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By James Barr

In 1916, in the course of the 1st global battle, males secretly agreed to divide the center East among them. Sir Mark Sykes was once a visionary baby-kisser; Francois Georges-Picot a diplomat with a grudge. The deal they struck, which used to be designed to alleviate tensions that threatened to engulf the Entente Cordiale, drew a line within the sand from the Mediterranean to the Persian frontier. Territory north of that stark line could visit France; land south of it, to Britain. opposed to the chances their pact survived the battle to shape the root for the post-war department of the quarter into 5 new international locations Britain and France might rule. The construction of Britain's 'mandates' of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, and France's in Lebanon and Syria, made the 2 powers uneasy neighbours for the next thirty years. via a stellar solid of politicians, diplomats, spies and squaddies, together with T. E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, A Line within the Sand vividly tells the tale of the quick yet an important period while Britain and France governed the center East. It explains precisely how the outdated antagonism among those powers infected the extra normal smooth contention among the Arabs and the Jews, and eventually ended in struggle among the British and the French in 1941 and among the Arabs and the Jews in 1948. In 1946, after decades of intrigue and espionage, Britain ultimately succeeded in ousting France from Lebanon and Syria, and was hoping that, having performed so, it'd be capable of hang directly to Palestine. utilizing newly declassified papers from the British and French files, James Barr brings this ignored clandestine fight again to lifestyles, and divulges, for the 1st time, the lovely means during which the French ultimately received their revenge.

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Extra resources for A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle for the Mastery of the Middle East

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This was the caliphs’ last heritage, but even there the Ottomans faced discontent from increasingly self-confident Arabs who wanted greater autonomy or even independence from the dynasty that had ruled them for four hundred years. Sykes’s travels through the empire coincided exactly with this era and, not surprisingly, in his latest book he portrayed the Ottomans as moribund. To reinforce his argument he included sublime descriptions of the squalor that he encountered in the famous cities of the Ottomans’ eastern lands.

Who was financing and arming the Jewish terrorists who were then trying to end British rule in Palestine? The officer, just back from a visit to the Middle East, provided an answer that was astonishing. The terrorists, he reported, ‘would seem to be receiving support from the French’. Adding that he had spoken to his counterparts in Britain’s secret intelligence service, MI6, the officer continued: ‘We . . know from “Top Secret” sources that French officials in the Levant have been clandestinely selling arms to the Hagana¹ and we have received recent reports of their intention to stir up strife within Palestine’.

While Bell, like many other contemporaries, found Sykes ‘most amusing’, Sykes was much less pleased to come across Miss Bell. ⁸ The Ottoman Empire was by then ‘going downhill’, as Sykes had put it in that first parliamentary speech. After the sultan’s government went bankrupt in 1876 the British government abandoned a fifty-year-old policy of supporting the Ottomans’ integrity and independence as a bulwark against other powers’ ambitions. In 1878 Britain seized Cyprus and, four years later, Egypt and the Suez Canal in order to secure the route to India.

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