Defence Talks with Middle East States, 1951–54
As Britain adjusted its global defence position in the early 1950s, the Middle East retained a pre-eminent strategic position. However, the cost of the British military commitment there was a severe drain on British finances and manpower. As argued in previous chapters, pressures for economy in the defence forces resulted both in a reduction in the number of troops available throughout the world, and a change in the basis of global strategy from imperial garrisons to the nuclear deterrent. In the Middle East this meant that defence moved more towards Iraq and the mountains bordering the Soviet Union, and the Suez Canal Base, hitherto the most important facility in the region, gradually declined in importance. However, as Britain’s military weakness and declining capabilities in the Middle East became clearer to the decision-makers both in London and in Washington, the importance of good relations with the Middle East countries themselves was enhanced. Bevin’s plans for treaties of partnership, which failed everywhere except Jordan in the late 1940s, were attempted again in the 1950s in order to retain at least some of the strategic facilities that had been available for so long. Egypt, Libya, Jordan, Israel and Iraq were all the targets of British strategic interests in the 1950s.
KeywordsMiddle East Suez Canal Forward Strategy Arab State Middle East Country
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