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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV: The Twentieth Century$
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Judith Brown and Wm Roger Louis

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205647

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205647.001.0001

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Britain’s Informal Empire in the Middle East

Britain’s Informal Empire in the Middle East

(p.490) 21 Britain’s Informal Empire in the Middle East
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV: The Twentieth Century


Oxford University Press

The extending of Britain's dominance over a much wider area between the Mediterranean and India to establish her informal empire in the Middle East was given a crucial push. ‘Informal empire’ may sound a contradiction in terms, since Empire in the proper sense involved annexation and full subordination to the Crown. Protection of landward approaches to India through the Middle East against suspected Russian designs needed different handling. The strength of Arab nationalism in the Middle East is explained in this chapter. Britain's basic problem in the inter-war period as in the war itself was how to combine two barely compatible aims — the security of her Imperial communications and of oil supplies on the one hand and, on the other, the retention of Arab and Iranian tolerance by showing an adequate response to nationalist aspirations. Whatever might be said of Britain's record in the Middle East, the handling of affairs there at least enabled democracy elsewhere to survive two world wars.

Keywords:   Britain, informal empire, Middle East, Mediterranean, India, Arab nationalism, war

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