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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.