love of my country over the love of my friend.”

On October 5th, the day had started badly for all concerned. It had been confirmed that Israeli troops had reached Damascus, though they naturally avoided going to the nuclear centre, content simply to pacify the suburbs. Nasser was alone in his quarters, mumbling about this was all Aflaq’s fault. Sadat came up to him, talking about the only subject Nasser cared to discuss at that time: the need to get revenge on Aflaq. At the same time, Nasser demanded he have some coffee to calm his nerves. Once the coffee was delivered, Sadat closed the door and poured cyanide into Nasser’s cup, which the dictator would have been easily able to see if he was not blinded. He then passed the drink to his friend. Nasser’s last words were, ‘Once this war is over …” and he never finished the sentence. Nasser died almost immediately from the first gulp – Sadat believed that Nasser died too quickly to realize what had happened, which gave him ‘immense peace’. He would recall his emotions afterward. “I willed myself to cry for what I had done to my friend – instead I only wept that I hadn’t done it sooner so that more Egyptians may have lived.” Meanwhile, troops loyal to him had arrested most of his competitors to the Egyptian leadership, notably Abdel Amer, who had become a figure of unbridled hate from most of the officers for his notoriously useless military commands. That evening, Sadat sent a message out to the Italians and British that Egypt had declared independence from the UAR and sought unconditional surrender. Sadat hoped that at the very least, the end of Egypt’s suffering had been reached. Tragically, in many ways, it had only begun.

Extract from 'Duck and Cover: The Near Misses that May have Meant WW3' by Donald Rusker

Faced with the demoralized, depressed Arab opposition, the Kurds were able to easily clear Erbil, taking most of the cities in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan, especially close to the Turkish border. Indeed, the main opposition the Kurds encountered was not the scattered Ba’athists, but the Turkish Air Force, who relentlessly battered the Kurdish forces, even in the midst of fighting the Ba’athists. As the UAR’s Air Force had effectively been grounded, the Turks had no problem finding spare forces to harry the Kurds. At the same time, the Israelis bombed the Ba’athist positions in the Kurdistan region as the indirect response to Turkish assault. This evened the score on the aviation front, and allowed superior Kurdish communication, organization and morale to overwhelm the Arabs. On October 10th, the Turks had finally completed their objective of reaching the Mediterranean, having liberated their annexed territories and obliterating the once imposing UAR army, whose greatest challenge they presented to the Turks was where to put all the surrendered soldiers. With that, the Turks finally began to turn around to march into the Iraq region with the goal of obliterating the Kurdish Independence Movement. But two other important things happened on October 10th. The first was the beginning of the Kurdish assault on Mosul, which the Kurds considered the key to controlling Iraq in the absence of Baghdad. But even more important was the second: it was the date that North Iran stated that it would ‘Defend the Kurdish people from Fascist aggression’ and thus moved its troops into Kurdistan. This turned the Kurdistan Crisis (also known as The Great Middle Eastern Crisis) into an International, existential threat that could result in Nuclear War.

The world was startled by the escalation, none more so than the Soviets, who couldn’t believe one of their client states had done something so bold as to risk World War 3 by preparing to begin a showdown with a Roman Alliance member in Turkey. Of course, compounding the Soviet concern were two brutal facts: the first was that they were seen as the ringleader of the operation, even though the last thing Khrushchev wanted was to go into the crippled UAR. He was planning to cut off the roads to West Berlin and pressure the West enough to leave the city to him in order to regain lost credibility before events completely overwhelmed him. The second was even more humiliating. To claim that North Iran had done the action without his authorization, while correct, would have been laughed out of court at best and at worst irreparably damage the credibility of the USSR, when even their puppets were seen to be out of their control. Molotov would recall, “Khrushchev, whose nerves had already plummeted in the three weeks, pulled out most of what was left of his hair in rage and fear at what the Iranians had done”. That night, the Soviets reluctantly made an announcement that they endorsed the Kurdish struggle for independence, throwing Aflaq so hard under the bus that Pravda changed from talking of the ‘Heroic UAR’ to the ‘Villainous UAR’ in a single day. But everyone knew the incredible risks that were unfolding – the North Iranians were a member of the Stalingrad Pact. If they were attacked, the Soviets would have to defend them against Turkey, which would involve the Roman Alliance and inevitably ITO. Thus, the Kurdistan Crisis would go down as one of the main flashpoints in history that could have concluded with retaliatory nuclear warfare.

But if that wasn’t enough, on October 12th, South Iran made their own incursion, also against the UAR but nowhere near Kurdistan, focusing on southern (Shia) Iraq. Britain had not been informed of the attack, and was likewise furious that an already intense crisis had yet another dimension to it. There were two major thrusts. In the first, keeping close to the Gulf, they charged at the barely coherent Arab defenses. Quickly surrounding Basra by the 13th and beginning the ‘liberation’ of Kuwait on October 14th, the South Iranians were greeted as saviors from possible Israeli occupation, though the population was much to broken and starving to put much emotion into anything. The second thrust was right towards the heart of the whole UAR edifice: Baghdad. The city had been reduced to radioactive rubble, albeit with its dictator still trapped beneath the graveyard that had once been his mighty metropolis. While Aflaq reportedly liked the visual of his holding out in the Baghdad Bunker as one of defiance in the face of death, in reality it simply left his cut-throat subordinates to fight among themselves without his iron direction. Baghdad was surrounded by scores of refugees fleeing in all directions except the city itself. The city of Aladdin, the city of a thousand myths and tales had become a smoking, disease-ridden husk of death. On October 15th, the South Iranian reconnaissance troops made out the ruins of the ancient city.

October 15th would also be a critical day in the north of Iraq. That was the day that Kurdish forces, backed by air power from both Israel and North Iran in one of the most bizarre alliances to grace to region, broke into the centre of Mosul. This should have been a moment for wild celebration, and it certainly was for Kurdish commanders. Unfortunately, word travelled fast to Ankara. The Turks decided that serious actions now had to be taken to obliterate the Kurdish presence in Mosul, even if that meant obliterating Mosul period. The Turkish Air Force was launched, as Turkish forces drew ever nearer to the Iraq border, setting up the final confrontation with the Peshmerga. Turkish pilots were told to ‘kill everything you see – there are no friends in Mosul’. To that end, Mosul was struck brutally, and only the relatively primitive nature of the Turkish Air Force hindered the operation. Both Arabs and Kurds perished beneath the bombs, even as they fought each other. But then came the great mistake. One Turkish fighter saw a significant detachment of men outside the city and turned to fire on them – which indeed he did. Others then swarmed the survivors and almost obliterated them. It wasn’t until that evening that the word reached Ankara: those weren’t Kurds, or even Arabs … they were Iranians. Radmanesh made a radio speech that night saying that, “The Fascist Turks have fired the first shot in the next war!” Soon after, Khrushchev, still reeling at how events were overwhelming all concerned, made a similar speech that, ‘The Turks and all their Western allies have committed an unpardonable offense!” Soviet ambassadors were recalled across the world, and the Soviet Union went on high alert. In response, Bulgaria (also the most Pro-Israel state in the Roman Alliance outside of Italy) [1], officially remilitarized Dobruja in defiance of the Kiev Agreement on October 16th. Israel finally pulled any support of the Kurds, recognizing how serious the new crisis was. Patton by now had finally leaned into the conflict, saying that it would fully support its ITO partners in conflict with the Soviets, and would consider an attack on the Roman Alliance tantamount to one on ITO. As Kurdish/Iranian and Turkish troops prepared to clash at the old Syria-Iraq border, it seemed like the world was hurtling towards Nuclear War, with the Great Middle Eastern Crisis seemingly doomed to lead all of its competing parties to oblivion.

Then, in Jerusalem on October 16th, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion would walk out to a press conference. As the Israeli press breathlessly asked him if WW3 was imminent, he gave the news that would stun the world. And of all people he had to thank for the revelation, none of the journalists in the room would have suspected that it was none other … than Otto Skorenzy. [2]

[1] - Not to mention the presence of many figures OTL who stood against Hitler's plans for the Holocaust, ITTL, Thessaloniki (renamed to the Bulgarian 'Solun') has a significant Jewish presence. In the 19th century, it was a Jewish majority city. Now that the city has been annexed to Bulgaria (with almost all Greek Jews fleeing there after pogroms) it has once more got a majority of the city after the Greeks were expelled. Ladino is kept alive as a major language there, with Yiddish kept alive as the major Jewish language among those who remained in Libya, and of course Hebrew in Israel, thus keeping the three main tongues of Judaism alive.

[2] Believe it or not, there is strong evidence Skorenzy was enlisted by Mossad to keep tabs on the Egyptians. ITTL, something similar happens, though the target is a little different …
Last edited:
Also, I guess the only question in Arabia is whether it becomes an Islamic Republic of Arabia or whether the Hashemites or Rashidis get their thrones back?
So somehow Arabia is now ruled by someone who is even more fundamentalist than the Saudis? Boy, this is not going to end well.
Also considering Kuwait was a british colony, i wonder if its annexation will end up causing a political crisis between South Iran and England.
Maybe this will force South Iran to join the Roman Alliance
otto o my this will be interseting i cant wait for more this will give the arabs a even worse reputation now that their their pact withe nazis come out.
otto o my this will be interseting i cant wait for more this will give the arabs a even worse reputation now that their their pact withe nazis come out.

OTL, a big reason the Allies weren't harsher on Germany, despite all they did, was because they knew it was crucial to getting the European economy back on its feet. The UAR here has almost no economic connections to the West, has put itself on the same moral plane as the Nazis and Communists and there is no diaspora around the world to lobby for it. In short, their grave is closer to six hundred feet than six.


Then, in Jerusalem on October 16th, Prime Minister Ben-Gurion would walk out to a press conference. As the Israeli press breathlessly asked him if WW3 was imminent, he gave the news that would stun the world. And of all people he had to thank for the revelation, none of the journalists in the room would have suspected that it was none other … than Otto Skorenzy. [1]
"Relax guys, the Arabs was only misled by Nazis?"
Kurshchev will be soon even in more difficult position when world will know whom with their ally bedded. There is not way how Arabs could get some credibility long time. Firstly they followed grand mufti who was friend of Himmler and then they allied with nazi refugees. Soviets can't anything else than abandon Arabs forever and rest of the world will hate Arabs.
@Sorairo Well at least we know this *doesn’t* lead to nuclear WW3, but wow what a mess.

Surprised the British did not take Kuwait.
Also surprised Mussolini himself did not intervene regarding the Kurds/N Iran.
Kurshchev will be soon even in more difficult position when world will know whom with their ally bedded. There is not way how Arabs could get some credibility long time. Firstly they followed grand mufti who was friend of Himmler and then they allied with nazi refugees. Soviets can't anything else than abandon Arabs forever and rest of the world will hate Arabs.

If not for generations to come (which may mean into the present day and beyond.)

While I'm sure Sorairo already has the peace plan in mind, I'm sure that if Egypt isn't Copt dominated, it's going to be part of Italian North Africa without a shadow of a doubt, with the remainder of the UAR basically being partitioned between the British, Turks, Italians, Israelis and possibly even the South Iranians.
Coptic Apartheid State!Egypt? Or is it more "the war left Egypt such a mess"?
When the possiblity of a post-war Christian ruled Egypt was first raised a few updates ago, I had my doubts about it's viability. However if one were to add 90% of the rest of Arab worlds Christian population to Egypt, the figures would change.
Rather than "Apartheid State!Egypt" more a "Homeland for Arab Christians". As an Arab Christian living outside of Egypt right now, you don't need to be a political mastermind to realize that moving to such a one ASAP might be a good idea.