We all know the role of Egypt as a British protectorate at the time in WWII and the many battles fought in there. My question is, what is the role of the other British and French possessions in the Levantine and Middle East? Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran. I know that many Iraqi's sided with Nazi Germany and were open in that matter. They wanted independence from the British and so did the Palestinians, many of whom supported Hitler in his plans against the Jews (Haj Amin al-Husseini)?

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    Welcome to the site. Good question, I edited a bit for accuracy. +1 P.S. Nice nick Dec 22, 2012 at 19:33

3 Answers 3


As far as Israel/Palestine goes: check out this, the allied and axis section in this.

As far as the Jews go, These guys fought for the British, lehi and irgun fought against. Basically the balance between resistance against British occupiers (and their white paper, limits on Jewish immigration etc) and the war against Germany produced mixed results in the Jewish communities.

As far as the Arabs go, the Nazis did make attempts to get the them on side (see the links) and many Arabs saw a German victory as a way of securing Palestine for the Arabs. But they had limited success, indeed maybe Palestinian Arabs fought for the British during the war.

For the other countries check this out: this for the pro-axis rebellion in Iraq and this for the Syria Lebanon campaign against Vichy French forces.

  • Interesting. Thanks. Yet it seems that except for Iraq and Egypt, the other countries were only theater of war between allied and axis forces. That no Arabs were directly involved in the fighting, right? Dec 22, 2012 at 22:29
  • Check out the beligerants in the anglo-iraq war (from a nazi funded arab coup detat) and also the Arab Legion. Also check out the belligerents for the Syria Lebanon war. I would agree with your analysis to a large extent though. I have another link though on nazi-arab relations Dec 22, 2012 at 22:42
  • Do you have any evidence for Palestinian Arabs fighting for the British? If no, I think this should be removed from the answer. Dec 22, 2012 at 23:23
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    The Palestinian regiment is the the first "this". Sorry, my linking discipline was not great, "about 6,000 Palestinian Arabs and 30,000 Palestinian Jews joined the British forces, forming the Palestine Regiment". Can't see the citation on wikipedia, but it seems legit. Dec 22, 2012 at 23:28
  • @NathanCooper: Interesting, I didn't know about the Palestine Regiment, only about the Jewish Brigade. But your numbers, both for Jews and Arabs are suspicious: wiki says that the Regiment was 3800 strong and the Brigade 5000. Even without overlap, this falls far short of the 36000 you mentioned. Surely some more Jews and Arabs can be found in various British auxiliary forces but on the whole 36000 sounds too high. Source for that? Anyway, way to go! Dec 23, 2012 at 10:41

After the invasion of Poland in 1939, but prior to the invasion of France in 1940 there was a joint Anglo-French plan to launch bombing raids against oil fields in Baku and Romania. These plans were stymied by Turkish opposition to overflights.


Annexation of Hatay to Turkey in 1939
In June 1939, the French helped facilitate the annexation of the Hatay Province (containing the cities of Antioch and Alexandretta) by Turkey, against opposition from Syria, in the hope that this would improve the chances of Turkey supporting the Allies should a war break out in Europe. The change is still disputed by Syria to this day.

Al Jeish al Arabi (Arab Legion)
The Arab Legion, formed by the British in Transjordan in 1923 by recruiting Arabs who had served in the Ottoman Army, was expanded during the Second World War to a strength of around 1,600 men and was regarded as the "best trained Arab army". It fought creditably in the British campaigns in both Iraq and Syria in 1941.

German interference
For information on the involvement of the German Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office), Abwehr (Intelligence), and Brandenburgers (Special Forces), the following sources might be useful:

The Third Reich and the Arab East, by Łukasz Hirszowicz

The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, by William Helmreich

The Brandenburger Commandos: Germany's Elite Warrior Spies in World War II, by Franz Kurowski

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