Chapter

Policing the Desert Frontier

Thomas Martin

in Empires of Intelligence

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780520251175
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933743 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520251175.003.0006
Policing the Desert Frontier

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Policing desert frontiers and the communities that inhabited them was never easy. Efforts of France and Britain to control the Bedouin populations of the Middle East mandates fell in large part to specialist intelligence officers, many of which became regional administrators. Their role as agents of the colonial state was crucial to the consolidation—or the rejection—of Western authority among the Bedouin. This chapter surveys control policy of tribes in the southern deserts of the Middle East mandates. It suggests that the intelligence state was weakest among nomadic communities which the imperial authorities struggled to understand and to subjugate. Analyzing the role of native affairs specialists within the security apparatus of desert policing points to the limits of colonial control and compels the chapter to reconsider the distribution of political power in large swathes of the Middle Eastern mandates.

Keywords: desert; frontiers; France; Britain; Bedouin; Middle East; control policy; tribes; intelligence

Chapter.  12158 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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