Arabia-The British Sphere

D.A. Nicholas Jones


In the years immediately following the Second World War, Britain continued to hold positions of strength in Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, as well as South Arabia: that is, the eastern and southern fringes of the Saudi Kingdom. When Arab nationalists list the key events in Britain's retreat in the later 'fifties, the items read: the Egyptian-Czech arms deal, the failure of the Templer mission in Jordan, the dismissal of Glubb, the nationalization of the Canal, the failure of the Suez invasion, the end of the Anglo-Jordan treaty, the formation of the United Arab Republic, the association of the Yemen with the United Arab Republic, the breach with Iraq.' South Arabia is the last place in the Arab world where Britain has control and sufficient power still to make decisions. The successive retreats of Britain are all presented, of course, as the result of Arab initiatives. Less publicized is the development of the Middle East oil-fields and the deterioration of Britain's position. In 1939 the British share of Middle East oil production was 60 per cent, while that of America was only 13 per cent. Within fifteen years from the end of the war, the American share was 65 per cent, with only 30 per cent going to British-controlled firms.

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