I wanted to know more about how politics in the Middle East developed in the past, and the role of Britain in this process, so I’ve been reading: Empire of Sand: How Britain made the Middle East, by Walter Reid.
Reid covers a lot of ground, and gives a background to numerous countries in the Middle East. Many of the problems of that area seem to have developed since the various settlements after the First World War, though it is with hindsight that we can say that these were unstisfactory. At the time, Britain was more concerned with what the French might do, rather than the rights of the local populations, which were in any case rarely stated in any coherent form.
I had not realised how much Britain had been involved in Iran for several decades (mainly to secure oil), and how much the French were disliked for their involvement in Syria up to 1946.