Holden, David
July 1971
Foreign Affairs;Jul1971, Vol. 49 Issue 4, p721
The article focuses on changes in the Persian Gulf region since the withdrawal of British forces in 1972. Today all that is left of the complex yet effective structure of British power in the Gulf, which imposed a rough stability upon its affairs for the better part of 150 years, is the so-called Trucial system in the lower Gulf, with which--after that first treaty with the Sultan of Muscat--it all began. This withdrawal itself has two aspects. The first is the military one, involving the recall of about 6,000 British ground troops stationed in Bahrein and Sharja, together with their air support units. The second is political, and follows from the first: the termination of the old treaties of protection and their replacement by a simple treaty of friendship, carrying no significant obligations for either side. In view of all the actual or potential sources of radical change or instability the Gulf must be regarded as on the brink of a period of upheaval greater than anything it has known since the British Raj took it under its capacious wing. It is understandable, therefore, that the British decision to withdraw was greeted in some quarters with dismay.


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