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Falklands War remains 'an open wound' in Argentina.

Posted on 2nd May 2022

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I found the remarks by the Argentinian ambassador to the UK, as reported here by the BBC, to be naïve and ill informed.

The ambassador said that the Falklands war is still an 'open wound' for the Argentinian people, as if it is not so for British people. Argentina strongly believes that the Falklands/Malvinas belong to them; the UK believes just as strongly that they belong to Britain. The clinching argument is that the people who live there consider themselves British and want to remain part of Britain. He also said that "he wants to re-engage with the UK government to discuss sovereignty"; does he really think that Britain is willing to negotiate away the ownership of the islands, ignoring the wishes of the residents, after having gone to war to defend the islands?

The ambassador's justification for his belief that the UK is ready to negotiate over the sovereignty of the Falklands is that he is "completely sure that the new generation [do not] have any idea regarding the war or that Britain has a beef with Argentina regarding the South Atlantic,". This BBC story, published on the same day, demonstrates that this is not true; the headline is "General Belgrano: The opera singer who survived the sinking of the Argentine cruiser". For those of you who are neither British nor Argentine, the General Belgrano is not the name of the opera singer, but the name of the Argentine cruiser sunk by Britain during the Falklands war (with great loss of life), and the BBC clearly feels that this piece of history requires no better introduction in the headline, because all their readers are aware of it.

The argument for the Falklands remaining British is the same as that for Gibraltar remaining British, and in contrast to the situation with Hong Kong (a former British territory abutting China) and Macau (a former Portuguese territory abutting China), where both populations were ethnically Chinese and did not, in general, identify as British/Portuguese.

Spain's Hypocrisy Over Its Enclaves In North Africa.

Posted on 6th June 2021

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This article on the BBC really highlights Spain's hypocrisy.

The report is about the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla (called Sebtah and Melilah by Morocco). These territories have been in the news a lot lately due to the influx of illegal immigration from Morocco (which requires nothing more complex than a swim along the beach).

The history of Ceuta and Melilla is summarised here, and that of Gibraltar here.

Morocco is using exactly the same arguments for the return of the two enclaves as Spain uses to make the case for the return of Gibraltar. Spain's response to Morocco is broadly the same as Britain's to Spain.

Spain's position is intolerably hypocritical.

The Sovereignty of Gibraltar - More Historical Perspective

Posted on 31st March 2014

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Since all the fuss in the news last year about Spain's claims to Gibraltar, there have been a couple of interesting stories about Spain's territories in North Africa: Melilla, and Ceuta. These Spanish enclaves add a bit of perspective to the dispute over Gibraltar.


Just like Gibraltar, Melilla was fought over a great deal, and was controlled variously by the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians (Punic), the Romans, African and Arab rulers, the Berbers, the Vandals, the Byzantine Empire, Visigoths, and the Portugese.

It arguably became Spanish in 1497, although the fighting continued until 1775.


Similarly, Ceuta was the much fought over, and controlled at various times by the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Vandals, the Visigoths, the Byzantine Empire, the Berbers, other Moorish invaders, and the Portugese.

It officially became a Spanish territory in 1668.


So, in summary, these two enclaves have been Spanish about as long as Gibraltar has been British, and Spain's claims to them seem to be about as well founded as Britain's claim to Gibraltar. Morocco wants both territories to be returned to Moroccan rule, but Spain doesn't seem to be taking their claims and complaints seriously.

Such hypocrisy does not deserve to be taken seriously.

The Sovereignty of Gibraltar - A Historical Perspective

Posted on 8th August 2013

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There has been a lot of fuss going on recently about Gibraltar: diplomatic rows, shots fired by a Spanish ship, delays at the border crossings due to additional border checks, and threats of a €50 charge for crossing the border.

The most recent (of many) BBC news story is here, and the story contains links to older stories.

This story contains a mini-overview of the history of Gibraltar:

  • "How long-running is the dispute over Gibraltar?
  • Extremely. The Rock has been fought over for centuries. First Spain battled Moorish invaders. Then it lost Gibraltar to an Anglo-Dutch force in 1704. The Spanish, despite formally ceding it to London in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, have wanted it back ever since. Under Franco, Spain cut Gibraltar off by sealing its frontier."

This article gives rather more detail about the history of Gibraltar. To summarise:

  1. Before 711 AD, Gibraltar was variously occupied by the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians the Romans, the Vandals, and the Visigoths; so, not Spanish (Spain didn't exist as a nation in those days anyway).
  2. With the Islamic conquest of Iberia in 711 AD, Gibraltar became a possession of the Moors, so also not Spanish.
  3. In 1462, Gibraltar was captured by Juan Alonso de Guzmán, 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia, so finally arguably Spanish (in 1469, the crowns of the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon were united by marriage, officially marking the founding of Spain as a nation - Spain was not properly unified into a single kingdom until the 18th century). During the time that Gibraltar was Spanish, Spain was fighting all over Europe, annexing or defending territory, including trying to invade England (the Spanish Armada); apparently all of that was perfectly fair, except if Spain lost.
  4. In 1704 a combined Anglo-Dutch force captured the town of Gibraltar, Under the terms of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in perpetuity. The Spanish still claim that Gibraltar is theirs, despite having signed it away in 1713.

So, Gibraltar was Moorish for 751 years, "Spanish" for 251 years, and since then has been British for 300 years. It was lost by Spain through military action, fair and square, in a time when such territorial conflict was normal between nations, and Spain negotiated and signed away Gibraltar. I do not understand how they expect their territorial claims to be taken seriously. Perhaps Spain might instead consider agreeing with Britain that Gibraltar be given to an Islamic state, as the successor to the Moors?