British Colonial Policies: Sowing the Seeds of Contemporary Middle Eastern Security Sectors?

Arab security sectors across the Middle East today appear to share a number of generally negative characteristics, including the use of coercion and of the military to control internal dissent, the exclusion of particular ethnic or religious groups from the highest ranks of the security services, allegiance to the state as opposed to the citizen, and pervasive corruption in the judicial and policing systems.

These common characteristics are frequently attributed to the role played by the colonial powers during their formation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This chapter explores some of the strategies pursued by the British in four of its Arab territories: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Oman and assesses their effects and long term influences.