Many of the most commonly accepted assertions about the First World War in the Middle East are more often stated than they are truly tested. Drawing on detailed research into the strategic and operational course of the war in the Middle East, Rob argues that, far from being a sideshow to the war in Europe, the Middle Eastern conflict was in fact the centre of gravity in a war for imperial domination and prestige. Moreover, contrary to another persistent myth of the First World War in the Middle East, local leaders and their forces were not simply the puppets of the Great Powers in any straightforward sense. The way in which these local forces embraced, resisted, succumbed to, disrupted, or on occasion overturned the plans of the imperialist powers for their own interests in fact played an important role in shaping the immediate aftermath of the conflict – and in laying the foundations for the troubled Middle East that we know today.
This lecture will be followed by a drinks reception and the opportunity to buy a copy of Rob Johnson’s book The Great War and the Middle East (published by OUP in October 2016).