The Battle for the Suez was the first major conflict of a greater invasion of Africa by Spain against the Ethiopian Empire. The engagement was a clear defeat of Ethiopian forces who were rapidly routed by the numerically superior Spanish force. The Ethiopians - who entered the region expecting to put down minor Egyptian insurgency - had not expected to come into conflict with the Spanish Navy.
The Ethiopian plan involved shutting down the Suez by blocking it with debris and the wreck of the warship The Aksum, which they intended to scuttle. Ethiopian plans were however foiled and they abandoned the Suez region, leaving Spain complete control of the canal.
Spain had since Trajero sought to counteract the growth of Communism it perceived as having grown out of Asia. Over the course of the past decade it had projected itself into several conflicts where there was an ideological split between the contestants: Communism or socialism vs anti-communist regimes. For the large part Africa had been out of the attention of the Spanish military, until the continent's major power, Ethiopia made significant moves to aligning itself with China.
Since the presumption of power for Alfonso Sotelo the crack down on Communist and Socialist presences has expanded and grew to more energetic levels. Acquisition of the chemical weapon VX only hieghtened the Spanish position for war. Yet conflict with the perceived socialist empire of Ethiopia was not to occur immediately, although the two nations had on several occasions butted heads.
Full deceleration of war wasn't declared by Sotelo until the morning of May 11, 1980 when the Prime Minister mad an aggressive speech to affirm his position on whipping Communism off the map and that he would begin with Africa.
Soon afterwards the Spanish Mediterranean Armada was rallied and mobilized for Spain.
Several months prior to the battle the Ethiopian Empire had defeated the Ottoman Navy in the Red Sea in a desperate Turkish invasion of Ethiopia. The Battle of the Red Sea proved disastrous for the Ottomans, but also served to obliterate the feeble Ethiopian navy, whose ships had become immensely outdated at the time of the engagement, and whose only modern ship was the destroyer The Aksum.Land action by Ras Hassan played a later role after surviving the Ethiopian naval disaster in the Red Sea. Leading men from the Hejaz he marched into Ottoman territory, marching through to Ottoman Palestine and relieving Palestinian rebels from the Ottoman military, and effectively contributing to the ultimate political collapse of the Empire in Egypt, North Africa, and the Middle East.
On their return Ethiopia celebrated their victory against the Ottomans, pulling their assets back to home and limping their remaining naval asset back to port.
On hearing of Sotello's intention of going to war on the Empire, Ethiopia deployed a small unit of Walinazi to the Suez Canal, knowing it to be Spain's more direct route to land a force closest to the capital of Addis Ababa. The goal of the Walinazi was simply to delay the Spanish so the army back home may prepare to engage Spain. However they failed to account for resistance from the Egyptians, still spiteful of the Ethiopians.
Ethiopia began preparations for the Spanish several days before the Spanish Armada arrived at the Suez. Using the ENS Aksum, the Walinazi dumped sea mines throughout the Red Sea. On land Walinazi units traveled along the canal in a caravan to secure villages and settlements along the waterway from the political and military factions that had begun to take control of Egypt after the Ottoman Empire's collapse.
Preparations to clear the waterway for Ethiopian operation and to prevent any of the various feudal warlords in Egypt from aligning with the Spanish proved to be a difficult obstacle to surmount. The Ethiopian military had vastly under-estimated the strength or willingness of the Egyptian gangs to fight them.
Being better armed than the Egyptian rabble that controlled the mouths of the canal it took the Ethiopian forces until the arrival of the Spanish forces to clear out the Egyptian insurgents, who in turn dealt several casualties against the Ethiopian force. By late afternoon the Spanish fleet had arrived at the mouth of the Suez and assumed their position to take the canal.
Meanwhile in Spain, several hours before Spanish engagement began Sotelo and the Spanish parliament legally passed their deceleration of war against Ethiopia, issuing their orders to take the Suez.
The Battle Edit
The Spanish and its navy (comprising upwards of fifty ships) far exceeded the present forces of Ethiopians or even the remaining Egyptian insurgents on the ground. The Ethiopians had the ENS Aksum positioned just inside the Suez Canal, positioned to present its broadside guns on the Spanish fleet in the distance. Spanish command - under Finnish Civil War veteran Admiral Santin and General Ponferrada - knew that sinking the Aksum where it sat would effectively close the Suez to them for upwards of several months, and thus force the Spanish to navigate the long coast of Africa to move into position.
The Spanish were the first to act on arriving, letting go a salvo to soften the coast to prepare for land assault.
The Ethiopian plan was less to engage the Spanish forces, their numbers far too small and their gear far too outclassed by the Spanish military. Instead, they intended to seal the Suez completely and render it as impassable as possible to the Spanish navy and force them to travel the African coast and not take a shortcut.
The Spanish salvo scattered the Ethiopian forces along the coast and hurried them inland. Walinazi elements took positions and conducted planned demolition of canal-side buildings, collapsing them into the water to make the waterway shallower than it was and make passage more treacherous. It was twice already a foreign navy had used the canal to engage Ethiopia.
The demolition of buildings into the canal was as threatening as the Aksum being sunk in the water. Though admiral Santin had learned from Helsinki that undue haste was disastrous and was not prepared for his forces themselves to engage the Aksum itself and movie to take the channel. Through General Ponferrada he called in to request the assistance of the Cazadores from Spain.
The International Brigade Edit
The international Brigade was a rough unit of foreign irregulars who volunteered their service to Spain in order to combat socialism. The units was assembled to bolster up foreign support without direct national commitment by other nations to the war, allowing them to remain neutral in the war while still committing a small sum of troops to the field.
For the battle the Brigade was Spain's vanguard into the city and to stop the Ethiopians from destroying the canal.
Along with Spanish regulars they landed at Port Said to begin the ground assault. The landing for the International Brigade was considerably rough, being cheaply outfitted by Spain they were considered by the Spanish command to be an expendable resources. Often putting them in the way of machine gun nests. By the time the Brigade had landed and as the sun set they had lost a great deal of their number. A Spanish colonel quipped to them:
"The Brigada Internacional has been decimated, I know, in fact you only have one senior officer left."(post)
Cazadores, Scuttling of The Aksum Edit
Near to midnight the Cazadores - the Special Forces of the Spanish Military - arrived to the field, making a night-time jump into the battlefield, set on landing on the Aksum and to seize it. Daring, and a first the Special Ops group executed their maneuvers and quickly assumed command of the Aksum.
The Aksum had been largely evacuated in the early stages of the battle, its crew merely skeletal to provide the impression of an operating ship to block the Spanish advance. On killing the crew and seizing the ship the Cazadores discovered the Ethiopians had the ship rigged to explode. The goal of the Cazadores to salvage the operation turned to removing the ship, and in haste they sailed the Aksum down the Suez Canal to the Red Sea, where they could detonate it in safety.
Though minor, the Egyptian militias serving the local warlord were involved in the conflict as a third party, though uncounted. These rag tag forces were present throughout the battlefield where the Ethiopians were not, or had not pacified.
The battle routed the poorly organized and badly equipped Ethiopian forces who fled out into the Egyptian desert. This gave Spain control of the Suez, though many of the debris the Ethiopians had thrown into the canal had to be removed, a process which took several days. By May 30th though, the Spanish Armada was able to pass victoriously through the canal and into the Red Sea, due for a course to Addis Ababa.
At the end of the day the Ethiopians lost about half of their manpower. For the Spanish the International Brigade lost half their men to fire from the Ethiopians or Spanish, and the Spanish regulars suffered losses of a few thousand.