Friday, August 30, 2013


           File:Rock of Gibraltar northwest.jpg


Editor's Notes: 12/9/2016 This issue is still a bone of contention, but incidents have diminished since the Islamic invasion of Southern Europe 

12/30/2014: While we have not seen any more major incidents reported in the media the basic situation at Gibraltar appears unchanged despite a year of relative quiet. There is too much going on in the Med. for NATO nations to be fighting with each other considering that ISIS plans to occupy Rome in 5 years and so far only the Kurds have put up an effective defense. Gibraltar is the gateway which U.S. and many EU forces would use to reinforce the Southern NATO states.  This post is worth a second reading or a first as a backgrounder. Let's hope the situation remains on a back burner until the Islamist threat is soundly defeated or at least long term contained. It is however an issue on the burner and all concerned with the naval security of Europe's Southern Flank and naval access to the Middle East should be familiar with it. The international law relative to the situation is clear, Spain has no case but politics often trumps law. 

Welcome Great Britain to the Forum. We are pleased to note a 400% increase in British visitors in the last 72 hours. Please continue to spread the word about our site. We are all about the English speaking  maritime world, and most of our global maritime traditions are derived from British practices. Historically Great Britain has been the intellectual leader of English speaking "sea power", even if the American Alfred Thayer Mahan was the first to come up with a comprehensive definition. Please join in our discussions and don't hesitate to take the lead when you feel strongly on an issue. There is a comment box below every post and at the end of every special interest page scroll.  

 For a few days we have been observing and reporting on the apparently coming allied intervention in Syria. Any British naval forces joining the effort, and all but about a half a dozen American Navy warships joining the effort have to enter the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar. About twenty days ago before there were open media reports of a looming Syrian intervention we carried news of controversy over Gibraltar. Today, as we were twenty days ago, we are grateful that  Gibraltar is firmly in British hands. 

 Below is an updated version of the post and links to media coverage that we published August 11, 2013. Given what is going on in the Mediterranean today we thought the issue was worth a second look. This time we hope everyone, but especially our new British visitors, will take a moment and comment on the Gibraltar situation. The comment box is below the post, just scroll down. Welcome aboard Great Britain, and thank you to all who passed along the link. Please continue to do so. 

File:Rock of Gibraltar northwest.jpgTHE RIFT IN NATO / EU OVER GIBRALTAR

Mailonline Story Illustrates Serious Bone Of Contention Between Allies.

Photo: Public Domain

 Below is a lead in and a hyperlink to a story published byMailonline last month providing some back ground and updating developments on what is one of the most bitter disagreements among the European allies and members of the European Union. The control of the "Sea Gate" of Gibraltar is vital to the Western World. It has been in the secure and able hands of the British for hundreds of years but it was originally Spanish territory ceded in a long ago war. 

 Some precedent in international law published in the twentieth century and continuing into the twenty first tends to support a view that territorial acquisition by conquest is recognized, but not considered permanent. The United States has followed this concept for more than 100 years with some important exceptions. Following the concept of "free determination of nations", the United States did not return to Spain the Philippines after the Spanish American War, but instead occupied the islands for over half a century and then acknowledged and defended their independence once declared and recognized. Puerto Rico likewise was not returned to Spainnor yet has been acknowledged as independent based on this same principle. The people of Puerto Rico have initiated plebiscites but always on the question of maintaining commonwealth status with the United States or going independent. So far the commonwealth status is favored by the majority, there appears to be some interest in U.S. statehood, a small but committed independence movement and virtually no interest in a return to Spanish rule.

 The Falklands Island conflict illustrates another aspect of this area of international law. There, the long recognized concept of "effective settlement and administration" was determined to be the operative principle of international law and it was successfully defended by force of arms against Argentina. Argentina claims the Falklands based on proximity, and the fact that prior to settlement by the British, a predecessor political entity to Argentina claimed the then unsettled islands. Settled international law is clear that merely sighting or landing on unsettled land, not clearly under the administration of a recognized state does not invest title. Effective settlement and administration is the most definitive proof of title in such cases. 

 And so with Gibraltar, Spain has a prior claim on title based on former possession and fortification. But Spain, in that long ago war fought against the prevailing rule of international law, freedom of the seas. While in control of this vital "sea gate" she attempted to control, vice safe guard international access to and from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. In battle the Sea gate fell to the British who have in fact effectively settled the "rock" which is not only a fortified stronghold of NATO and the EU but also a very small Common Wealth city state whose inhabitants very much don't want to be under Spanish rule. Great Britain has only used the rock to assure international access, with the exception in World War II against the Nazi and Fascists regimes. 

  Great Britain is the more stable of the two competing claimants, has the soundest claim under international law, is obligated to consider the desires of the actual inhabitants, and is the more trust worthy and capable custodian of this globally important "sea gate". The position of the AAIS's experts is that Great Britain would be acting irresponsibility if it relinquished control of Gibraltar  to Spain. Of course our position was identical relative to the United States ceding control of the Panama Canal to Panama. Obviously the powers of the day disagreed and now the Panama Canal, a globally important seas gate, built by the United States and of hyper importance to the security and economic viability of the United States  and the West is being operated under contract by a Chinese state owned corporation. 

 The international community has to care about who controls the "sea gates" and their collective security. At the out break of World War II Great Britain and the United States controlled the Sea Gates around the world. Today only Gibraltar remains in seriously reliable hands. What no one could take by force from the English speaking peoples we gave up in response to political agitation and claims with no basis in international law. We have obviously tired of being the peace keepers, but we have no reliable relief in sight. Here is a thought; Gibraltar has been in British hands since 1713. That's about 63 years longer than America has been an independent nation. Below is the lead in and hyperlink to the Mailonline story for a look at the most recent developments in the situation:


Gibraltar fury as four Spanish military jets fly through its airspace and delay British Airways plane waiting to take off for London

  • Spanish jets accused of entering Gibraltar airspace during military exercise 
  • British officials say no warning given and BA flight delayed for 12 minutes 
  • Gibraltar calls on UK to address matter with Spain on 'highest diplomatic and military levels' 
  • Spanish Defence Ministry deny fighter jets entered Gibraltar airspace
  • Comes after Spanish boats seen in British waters this month 
  • Jet ski rider Dale Villa also says he was shot at by Spanish police
Read more: 


The sovereignty of Gibraltar is a major source of tension between the UK and Spain.
Both in 1967 and 2002, the people of Gibraltar rejected proposals for Spanish sovereignty.
Yet, despite this, Spain still asserts a claim to the territory.
The tension began in 1704 when an Anglo-Dutch force captured Gibraltor from Spain during the war of the Spanish succession.
The territory was then ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.
Historically, it has proved to be an important base for the Royal Navy.
Now, its economy is based on tourism, financial services and shipping.
Under the 2006 constitution of Gibraltar, the territory governs its own affairs although defence and foreign relations are still the responsibility of the UK Government.
Located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula, it is an area of 6.8 square kilometres.

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment