The Let's Play Archive

Al Andalus Paradox Mega-LP

by Hashim

Part 113: The Panama Crisis

Chapter 8 — The Panama Crisis — March 1940 to March 1941

The siege of Marrakesh would count amongst the bloodiest in history, with the Iberians surrounding and blockading the city whilst launching ruthless firebombing campaigns over the course of March and April, gradually wearing down its defenses and fortifications. It was only two months later that the shattered, beleaguered garrison finally accepted a ceasefire, laid down their arms and surrendered their capital.

And with that, in the early morning hours of the 2nd of May, Iberian flags were hoisted above the highest minarets and towers of Marrakesh.

Sultan Ajjedig would never surrender, but with the heart of his empire lost, he was forced to abandon his capital and escape aboard a warship. Behind him, the Maghreb was left to capitulate to the advancing Iberians and Beninese.

And with armies also advancing into South Africa and India, Ajeddig’s only refuge was in Usturaliya, his great eastern dominion. The Sultan’s uncle — Jassar Almoravid — had ruled the colony for the past two decades, successfully transforming it into an economic and seafaring power, but he welcomed his nephew with open arms all the same.

Back in the Maghreb, anti-Iberian resistance movements had already surged. The Almoravids had ruled the region for a millennium, and though they weren’t always loved, they certainly weren’t hated to the same extent as the Andalusi and Iberians were.

As devastating tribal raids against occupying forces, supply lines and military constructions grew increasingly common, the matter was finally broached in Qadis, with the Shura deciding that the best solution would be to found a “socialist union of the Maghreb”, granting the proletariat self-rule…

With certain stipulations, of course.

Firstly, the straits would remain under Iberian occupation, that would never change. Secondly, the Maghreb wasn’t ready for complete self-rule, so Izri Tafsut — a Moroccan communist agitator who’d lived as an exile in Iberia for many decades — was appointed to lead the new government, ensuring that the country remained under the firm, guiding hand of Qadis. And lastly, with Marrakesh reduced to craters and ruins, the new administration was moved to Oran, conveniently close to Iberian territory.

A few days after the Workers’ Republic of the Maghreb was declared, the architect of the Maghrebi invasion was struck by desert fever, with shaking chills and night sweats forcing him to his tents.

Tiqnu’s job was done, however, and with most of his divisions being redeployed to the Pyrenaic and Italian fronts, he could afford a few weeks of well-deserved rest.

At the same time, the spiralling situation in the old world had finally wakened the Great Powers of the West. With their internal problems quelled, the Three Viziers of the Berber Union announced their entry into the world war by invading the Occidental Dictatorship, a member of the Paris Pact.

This invasion was a long time coming, but it still sparked fears that a new wave of “submission campaigns” were on the horizon, with the Berber Union bent on re-asserting their dominance in South Gharbia.

To the immediate north, meanwhile, the Ibrizi War was still seething and spitting between communists and fundamentalists. There had been no decisive battles since April of 1938, and despite immense casualties in the trenches, the frontline seemed to barely move in that time.

Pushing across the Pacific Ocean, the Rising of Indochina was also off to a rocky start, with fascist forces capturing the rebel stronghold of Xiangabouli after bitter fighting.

To their west, meanwhile, the battlefields of India were already drenched with the blood of thousands.

With West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa having fallen to the invaders by early June, the Viceroy of the Almoravid Raj also had to contend with several native uprisings across the width of northern India, inspired by Bengali victories.

Back on the European theatre, the Frankish advance on Smolensk had been slowed by the merciless Russian winter, so the Commandant began redeploying his strength to the south, where a new front had just opened against the Balkan communists.

The Balkans had been relatively stable so far, with most of the fighting concentrated in Romania and Ukraine, so there weren’t many troops garrisoning the region.

That would prove to be a fatal mistake, however, because the Frankish incursion into the Balkan peninsula was powerful and decisive, with Zagreb, Sarajevo and Bucharest falling in the first week of June. Scarcely a week into their new offensive, and the Frankish army had already reached the outskirts of Belgrade.

The Chairman of the CSE quickly began throwing bodies at the advancing Frankish army, redeploying large numbers from Suez and Caucasia in the process. This was immediately followed by vicious counter-attacks on those fronts, however, with Egyptians pouring into the Sinai and retaking Jerusalem in a particularly successful offensive.

Communist lines were overextended and splintering, so Belgrade dispatched an urgent request for reinforcements to Qadis.

Supreme Leader Mizanur wasn’t going to send Iberians to die in the Balkans, however. Instead, he appointed a highly-talented tactician as the commanding general of the Italian front, ordering him to put pressure on the Franks in an effort to divert them from the east.

Ricardo Etxeberria, a Basque officer who served with distinction in the Maghrebi campaign, quickly devised a series of naval invasions from Tunis. Nobody had uncontested dominance of the seas, so the invasions were very risky, but 10 divisions managed to make landfall in Palermo and Calabria by the end of July.

The invasions were quickly followed by 600 fighter and 400 support aircraft, enough to wrest control of the skies from enemy planes and provide invaluable cover for the invading troops, which quickly struck out to secure nearby towns and ports.

Palermo simply didn’t have the numbers to fight on three different fronts, so large parts of southern Italy were occupied in the weeks that followed. By the 15th of July, only Naples and Palermo itself defied the Iberians, with the vast majority of their army trapped in the mountainous province of Campania.

On the Pyrenaic front, meanwhile, Ibn Bibil was preparing for his own offensive. Crossing the River Garrone had proven to be a difficult task, so the general decided to circumvent it completely by invading Narbuna, another neutral state caught in the crossfire.

And the operations quickly yielded gains, with the Iberians subjugating the city-state and outflanking the Franks, encircling 6 divisions and capturing Montpellier in a decisive victory.

Despite their successes, the combined offensives into Occitania and Italy didn’t do much to distract the Franks, with Commandant Vernier intensifying his incursion into the Balkans instead. By the dying days of July, the Chairman of the CSE was forced to flee his capital, leaving Belgrade to the mercy of the advancing Frankish army.

Obviously, the Chairman immediately began massing troops for a counter-offensive to retake Belgrade, but that meant his other fronts were left vulnerable. And within the space of a month, an entire year of communist gains were lost to the Egyptians, with Beirut and Aleppo and Damascus falling in quick succession.

The situation in the east was becoming desperate, so Supreme Leader Mizanur ordered the recently-recovered Tiqnu al-Dhib to advance against Egypt, with the general spearheading an invasion of Libya just days later.

On the Pyrenaic front, the Iberian breakthrough had quickly been stifled by Frankish reinforcements, but they had managed to reach the River Rhône before being halted.

Any further attempts to push north were quickly smothered, so Ibn Bibil decided to focus his numbers to the east, where there were gaps in the Frankish line. So on the 8th of August, the Iberians crossed the Rhône in force, earnestly pushing towards Toulon — the fallen capital of the People’s Republic of Provence.

Further east, Iberian forces had converged around Palermo and Naples, the last holdouts of the Republic of Palermo. After a brief respite in the early days of September, general Ricardo Etxeberria ordered his artillery to begin shelling the cities, determined to end their resistance and redeploy his strength to the north before winter arrived.

Reduced to ruins and rubble, Palermo capitulated on the 22nd of September, followed by Naples a week later. With hundreds of thousands of prisoners-of-war accompanying them, the Iberians began massing along the Italian front, with Ricardo launching an offensive towards the River Po in mid-October.

In the Far West, meanwhile, the communist forces of Ibriz had staged a remarkable comeback. A brilliant counter-attack had encircled a dozen Islamic divisions in the town of Fassur, and after bloody fighting across the past two months, the starving and under-supplied northerners finally surrendered.

That decisive victory allowed the communists to flood northwards, overwhelming and capturing key passageways through the northern mountains, and by the end of September they were marching down the road to Madinat Shamali.

Unfortunately, these successes were not paralleled in the Far East, where an influx of Frankish troops had turned the Indochinese campaign against Gerald Lazard.

Just then, however, the Supreme Leader of Iberia was focused entirely on his own continent. The Franks had managed to shatter communist lines in the Balkans yet again, reaching the Aegean Sea in the dying days of October, but their invasion of Russia had scarcely progressed in the past half-year.

Wary of the oncoming Russian winter, Commandant Vernier opted for diplomacy where he was failing militarily, successfully enticing the Tsar of Scandinavia into joining the Paris Pact and intervening against the Russian Empire.

And with a combined Frankish-Scandinavian offensive launched towards Smolensk on the 31st of October, Russian prospects were not looking hopeful.

Across the vast breadth of the Atlantic Ocean, the Berber invasion of Occidentia had just come to an end, with Imariz enforcing a temporary military occupation of the region.

Unsurprisingly, however, this wasn’t the end of Berber ambitions. They were planning something big, and on the 11th of November, the Three Viziers announced a change to their foreign policy by declaring that they would defend republican and democratic ideals against the forces of fascism and communism — this was the Imariz Initiative, and with it, another faction is born.

This declaration wasn’t met with much fanfare in Europe, where fascism and communism were locking horns over the right to dominate a continent — a battle that was far from decided, though the Iberians managed to reach the River Po on the 16th of November, capturing Bologna and Modena and Parma in the process, before laying siege to the Italian capital of Venice.

This offensive was paralleled by an eastward push on the Pyrenaic front, where every mile gained was offset by thousands of casualties, though the Iberians finally reached the outskirts of Toulon just as the snows overtook Europe.

With Belgrade faltering in the east, however, the Iberians couldn’t afford any respite. Supreme Leader Mizanur ordered his generals to advance, and on the 10th of December, both Ibn Bibil and Ricardo Etxeberria launched attacks on Toulon, capturing the city in the first hours of the new year.

Toulon was handed over to Provencal authorities, but the Iberians retained military control in the region, creating a frontline that stretched across hundreds of miles between Bordeaux and Venice.

The Franks, on the other hand, had just captured Tsargrad and reached the outskirts of Smolensk.

The Commandant of the Frankish Realm was focused entirely on breaking the back of the Russian Empire, and after a series of determined offensives were repelled over the course of 1940, the early days of 1941 finally saw fighting erupt in the towns and villages surrounding Smolensk.

The Russians didn’t wait for the Franks to bomb their capital into oblivion, however. Instead, they burned the countryside to a crisp and retreated further east, determined to continue the fight by any means possible.

Whilst Frankish troops were marching into Smolensk, Vernier’s marshals were busy orchestrating concurrent invasions into Anatolia, with several divisions landing along the northern coast in early February.

The Chairman of the CSE, along with the remnants of his army, had decided against fleeing. They would make their last stand in Athens, in the heart of the well-fortified bastion of Greece. There, eastern communism would live and die with them.

This was followed by another wave of bad news, as word reached Qadis of the capture and execution of Gerald Lazard, the Warlord of Indochina, and the capitulation of Free Indochina with him.

From across the tussled waves and changeable currents of the Pacific Ocean, meanwhile, some much-needed good news arrived. After surrounding and annihilating the remnants of the Islamic army in Madinat Shamali, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Ibriz, the fundamentalist regime capitulated to communist forces in the dying days of February.

After two years of trench warfare, crippling battles and pyrrhic victories, the Ibrizi War was finally at an end.

The northern-southern split stretched back much further than that, however, and the country was bitterly split along ideological and religious lines. So in the same town that saw the war’s bloodiest battle, the supreme leader of the People’s Republic of Ibriz delivered a speech in which he blamed everything on New England and Berber Union, an axis of evil that only benefitted from the decline of Ibriz.

And he didn’t stop there. In an effort to reunite his people under a common banner, the supreme leader decided to give them a common enemy — Panama, once a province of Ibriz.

Unfortunately for him, however, this was precisely the excuse that Richmond was looking for.

The Kingdom of New England was never going to tolerate a resurgent Ibriz, so once war was declared, Prime Minister Charles Windham immediately announced his intervention in the conflict to “preserve the stability of Ibriz and Gharbia in this time of crisis”.

To the south, meanwhile, the Three Viziers weren’t going to stand by whilst their historic rivals seized the Panama Canal and subjugated the entirety of North Gharbia.

Instead, they declared that they would be defending Panama against the unsanctioned aggression of Ibriz and New England alike, sending a carrier and several battleships to seize control of the waterway a few days later.

Richmond retaliated by dispatching an entire fleet of battleships and cruisers, and after a tense standoff between the navies of New England and Berber Union, a flurry of explosive shots were exchanged on the first morning of March.

Both Ibriz and Berber Union were members of powerful, globe-spanning alliances, leaving Richmond to fend for itself. That wouldn’t do, so in a decision that drew outcry from their populace and jeering from their enemies, the Parliament of New England announced their entry into the Paris Pact a few days later.

Since the People’s Republic of Ibriz is a member of the Ad Hoc Alliance, the Iberian Union is forced to answer their defensive call-to-arms, bringing them into war against Berber Union and New England.

And with that, the western hemisphere has finally joined the world war.

The outbreak of war in the west had been sudden and unexpected, but even as the high command of Iberia reeled from these developments, a breathless courier arrived with news from the east.

After a desperate battle in the narrow streets and dank alleyways of Athens, the Chairman of the CSE had been caught by a stray bullet, dying in the early hours of the 12th of March. And with that, over the course of just a a year, the Communist States of Eurasia had been defeated, occupied and knocked out of the war.

Iberia stands alone.



Members of the Ad Hoc Alliance, and their enemies:

Members of the Pact of Paris, and their enemies:

Members of the League of Monarchies, and their enemies:

Members of the Imariz Iniatitive, and their enemies:

Unaligned parties: