chapter  5
34 Pages

Britain births a new Gulf order, 1968–71

The period from 1968 to 1971 proved monumental in the Gulf, for not only did it bring to a close over a century of British supremacy in the region, but during this time a new political order in the Persian Gulf emerged. In early 1968 the British announced their intention to shed Britain’s paternalistic ties to the Gulf, along with most military commitments “East of Suez.” During the subsequent three years Britain’s diplomats exhibited determination and perseverance in their efforts to prepare the way for a new Persian Gulf order, attempting to solve unsettled issues that for decades had remained unresolved as long as British power stood nearby. What type of political order would emerge? Would the Arabs in the former protectorates unify into one state, or venture forth as independent entities? In January 1968, no one knew.