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A Line in the Sand

An unsettling history of British and French machinations in the Mideast.

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A Line in the Sand
The Anglo-French Struggle for the Middle East, 1914-1948
By James Barr
W.W. Norton
352 pp.

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Much is always made of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 in which the British and the French secretly connived to split the Middle East like a ripe melon, dividing what is now Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordon, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank between them. The fact that neither controlled or had any legitimate right to this vast expanse was of little import in London and Paris; they planned to seize control of it soon enough from the waning Ottoman Empire.

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