Colonial enclaves with different fate

If you look at the history of many enclaves that have settled in the world, or crawl through the “birth history” of the existing enclaves in the international community, it is not difficult to find that the formation, development, survival or extinction of enclaves are mostly closely related to colonial history. Related.

Melilla, the territory of Spain on the African continent

Some of these enclaves, which were also in the colonial chaos and the blood and tears of war, were recaptured by neighboring countries, the gaps disappeared, and the flames of war extinguished, allowing them to focus on their own lives; some remained alone overseas and became the fuse of regional turmoil. .

Why are the same colonial enclaves with so different fate?

The last colonial legacy
Ceuta and Melilla are located at the northern tip of North Africa and bordering the Mediterranean. They are the last colonial territories of Spain on the African continent and are called “Spain’s last colonial heritage in Africa.” Both lands border Morocco, and Melilla is surrounded by Moroccan territory on three sides, and the national border situation is complex.

/ Spain is really hard to part with, is the geographical position of Ceuta and Melilla. /

Morocco and Spain, separated by the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar, have long been struggling forward in the relationship of companionship and killing. On the one hand, the two countries maintain exchanges in accordance with tradition. Spain is Morocco’s second largest trading partner and initiative On the other hand, due to the ownership of Ceuta, Melilla and some islands near the coast of Morocco in the southern Mediterranean, disputes and even armed conflicts between the two countries have caused the deterioration of the relations between the two countries and the regional The situation is tense.

In November 2007, the then Spanish King Carlos and Queen Sofia visited Ceuta

Morocco has a long history of colonial rule. Since the 15th century, Morocco, occupying the main geographical routes, has been continuously invaded by Western colonial powers. Since France and Morocco signed the Fez Treaty in 1912 and signed the Madrid Treaty with Spain to carve up Morocco, many land parcels in the north and south of Morocco have been designated Spanish protected areas. For a long time, the Moroccan people never gave up resisting colonial rule, and gained independence in 1956. It’s just that Ceuta and Melilla have always been entrenched by Spain.


After independence, Morocco has never stopped trying to recover Ceuta and Melilla. In the negotiations with Spain, Morocco used the “heart to heart” approach to play the emotional card-Morocco believes that requesting Spain to return Ceuta and Melilla is of the same nature as Spain has been seeking to recover the British-occupied port of Gibraltar.

The King of Morocco proposed that the two countries set up a committee of experts to discuss the issue of the two enclaves. When the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Ferrari delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, he also took the initiative to bring the topic to the territorial dispute with Spain. , I hope to get help from the international community. He also stated in the “heart to heart” way: “In order to prevent the mistakes made in previous times, threatening the necessary harmony between the countries on the north and south of the Strait of Gibraltar, which should have been dominant, resolve Ceuta and Melilla as well as Disputes on other Mediterranean islands occupied by Spain appear to be particularly urgent.” When Moroccan politicians at all levels came to power, they never forgot to state that “maintaining the territorial integrity of the country is the government’s primary task” and “spare no effort to take back Ceuta and May Lilia”…

On December 17, 1961, India launched a military offensive codenamed “Operation Victory” to forcibly recover the Goa area by force

Compared with Morocco, which is in a desperate mood, Spain is clearly accustomed to Tai Chi and exploiting loopholes. Faced with the accusation of “do not do to others what you do not want it to,” Spain argued that the sovereignty of Ceuta and Melilla is completely different from the situation in the port of Gibraltar. Ceuta and Melilla were placed under Spain, which is “clearly stipulated by a series of treaties signed between the two countries, and the residents here are mainly Spanish”; from the timeline, “Long before Morocco became a modern country , Ceuta and Melilla have become Spanish territories, so they are not so-called colonies at all, and have nothing to do with colonial issues.” This is completely different from the situation where the Port of Gibraltar, as a so-called “protected land,” should be taken back by Spain. . At the same time, Spain also moved out the existing enclaves in the world as a reference, thinking that “part of the territory of a country in the world is not connected with the main territory of the country, such as Alaska and Hawaii in the United States”…

In each case, the ownership of Ceuta and Melilla is always up in the air. In 2002, Morocco and Spain caused a military conflict due to the Peresil Island crisis, which once caused a regional crisis; in November 2007, King Carlos of Spain and Queen Sofia visited Ceuta and Melilla, which was the first time in 80 years for a Spanish head of state. Inspect these two enclaves. Such behavior has undoubtedly stimulated the nerves of Morocco. The Moroccan government said that “the colonial era has long passed.” However, Spain believes that this is just an ordinary inspection. The two lands have nothing to do with colonization. They just came to visit their compatriots and touch the “last legacy”.

Different fate
Why is Spain unwilling to call Ceuta and Melilla a “colonial” name, and why does it always hold on to these two marginal areas and not let go?

Stripping away those high-sounding reasons, what Spain is really hard to part with is the geographical location of Ceuta and Melilla. Ceuta is located at the northernmost point of Morocco, on the Mediterranean coast, facing the port of Gibraltar across the sea. It guards the eastern part of the Strait of Gibraltar, the only channel connecting the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. And Melilla is not only an important port, but also a “needle” that penetrates into Morocco, meaning that it reserves the possibility of aggression and occupation.

The particularity of Spain is that it not only occupies its own enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the territory of Morocco, but also has the port of Gibraltar occupied by other countries on its own territory. Those who invade others can’t let go, and it is Spain’s true idea to find a way to get back what you have lost.

Also a colonial enclave, Portugal is located in Goa, India, and was “violently recaptured” by India in 1961.

/ In the final analysis, what determines the safety of these small plots of land is the precise calculation of strength and benefits. /

After India’s independence, Portugal, like Spain, refused to give up the Portuguese Indian colony of Goa. When India hoped to carry out relevant negotiations, Portugal’s sophistry was even the same as Spain’s: “Goa is not a colony, but a sovereign state. In part, when Portugal ruled this land, India did not yet exist.”

Compared with Morocco’s verbal “condemnation” and “opposition”, India’s response is even harder. Since 1954, India began to restrict traffic in Goa, launched a boycott of Portugal, and imposed an economic blockade on Goa. So in 1961, almost all the Portuguese who were still in Goa evacuated when they smelled the danger signal. In fact, this Portuguese enclave had no “comrade support”.

India dispatched army, navy, and air force and defeated the Portuguese army in just 36 hours.

On December 17, 1961, India launched a military offensive codenamed “Operation Victory” to forcibly recover the Goa area by force. The Portuguese soldiers who were far from their homeland and had no support for the time being were distracted; India dispatched the army, sea, land and air, and defeated the Portuguese army in only 36 hours and achieved a decisive victory at the cost of only 22 soldiers killed.

Countries including the United States and the United Kingdom once strongly condemned Goa after India’s armed force regained Goa, believing that this was an inappropriate act of militarism. But for India, these evaluations are no longer important. Recovering the Portuguese enclave and making the territory complete are the blessings for achieving national interests.

With the same enclave “birth history”, similar dealings, and almost identical diplomatic skills, will Morocco have the opportunity to follow India and take back Ceuta and Melilla?

Regrettably, for Morocco, hope may be getting thinner. In the comparison of forces between India and Portugal, India’s military progress is not lost to Portugal, which is gradually declining. It is possible to rely on geographic advantages and courage to retreat. Morocco’s overall strength is vastly different from Spain, and its military means are almost unimaginable. Can rely on diplomatic means to deal with it-and speaking of diplomatic means, how can it be compared with the old colonial sovereign that is well versed in international relations and has a clever tongue?

If you put aside the comparison of the strengths of the countries involved and only look at the individual conditions of a few enclaves, although Goa is rich in resources and is a coastal port, India’s three-sided containment measures and the repeated prohibition of Portuguese forces from entering Indian territory have actually achieved the results. The important role of Argentina is emptied. Portugal will have a serious imbalance between the costs and benefits of maintaining a distant enclave; Ceuta and Melilla will not let Spain easily let go because of their more important geographical locations and their “advantages” closer to Spain.

The colonial enclaves with different fate seem to be wrapped in extremely complicated history and entangled in chaotic political disputes. In the final analysis, what determines the safety of these small plots of land is the precise calculation of strength and benefits.