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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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The Foundations of Covert Empire

The Foundations of Covert Empire

(p.23) 1 The Foundations of Covert Empire
Spies in Arabia

Priya Satia (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the prewar and wartime formation of the British intelligence community in the Middle East, tracing its informality to the particular circumstances in which it was formed, and describes its various diplomatic, military, and civilian participants. It explains how this community was inducted into the formal intelligence and military establishments of the war, and how they and the institutions they developed, including the Arab Bureau, continued to defy bureaucratic discipline. Finally, it explains how their task expanded to include spying on their Arab allies, in anticipation of peacetime arrangements. As their brief as intelligence agents widened, they laid the foundation for a postwar covert empire in which intelligence agents would wield executive power.

Keywords:   consul, Arab Bureau, archeology, Mark Sykes, MI5, intelligence community, political officer, Mesopotamia campaign, Palestine campaign, military attaché

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