D+22 on the Southern Flank is most accurately remembered as a day of transitions for many of the theater’s supporting characters. As the main combatants reluctantly probed and prepared their next moves, nations like Egypt, Israel and Syria were looking ahead to the post-war era and hedging their bets. The eventual outcome of the war, historic grievances with neighbors, and in the case of some nations, domestic pressures added various colors to respective assessments and plans. At the same time, a handful of other countries were teetering on the brink of collapse or civil war.
Romania was one of them. The opposition to Nicolae Ceausescu’s regime continued to coalesce with every passing hour. Street battles escalated in Bucharest and several other major cities. Ceausescu and the core government officials had departed the capital city and were spread out around the country. By this time, Ceausescu was huddled with his military and state security apparatus commanders outside of Brasov coordinating defensive efforts. For the most part, Romania’s military was mostly remaining on the sidelines. Only a fraction of army commanders had acknowledged the orders transmitted by Ceausescu to begin moving their forces into Bucharest and other cities to restore order. Government police and security troops in urban areas were having a more difficult time maintaining control. Crowds were growing larger and more audacious as opposition factions began to organize them. Ceausescu and those around him grew anxious as the severity of the situation started to become apparent. If order was not restored in the next thirty-six hours, the Romanian leader’s inner-circle knew that his time in power was likely at an end.
In North Africa, tensions between Egypt and Libya flared up on D+22. The ceasefire in place was violated, though it was not clear which side was responsible. A series of firefights and engagements between Libyan and Egyptian forces broke out along the border. In Cairo, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak placed the blame on Libya’s shoulders and formally requested UN Peacekeepers be deployed to the Libya-Egypt border area to maintain the peace. Mumammar Gaddafi released a similar statement calling for the presence of a ‘responsible and mutually acceptable third-party’ to enforce the terms of the ceasefire.
Spain’s focus remained fixed on Madrid and rescue and relief efforts going on there four days after the nuclear destruction of city. Sadly, a small number of self-indulgent separatists in Catalonia were moving to take advantage of the Spanish government’s preoccupation. In the afternoon of D+22 two thousand Spaniards took to the streets of Barcelona calling for independence of the Catalonian region. City officials were not happy with the timing of the Catalan Independence movement-sponsored protest. Unfortunately for them, a large number of Barcelona’s police and emergency service personnel were already deployed to support operations in Madrid and the separatists were aware of this. The protest grew violent as thinned-out ranks of police clashed with demonstrators. By the evening, the situation in Barcelona was on the verge of becoming a full-blown riot.
It became so bad that Barcelona’s mayor Pasqual Maragall, a socialist, requested assistance from the Spanish government to restore order in his city. Unfortunately, there was no help the government could offer. This was also something that the separatist organizers and agitators were counting on.