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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Selzro

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Selzro

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Chapter I – Twilight of the Barbary States


The year 1836 finds Tunisia in a precarious position. With its old corsair days truly and finally over, it faces the uncertain prospect of European imperialism, while the Ottoman Empire seems unwilling to protect it, having its hands full with a rebellious Tripoli and a threatening Egypt.



France has already taken the northern coast of Algeria, and it would take a miracle to deter it from expanding further. The ruler of Tunis, Al-Mustafa ibn Mahmud (known as Moustafa Bey to Europeans), ninth Bey of the Husainid dynasty (originally from Crete), knows that well, but Tunis is a weak country with a poor and illiterate population whose greatest historical advantage, its strategic ports in the Mediterranean, may now prove its greatest liability, attracting the attention of European navies.

The armed forces of Tunis are split in two armies: the Army of the Bey of Tunis, with three infantry brigades, and the Army of Ifriqiya, with three irregular brigades. No talent commands either of them.



But the true strength of any nation is its people. That said, Tunis is even weaker in that regard. 347,930 men of working age (at the time of the latest census) with an average literacy of 3.7% hardly make Tunis a prospective power. Still, one must do the best with what one has, and so the Bey proceeded to do nothing for the next few months, apart from balancing the budget. When the French invaded Algeria in February, Tunisian troops had already been pulled back from the border to avoid any possibility of an incident, while the country’s meager diplomatic resources were used up to offer military access to the French, who accepted it haughtily.

In May, the Bey agreed to an alliance with Morocco, thinking that since Tunis has no prestige to speak of, it would have nothing to lose by backing away from it if Morocco got in trouble. In October that prediction would come true, since Morocco asked for assistance against the Spanish, who demanded the Taza region as a concession. However, since Spain was deemed a distant threat, the Bey decided to honour the alliance, at least until the situation would appear to become dangerous.

The Spanish warships didn’t come, but other Europeans came, in small groups, seeking trade and influence in Tunis. Accepting their presence could have unforeseeable consequences for the conservative Maghrebi country, but it would be more dangerous still to attempt to block the winds of westernization, since they could return with a cutting intensity if spurned once.



In January 1837, the situation in Morocco got even worse. France declared war on it to acquire the Ajdir concession. Common sense would have dictated abandoning Morocco to its fate. But the Bey had an inspiration, and whatever sense he had no commoner would dare question. For three months Tunis was in a formal state of war with France, though French troops were largely indifferent to that minor annoyance in their east. Then, when they decided to send an army to deal with it, Tunisian diplomats raced to meet then and offer a white peace. the French, eager to get it over with so they could return to their war in Morocco, accepted, and thus Tunis gained a 5-year truce with its most threatening neighbour, a lease of life that might just prove the difference between independence and servitude in the long run.



That was good enough for Mustafa, who wouldn’t live long enough to be bothered with the consequences. His successor, Ahmad ibn Mustafa, took over the beylik on 10 October 1837. The legacy of his predecessor was controversial, but certain geopolitical facts weren’t. The Ottomans were still fighting in Tripoli, but steadily subduing that country, while the French and Spanish were dividing Northwest Africa between them.



The Moroccan Wars gave Tunis 5-year truces with both of them, but when those expired the situation would become extremely dangerous; and there was no telling what other threats from the north could arise until then.

But at the end of the year 1837, Tunis still stood – and it could even contemplate doing something audacious while it still had the chance to act on its own, rather than react to the Europeans…

 

Melrick

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Wow, Tunis, good luck on this one because I think you're going to need it. lol
 

Selzro

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Yes, it's possibly the most difficult nation I've tried so far. In my first attempts I didn't make it past 1838, but this time I fared better, thus the AAR.
 

Selzro

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Chapter II – Of Numidians and Italians

The new Bey, Ahmad son of Mustafa, tenth of the Husainid dynasty, ascended to the throne on his 31st year and his reign seemed to have all the makings of a classical tragedy. All around, the old Barbary States were being extinguished by either European imperialists or the flailing Ottoman Empire and his father had gone and angered France and Spain, leaving Tunis with what amounted to a countdown to invasion. But Ahmad would not go down silently. If the old bonds of loyalty between the Ottoman Empire and its beyliks were being shattered, then it was time for Tunis to reclaim what had rightfully belonged to it.

Constantine was once part of Tunisia, and the latter’s right to it stretched back even further in time, to a time when the Carthaginians ruled over all those lands and exerted their influence across the Mediterranean. Ahmad had received a classical education, and the history of Carthage fascinated him above everything else. In his present predicament he saw a mirrored image of the situation before the Third Punic War. Carthage, having been deprived of its colonies, was forced to stand idle while the Romans expanded throughout the known world, through diplomacy or force of arms, spreading the germ of European imperialism. Faced with its final injustices, Carthage decided to defy Rome, and campaigned against the insolent Numidians, bringing against it the wrath of Europe. After a siege that lasted three years, Carthage was destroyed, but it fell fighting and it fell honourably. Nothing more could be asked for, perhaps, nothing better could be hoped after so many years of the Roman senate finishing its proceedings with the repetition of the mantra ‘Cartago delenda est’..

So it was war on Algeria. The Algerian army was a hollow shell of its previous strength, after being defeated by the French, and compared to it the Tunisian forces were mighty.



War was declared on 30 January 1838 and, sure enough, the wrath of Europe was prompt. Two months later, Two Sicilies declared war, with the object of conquering Tunis.



Unlike the Carthage of old, Tunis was not alone this time. Morocco, though having suffered defeat from France and Spain only recently, honoured its alliance with Tunis. Perhaps because it was weaker or perhaps because they wanted to kick it out of the war quickly, the Sicilians landed there first, in late May.



That distraction gave Tunis all the time it needed to complete the conquest of Algiers. In July, Carthage had retaken Numidia, and the Bey started to think that there might be hope of a successful defence, hope of victory…



For the rest of the year the Sicilians campaigned in Morocco, until the latter was forced to sign a peace treaty with them. With the new year, Two Sicilies started moving its forces to Tunisia.

The first landing was an ill-planned detachment of artillery, which attempted to set up a coastal fort in Bizerte. The Tunisian irregulars rushed the enemy with ferocity and killed or captured all of them.



It was an unexpected piece of luck, that raised the morale of the soldiers, but the Sicilians would land a proper army soon. In March they invaded with two brigades of infantry and one brigade of cavalry, all transported from Morocco, where the desert had worked its attrition on them. They were capable soldiers, but the Tunisians had numbers on their side, and won the engagement decisively.



A third invasion attempt was thwarted in July, at the coast of Bizerte, and a fourth one in August stretched the Tunisian soldiers to their limits. Over half the men had been killed in that and the previous engagements, and on many occasions they approached their breaking point – would have broken had their general, Zafir al-Misurati, not held them with his charismatic presence and stirring speeches. That battle was not merely required for the containment of a beachhead – if the Tunisian army failed there, then there would be nothing stopping the Sicilians from marching to Tunis and putting an end to its independence. But if the enemy were defeated, then and there, then Two Sicilies would reach the end of its capacity for war and could be convinced to withdraw from Africa.



It was bloody and it was long but the Tunisians prevailed. The Sicilians held on to a naval blockade, stubbornly, for a few more months, but in January 1840 they conceded their failure and asked for peace. Tunis accepted.



The twin victory, over Algeria and against Two Sicilies, had given Tunis new grounds for hope and faith in its own powers. At the very least, any European imperialists would now have to take Constantine away from Tunis before attempting to conquer the latter, and that afforded a level of security, if a very small level at that. Two years remained in the truces with France and Spain, and the first war with Europeans had been won. As the Tunisian armies regrouped, the next move would be Europe’s.
 

Ivir Baggins

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Now just to take Sicily, Mashiliem, Mauretania, Gaetulia, Tripolitania & Phasiana. Maybe also Iberia.
 

Melrick

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Wow, good job in defeating two nations. Should be interesting to see what France and Spain does once the treaty runs out.
 

LordTempest

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Let me just say how glad I am to finally see a Tunis AAR! Like a lot of people I'm sure, most of my games as European colonial powers start with the annexation of Tunis, it will be nice to see it survive to the 1900s for once.
 

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Ahhh Selzro, good to see you at it again! :) Exciting one too, Tunis should be quite the challenge. I hope there aren't too many French troops in Algeria otherwise the inevitable declaration of war isn't going to be so pretty. Thankfully you don't have a border with any Spanish lands so they shouldn't be too terrible (comparatively). The noble resistance to Two Sicilies was encouraging. Good luck for the next stage!
 

WelshDude

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Good to see another Selzro AAR. I read your Iceland AAR (though didn't comment). It is worth pointing out though that you screenies show you're not researching anything. Suggest you rectify this.
 

Selzro

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Thanks for the warm reception, everyone!

Ivir Baggins, let's see if I can survive first and then we'll see about getting back at Europe!

Melrick, that was the question foremost on my mind as well, but you will soon see how the situation turned out.

Tanzhang (譚張), that's what inspired me to try this! I've always looked at the Barbary states as easy targets, rather than viable countries, and the AI does the same, since I've never seen Tunis survive into the 1840s. The dangers and difficulties are great, as I've come to discover, but with some luck and perseverance there can be hope for survival.

In some way's it's not as difficult as Abu Dhabi, thanks to Tunis having a starting population similar to Greece or Albania, but literacy is abysmal. France is, naturally, the greatest threat, but if it can be kept busy elsewhere at the start of the game, its view of Tunis may change. Thanks Kaltorak!

You must be thinking of Surume's Iceland AAR, WelshDude, or else my Albanian, Australian or Belgian AAR, but thanks for commenting! With Tunis' abysmal research rate, I couldn't hope to finish researching anything in the 1830s, so I saved up points, hoping to get idealism a bit faster. But in 1840 I decided on freedom of trade and then malthusian thought instead, because my economy was a mess and I needed the money and literacy bonus. Even if I had gone for idealism as my first tech, I could only research it halfway with the RPs I had gathered...
 

Selzro

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Chapter III – The Wrath of Europe

Peace didn’t last for long. Where the Sicilians had failed, Rome, Carthage’s old nemesis, decided to take over.



Morocco backed away this time. It had suffered much, so there was no ill feeling towards it. But the Roman declaration of war proved to be an idle threat, since not only did they not have a large enough army to threaten Tunis, not only did they not have enough transports to ferry such an army across the sea, but they didn’t even have enough ships to attempt a blockade of Tunis’ ports. So, for almost two years Tunis was in a phony war, whose only direct effect was a decrease in the rate at which its infamy from conquering Algeria was decreased. But it had a possible indirect effect in that no other European nation had declared war on Tunis, possibly waiting for Rome to take Constantine before moving in for the kill.

In that time, Tunisian scholars introduced the concept of Freedom of Trade to the court, and the economy showed a marked improvement as a result. No longer would people of all classes suffer under the strain of high taxation and high tariffs so that the government could make ends meet. Thanks to increases in productivity, tariffs were decreased to zero and taxes were reduced across the board, but mostly for the rich. In addition, administration and education could for the first time receive proper funding.



This new-found economic prosperity led to an enlargement of the army. An infantry brigade had been completely destroyed during the war with Two Sicilies, but three new ones were raised in its place, making the Army of the Bey of Tunis 5 brigades strong.

In 14 November 1841 Rome offered a white peace, and Ahmad pompously accepted. That would prove to have been a less than ideal decision, since merely 20 days later Portugal started the 2nd War of the Constantine Region Concession.



Unlike Rome, Portugal had a fleet capable enough of projecting force to Tunis, and soon three out of the four main ports of the country were under blockade.



But the Portuguese had neither the numbers nor the stomach for casualties to actually land in Tunis, so the war took the form of a protracted blockade, affecting somewhat the state of the economy but not threatening the state itself.

A greater danger came from what could not be seen, a pandemic that claimed thousands of lives and cost a fifth of the treasury in the efforts to contain it.



War with Portugal dragged on until January 1844, when a white peace was signed, and the blockade was lifted. Tunisians breathed a collective sigh of relief, but then a diplomatic envoy delivered yet another declaration of war. From Sweden.



How that distant country in the exotic north expected to subdue the Tunisians’ fighting spirit was unknown, but for the next year there was no sign of Swedish activity in the Mediterranean. Taking advantage of that phoney war, Tunis gave some attention to its educational system, after academics became acquainted with Malthusian Thought. Idealism became the next focus of study, but also the new field of invasiology.

Judging from recent experience and inferring from theory, four classes of European invasion were categorized, pertaining to Tunis. Class 1 was war with a country with no effective means of power projection to Africa. It was a phoney war, with the only side effect being a decrease in the drop of infamy and of war exhaustion. The Papal States and Sweden were examples. Class 2 was war with a country that had the capacity to blockade ports but not to land troops on the ground. That caused some economical problems in addition to the ones previously stated, and a rise in war exhaustion. Portugal was the prime example. Class 3 was war with a country that could land forces in Africa. That was an actual threat, though a manageable one if their transport capacity didn’t allow too many brigades to be transported at once. Two Sicilies was the prime example. Class 4, finally, was war with a power that either bordered Tunis on land or had the capacity to land troops in such quantities as if it had a land border; and had an army large enough to take advantage of that situation. France was the prime example, though there were fears of other Great Powers that could do the same if they so chose. A Class 4 war would mean almost certain defeat for Tunis, but France and Spain seemed to take little military interest in it, and the former even seemed to be building up relations. If Tunis could be taken under France’s wing, in its sphere of influence, then it would be protected from all other threats. But relations increased slowly and in early 1846 Sweden withdrew from the war, with the Netherlands taking their place a few days later.



A Dutch squadron appeared a few months later, and it seemed like it was going to be a typical Class 2 war. However, a year into the war clippers arrived, bringing a small Dutch army with them. They landed in Gabes in May 1847 and the Tunisian armies converged on their position.



The Dutch had artillery and better tactics, so the casualties were about the same on both sides, even though the Tunisians enjoyed a clear numerical superiority. In the end, the Tunisian army won, though with greater casualties than the enemy, and pursued the latter to three additional engagements, before forcing the last remnants to surrender in Constantine in July. After that, the Dutch continued their blockade until early 1848, when they asked for a white peace. The Bey, worried about the sightings of the return of Dutch clippers, agreed and enjoyed a few days of peace before the Romans announced their second attempt to conquer Constantine.



This time, they had Sardinia-Piedmont on their side, which proceeded to blockade Tunis’ ports in clear Class 2 fashion. That alliance caused more relief than fear in the Tunisian court, since it was obvious that the Pope had called all his allies and so it followed that France had refused to get involved. French influence was rising slowly in Tunis, but eventually it would reach a tipping point and Tunis would find security – as long as disaster didn’t strike until then.

In May 1849 Idealism shared its mysteries with the Tunisian scholars and priority was given to land military technologies, since the war with the Netherlands showed the deficiency of the Tunisian army.

In September 1849, the Bey could no longer ignore the voices crying out for political change. The predominant issue among the people, by a staggering 56%, was jingoism, an ideology espoused by the reactionary ‘Nationalist Faction’.



The conservative ‘Royal Faction’ had served Tunis to the best of its ability so far, but the people wanted something more militaristic. In addition, the Nationalists’ interventionist economic policy could prove more flexible than the Royal Faction’s state capitalism. With the country in a condition of high militancy, partly due to the prolonged blockades and partly due to continued western presence, the Nationalists were placed in power to provide some appeasement to public sentiment. However, militancy actually increased and the conservatives proposed a number of legislations that could help defuse the situation.



It was decided to invest in a health care system, so trinket health care was enacted as a social reform.

A month later, Sardinia-Piedmont offered peace, which was graciously accepted. But by then the Romans had outfitted a squadron of their own, and continued the blockade seamlessly.



On 1 January 1850, the Tunisian government enacted a radical political decision, outlawing slavery. The extra manpower, as tax-paying citizens, would help the country in its next crucial years, but the landed aristocracy resented that move and wanted something in return. After much squabbling and a steady rise in militancy throughout the year, after a white peace was made with Rome in September, the Bey reluctantly agreed to give them a say in government.



Nine days later, Portugal started the 6th War of the Constantine Region Concession. It was expected to be another Class 2 war, and the Portuguese didn’t disappoint.



However, by October 1850 the political history of Tunis was turning over a new page, with the absolute monarchy replaced by a very limited constitutionalism, but a constitutionalism all the same.



A new era dawned. But it was still clouded by the sails of Portuguese frigates…
 

badger_ken

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Great to see another Selzro AAR, and boy have you picked a challenge! Kudos!

Very clever move getting the white-peace out of France, and congrats on beating Two Sicilies - the latter is very unusual in my experience especially as troop strengths were roughly equal - was it leadership that made the difference?

If you can somehow weather these initial storms (any chance of getting in the French SOI? Or, even better, the UK?) Ottoman Africa seems a tempting target. Good luck!
 

Selzro

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Thanks badger_ken! You are correct, leadership did play an important role, but the Sicilians also made some strategic mistakes. Their first landing was of an unsupported artillery brigade, and that was followed up by their Moroccan expeditionary force, which had suffered considerable attrition already. When they landed, it was obvious that it could only be in Bizerte, so I could wait for them there, with my best defensive general in command (though I only had two generals to speak of). I've already posted my next update and, as you ca see, the French have taken a more peaceful interest in me.
 

badger_ken

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wow, another chapter so soon!

First of all, congrats - amazing that you were able to repel all these invasions! When you are able to classify your invasions into 4 categories, you know you've quite the situation on your hands :)

I'm intrigued that your (heavily conservative) upper house went along with reforms. I take it this was because your militancy seems to have gotten up past 4 - I see a "4.39" in one of your grabs. In which case, what mod(s) are you running that have kept you from being swamped by endless rebellions?
 

LordTempest

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Wow... Is there any nation you haven't been at war with yet? :)

I really enjoyed that update, especially that little tidbit on Invasiology. Great work in winning the Fourth and Fifth Punic Wars, not to mention beating Sweden, Portugal, the Netherlands (Never would have happened if Prince Frederik was in charge...) and Sardinia-Piedmont. Seven DoWs in 14 years, that's got to be a record.
 

Selzro

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No mods - western presences and war exhaustion kept pushing militancy up, later reaching more than 8 on a national average (and 10 in many provinces), so the conservatives would back any and all reforms, but strangely enough there were no rebellions. At first I thought it was because consciousness was low, but I've played ahead and even with militancy 8 and consciousness 5 there are no actual revolts. I don't know if I got really, really lucky or if there's some other mechanism involved... At some points a third of my male adult population would belong to some militant group, but their chances of an uprising were low.

Thanks Tanzhang (譚張)! I think I'll draw up a rough map of all the nations that I've been at war with - it should cover almost all of west Europe, with the notable exceptions of the UK (thank God!) and the Germans...
 

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Tunis delenda est , or at least the european minors are trying to do so!
 

WelshDude

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You must be thinking of Surume's Iceland AAR, WelshDude, or else my Albanian, Australian or Belgian AAR, but thanks for commenting! With Tunis' abysmal research rate, I couldn't hope to finish researching anything in the 1830s, so I saved up points, hoping to get idealism a bit faster. But in 1840 I decided on freedom of trade and then malthusian thought instead, because my economy was a mess and I needed the money and literacy bonus. Even if I had gone for idealism as my first tech, I could only research it halfway with the RPs I had gathered...
Yes, sorry. I didn't realise you accumluated RP when not researching.

No mods - western presences and war exhaustion kept pushing militancy up, later reaching more than 8 on a national average (and 10 in many provinces), so the conservatives would back any and all reforms, but strangely enough there were no rebellions. At first I thought it was because consciousness was low, but I've played ahead and even with militancy 8 and consciousness 5 there are no actual revolts. I don't know if I got really, really lucky or if there's some other mechanism involved... At some points a third of my male adult population would belong to some militant group, but their chances of an uprising were low.
When a pop reaches 7 militancy it joins a rebel group. When it reaches 8 it will join a general rising which only occurs when that rebel group outnumbers you're army, when it reaches nine it will revolt if it is large enough to field a brigade.
 
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WelshDude

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