The British Defence of Egypt, 1935-1940: Conflict and Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean

The British Defence of Egypt, 1935-1940: Conflict and Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean

The British Defence of Egypt, 1935-1940: Conflict and Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean

The British Defence of Egypt, 1935-1940: Conflict and Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean

Synopsis

This pioneering study seeks to address a neglected area of British strategy, thereby adding an important new piece to the jigsaw puzzle of diplomacy and defence policy during the era of appeasement. The vital importance to British security of trans-Mediterranean communications was acknowledged by successive governments. Egypt, occupied since 1882, was the Clapham Junction of the British Empire. Through it passed sea, land, air and telegraphic routes connecting Britain with the five-sevenths of the empire which lay beyond the Suez Canal. Notwithstanding competing claims and finite defence resources, Egypt remained a vital strategic point to hold. In this period, Britain faced two main threats to its hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean: externally, from the rise of fascist Italy; internally, from the growth of Egyptian nationalism. The Baldwin government favoured the appeasement of Mussolini to military confrontation and missed a golden opportunity to halt his empire-building during the Italo-Abyssinian Crisis. Thereafter, as Britain's defence resources were stretched by the simultaneous German and Japanese threats, it became increasi
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