The Persian Gulf and British Defence Policy, 1956-1971

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In the fifteen years prior to Britain’s military withdrawal from east of Suez in 1971, the defence of its protectorates in the Persian Gulf became a key focus for British defence policy, largely for economic reasons. This article charts the changing diplomatic situation in terms of Britain’s relations with its allies and the threats which existed to them. The major focus is upon the resulting decisions with regards to the stance and readiness of Britain’s military forces in the area. The concept of deterrence was crucial and contingency plans emphasised the need to act quickly and decisively. What changed was not Britain’s interest in the region, but the practical issues of maintaining its defence posture and whether these commitments could be afforded. A wide range of original documents have been used to shed new light upon Britain’s policy towards the Gulf during this period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-80
Number of pages28
JournalAir and Space Power Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • persian gulf
  • defence policy
  • United Kingdom


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