Monday, November 19, 2007

Correction: Concerning the Ownership of the Falkland Islands

I received an email this morning from a reader:


I insist that you publish a correction.

The Falkland IslandsThe Falklands are disputed, for sure, but not by a country which had previously “owned” them. The Spanish landed there once and left them. The British occupied an empty space and made them productive. All this before Argentina even existed.

Ottawa, Canada

WR was referring to my post about Ceuta and Melilla, which contained this paragraph:
- - - - - - - - -
Remember, Ceuta and Melilla are “disputed” in the same way that the Falkland Islands are “disputed”: that is, they once belonged to another country, but are now in the possession of a different country, and the majority of their inhabitants are citizens of the country that owns them.

Instead of “belonged to”, I should have written “were claimed by”, since Argentina has never in any sense owned the islands in question. The original post has been modified accordingly.

The history of claims, counterclaims, and settlements in the Falklands is fascinating. The Dutch made the original discovery; the French, the British, and the Spanish all played parts in the drama, with the Argentines being relative latecomers. The Wikipedia entry on the topic is recommended reading.

I’m happy to set the record straight.


Anonymous said...

Ceuta/Melilla were never actually a part of Morocco,they parts of various other Muslim/Berber/Arab kingdoms that predated the existence of "Morocco". Morocco likes to claim anything and everything it can (including parts of Algeria, all of Mauritania, Senegal, the Western Sahara, Mali and more; all of this within the past 30-40 years, having gone to war twice in order to try and conquer its neighbors).

Though I missed your original post, it should be mentioned that if any other North Africans refer to "occupied territories" and not in reference to Palestine, it is in reference to the Western Sahara, which Morocco illegally and at times brutally occupies. Moroccan foreign policy has always been geared towards absorbing other North African territories and the case of these tiny cities is no different. Politically speaking, the country has no North African allies or friends (save maybe Tunisia), and it is excluded from the African Union because of its illegal and irredentist (though the accuracy of that term is questionable, as Morocco never actually controlled most of the areas it has or does claim) behavior towards its neighbors. It operates in another universe.