It is clear to the impartial observer that the chief minister is loosing his cool in the summer heat over the pending challenge for his post coming from the joint opposition party leaders Fabian Picardo and Dr Joseph Garcia. However if he is worried about defeating the dynamic duo I have grave news for him – Muammar Gaddafi is also on his case.
The besieged Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, has not named Gibraltar specifically but has set his sites on reclaiming Al Andalus for the Arab people. Apart from the Iberian Peninsula the Canary Islands, Sicily and other Mediterranean islands are all on his hit list.
A few years ago I wrote an article on the battle between La Línea and San Roque over their disputed boundary at La Alcaidesa. A reader wrote to me to say “for goodness sake can’t we move on that was 100 years ago”. Indeed many of you might nod your heads in agreement. If that is the case then what of the Treaty of Utrecht from 1713?
Well it is no good the chief minister travelling to the Libyan desert to sit in Muammar’s tent and chew sheep’s eyeballs with him whilst they ponder the clauses of the now largely defunct treaty and Gibraltarians rights to be Gibraltarians. If 100 year old agreements should be ignored and nearly 300 year old treaties consigned to the waste bin of history then what of the Arab claim to Al Andalus stemming from 711 to 1492 when the Moors were finally expelled. Ancient history indeed!
To those Arabs who want to re-conquer Al Andalus it is no good talking of an Iberian Peninsula divided between Gibraltar, Spain and Portugal – such national boundaries are not recognised by Gaddafi and his ilk. They will tell you that the “mountain of Tariq” was taken by the Berber Umayyad general Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the initial incursion into Iberia in 711, so for the believers in the promised land of Al Andalus, it started right here.
You could dismiss Gaddafi’s claims as being the mad ranting of a despot in North Africa but remember Muammar also owns large chunks of land on Gibraltar’s doorstep in Benahavís, half of Pujerra and a third of Júzcar. Indeed he is even said to have properties in Sotogrande so when the chief minister leans over his garden fence whilst on his summer holidays at his Spanish home he needs to check who he is talking to. If there is a giant tent next door and a few roaming camels chances are it’s a member of the Gaddafi clan.
There is also a serious aspect to this as whilst Gaddafi’s claim may be dismissed because of his current situation back in Libya the desire to re-conquer Al Andalus is not his alone. True Arab leaders such as those in Morocco are more intent on taking back Ceuta and Melilla but for fundamentalists the claim to the old lands on the Iberian Peninsula are real enough.
It is those same fundamentalists who might well support Gaddafi’s “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” vengeance call over the NATO attacks on Libya. In an audio broadcast on Libyan State Television on Friday Gaddafi threatened to unleash a wave of suicide bombers declaring “Hundreds of Libyans will become martyrs in Europe.”
Gaddafi has form when it comes to bringing terror to Europe whether it be his alleged association with the downing of the Pan Am jet over Lockerbie or his support for the IRA. Indeed the explosives currently held by Republican dissident groups in North Ireland are probably from those same stocks. So when Gaddafi and his mob talk of retaking Al Andalus and terror bomb campaigns we just have to hope that the fundamentalists do not follow the same route as in 711 by attacking first the “mountain of Tariq”.