Thursday, May 11, 2006
The threat to the British position in the Middle East from Barbarrosa
The German attack on Russia, on 22 June 1941, greatly changed the strategic picture in the Middle East. The concern was that the Germans could be in a position to threaten the oil fields in Iran (Churchill insisted on calling it Persia), particularly. If Russia was quickly overcome, then the Germans might head to the south through Turkey or Iran. Depending when they reached the Caucasus, they might really pose a threat to the entire British position in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. The British were heavily dependent on their oil fields in Iraq and Iran and the refinery at Abadan. Basra, in the south of Iraq was also an important port. By 1 September 1941, the suggestion had been made to India that they might increase the planned force for Basra to 10 divisions with 30 squadrons of aircraft. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.