British oil policy in the Middle East, 1919-1932
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The aim of this thesis is to explain and analyse Britain's policy with regard to oil and the control of oil sources in the Middle East during the period 1919 to 1932. A great many books, articles, and some theses have been written on Middle Eastern oil, dealing with various aspects of the subject, but none has specifically aimed to explain in detail British oil policy between 1919 and 1932. The nearest approach to it is probably to be found in B. Shwadran's "The Middle East, Oil and the Great Powers" (New York, 1955), which was written, however, from an American point of view, and without access to British Government archives. It is hoped, therefore, that this present work may help to fill this gap and, also, that it may help to dispel the many inaccurate (and often wildly fanciful) notions about Britain's Middle Eastern oil policy which have long been current. The term "Middle East" in this context includes Persia, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Transjordan, the Arabian Peninsula, and Egypt, but most attention has been given to Iraq, since it was on Iraq that the main international oil controversies of the period centred. The Persian oil situation has been discussed in some detail, but no attempt at an exhaustive account has been made, since there is already a great deal of well-informed literature written on the subject. It has been found necessary to restrict the scope of the thesis to the main theme of British oil policy, avoiding any detailed treatment of the wider issues with which British oil policy was interwoven. Thus the purely diplomatic aspects of the many issues with which the oil questions were involved are not covered in any detail. In particular, no systematic attempt has been made to place Britain's oil policy in the context of its foreign policy as a whole, either in the Middle East or elsewhere, nor has any attempt been made to examine in full the oil policies (or general strategies in the Middle East) of countries other than Britain. There are several reasons for these limitations of scope. Firstly, the practical reason that, for reasons of space, no single thesis could deal adequately with all the diplomatic and other issues which were connected with British oil policy during the period under consideration. Secondly, adequate treatment of these peripheral issues would necessitate a full programme of research into the archives of the several different countries concerned, in particular those of the French Government and of the United States Government. Apart from the fact that such a programme of work would hardly be practicable in the time available, there is the added consideration that, in particular, French Government archives for the period are still closed. Of relevance to this aspect of the matter, too, is the fact that published works which might be expected to yield much information on, for example, French Middle Eastern oil policy, simply do not contain sufficient relevant information to fill satisfactorily the gap left by the non-availability of French Government archives. A third reason for restricting the scope of the thesis is the need for lucidity. In order to keep what is itself a highly complicated theme reasonably clear, much pruning of materials not absolutely central to the main theme has had to be done, sometimes with the result that issues of great importance in themselves, but having only an indirect link with the central theme, have been given only scant treatment.