A LINE IN THE SAND: THE ANGLO-FRENCH STRUGGLE FOR THE MIDDLE EAST, 1914-1948
by James Barr
W.W. Norton & Company, 464 pp., $29.95
In the middle of World War I, Mark Sykes, François Georges-Picot, and a few other British and French statesmen secretly divided up responsibility for the vast Middle Eastern territories then in the possession of the Ottoman Empire. This agreement marked not just a milestone in Franco-British imperial competition but the beginning of what James Barr describes in A Line in the Sand as a veritable cold war.
British control of Palestine had its origins in the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement, which provided for power-sharing with the French. It wasn't long, however, before the British managed to exclude their wartime allies from any official role in the Holy Land. Even before the Palestine Mandate was fully in place, however, the British suspected the French of trying to destabilize it. During the Arab riots of 1920, W.F. Stirling, the governor of Jaffa, was "convinced that the trouble he had to deal with ‘was invariably instigated by the French Consulate.'" The French, for their part, believed that the British...
Spy vs. Spy
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