chapter  5
31 Pages

The Miscalculation

ByIsaiah Friedman

This chapter discusses two reasons for the British miscalculation about the Arabs: incompetence and faulty judgment. In contrast, the French had had no illusions about the Arabs. Experience with Arab officers who had defected from the Ottoman army had been discouraging. Throughout the Holy War, the Arabs in Mesopotamia fought dutifully on the side of the Turks. It was the Syrian colony in Cairo, chiefly Christians, that fostered the illusion among the British officers that the Arabs wished to break away and dismember the Ottoman Empire. Sylvia Haim noted that, until the end of the First World War, there was an absence of a specific ideology of Arab nationalism. Hence, it would be safe to deduce that there was neither a national spirit among the Arabs, nor the driving force for a war of liberation on which the British could pin their hopes.