Today in Middle Eastern history: Operation Exporter begins (1941)

World War II’s “Syria-Lebanon Campaign,” AKA Operation Exporter, is arguably (and I’m not a WWII expert so feel free to argue it) one of the least-covered operations of that war. Indeed, even at the time news about the campaign was downplayed or outright suppressed in Britain, for a very simple reason: it involved British troops fighting a French army. Yes, it was a Vichy French army, but it hadn’t even been a year since the last British and Free French forces were evacuated from France, and it was believed that British morale would suffer if it was learned that British and French forces were now at war with one other. But the fall of France to the Nazis, and this campaign, played a not-inconsiderable role in ultimately liberating both Syria and Lebanon from French colonial rule, so this operation is, I think, worth a mention.

Source: Today in Middle Eastern history: Operation Exporter begins (1941)


One thought on “Today in Middle Eastern history: Operation Exporter begins (1941)

  1. If the Iraqi leadership hadn’t been so damn stupid as to trigger a military confrontation with the British, the history of the modern Middle East might have been quite different.

    The Germans did put a few planes into the theater, but it’s understandable that they didn’t make a heavier commitment; the supply situation wasn’t wonderful, they had a (correct) low opinion of the Vichy French forces there, and — of course — in the summer of 1941 they had some other minor distractions going on.

    DeGaulle’s 360 degree turn was funny in retrospect, but also foreshadowed just how stubborn and difficult he was going to be over France’s colonies in 1945-48. (Not unique to DeGaulle, of course. Most contemporary French felt the same way.

    Doug M.

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