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Anthropologists, Topographers, Diplomats, and Spies: Royal Air Force Intelligence Officers in South Arabia 1954–1959

Jones, Clive (2022) 'Anthropologists, Topographers, Diplomats, and Spies: Royal Air Force Intelligence Officers in South Arabia 1954–1959.', Middle Eastern Studies, 58 (3). pp. 402-420.


Recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have reawakened interest as well as controversies over how Western militaries tried to engage, with varying degrees of success, with the ‘Human Terrain’. These debates are far from new. This article explores the role played by a handful of Royal Air Force Intelligence Officers across the Aden Protectorates in the 1950s. Undoubtedly, they enjoyed notable success, not least in countering the immediate territorial avarice of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. But they remained agents of an empire in retreat, their effectiveness in harnessing a granular knowledge of the tribal landscape to the delivery of aerial violence being buffeted by an environment that they could not shape and over which, despite their best endeavours, Aden could exercise little control.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
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Publisher statement:© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:06 July 2022
Date of first online publication:26 April 2022
Date first made open access:06 July 2022

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