From the Jebel to the Palace: British Military Involvement in the Persian Gulf, 1957-2011

Research output: Other contribution


From the Suez crisis of 1956 to the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq (2003-2011), Britain remained militarily involved in the Persian Gulf region, either unilaterally or as part of a multilateral coalition.

The UK’s armed forces were committed to a number of separate missions during
this period, including the defence of regional allies against external aggression,
counter-insurgency (COIN), trade defence, the training of local forces, and regime change.

Although at certain points British military intervention was either conducted in
support of US policy (notably with reference to Iraq from 1990 to 2003) or in
accordance with American interests, other factors leading to the UK’s military
involvement include requests for assistance from former imperial dependencies, the threat of regional dominance by an adversarial power, access to oil, and
humanitarian concerns.

The key constraints on British intervention during this period were fluctuations in
regional and international opinion, and also the UK’s financial and economic plight, most notably with reference to the ‘East of Suez’ withdrawals of 1968-1971.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of 2010 has cut key
capabilities in the British armed forces, particularly regarding the fact that the Royal Navy (RN) will have no aircraft carrier prior to 2020. The UK’s current financial condition, the political controversies surrounding the Iraq war (Operation Telic) and the decline in its capacity for power-projection are such that only the minimal level of military engagement in the Gulf region is practical in the immediate future.
Original languageEnglish
TypeCorbett Paper
PublisherThe Corbett Centre for Maritime Policy Studies
Number of pages35
Place of PublicationShrivenham
EditionNo. 10
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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