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Mark Allen was in charge of the Middle East and Africa department at MI6 until he left in summer 2004 .
According to a profile of him by The Times, Allen :
- learnt Arabic at Oxford
- was 54 in 2004
- was one of three people who applied for the job of chief at MI6.
- was originally due to retire in July 2005.
- is an "Arabist who worked under diplomatic cover in Abu Dhabi and Cairo"
- was "said to have been highly regarded within the service but 'pleased to be out'."
- was "credited with helping to persuade the Libyans to abandon development of weapons of mass destruction."
- "As one of MI6’s four directors, Allen’s duties covered running spying operations in the Middle East, including Iraq."
- "Relations between [John] Scarlett and Allen were said to have been strained over the government’s controversial Iraq dossier."
- "Allen was also said to have been uncomfortable with aspects of strategy on Iraq. 'His politics are not new Labour,' a source said."
- was expected to join BP as an adviser in October 2004.
Regarding his new role as an adviser to BP, The Times had this to say: "He will be working with Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Britain’s former special envoy to Iraq. BP wants to exploit opportunities in the Middle East — including Iraq, which has the world’s largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia." 
- Nicholas Rufford, "Rift at heart of MI6 as its Iraq spy controller quits", The Times, September 26, 2004.
- Richard Norton-Taylor, "Another top MI6 officer quits", The Guardian, December 6, 2004.