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Spies in ArabiaThe Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East$
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Priya Satia

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331417

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331417.001.0001

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Covert Empire

Covert Empire

(p.263) 8 Covert Empire
Spies in Arabia

Priya Satia (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the postwar consolidation of a new style of covert empire, in which real executive power in the Middle Eastern colonies was held by intelligence agents operating in hidden reaches of the bureaucracy. The scheme evolved informally after the failure of proposals for a more formal intelligence network, which were deemed impolitic. The covert style allowed colonial control in the increasingly anti-imperial postwar world, in places where more overt control would be strenuously resisted but where paranoia dictated some kind of control. The discreet air control scheme was the centerpiece of this system. The covert mode enabled the British to remain in Iraq well after the declaration of Iraqi independence in 1932, through the fifties. The chapter closes with a description of the growing paranoia of Iraqis and other powers in the region about the British presence and British incredulity in response.

Keywords:   covert empire, intelligence, network, colonial administration, RAF, Middle East Department, IDCEU, World War Two, Iraqi paranoia

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