With British-Argentine tensions escalating in the South Atlantic over the barren Falkland Islands, many observers, Via Meadia included, have predicted a similar confrontation over Gibraltar, Britain’s other controversial possession. Now this very scenario appears to be playing out, as Gibraltar’s new Chief Minister had scarcely ascended to his chair when Spain intensified its claim to the tiny peninsula—which, like the Falklands, happens to be full of people happy to remain British citizens. Spain’s new Conservative PM, however, is attempting to cut Gibraltar out of tripartite negotiations with Britain over the future of the territory, much to the chagrin of residents.Many may be surprised by the sudden interest in a centuries-old dispute between (mostly) friendly countries, but the timing is hardly surprising. Indeed, both David Cameron and Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy have much to gain from the conflict, which promises to distract from faltering economies and stubborn high unemployment (youth unemployment in Spain recently topped 50 percent). The confrontation also promises to stir up nationalist sentiment in both countries, benefiting the Tories in England and helping the Spanish government rein in restless regions.Gibraltar has remained under British rule for nearly 300 years, and this is not likely to change anytime soon. As long as the Britons and the Spaniards find it useful, however, the dispute is not going anywhere.
Turning up the Heat in Gibraltar
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