The Italian Empire
Head of State: King Victor Emmanuel III
Leader: Benito Mussolini
Ruling Party: National Fascist Party (PNF)
Category: Moderate Power
The Italian Empire has its roots in the year 1922 following the successful coup d'état by the National Fascist Party and its leader (or "IL Duce") during the March on Rome in which King Victor Immanuel III relented and granted Mussolini a seat in power. During the course of his first decade as the Duce, Mussolini introduced a series of dramatic reforms in order to revitalize an otherwise backwards and weak country. Various infrastructural and industrial projects allowed the Kingdom of Italy to flourish and grow stronger. A heavy emphasis was put toward modernizing the Italian military, producing new and improved firearms, airplanes, naval vessels, and armored vehicles. By the year 1935, the Kingdom of Italy was a force to be reckoned with.
Mussolini had many imperial ambitions for his country starting the invasion of Ethiopia on October 5th, 1935. His grand vision for Italy was what he called Mare Nostrum, Latin for "Our Sea". This ideal dates back to the former Roman Empire and involves achieving total dominance over the Mediterranean coastline, stretching from southern Spain all the way to Morocco in North Africa. The Duce decided the most effective way of achieving this goal was by forming an alliance with the German Reich in the north, which would soon result in Italy entering in a Second World War...
After the German invasion of Poland in the fall of 1939, Mussolini began drawing up plans for conquering the North African territories controlled by France and Great Britain. In June of 1940, Italy joined the war alongside the German Reich, declaring war on France and Britain, following immediately with Italian forces attacking Egypt and Algeria. By the winter of 1940 however, Italian troops were hastily losing ground to Allied forces, eventually forced to request the Germans for military assistance. By February 12th, 1941, the German 'Afrika Korps' landed on the shores of northern Africa under the command of the legendary field marshal Erwin Rommel, who'd soon be given the moniker "The Desert Fox" by the British. Over the next 3 years, although scoring a series of decisive victories, particularly at the battle of El Alamein during the summer and fall of 1942, it proved not enough to withstand the joint German and Italian forces who'd continue to push the Allies further and further out of the region. In 1944, shortly after losing control of the Suez Canal, British and Free French forces were completely driven out of the Middle East as well as both North and East Africa. The Italian Empire now gained control of Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Sudan, and even parts of East Africa.
After careful preparation, Italian forces (with support by varying German land and air divisions) launched an invasion of both the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Greece in the spring of 1944, catching much of the two nation's armies off guard. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia crumbled under the weight of the superior Axis forces, soon being divided into two separate Fascist satellite states of Serbia and the Independent State of Croatia whilst any remaining land was granted to the various Axis powers in surrounding areas, with Italy seizing much of the coastline around the Mediterranean Sea. Meanwhile in Greece, resistance by Greek military divisions proved fiercer than originally expected, with multiple Italian and German casualties occurring. The bloodiest military action of the Balkan campaign occurred on the island of Crete where a large number of Italian paratroopers were killed and marine transport ships sunk. The Greeks eventually relented by the summer with the fall of Athens proving to be the final blow for the country.
In late 1945, the Axis Powers seemed indomitable as they achieve victory after victory. Much of the Soviet Union had fallen into German hands, the British Empire reduced to shambles, and the many nations within the British Commonwealth no longer willing to offer further military assistance to what now appeared as a hopelessly lost war. The British public were sick and tired of fighting a war they could not win and dissent grew to the point of the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill being targeted by assassins. Not long after his death, the British government sued for peace and an armistice was signed which cost Britain most of its Empire as a consequence. Mussolini was still not content with what territory he controlled, demanding Hitler to allow Italy to annex more of the Balkans and Middle East into the Empire. Hitler, seeing the amount of military blunders made throughout the war with the Germans continually forced to come to their aid, refused entrusting Mussolini with such more territorial control than he already possessed. Hitler believed the Italian Empire would fail to maintain order and stability over its subjects, culminating in destructive rebellions and weakening the Axis grip over its conquered populations.
Now at the start of 1946, an enraged Mussolini has decided to pull the Italian Empire out of the Axis and challenge the German Reich's influence over the continent and on the international stage. The Duce continues to seek out his territorial ambitions, with or without Hitler's approval. Now with Germany stretched thin having to maintain control over its conquered territories in the east, Mussolini and his advisors contemplate whether they should take advantage of the Reich's vulnerable state or approach them to make amends...