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A Return to East of Suez? UK Military Deployment to the Gulf

Gareth Stansfield and Saul Kelly
Briefing Papers, 26 April 2013
International Security Studies, Middle East and North Africa
Britain may be on course to become more directly involved in Gulf security as the US reorients towards the Far East and Pacific Rim

The UK is approaching a decision point where a significant strategic reorientation of its defence and security towards the Gulf is both plausible and logical; and, for the first time since the UK unceremoniously left the Gulf in 1971, a coherent strategy for a ‘return to east of Suez’ is emerging.

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This Briefing Paper highlights that the UK’s ‘return east of Suez’ is more evolutionary than revolutionary and only partially related to the US pivot towards the Pacific. Stansfield and Kelly also suggest the UK is giving renewed emphasis to its position in the Gulf in order to maintain the special relationship with the US’ as well as engagement with the defence task in hand – namely deterring Iran.

With a foreword by Professor Michael Clarke, 'A Return to East of Suez' offers a first analysis of what could be one of the most important British defence reorientations since the end of the Cold War.

About the Authors

Professor Gareth Stansfield is the Al-Qasimi Chair of Arab Gulf Studies and Professor of Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, where he is the Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies and Director of Research in the Strategy and Security Institute. He is also a Senior Associate Fellow and
Director of Middle East Studies at RUSI.

Dr Saul Kelly is a Reader in International History in the Defence Studies Department, King’s College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College, Shrivenham. He has published extensively on Great Power politics in North Africa and the Middle East in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Gareth Stansfield
Senior Associate Fellow

Professor Gareth Stansfield is a Senior Associate Fellow with special reference to the Middle East and Islamic world. He is professor of... read more

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