1st Edition

The Secret Anglo-French War in the Middle East Intelligence and Decolonization, 1940-1948

By Meir Zamir Copyright 2015
    502 Pages
    by Routledge

    502 Pages
    by Routledge

    The role of intelligence in colonialism and decolonization is a rapidly expanding field of study. The premise of The Secret Anglo-French War in the Middle East is that intelligence statecraft is the "missing dimension" in the established historiography of the Middle East during and after World War II.

    Arguing that intelligence, especially covert political action and clandestine diplomacy, played a key role in Britain's Middle East policy, this book examines new archival sources in order to demonstrate that despite World War II and the Cold War, the traditional rivalry between Britain and France in the Middle East continued unabated, assuming the form of a little-known secret war. This shadow war strongly influenced decolonization of the region as each Power sought to undermine the other; Britain exploited France's defeat to evict it from its mandated territories in Syria and Lebanon and incorporate them in its own sphere of influence; whilst France’s successful use of intelligence enabled it to undermine Britain's position in Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

    Shedding new light on the clandestine Franco-Zionist collaboration against Britain in the Middle East and the role of the British secret services in the 1948 Arab-Jewish war in Palestine, this book, which presents close to 400 secret Syrian and British documents obtained by the French intelligence, is essential reading for scholars with an interest in the political history of the region, inter-Arab and international relations, and intelligence studies.

    Introduction Part I 1 Great Britain’s Covert Political Action in the Middle East During and After World War II 2 The Anglo-French Clandestine War in Syria and Lebanon, 1940-1942 3 Britain’s Treachery, France’s Revenge, 1943-1946 Conclusion Part II Appendices Bibliography


    Meir Zamir teaches at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. He studies the role of British and French intelligence in the Middle East in the 1940s and the decolonization of the region. He is the author of The Formation of Modern Lebanon, 1918-1926, and Lebanon's Quest: The Road to Statehood, 1926-1939.

    "Zamir has provide a very important and useful contribution to the field of scholarship. He has successfully begun an important historiographic debate which will affect scholarship on decolonization, Israel and Middle Eastern studies, and of course, intelligence. It has illuminated new issues in Anglo-French intelligence relations, and the complex web of interests and rivalries which rocked the Levant during 1940-8 and beyond. The book’s new evidence and approach are sure to inspire further research, and even an eventual change in narrative." Steven Wagner, McGill University

    "Anyone who seeks a better understanding of the present imbroglio in Syria should read Meir Zamir's excellent book on the 'struggle for Syria' in the 1940s." Joshua Landis, University of Oklahoma and editor of "Syria Comment"

    "Meir Zamir’s great contribution to revising our view of the Second World War in the Middle East and after is to show that Britain and Free France spent nearly as much time engaged in a clandestine war against each other as they did in their mutual struggle against the Axis powers." Saul Kelly, Kings College, London