The Let's Play Archive

Al Andalus Paradox Mega-LP

by Hashim

Part 108: Early Duels

Chapter 3 — Early Duels — January 1937 to November 1937

Maz Mazin had ruled in Iberia since 1914, a reign fraught with instability and rife with tensions, but one that was not without victory, with the first Supreme Leader of the Iberian Union reuniting a bitterly-divided country, repelling enemies in a two-front war, and securing the survival of the Red Revolution. His name would never die, but it was down to his successors to ensure that his hard-won accomplishments didn’t either…

And after a heated campaign between Mizanur Ridwan and Ikrimah Ilyas, the former emerged victorious, with the Socialist Shura opting for his assertive, overbold policy in favour of the latter’s defensive-minded approach. That said, Mizanur’s accession wasn’t smooth, not by a long shot, with Ikrimah’s loud and boisterous supporters ready to challenge his rival as soon as things turned sour.

Needless to say, his position was very precarious, so Mizanur’s first action as Supreme Leader was to reshuffle the ruling cabinet and grant his supporters powerful positions in government, with Jalb al-Ahmaq appointed to the ministry of transportation and Finsit al-Ubwassumi to the ministry of propaganda.

With that done, the Supreme Leader wasted no time in turning his attention northwards — to the concession that secured peace in the Great War, to the persisting humiliation of the Iberian Union, to the remilitarisation of the Pyrenees.

It had been one of his principal campaign promises, but Mizanur knew full well that a sudden remilitarisation would almost certainly bring the overwhelming strength of Francia and Morocco on Qadis, sparking a war that they could not win. So he instructed his inferiors to begin planning for the operation, but nothing more, content with waiting for an opportune moment before striking.

In the meantime, there was plenty to occupy the new Supreme Leader. The German Civil War had just erupted in earnest, and it wasn’t much longer before “international volunteers” began making their way to the war-torn country, volunteers wearing the colours and insignia of the Frankish Realm and Almoravid Sultanate.

That couldn’t be allowed to stand, not if Mizanur had anything to say about it. Communication was quickly established with Frankfurt, and after a few days of negotiation, the Socialist Republic agreed to receive Iberian volunteer divisions to aid in the struggle against liberalism and fascism.

Two motorised and one infantry division arrived in Germany within a fortnight, but the situation had already begun to spiral, with the communists losing ground to both the German Republic and German Reich.

Forced to pull back from Münster and Würzburg, the communist capital of Frankfurt was under threat from both enemies, so the Iberian volunteers were quickly dispatched to reinforce defensive lines along the eastern outskirts of Frankfurt.

At the same time, the communists of the east were not idle. With their seizure of Rhodos meeting with little resistance, the Chairman of the Balkan Federation was emboldened to try his hand further north, launching a short and resounding campaign into Asia Minor with the intention of “ending the Greek pretender state”.

The operation was over within weeks, immediately meeting with heated speeches in Smolensk, Baghdad and Alexandria, but they were soon distracted by Almoravid ambitions.

In a move clearly meant to provoke the Egyptians, the Grand Vizier of Morocco delivered an address in which he announced an exciting and ambitious national project — the Damming of the White Nile, which flows from the waters of Lake Zulfiqar. Alexandria responded with a desperate ultimatum, warning that any attempt to stem the flow of the Nile would be met with military force, an ultimatum that would go ignored by Marrakesh.

With world tension quickly on the rise, March of 1937 saw the Supreme Leader of Iberia launch his first Ten Year Plan, having finally received the approval of the Shura.

Like its predecessor, this plan revolved around a core of infrastructural and industrial expansion, but Mizanur also poured greater resources into the production of armaments and development of military technology. The Supreme Leader was especially interested in expanding his aerial squadrons and armour corps, with Iberian designers using blueprints from Benin and Germany to manufacture their own light tanks and fighter planes.

The German Civil War would make the perfect testing ground for these improved weapons of war, with Mizanur also using the experience and intelligence gained from the conflict to augment his infantry divisions, outfitting them with artillery brigades and maintenance companies.

As for the civil war itself, the expeditionary force had already made an impact on its course, with Iberian divisions leading the charge towards Erfurt, a regional trade and industrial centre, and encircling four enemy divisions in the process.

By May of 1937, the enemy had been pushed back and Frankfurt was secured, allowing the expeditionary force to be redeployed further north, joining the bloody push towards the capital of the German Republic — Hanover.

In the western hemisphere, meanwhile, the economic crisis worsened as thousands of businesses were ruined and tens of thousands of workers were laid off, inflaming tensions within the Berber Union and other Gharbian powers.

Whilst the situation became increasingly desperate for the traditional powers, however, the depression provided others with a unique opportunity…

In the dying days of May, the Chancellor of the Occidental Dictatorship authorised an incursion into Guiana. As expected, Guiana retaliated and a skirmish commenced, with the border conflict escalating into outright war within hours.

Guiana, suffering from drought and steeped with unrest, couldn’t match the military prowess of their eastern neighbours. Within weeks, the republic had capitulated to the enemy, with the Chancellor of Occidentia formally annexing Guiana into his dictatorship.

Imariz immediately took action, with the Three Viziers issuing an ultimatum to the Chancellor of Occidentia — cease any plans of territorial expansion, withdraw from Guiana and prepare for renewed democratic elections, or face the alarming prospect of full-fledged invasion.

The Three Viziers were overreaching, however. With internal tensions on the rise and public opinion firmly against precipitating conflicts, the Berber Union couldn’t actually follow through with their warnings, as the Chancellor knew full well.

That didn’t mean they simply let the matter slide, however. Instead, the Three Viziers began to discreetly funnel funds into New France, and with the full backing of Imariz, it was them who initiated hostilities with Occidentia a few weeks later.

War had finally arrived in South Gharbia, but it wouldn’t be much longer before eyes were drawn towards Africa, where the Almoravid Sultanate of Morocco had launched a sudden invasion of the Malian Empire.

Mali’s independence was little more than a formality by 1937, so the rest of the world didn’t even blink when Moroccan tanks asserted military rule in the country over the next few weeks, forcing the last Mansa of Mali to escape into Provencal Africa, and from there to the royal court in Benin City.

The Mansa immediately began pleading for intervention from the leaders of Benin and Iberia, but neither were very forthcoming. The Great Powers weren’t willing to spark hostilities with Morocco over the impoverished and remote land of Mali, but the same could not be said for Occitania…

Just days after the annexation of Mali, the Commandant of the Frankish Realm ordered troops to cross the border and enter Toulouse, the capital of the Occitan State. Resistance was paltry and the city was soon seized, but that didn’t matter much to Morocco and Russia, with both denouncing the unsanctioned seizure of Occitania.

Apart from that, however, there would be no reprisals. This was Jacques Vernier’s first test, and it was a resounding success, with the Commandant’s popularity at home immediately surging.

In Qadis, meanwhile, the occupation of Occitania was a gift. This was precisely the excuse that the Supreme Leader had been waiting for, and despite ominous warnings from Ikrimah’s supporters and pleas for caution from his own allies, Mizanur Ridwan ordered the Red Army to remilitarise the Pyrenees.

That very day, with the morning sun rising on the 18th of October, twenty divisions marched into the Pyrenaic Governorate and garrisoned the now-derelict fortresses lining the mountains. This was a strict violation of the Peace of Prague, but Supreme Leader Mizanur could only wait with bated breath, knowing full well that he was gambling everything on this…

And the gamble paid off.

Reactions from Marrakesh and Paris were immediate and unanimous, with both condemning the remilitarisation and promising retribution, but the hours turned to days, days to weeks and weeks to months. The Franks strengthened their deployment along the Pyrenees and the Moroccans began patrolling the Straits in greater numbers, but this would prove to be nothing more than another war scare, with neither Morocco or Francia willing to start another world war over a mountain range.

And just like that, in a single stroke of fortune, Mizanur’s position transformed overnight and cemented his position as Supreme Leader. The risky manoeuvre had won him the adoration of the masses, and with public opinion firmly in his favour, Mizanur’s political enemies were forced to withdraw into the shadows. For now, at least.

More good news would arrive a few days later, with Iberian divisions breaking through enemy lines and reaching the outskirts of Hanover. Capturing their capital would deliver a fatal blow to the German Republic, so the push intensified in the weeks that followed, with the battle outside Hanover quickly devolving into a bloodbath.

With resistance stiffening in the north, the German Reich was able to drive northwards and retake Nuremberg in a stunning offensive. There would be few celebrations, however, as news from the east soured their victory…

Vienna had been in the clutches of fascism for almost a decade, a persistent thorn in the side of the Russian Empire. The socialist government in Smolensk had already declared their neutrality in the German Civil War, but the Russian magnates and nobles had made no such promises, using their wealth and connections to fund a sudden coup that toppled the ruling chancellor, with the rebels installing Karl Ludwig as the restored Duke of Vienna and — after a short and pompous coronation — the Emperor of Germany.

With eastern promises backing him, this so-called emperor wasted no time in declaring the rival governments illegitimate and unlawful, diving headfirst into the fray. And with that, the civil war becomes more convoluted and confusing than ever before.

The Prime Minister of Russia quickly took to the stands and declared his innocence in this abrupt turn of events, but Smolenskian papers were soon captured by another matter altogether, with vicious battles erupting along the length of Asia Minor.

Capitalising on the chaos in Central Europe, the Chairman of the Balkan Federation formally declared war on the Anatolian Republic in the early days of November, allegedly in response to a series of border forays. Vicious fighting immediately erupted as the revolutionaries launched several amphibious invasions whilst simultaneously driving eastwards, thrusting the rest of the continent into a frenzy as politicians and ministers scrambled to alternatively denounce or endorse the outbreak of hostilities.

Over the course of six months, the decade of peace established by the Treaty of Prague has disintegrated and crumbled, giving way to fitful tensions and long-awaited wars. And this wasn’t yet the end of it, because across the sweeping waters of the Atlantic Ocean, bullets were exchanged and lives were lost in the fragmented nation of Ibriz.

The hatred between the two revolutionary states runs very deep, and with neither side willing to negotiate until the other capitulates, it wasn’t much longer before surrounding powers began to frantically declare their support for either the communists or islamists, knowing full well that the outcome of the Ibrizi War would forever change the face of Gharbia.

The year isn’t yet over and half-a-dozen conflicts have already erupted, some of will stretch across years and suffer immense casualties, but the Great Powers are content to watch and wait as sparks erupt across the width of the globe, sparks that will eventually spiral into a seething, spitting firestorm that promises to overwhelm the entire world.