Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East

For more than a century successive US and UK governments have sought to thwart nationalist, socialist and pro-democracy movements in the Middle East. Through the Cold War, the ‘War on Terror’ and the present era defined by the Islamic State, the Western powers have repeatedly manipulated the region’s most powerful actors to ensure the security of their own interests and, in doing so, have given rise to religious politics, sectarian war, bloody counter-revolutions and now one of the most brutal incarnations of Islamic extremism ever seen.

This is the utterly compelling, systematic dissection of Western interference in the Middle East. Christopher Davidson exposes the dark side of our foreign policy – dragging many disturbing facts out into the light for the first time. Most shocking for us today is his assertion that US intelligence agencies continue to regard the Islamic State, like al-Qaeda before it, as a strategic but volatile asset to be wielded against their enemies. Provocative, alarming and unrelenting, Shadow Wars demands to be read – now.

Publishers’ websites: Oneworld / Allen & Unwin

Tables of contents and preface: available here

Video trailer: Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East

Reviews of Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East:

‘This is the best and most informative book yet on the struggle for power among the US and Europe, Arab autocratic regimes, and these countries’ impoverished masses… Highly recommended.’ – Robert Olson, Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern History and Politics, University of Kentucky, CHOICE Magazine

‘This is an outstanding book, bracing in its understanding of the rapacious forces that set upon the Middle East and meticulous in weaving the historical threads that explain why.’ – John Pilger

‘An avalanche of spies, lies, covert actions and overt aggression – Davidson shows how many of the West’s troubles in the Middle East have emerged from its relentless search for resources.’ – Leif Wenar, Professor and Chair in Philosophy and Law, King’s College London

‘A thought provoking and original take on the present catastrophic realities in the Middle East. The book is a tour de force that begins with the past European Revolutions and ends up with an intriguing and highly convincing analysis of the demise of the Arab Spring. No one is spared in this incisive analysis: Arab regimes, fundamentalist movements, the West and Israel are all castigated here for their responsibility for the suffering of the people of the Middle East today.’ – Ilan Pappe, Professor of History, University of Exeter

‘It is the People’s History of US-British policies and conspiracies in the Middle East region.  There is so much in the book that my weekly article in Al-Akhbar only dealt with the section dealing with the Cold War up to the war of Afghanistan. This would be an excellent text both in an introductory course on IR in the Middle East and also in an introductory course on Middle East politics. It is time that we treat Western intervention in the Middle East as an integral part of domestic Middle East politics. Warning: the account about the Arab uprisings clashes with the propaganda account contained in all Western media.’ – As’ad AbuKhalil, Professor of Political Science, California State University

“While most discussions of the Arab Spring focus on a small number of actors, issues and processes, in Shadow Wars Davidson presents the most comprehensive analysis to date and anchors its rationale by emphasising the suffering of the region’s ordinary people… This book should be an essential point of reference for anyone trying to understand what went wrong with the Arab Spring, and for those aspiring to find ways to build a brighter future for the region.” – Imad El-Anis, Global Policy

“An accessible, though scholarly, tour de force, Shadow Wars is absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the West’s ongoing and deadly interventions in the Middle East.” – Ian Sinclair, Red Pepper Magazine

كتاب ديفدسون الجديد يذهب بعيداً في النبش في جذور الأزمات العميقة في جسم العالم العربي، وهو لهذا يستحق أن يُنشر بالعربيّة وأن يصبح مرجعاً لدى الجيل الجديد عن الاختراق الغربي الفظيع لمنطقتنا وعن سيرة استعمار لم ينتهِ ــ وإن تغيّر ألواناً وأشكالاً. من دون الوقوع في نظريّات مؤامرة خالية من القرائن، يعتمد ديفدسون على ما أُفرج عنه وثائق ديبلوماسيّة بريطانيّة وأميركيّة لتوثيق التعاون بين الإسلام الرجعي ودول الغرب – Al-Akhbar

‘Plunges into America’s move to center stage and how it has sustained its ravenous postwar economy by preserving access to crude oil imports at any cost…Davidson is especially dogged at “following the money”—e.g., the rise of crony-capitalist networks in the Gulf monarchies and the financing of al-Qaeda and of the new Islamic State group… An exhaustively researched account.’ – Kirkus Reviews

‘Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East, Dr Christopher Davidson’s latest work, investigates the crucial Arab Spring questions, including who supported and who crushed calls for democracy.’ – The New Arab

‘Shadow Wars: it is the primer on the Arab Spring and the path forward.’ – Tom Keene, Surveillance show, Bloomberg TV

‘Christopher Davidson is a reader in Middle Eastern Politics at Durham University, author of the landmark study “After the Sheikhs,” and his big new book, Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East comes closer than any recent popular study to offering definitive answers… For its unsparing probity, Davidson’s book ought to be required reading.’ – Christian Science Monitor

‘Christopher Davidson’s new book is an absolute must read. It’s a mammoth of a tome at 528 pages with 119 pages of endnotes, but an addicting read as it thoroughly obliterates the standard narrative on Libya, Syria, Yemen, and other post ‘Arab Spring’ conflicts… Such a hard hitting and well-documented presentation chronicling the facts of the US/UK fueling jihad in Syria and elsewhere, written from within the heart of academia, should be on everyone’s bookshelf.’ – The Libertarian Institute

Public lectures/launches:

Cambridge Literary Festival – Public lecture

Oxford Literary Festival – Public lecture

Leiden University – Public lecture with audience Q&A on Shadow Wars (video available)

Daoud Family Lecture, Albion College Michigan – Public lecture

Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society – Public lecture / local media

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) – Public lecture

Reviews, author interviews, and features:

Al-Akhbar – Review: Shadow Wars: a contemporary history of Western counter-revolutions (Arabic)

Christian Science Monitor – Review: Shadow Wars exposes the underlying patterns behind Middle Eastern strife

Global Policy – Review: Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East

The Libertarian Institute – Review: Shadow Wars is an explosive new history that documents the rise of ISIS

Kirkus – Review: Shadow Wars

Red Pepper Magazine – Review: Shadow Wars

CHOICE Magazine (American Library Association) – Review: Shadow Wars

The Angry Arab News Service – Review: Shadow Wars

OpenDemocracy – Interview on Shadow Wars / Arabic version

Medium – Interview on Shadow Wars and the Islamic State (French)

Bahrain Mirror – Interview on Shadow Wars

Bloomberg TV’s Surveillance show – Author interview and discussion on Shadow Wars (from 1hr:53min to 2hr:00min)

The New Arab – Shadow Wars: How global terror finance networks crushed the Arab Spring

Sputnik International – Interview on Shadow Wars, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the CIA

A Public Affair – Interview on Shadow Wars (radio)

Tasnim News Agency – transcript of author interview on Bahrain and Shadow Wars

The Bookseller – Devastating exposé on Middle East to Oneworld

Booktrade.info – Christopher Davidson’s Shadow Wars to Oneworld