French and British Colonialism and its Legacy in the MENA region

Sune Haugbolle, Roberto Mazza

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter analyses the remaining impact of British colonialism in Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and Jordan, and French colonialism in Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. The aim is to show how the colonial framework created the conditions of current-day politics in the region, as well as the deep cultural influences that persist. EU actors are often oblivious of the complex dynamics set in motions at the end of the nineteenth century and more importantly after the end of the First World War, when Great Britain and France redrew the borders of the region under the mandate given by the League of Nations. The chapter shows the complex process of nation state formation in a tussle between the French and British on one side and local elites and popular parties on the other. It also analyses the lasting cultural effects of the colonial presence at the level of social organisation, institutions and the political. Turning to the decolonisation period, the chapter shows how France and Britain both attempted to remain relevant to Middle East politics by forging alliances with their former colonies through trade, military and diplomatic relations. The EU has incorporated these complex relations into its own Middle East policies, but often in ways that fail to recognise their colonial point of departure.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of EU–Middle East Relations
EditorsDimitris Bouris, Daniela Huber, Michelle Pace
Number of pages10
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9780367330767 (hbk), 9781032132167 (pbk)
ISBN (Electronic)9780429317873
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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