Sheep magazine Archive 2: issues 10-17


Lefty online magazine: issue 10, May 2016 to issue 17, November 2016

One strategically vital war, waged by Britain for more than a decade,

was fought for most of that time in complete secrecy. In January 1972,

readers of the Observer opened their newspaper to see a report

headlined “UK fighting secret Gulf war?” On the same day, the Sunday

Times ran a very similar article, asking: “Is Dhofar Britain’s hush-hush

war?” British troops, the newspapers revealed, were engaged in the war

that the sultan of Oman was fighting against guerrillas in the mountains

of Dhofar in the south of the country.


Four years earlier, the devaluation crisis had forced Harold Wilson’s

government to pledge that British forces would be withdrawn from all

points east of Suez by December 1971 – the only exemption being a

small force that was to remain in Hong Kong. Now the Observer article

was demanding to know: “Has Britain really withdrawn all her forces

from the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula? Or is the British

government, like the Americans in Laos, waging a secret war without the

full knowledge of parliament and public?” The Observer located one of

the insurgency’s leaders, who told its reporter that the war had begun

with an “explosion” in the country on 9 June 1965, triggered by what he

described as poor local governance and “the oppression of the British”.

By the time the Observer and Sunday Times were publishing their first,

tentative reports, Britain had been at war in Oman for six-and-a-half


Situated on the south-west corner of the Arabian peninsula, the Sultanate

of Oman is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the north, and by

Saudi Arabia and Yemen to the west and south-west. The country also sits

alongside the Strait of Hormuz, the 33-mile wide waterway through which


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