The Spanish-Moroccan War
By Jose Santos
DAY 5: JULY 21st 2002
The Moroccans have lost the initiative. After losing most of their tanks and best units in the foiled counteroffensive of past afternoon, and with the Spanish airforce having control of the skies, their position around Ceuta is unsustainable. With the Spanish army slowly expanding its beachheads and the Moroccan reinforcements still deploying to protect Tangiers and Tetouan, the Spaniards are having the upper hand in the battle for northern morocco.
Not everything is lost for the Moroccans, though. They still control Melilla, where things are slowly going back to normality, and where a Spanish landing would be next to impossible, and the polisario advance in the Sahara has met with failure whenever the remaining Moroccan airforce has been able to attack the advancing guerrillas.
Midnight: The straits are reopened to civilian traffic after 24 hours, as most of the invasion army is already in North Africa. The US Navy command coordinating the passage, though, is warned that Spanish ships carrying supplies and reinforcements (most being rented/confiscated freighters) will enjoy top priority.
In Western Sahara, the Moroccan garrisons have repealed every polisario attempt to attack the cities.
In the combat zone of northern morocco, the Spanish are advancing slowly to cut the roads leading to Ceuta and cut off the Moroccan army besieging Ceuta.
In Ceuta, the situation is one of stagnation, with both sides unable to advance, although the city defenders have regained some lost terrain.
In Madrid’s Ministry of Defence, the planners know that the most difficult phase is over and that the army can go on the offensive to achieve the objectives laid out in Plan Blue. The main efforts are now devoted to prepare Operation Black, scheduled for the next day.
2AM:In Rota, after the Galicia assault ship is being loaded with more soldiers. Their objective will be to start a secondary landing in the atlantic shore of Tangiers, encircling the city before the defenders can react [This is NOT Operation Black, but a secondary landing included in Plan Blue]
6AM: as sun rises over the combat zone, the Spanish advance continues at a faster pace.
In the western edge of the combat zone, Spanish infantrymen supported by tanks advance through the coastal road. Their objective, Tangiers and its big port. Resistance here is scarce.
In the Afersigoua sector, the Spanish also advance towards Ben Ouidane and the road junction. After their failed attack, the Moroccan troops in that sector are too tired and unorganized to mount a serious resistance.
The situation is more even at the Puyol Beach sector, where the Moroccans are still opposing a heavy resistance at Fnideq and where the Spaniards seem unable to break the Moroccan positions around Dar Guarda; the last defendable position before Tetouan. In that same sector, Spanish troops are also advancing towards Ben Ouidane, although the difficult terrain and scarce roads make their advance slow and bloody.
7AM: In Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, the airstrips are finally prepared to be used by military aircraft.
In Western Sahara, the Polisario advance is faltering, as they have now lost the surprise factor and the Moroccans still have some helicopters in the area and the situation in the cities is starting to calm down.
8AM: Europe wakes up at the 5th day of war with newspapers reporting about the latter day’s battles and the Moroccan defeat. The general attitude is that Morocco will have to sue for peace in less than 2 days. Riots keep going on in France’s main cities, and other cities such as Rotterdam, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Leeds or Frankfurt.
The Galicia leaves Rota, making its way between a swarm of civilian freighters heading towards the reopen straits.
After a brief combat, Spanish soldiers enter Mrarech, only 10 miles east of Tangiers. The Moroccan defenders tried to hold the pass over the wadi but the Spanish tanks managed to cross the bridge before the Moroccans were able to destroy it. [with this swift advance along the coast, the Spanish are of course exposing their flank. This is not that important since a) the moroccan forces in the area are too few and scattered to attack the Spanish supply line from Mendieta Beach, b) should Tangiers fall, the city port and naval base will allow a perfect supplying point for the Spanish, rendering the coastal road and the port at Casillas Beach irrelevant. Anyway, the bulk of the Moroccan force is now around Tetouan and El Fendek, and redeploying them towards Tangiers would be next to impossible]
9AM: Spanish troops have reached Ben Ouidane. If they take the village, the Moroccan army in the north is toast. The Moroccans know this and defend the village house to house.
In Tarifa, the same tourists that left the city in panic 4 days before are now coming to the city for a more sinister attraction: seeing the combats live from the beach. Literally. This is a far more mediatic war than the past war in Afghanistan, since it is being fought in an area with a decent presence of video cameras and internet connections. Since the first day, the web has been full of video footage of almost everything related, from dogfighting over the straits to street combat in Ceuta, even images of the first Spanish landings. The war has also become the hottest topic in blogs and message boards. The feared attacks by Islamic hackers have failed to materialize.
Melilla starts its fourth day of Moroccan occupation. Movement restrictions have been lifted and the Moroccan military is now allowing the passage of supply trucks from the mainland, while power and water have been already restored.
10AM: The Spanish offensive against Dar Guarda starts with an air and naval bombing. After 5 days, the view of warplanes in Andalusia heading south towards Africa has become routine for inhabitants and tourists.
Refugees are crowding the routes leading south from Tetouan, making the moroccan logistics situation even worse.
After 24 calm hours in that sector, the Spanish resume their attack in the north, advancing towards El Horra and the 2nd road junction between Road 416 and Road 8303.
In Fnideq, the Spanish are slowly advancing to take the city for the 3rd time in less than one day.
The Spanish freighters carrying troops and equipment are navigating south, unnoticed between the many ships that crowd the Moroccan coast.
After 4 days of crisis, European stock exchanges start to recover.
11AM: The Spanish reach the village of Talaa Cherif, only 7 miles east of Tangiers. The Moroccan command is making frantic attempts to reinforce the city, but the continued air bombardment over the roads make it very difficult.
Midday: The Galicia is taking positions in front of the landing beach southwest of Tangiers, escorted by a frigate. The troops, mostly infantry with scarce armoured support are commanded to take the airport and link with the other advancing Spanish troops, surrounding Tangiers before the enemy is able to reinforce the city.
Spanish tanks break the Moroccan resistance north of Chejirat. They already have Tangiers in sight.
The Tangiers garrison is ordered to take defensive positions while more troops are hurried up to the city. If the Spaniards try to assault it, they will have to pay dearly.
The battle for El Ouidane and the road junction follows on, with the Spaniards advancing slowly thanks to air and armoured support.
In Madrid, the victims of the latter day’s terror attack are being buried.
12.30PM: The Spanish airforce launches a heavy attack against the Moroccan troop concentrations south of Tangiers.
In Dar Guarda, the Moroccan resistance starts to falter.
1PM: Spanish soldiers land at Jbila Beach (codename Albelda Beach). In a few minutes, they have advanced towards the airport and captured the landing strip (Tangiers Airport is right next to the sea) overwhelming the garrison.
A few miles to their northeast, the Spanish advance from Mendieta Beach continues unopposed. The Spanish tanks are at only 1 mile from Chejirat. If they’re able to break the Moroccan lines there, they will reach the plain south of Tangiers and join with their comrades at the airport.
2PM: In the western Sahara, the Moroccan army seems to be regaining the initiative after a 2nd polisario attack on Smara is repulsed.
The Spanish take the terminal of Tangiers airport while reinforcements are being unloaded onto Albelda Beach. The Moroccan counterattack is being difficulted by the continuous Spanish air attacks.
3PM: At El Horra pass, the Spaniards advance towards the road junction. At 3.10PM, the first Spanish tanks have reached the junction of Road 8303 and Road 416 while more troops are rushed to the area. Unless the Moroccans can somehow expel them, the Moroccan army around Ceuta is in serious trouble.
The situation is more static north of Tetouan, where the bigger Moroccan troop concentrations are. However, the Spaniards are slowly making their way south.
At Tangiers, the Moroccans try to make a defensive line east of the city, but they’re an easy prey for the Spanish tanks and aircraft. At 3.15, most of their defensive positions have been bypassed by the Leopards. Tangiers is about to be under siege…
Southwest of the city, the Spanish take the village of Jbila. During the entire war the Moroccans have had numbers advantage to make up for the spaniards’ technological superiority, but this time the Tangiers garrison is outnumbered.
4PM: the Spanish finally take Dar Guarda and force the pass towards Tetouan.
In El Horra pass, every Moroccan counterattack has failed. The Spanish are now advancing south through road 8303 to surprise the defenders of Ben el Ouidane. The road is guarded by rear units that did not expect such a breakthrough and that have been completely surprised by the Spanish blitz attack.
4.30PM: In El Fendek, the Moroccan command learns about the Spanish advance and knows that the war is lost. However, after a tense phone call to Rabat, a decision is made to resist. The Moroccans still trust in a counterattack from Tetouan and El Fendek that will drive the Spaniards out of the road junctions.
In Tangiers, the Moroccans have been driven out of their positions by the Spanish attack from both the north and the southwest. The Spanish advance has been incredibly fast and the defenders have been caught off guard. At 4.45 PM, Spanish tanks make contact with units landed at Albelda Beach: Tangiers is now isolated from the rest of morocco.
5PM: Rumours that the Spaniards have broken through and that they are effectively cut off spread among many units around Ceuta and Ben el Ouidane.
The polisario stop their advance on the West Sahara cities due to the Moroccan pressure.
5.15PM: The Moroccan defense at Ben el Ouidane is finally broken. The Moroccan troops withdraw in disorder from the road junction.
More Spanish troops are pouring into the Tangiers outskirts while the armoured group, after having advanced 25 miles in one day advances south to chase the withdrawing Moroccan troops, towards Aouama and Chouikrech.
Finally, and only after Moroccan troops are withdrawn from the city to attack El Horra pass, the Spaniards are able to take and hold on to Fnideq. The bulk of the Moroccan army is trapped at the outskirts of Ceuta.
5.30PM: Spanish officials contact the mayor of Tangiers, asking for a bloodless surrender of the city.
Aouama falls to the Spanish troops. The left flank of the Moroccan defense line running from Tangiers to Tetouan seems to have vanished in a few hours.
All over the combat zone, the Moroccan troops fall back. Ben el Ouidane is now firmly under Spanish control, with troops heading south towards El Fendek and north to meet with the troops coming from El Horra pass.
6PM: The mayor of Tangiers and the garrison commander agree to a surrender of the city, against the explicit orders of the Rabat command.
North of Tetouan, the Spaniards force the pass of Wad-Ras: Tetouan is already on their sight.
6.30PM: Spanish troops start entering Tangiers and disarming the city defenders.
In the north, the isolated Moroccan units still resist the Spanish advance, but the bulk of the battle is now south.
7PM: Spanish officials confirm that Tangiers has fallen. All over Spain, crowds gather in the streets to celebrate this first major victory in the war.
7.30PM: The Spanish stop their advance 8 miles south of Tangiers.
In the Tetouan front, the Moroccans are falling back towards the city.
In Washington US officials try to agree to a ceasefire now that Tangiers is on Spanish hands, but the Polisario intervention is giving another headache to the US government. On the first hand, a Moroccan West Sahara is on the US’s interest due to the interests of American oil companies in the zone. On the other hand, forcing a ceasefire in the north would allow the Moroccans to crush the Polisario, pissing off the European allies and the warmongers in the US, who want a decisive step in favour of the Spanish; and suggesting uncomfortable analogies with the 1991 shia uprising in Iraq. Again, nothing is achieved.
8PM: The Spanish flag now waves over Tangiers’ town hall, while the first supply ships enter the port.
As sun sets over the battlefields, it becomes clear that Morocco has lost. Ceuta cannot be taken. The armies sent to take the city have been trapped by the Spanish advance, and the remaining Moroccan armies trying to protect Tangiers and Tetouan have been crushed. All over the world, the general opinion is that Spain has won and Morocco should settle for peace.
In the Western Sahara the situation is different: the Moroccans are holding the polisario attackers and slowly regaining the lost ground.
Meanwhile, some apparently innocuous Spanish freighters have arrived to the port of Fuerteventura.
The Northern Front at Midnight of July 22nd
PLAN INDIGO-TOP SECRET V070702
This document can only be read by CLEARANCE RED personnel. If you are not CLEARANCE RED, please dispose of this document without reading it. Unauthorized reading of documents is prosecuted. Offenders may be subjected to military law.
OPERATION BLACK- VERSION 070702
Operation Black is the decisive point of Plan Indigo to achieve Indigo’s strategic goal of attaining an advantageous position from where the Spanish government can decide the fate of Western Sahara with as few foreign interference as possible. According to Repsol’s estimations (see Appendix B and C), economical control of the zone under a friendly independent Sahrawi Republic can be very profitable to Spain and will at least compensate a part of the negative backlash that can be expected in the aforementioned scenario of a total war against Morocco.
Operation Black’s preparations [see Appendix A] will start at D-Day, but the final clearance won’t be given until Operation Pink succeeds and the Polisario is drawn to the war. If Operation Pink fails, Operation Black must be cancelled. Operation Black should happen around D+5 day.
Operation Black’s primary targets are the surprise capture of El Aaiun and to hold the city against any Moroccan counterattack. Should the situation be favourable, there will be advances on Smara and Boukhdour, with secondary landings on Boukhdour and Dakhla.
The troops will be transported via air and sea in Hercules transports and civilian freighters. The operation will be controlled from Fuerteventura. The civilian airports at Fuerteventura and Lanzarote shall be militarized and prepared for military use [for preliminary preparations see Appendix D, E, F]. It is unnecessary to say that this will strain our logistics and transports situation to the limit and that a perfect coordination between every branch of the Armed Forces is necessary for success. The operation is extremely risky and the political and diplomatical cost of failure would be enormous.
No naval support shall be provided as the movement of military ships would prevent the surprise. To make up for that, fighter aircraft will be redeployed to Canarias during the night before the Operation, using Tangiers Airport if necessary and available.
The forces involved in the operation are detailed in Appendix G.
The first step will be an airborne assault on Layoune-plage to capture the port and El aaiun airport by BRIPAC troops supported by light armour.
The second step once these targets are secured will be the unloading of the main invasion force comprising several armoured platoons at Layoune Plage and the loading of further reinforcements via air bridge between Fuerteventura and El Aaiun airport.