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The International Writers Magazine: Spain 2015

Al Andalus
• James Skinner
Spain Vulnerable in ISIS Geo-Political Aim

Al Andalus

I was going to start this essay with the recent electoral events that have taken place and have altered the political scenery considerably when the news broke through of the latest Islamic terrorist attacks that took place in France, Kuwait and especially in Tunisia... The attack at the holiday resort of Sousse was enough to cause the Spanish government (conservative PP) to upgrade the terror alert from grade 3 to grade 4, maximum 5 and call for an emergency meeting with the main opposition party, the socialist PSOE to revise their one and only state pact which is the one dealing with national security related to an act of terrorism. For once the political leaders were not insulting each other and sat down to work out a plan of action to safeguard the country. They have more than enough reasons as Spain is probably not only the real target that the ISIS Caliphate are going after in order to conquer the rest of Europe but are the most vulnerable. All you have to do is take a look at the geographical snapshot of the North of Africa and the ‘view from above’ is more than frightening.

East of Tunisia is Libya with a continuing conflict that is out of control and Egypt right next to it. To the west is Algeria, once a French colony and Morocco, a Kingdom ruled by Mohammed VI. For the moment these latter are relatively calm neighbors, however, they continue to argue over Western Sahara and ironically Spain is caught in the middle although supports, due to important trade relations, Morocco. All countries are Sunni Muslims.

If we now look at the map of the Southern part of Spain and across from the straits of Gibraltar we have the cities of Ceuta and Melilla that border with Morocco. At one stage the small population of these cities was made up of Christians but over the years they have split into equal groups Muslims and Christians with a small minority of Jews. But Spain’s problem with Morocco is not only over Western Sahara. The African country is also claiming these two cities. Does it end here?

Let’s go further south, off the Atlantic coast of Morocco to the Canary Islands, over a thousand miles from the mainland but roughly one hundred from the Southern border of Morocco and few extra miles from Western Sahara.

Enter Al Andalus.

Back in 2008 I wrote an essay in Hackwriters on Spain mentioning the then Socialist President, Jose Maria Rodriguez Zapatero’s pet project before the United Nations named ‘Alliance of Civilizations’. It was an idea to bring together all the religions of the world in a sort of united family. I stated then that the plans of Al Qaeda would not buy it as the Islamic fundamentalists were after Al Andalus (Spain). Based on the above attacks and the present set up across from Gibraltar, ISIS are today just around the corner.

Picture this nightmare then. You’re at a nice hotel in Tenerife South, relaxing on the beach with your wife, the kids are enjoying building a sand castle for the umpteenth time, a group of surfers are making their way ashore when suddenly a small dingy with two men in wetsuits and carrying Kalashnikovs speeds a few feet from the edge opening fire at random.

This is what all the Spanish National Security agencies must be studying at the moment.

Meanwhile, life continues. We’ve just had autonomous and municipal elections and the incoming candidates are given a breathing space of 100 days to form a government, get to know the ropes and begin their task of running that sector of the country where they are in power. In theory they have to comply with their promises and if they cannot then they must justify it with reasonable arguments for or against their original proposals. In practice the first thing that happens is that they come up against a plethora of unknown data that hampers them. I covered the political changes that have taken place in the previous month’s essay and confirm that despite a turnaround in the major cities of Madrid and Barcelona that are now in the hands of the radical left (‘Podemos’ - alias ‘We Can’ - splinter groups) as well as certain autonomous regions such as Valencia and Galicia, no major effect will be felt until the main national elections in November. The present conservative (PP) government is still in power with an overall majority and has gone through a minor reshuffle of the top brass including the substitution of the Minister of Education, Sr. Jose Ignacio Wert. He tried to modernize the system and bring it in line with the European Union but came up against fierce rejection from all sectors including students, teachers and trade unionists.

Meanwhile, Catalonia continues on the path of seeking independence from Spain with regional elections in September. The Socialist (PSOE) Sra. Susana Díaz was finally sworn in as President of Andalusia thanks to the support of ‘Ciudadanos’, a central party and the fourth largest contender for the forthcoming national elections. However, this left wing party lead by Sr. Pedro Sanchez has taken a blow as the Supreme Court has finally indicted the previous Andalusian presidents Sr. Manuel Chavez and Sr. Jose Antonio Griñan accusing them of massive fraud of public funds that was uncovered by Judge Mercedes Alaya back in 2009. I reported this years ago and it has now been publicly announced as the greatest of all fraud scandals since democracy. Over nine hundred million Euros that were meant to go towards training programs for the over 30% unemployed Spaniards ended up, over a period of more than 10 years in the hands of politicians, trade unionists and a plethora of other criminal characters. Sra. Alaya by the way is still uncovering more dirt and calling for more culprits to take the witness stand as her fan club grows.

But what about Spain’s future?

Apart from the recent terrorist attacks and depending on the aftermath of the Greek crisis the Spanish economy continues to thrive as indicated by all the financial figures that have been presented so far. The ‘Troika’ as the IMF, European Central Bank and the European Commission are known as, are pleased. The President, Sr. Mariano Rajoy does not stop in reminding us that the country is healthy and that it must continue on the same economic path implemented by his party since it came to power. All very good, but the lower echelon of society is still in tatters and literally in poverty. Many families cannot make ends meet, hundreds of thousands of children are on the breadline, property evictions continue and street beggars are everywhere. ‘Caritas’ the Catholic Church’s non-government benevolent organization has recently produced some frightening statistics. Their equivalent of nationwide ‘meals-on-wheels’ is overflowing and literally saturated.

To end on a positive note, King Felipe VI and his wife Queen Leticia continue to gain public support. Their recent trip to France was welcomed by President François Hollande with the highest possible reception of a state visit. He is due to meet with President Obama in September and address the US Congress. Pity that Spain still has many sectors of society that are just anti-monarchy, republican or plain non-conformists. They just cannot see the wood for the trees.

See you next month.
Addenda: July 1st:
With all this Greek problem going on in the background - Podemos have taken over several key areas in Spain (example Madrid and Barcelona) and are having a field day denouncing capitalism. Anyone earning more the Euro 30000 per annum is considered 'rich'. One area that has virtually swung over to them is my patch Galicia. The front line of Podemos is a party called 'Mareas' (Tides) and they are in the main cities of Ferrol, Santiago and Coruña. Pontevedra has a Nationalist (BNG) and Vigo is in the hands of a dictatorial socialist (PSOE) as he has virtual control of the local media (television and press). The Regional government is still in the hands of the conservatives (PP) but are due for elections in 2016. My prediction is that if the main government changes at the end of the year so will the Galician one. Result: my patch will be after independence same as Catalonia with the eradication of the Spanish language and the imposition of the Galician one.

© James Skinner. July 2015

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