chapter  11
MONITORING THE ENEMY: BRITISH INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE SERVICES IN THE INTERWAR YEARS
Pages 14

The structure of the British intelligence and counter-intelligence systems is the second element defining Britain’s response to the apparent shift in allegiance that was endangering the already precarious relations between London and the leadership of the Arab world. In the 1930s, the fragmented structure of Britain’s embryonic counter-espionage service, its inadequate funding and lack of direction hindered Britain’s efforts to obtain reliable intelligence about Axis activities, plans and capability. The imperial security system relied on devolved intelligence structures; here priority was given to monitoring nationalist leaders, political agitators and suspected communists, while little attempt was made to investigate the insidious undertakings of hostile powers such as Germany, Italy and Japan. The need for a centralised structure that would co-ordinate the various British intelligence agencies was strongly felt in the Middle East. As tension in Europe increased and the Axis powers grew more involved in the Near East, British governmental departments called for an integrated approach to Middle Eastern security, which would include not only more comprehensive intelligence investigations but also a more efficient counterpropaganda machine.