The RIF War, Volume 2: From Xauen to the Alhucemas Landing and Beyond 1922-1927
This book is number 82 of the Africa at War Series and deals primarily with the Rif War in the so-called Spanish Moroccan Protectorate between 1921 and 1927. This is the second volume dealing with the conflict in north-west Africa. The book is divided into nine chapters, each dedicated to a specific year. Each chapter in turn is subdivided into sections. These sections deal with specific events that took place during the year to which the chapter is dedicated.
This war is a controversial event, as it is considered one of the last colonial wars of the 20th. Century. The Spanish, just coming from a catastrophic war in which they lost Cuba and the Philippines now try to conquer the Rif. This area was considered a protectorate and thus independent. This war is also interesting as the Spanish Foreign Legion was created to fight in the Rif. In addition, a force made of volunteers from Ceuta and Melilla was created as well. This force is called "Los Regulares." The book starts with the fact that the Spanish forces had a defeat at the hands of the Riffiens and follows the formation of basically an army to fight them. The war ends in 1926 with the surrender of Abd-el-Krim surrounding to the French troops and thus Spain gaining an effective control of the protectorate.
It is very interesting to note that many of the Generals and officers that fought against each other during the Spanish Civil War, have their introduction to combat in this conflict. Officers like Francisco Franco, General Riquelme, Lt. Colonel Mola, Colonel Millan Astray, the founder of the Legion, and General Varela to mention a few. This conflict is recognized as the one in which the first amphibious landing in history took place. Tanks, as well as sea borne air support was used by the Spanish forces at Alhucemas. This event took place in May, 1925 and a year later victory was achieved by the Spanish forces. It should be noted that the
The French were also involved in this conflict. The use of chemical weapons by the Spanish forces was reported during this conflict. Although Spain was a signatory of the Geneva Protocol in which these types of weapons were prohibited, it should be noted that such use was not considered illegal in internal conflicts. Still its use was wrong, since it was used mostly against non-military targets such as villages, and markets.
Incidents of genocide by both sides are documented in which the Riffians forces massacre 2,000 soldiers at Mount Arruit. These soldiers surrendered after a 12 day siege. There is a possibility that the atrocities committed by the Spanish Army were triggered by this event and a revenge and a desire of retribution was exacted.
As noted previously, the French entered this conflict when Abd-el-Krim attacks the village of Beni Zerual in the French Protectorate. The French involvement finally dips the conflict in the favor of the Spanish. Abd-el-Krim finally surrendered to the French Foreign Legion and he dies in exile in 1963, shortly after seeing the independence of the Maghreb. The cities of Ceuta and Melilla are still in Spanish control.
I wish that I could have been able to review Volume 1 of this war as I felt that there were still some blank areas that I needed in order to understand this conflict better. Still, and although the only event I knew of this conflict was that The Spanish Foreign Legion was created during the conflict, a lot of information was learned. Things like massacres by both sides, the use of chemical weapons and the first amphibious landing to mention a few.
I will recommend this book to anyone interested in conflicts in Africa., as well as historians of both Africa and Europe, as two nations from Europe were involved in the conflict.
My thanks to casemate Publishers for the opportunity to review the book.