"Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 is essential for anyone interested in learning about any aspect of the history of the Middle East during the 1970s. Students and researchers alike will find it invaluable, because it provides a unique online portal from which to view the events of these years. With a few clicks on a computer one can access hundreds of thousands of pages of records from the Foreign Office, the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Defence. Short of a trip to The National Archives, Kew there is simply no other place where one can find the same breadth and depth of historical records."
Professor Michael Gasper, Occidental College
Exploring complete runs of Foreign Office files, this collection reveals the UK’s exhaustive interest in the Middle East during the 1970s. Withdrawing from the Gulf in 1971, the UK maintained a vested interest in the oil affairs of states such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, as well as a continued presence in conflicts in Oman and Yemen.
The UK monitored the military activities of Egypt and Israel in the run up to the Arab-Israeli War in 1973 and played a substantial part in the UN negotiations for a settlement. The files continuously assess the affect such events were having on domestic energy prices with the oil crisis of 1973. The UK was instrumental during peace talks between Greece and Turkey after the coup in Cyprus by General Grivas in 1974, and monitored unfolding events during the Lebanese Civil War, the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War in the second half of the decade.
As well as covering important conflicts, these files examine the politics, economies and significant events of every nation in the Middle East, such as the consolidation of Qaddafi’s regime in Libya, the economic situation in Kuwait, workers’ strikes in Iran and Saddam Hussein’s formal appointment as president of Iraq.
Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981 is split into three modules:
- Module 1: Middle East, 1971-1974: The 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Oil Crisis
- Module 2: Middle East, 1975-1978: The Lebanese Civil War and the Camp David Accords
- Module 3: Middle East, 1979-1981: The Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War
The full collection contains complete runs of Foreign and Commonwealth Office files from the Arabian and Middle East Department (FCO 8), the Southern European Department (FCO 9), the Eastern Department (FCO 17), the North and East African Department (FCO 39), the Commodities and Oil Department (FCO 67) and the Near East and North Africa Department (FCO 93) that are relevant to the time period, and is augmented by selections from the Prime Minister’s Office files (PREM) and Defence Intelligence files (DEFE). Covering the period from 1971-1981, it is the perfect companion collection to the Archives Direct Confidential Print: Middle East 1839-1969 resource. Users will find material relevant to Middle East nations such as Egypt, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq in a number of different formats including:
- Annual reports
- Personality profiles
- Political summaries
- Economic analyses
- Newspaper cuttings
- Minutes of ministerial meetings
- Printed leaflets, extracts from books, booklets etc.
Start exploring the documents using Archives Direct's advanced searching tools, described in the video below.
Module 1 explores the politics of the Middle East region in the run-up to the Arab-Israeli War and its effect on global industry, political relations and social stability, as well as providing in-depth coverage of separate conflicts in Cyprus, internal and external political relationships, and details about military exports. Organised by file class, below are some of the themes and topics examined by these Foreign Office files.
FCO 8/1552-2368 The Persian Gulf covers the period from 1971-1974. Key topics include:
- The withdrawal of British forces from the Persian Gulf. (FCO 8/1625)
- The formation of the United Arab Emirates and independence of states such as Bahrain. (From FCO 8/1552)
- Reports on the political relationships between Gulf nations and other Middle East countries, as well as superpowers. (FCO 8/2128, FCO 8/2341)
- Claims of Iran to the disputed islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs in the Persian Gulf, including their seizure of the islands in 1971. (From FCO 8/1592)
- The rebellion in Dhofar and UK military involvement in Oman. (From FCO 8/1856)
- Visits of political figures around the Gulf region and to the UK. (FCO 8/1951, FCO 8/2060)
- Reports on the internal political affairs in the Gulf region. (FCO 8/2189)
- The conflict between North and South Yemen. (From FCO 8/2143)
- The export of military equipment from the UK and oil affairs. (FCO 8/1753, FCO 8/1964)
FCO 9/1353-2131 Cyprus and Turkey covers the period from 1971-1974. Key topics include:
- Intercommunal talks regarding the conflict in Cyprus. (From FCO 9/1353)
- Annual reviews and reports on internal and external political affairs regarding Turkey. (FCO 9/1604)
- Events contributing to unstable political climate in Cyprus. (FCO 9/1501)
- Supply of arms and financial support into Cyprus, and UN involvement. (FCO 9/1376, FCO 9/1507)
- The military coup of July 1974 by General Grivas. (From FCO 9/1890)
- Reports from the Geneva Peace Talks. (From FCO 9/1918)
FCO 17/1374-1798 Middle East General covers the period from 1971-1972. Key topics include:
- Activities of the PLO and pan-Arab leagues, including terrorist acts such as the Munich Olympic Games massacre. (FCO 17/1378, FCO 17/1622)
- The internal and external political affairs of Jordan, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations and arms sales. (FCO 17/1410, FCO 17/1425)
- The internal and external political affairs of Lebanon, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations and arms sales. (FCO 17/1710)
- Relations between Israel and Egypt; the continuing efforts of Gunnar Jarring to negotiate a Middle East settlement; the attitude of other nations to a settlement. (From FCO 17/1458, FCO 17/1482)
- Arms exports from UK to countries like Iran, Iraq and Israel. (FCO 17/1519, FCO 17/1569)
- Political visits to and from Middle East countries. (FCO 17/1436, FCO 17/1579)
FCO 39/768-1282 Algeria, Libya and Egypt covers the period from 1971-1972. Key topics include:
- The internal and external political affairs of Algeria, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations, arms sales and oil policies. (FCO 39/775)
- The internal and external political affairs of Libya, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations, arms sales and oil policies, as well as details about Qaddafi’s political position. (FCO 39/801, FCO 39/1082)
- The internal and external political affairs of Egypt, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations, arms sales and brief spell as the United Arab Republic. (FCO 39/977, FCO 39/1207)
- The SUMED pipeline project. (FCO 39/1003)
FCO 67/427-808 Oil Affairs in the Middle East covers the period from 1971-1972. Key topics include:
- Affairs of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). (FCO 67/553)
- Global oil and gas supply and prices. (FCO 67/567, FCO 67/754)
- The oil policies of individual Middle East countries. (FCO 67/591)
- The nationalisation of British Petroleum in Libya. (FCO 67/791)
- Political relationships between oil producing nations and the UK. (FCO 67/807)
FCO 93/4-581 The Arab-Israeli War covers the period from 1973-1974. Key topics include:
- The internal and external political affairs of Libya, including reports concerning their political and commercial relationships with other nations, arms sales and oil policies. (FCO 93/13)
- The internal and external political affairs of Egypt, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations, arms sales and oil policies. (FCO 93/42)
- The internal and external political affairs of Jordan, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations. (FCO 93/79)
- Affairs in Israel including Middle East settlement talks before the Arab-Israeli War. (FCO 93/185)
- The Arab-Israeli War and immediate peace talks. (From FCO 93/207, FCO 93/254, FCO 93/497)
- Weapon sales and oil embargoes as a result of the Arab-Israeli War. (FCO 93/289, FCO 93/296)
Selections from DEFE and PREM files covering the period from 1970-1974. Key topics include:
- The situation in the Middle East following the Arab-Israeli War. (PREM 15/1764, PREM 15/1765, PREM 15/1766, PREM 15/1767, PREM 15/1768)
- Energy policies in the UK following the oil embargo and price hikes. (PREM 15/1144, PREM 15/1145)
- The 1973 oil crisis. (PREM 15/1839, PREM 15/1847)
- Peacekeeping in the Middle East. (DEFE 4/279/5)
- The sale of military equipment to the Middle East. (DEFE 13/649)
- The Trucial Oman Scouts. (DEFE 24/537)
- The Arab-Israeli War. (DEFE 31/145)
The Foreign Office files in Module 2 tackle the aftermath of the Arab-Israel War, tracing the successes and failures of the prolonged peace talks led by Henry Kissinger, which conclude with the historic Camp David Accords in 1978. This module explores the economic and political impact this conflict had on the UK’s relationships with other Middle East nations, as well as continuing to track the progress of peace talks between Cyprus and Turkey. These files also contain reports on the devastating civil war in Lebanon and its impact on the region, as well as assessing the political climate in Iran in the run up to the revolution. Organised by file class, below are some of the themes and topics examined by these Foreign Office files.
FCO 8/2387-3278 The Persian Gulf covers the period from 1975-1978. Key topics include:
- Visits to and from Middle East countries by British Government Officials. (FCO 8/2395, FCO 8/3045)
- The sale of military and defence equipment from the UK to nations in the Persian Gulf. (FCO 8/2429, FCO 8/3130)
- The internal and external political affairs of Gulf nations such as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations, arms sales and oil policies. (FCO 8/2431, FCO 8/2789)
- Economic summaries of Persian Gulf states. (FCO 8/2463, FCO 8/2902)
- Annual reviews for Iran, including assessments of their internal and external politics, oil policies and economy. (FCO 8/2727)
- The affairs of organisations such as CENTO and OPEC. (FCO 8/3095)
- The UK’s withdrawal from Oman. (FCO 8/2695, FCO 8/2696)
- The UK’s commercial deals with Middle East nations such as Saudi Arabia. (FCO 8/2753, FCO 8/2820)
- Reports on the unfolding civil crisis in Iran. (FCO 8/3194).
FCO 9/2144-2777 Cyprus and Turkey covers the period from 1975-1978. Key topics include:
- Negotiations and intercommunal talks between Glafcos Clerides and Rauf Denktash regarding the future of Cyprus, including involvement from the UK, the EEC and the United Nations. (FCO 9/2145, FCO 9/2362)
- Discussions regarding the potential independence of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus. (FCO 9/2167)
- Internal affairs and political relationships of Turkey and Cyprus, including reports on their relationship with the EEC. (FCO 9/2528, FCO 9/2337)
- Analysis of Cyprus and Turkey’s financial and economic situations. (FCO 9/2200, FCO 9/2777)
- Sales of military equipment from the UK to Turkey, and the United States weapons embargo. (FCO 9/2342, FCO 9/2776)
- Visits of British government officials to Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. (FCO 9/2682)
FCO 93/582-1817 Country Profiles and the Lebanese Civil War covers the period from 1975-1978. Key topics include:
- Visits to and from Middle East and North African nations, including Margaret Thatcher’s visits as leader of the opposition and Israel’s Menachem Begin’s proposed visit to the UK. (FCO 93/810, FCO 93/1160)
- The internal and external political affairs of Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Jordan, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations, arms sales and oil policies, as well as commercial relationships, and Libya’s relationship with the IRA. (FCO 93/599, FCO 93/836, FCO 93/850, FCO 93/1311, FCO 93/668)
- The internal and external political affairs of Israel, including reports concerning relationships with other nations and the United Nations, arms sales, the status of the Occupied Territories, the Arab Boycott of Israel, and the visit of President Sadat to Jerusalem. (FCO 93/705, FCO 93/941, FCO 93/758, FCO 93/1276, FCO 93/1287)
- Reports on the progress of Henry Kissinger’s ‘shuttle diplomacy’ to reach a Middle East settlement after the Arab-Israel War. (FCO 93/748)
- Attitudes of Middle East nations and superpowers to the Arab-Israel War. (FCO 93/778, FCO 93/1216)
- The Camp David Accords. (FCO 93/1741, FCO 93/1758)
- Activities and politics of the PLO, and UN actions for Palestinian refugees. (FCO 93/909, FCO 93/1675, FCO 93/1773)
- Reports on the civil war in Lebanon, including assessment of the country’s security and the establishment of a United Nations Interim Force. (FCO 93/675, FCO 93/892, FCO 93/877, FCO 93/1495)
- Personality profiles of leading Middle East politicians, including the Egyptian cabinet and figures in the PLO. (FCO 93/1037, FCO 93/1561)
- Acts of terrorism by Arab militant groups, such as hijackings. (FCO 93/1345, FCO 93/1565)
Selections from FCO 101, FCO 102, DEFE 11 and PREM 16, covering the period from 1975-1979. Key Topics include:
- The internal political affairs of Oman. (FCO 101/1)
- The assassination of King Faisal in Saudi Arabia. (FCO 102/1)
- Henry Kissinger’s peace mission and the situation in the Middle East. (PREM 16/549, PREM 16/200)
- UK policies on arms sales to Middle East nations and Algeria. (PREM 16/551, PREM 16/2168)
- UK trade deals with oil states, such as Iran. (PREM 16/704)
Module 3 is dominated by conflicts in Iran, with extensive coverage of events surrounding the revolution, the hostage crisis at the United States Embassy, and the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War. These Foreign Office files also continue to examine the on-going peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel, with a particular focus on the Israeli Occupied Territories, and contain a number of personality profiles to accompany yearly country reviews. Organised by file class, below are some of the themes and topics examined by these Foreign Office files.
FCO 8/3279-4276 Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq War covers the period from 1979-1981. Key topics include:
- Personality profiles for many of the major powers in the Persian Gulf. (FCO 8/3401, FCO 8/3315, FCO 8/3349)
- The internal and external political affairs of Gulf states such as Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations, arms sales and oil policies, as well as commercial relationships. (FCO 8/3316, FCO 8/3325, FCO 8/3761)
- The Iranian Revolution. (FCO 8/3350, FCO 8/3377)
- The US Embassy hostage crisis in Iran. (FCO 8/3361, FCO 8/3581)
- Reports on Iran’s government changes, political relationships with other nations, and UK policies on arms sales in the aftermath of the revolution and hostage crisis. (FCO 8/3406, FCO 8/3679, FCO 8/3634, FCO 8/3608, FCO 8/4047)
- UK military involvement in Oman, including arm sales, technical training and the lending of personnel. (FCO 8/3543, FCO 8/3970)
- Conflict between People's Democratic Republic of Yemen and the Yemen Arab Republic, including reports on internal and external political affairs. (FCO 8/3560, FCO 8/3342)
- The outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War. (FCO 8/3685, FCO 8/3715)
- Global reactions to the Iran-Iraq War. (FCO 8/3690, FCO 8/3715)
- Peace negotiations between Iran and Iraq. (FCO 8/4141)
- Margaret Thatcher’s tour of Persian Gulf states. (FCO 8/3818, FCO 8/3835)
- The UK’s commercial interests in the Middle East, including oil affairs. (FCO 8/3862, FCO 8/3865)
FCO 9/2816-3353 Cyprus and Turkey covers the period from 1979-1981. Key topics include:
- Personality profiles for key politicians in Cyprus. (FCO 9/2816, FCO 9/3144)
- Intercommunal talks and negotiations for a settlement in Cyprus. (FCO 9/2821, FCO 9/2947, FCO 9/3156)
- Internal and external politics of Turkey, including reports on arms sales from the UK. (FCO 9/2880, FCO 9/3319)
- Human rights in Turkey. (FCO 9/3550)
FCO 93/1818-2658 Country Profiles and the Arab-Israel Peace Process covers the period from 1979-1981. Key topics include:
- Ministerial visits to and from Middle East nations, including Menachem Begin’s visit to the UK. (FCO 93/1826, FCO 93/2092)
- Acts of terrorism by militant Arab groups. (FCO 93/1832)
- The internal and external political affairs of Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Israel, Syria and Jordan, including reports concerning their relationships with other nations, arms sales and oil policies, as well as commercial relationships. (FCO 93/1845, FCO 93/2069, FCO 93/2398, FCO 93/1886, FCO 93/1921, FCO 93/2253)
- The UK’s policy on the Arab boycott of Israel. (FCO 93/1895)
- The internal political situation in Lebanon, and the continued presence of the United Nations Interim Force. (FCO 93/2000, FCO 93/2438)
- Politics, policies and activities of the PLO. (FCO 93/2054, FCO 93/2479)
- Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories. (FCO 93/2180, FCO 93/2555)
- Continued peace talks concerning the Arab-Israel War, including the involvement of the United States and reports on the attitude towards these talks from other nations. (FCO 93/2184, FCO 93/2186, FCO 93/2204, FCO 93/2211)
- Palestinian refugees, and UN involvement in discussing the state of Palestine. (FCO 93/2627, FCO 93/2579)
Selections from PREM 19, covering the period from 1979-1983. Key Topics include:
- The visit of the Prime Minister to Kuwait. (PREM 19/534)
- General reviews of the situation in the Middle East. (PREM 19/531)
- Arms sales and military assistance to Middle East nations. (PREM 19/842)
Find below a few interesting selections of the documents which help to illustrate the varied and fascinating nature of the material featured in Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981.
Formation of United Arab Emirates
"Sayyid Mohammad Habroush, the Acting Director of the Emiri Court, told me today that both visitors, but particularly Prince Nawwaf, repeatedly warned Shaikh Zaid that the Rulers now had their last opportunity of settling outstanding differences on the Union and that failing agreement before the withdrawal of British troops Saudi Arabia and Kuwait between them would "take steps to protect their interests in the area". They were not invited to say more specifically what they had in mind, but the Abu Dhabi side do not overlook the possibility that the two States concerned may be contemplating physical intervention if the Union becomes unstuck. There was no mention during the talks of Iran's position after British protection ceases."
(C J Treadwell, Abu Dhabi, to P R H Wright, 30 Jan 1971, FCO 8/1552)
Discussion of the British role in the Cyprus ceasefire of July 1974
"Although some journalists are inclined to suggest the Americans have achieved the cease-fire single handed, à la Arab-Israel, quite a few people have come up to me to congratulate us on our part in the proceedings. Diederic Lynden in particular told me how struck he was by the Secretary of State's relaxed attitude at Brussels last night and he was obviously reflecting Dutch gratification that Mr. Callaghan had taken the trouble to come. He also quoted with approval the Secretary of State's statement that he was going to start by letting the Greeks and Turks let off steam for several hours and then see what could be achieved."
(E J W Barnes, The Hague, to Sir John Killick, 23 Jul 1974, FCO 9/1932)
Israel and Middle East settlement
"Having now read the whole speech, my optimism has totally disappeared. Except for the last few paragraphs Mrs. Meir's tone is as abrasive and uncompromising as ever. Most important, in spite of the evidence to the contrary over the past two years, she refuses to concede that the Arab attitude towards Israel has changed in any way since the June war. The marked passages on page 2 are most revealing. Her clear conclusion is that up to the present date, the Egyptian objective is solely to force the Israelis back to the 1967 lines in order thereafter to resume the attempt to liquidate the Israeli state, c.f. reference to President Sadat's acceptance on the PLO's objectives."
(A D Parsons to Mr Goulding, 4 Aug 1972, FCO 17/1651)
Oil affairs in Saudi Arabia
"Britain and Saudi Arabia share many of the same interests in the Middle East and in recent months there has been a marked improvement in Anglo-Saudi relations, stemming in part from the better relations we both enjoy with Egypt and from our common interest in helping Oman. We hope to take advantage of Saudi Arabia's growing stature in the Arab and oil producing worlds and to secure for Britain as large a share as possible of the rapidly expanding oil wealth which Saudi Arabia now enjoys."
(From Background Notes: Saudi Investment in the Oil Industry, FCO 67/785)
Peace negotiations after the Arab-Israeli War in the Middle East (Yom Kippur War)
"I went on to say that in retrospect it seemed to me that two different questions had probably been in people's minds at that time: what was Sadat's position (in the sense of what would he wish to see) and what was the farthest length to which he would go in accepting a compromise. It was the former question to which I had been instructed to get the answer, not the latter. Kissinger said he understood this; it had really been the answer to the latter question that he had been after and asked me what I thought that would have been. I replied that I was not sure exactly how I should have answered it myself, but that I was absolutely sure of one thing and that was that the Egyptians would not for a moment have considered, however favourable their military position, accepting a ceasefire which was not linked directly to some process of settlement-making. Kissinger said the Americans now accepted that view and he repeated that they had been misinformed."
(P G D Adams, Cairo, to A D Parsons, 9 Nov 1973, FCO 93/210)
Sale of arms and equipment to Middle East countries
"The Arabs know that we have been supplying Israel with Centurions since the June War and must suspect that supply is continuing. We may therefore have to face enquiries from them about our policy. We may also have to face hostile publicity in the Arab world. But I do not think that we should be deterred by the risk of Arab protests or of hostile publicity in the Arab world. In public we could stick to our usual line that we do not comment on reports about the supply of British military equipment to particular countries. In private we could say that it was no secret that we had supplied Israel with Centurions since the June War; that supply was taking place in fulfilment of existing sales agreements; and that we had supplied, or offered to supply, Centurions to Arab countries as well."
(Alec Douglas-Home to the Prime Minister, 19 Nov 1970, DEFE 13/649)
International oil: interruption in oil supplies due to Middle East crisis; contingency plans; part 6
"We shall want to do all that we can to maintain oil supplies to the UK in the coming months. At best, world supplies will be very tight: at worst we will be suffering cuts that bite deeply into the economy. We must therefore ensure that our control of prices is not so exercised as to imperil supplies. This will depend in part on how other countries act on prices, but we must expect that Japan and some other governments will be so anxious to secure supplies that they will be prepared to pass on to consumers whatever is needed to encourage the companies to go out and get oil to the maximum. We can hope that BP and Shell do their best to meet their customer obligations here, but we must recognise that the US owned companies and particularly the smaller independents would feel less obligation, and that if higher prices can be commanded elsewhere, less oil may flow to the UK."
(Geoffrey Howe to the Prime Minister, 26 Oct 1973, PREM 15/1839)
Use of oil as a weapon by oil producers
"The oil weapon is for the Saudis a weapon of last resort. The decision to use it would only be taken if solidarity with the Arab world over the Palestine Issue became incompatible with economic co-operation with the industrialised oil consumers, in which case the second of these basic Saudi policies would be sacrificed to the first. Under this political pressure the Saudis would not attempt to asses the ultimate effect of their action, but shoot first and ask questions afterwards."
(R O Miles, Jedda, to Stephen M Day, 30 Mar 1976, FCO 8/2640)
Political situation in Iran
"The main problem of such political difficulties is the gap that is emerging between the Shah's visions of the future and the expectations of those people for whom he hopes to create that future. The "Revolution of Rising Expectations" is affecting all classes within Iran. For example, the Shah draws an enormous amount of support from the massive but inert peasantry. At the moment he is seen as the dispenser of growing prosperity. But when the peasants' memory can no longer recall the days of the Shah's predecessors, the peasants may no longer be satisfied with their lot."
(T P Holloway, regarding the A R Parsons despatch of 14 August, 21 Aug 1975, FCO 8/2496)
Cyprus Airways DC8 Hijacking: And its consequences
"We briefly discussed Cyprus/Egypt relations. Mr Latif made it clear that there was no question of the Egyptian Government taking action against the interests of the long established Cypriot community in Egypt who, as he agreed with me, were not in any way involved in the dispute, in retaliation for the Cyprus Government's actions over the two Palestinians involved in the Larnaca affair. It would, however, be wrong to underestimate the strength of feeling in Egypt about the affair; particularly in view of the support which Egypt had always given the Cyprus Government. The Egyptian Government might therefore feel bound to express its displeasure in some way, which I had the impression might well be a somewhat token gesture. Mr Latif said that the possibility of action against Cypriots in Egypt had been raised immediately after the Larnaca incident, and had in fact been rejected by President Sadat personally."
(H G Hogger, to Mr Daunt, 21 Dec 1978, FCO 9/2730)
Peace negotiations on the Arab-Israel dispute (Folder 5)
"On Friday 15 September at Camp David (the morning after Sadat had told his delegation to pack their bags) Carter visited Sadat and said that the West Bank/Gaza and Sinai frameworks were the best deal Sadat was going to get. If Sadat turned these down there could be no further prospect for peace negotiations. The only alternative would be war. Carter apparently assured Sadat that the US would play an active role in the negotiations foreseen in the frameworks and would stand by the interpretations of 242 contained in them. Sadat reiterated his original requirements. He also told Carter that he had wanted to establish a basis for Syrian participation in negotiations. Carter responded that this was a matter for Assad rather than for Sadat."
(R J S Muir, note for the file, 5 October 1978, FCO 93/1745)
Lebanon: annual review for 1977
"One positive outcome of the past two years is a war weariness amongst the Moslems. The Moslem population as a whole were never really engaged. The political activists, mainly left-wing and subsidised and supplied from outside, provided the fighters. As the battle intensified, the Palestinians took over. The Moslems emerged from the war demoralised and bitter against the Palestinians. There is therefore no present belligerency amongst the Moslems, and they are in a mood to cleave more to Lebanon and eschew Moslem/Arab adventures. Unfortunately the Maronites have not yet made the generous political gesture toward them which could have led to national reconciliation. Maronite leaders argue that this new Moslem mood is only fleeting, and they ask what surety have they of the continuance of this new attitude, particularly when the Palestinian Resistance is still on the scene."
(P G A Wakefield's annual review for 1977, 7 Jan 1978, FCO 93/1490)
Death of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia
"The assassin, Prince Faisal bin Musa'id bin Abdul Aziz, called on the King to pay his respects on the morning of the Prophet's Birthday. He was sitting in the Majlis together with Ahmad Abdul Wahhab (Chief of Royal Protocol) Ahmad Zaki Yamani (Minister of Oil) and the Kuwaiti Oil Minister. Ahmad Abdul Wahhab went into the King's inner office and came out with the King and Yamani presented the Kuwaiti Oil Minister to him. At that moment the King saw Prince Faisal and stepped forward to greet him. The assassin pulled out his pistol and fired three shots, one of which missed, one hit the head and one the throat, severing the spinal chord. The King died almost at once. On firing Prince Faisal said "this is in revenge for my brother Khalid" – referring to his brother killed in 1964 in a clash over the introduction of television. Yamani ran out of the Majlis and the guards entered and overpowered the assassin. Ahmad Abdul Wahhab restrained them from killing him at once, and he was taken away to the Salman Palace."
(M J Moore, 29 Mar 1975, FCO 102/1)
Political relations between Iran and the USA: seizure of American Embassy hostages in Tehran (Folder 2)
"The situation is therefore tense and the prospect sombre. Governmental authority is in question. The efficiency of rule by the revolutionary council had yet to be proved. The ability of the revolutionary guards to deal with threats to order must be in doubt. Khomeini and the masses who support him are developing an increasingly fervent phobia about the return of the Shah and American Policy in general, on which it is hard to see them winning any satisfaction."
(Wyatt, From Tehran to Immediate FCO, Nov 1979, FCO 8/3361)
Political relations between Iran and the USA: seizure of American Embassy hostages in Tehran (Folder 2)
"We still have only indirect information about the situation inside the embassy because we have been unable to establish contact with any US officials who are in it. We continue to receive assurances that our people are safe and are being cared for. The assurances, of course, come from our constant contact with the government of Iran. We understand that a crowd of several thousand young people demonstrated around the embassy during the day, but that the crowd dwindled at nightfall. The exact number of Americans inside the embassy is still not determined, though our approximation in around sixty. ... At this point we do not believe that any Americans have been injured."
(From Washington to Priority FCO - Henderson, Nov 1979, FCO 8/3361)
Post mortem on Iran: analysis of events leading to overthrow of the Shah and British responses to them
"What had happened in Iran was a concatenation of circumstance rare in any country. The alienation of each section of the population had taken place albeit for different reasons. Khomeini proved to be the right man at the right hour unlike Che Guevara's attempted revolution in Bolivia. ... The Shah was out of touch with his country. ... He was unable to allay some of the discontent even though it had to be accepted that there was no room for an agreement with the Mullahs. He chose the wrong moment to liberalise."
(R S Gorham to Mr Tatham and Mr Munro, 15 Jun 1979, FCO 8/3377)
Brief on the Iran-Iraq War
"It is unlikely that the war will gradually peter out. The Iraqis have too much to lose. Saddam Hussein, who must have miscalculated the Iranian ability to counter this invasion, has staked his personal reputation on a decisive victory over the Iranians. ... the Iranians say they will fight until the last Iraqi has left what they regard as their territory. In the absence of a ceasefire, the Iraqis will eventually be tempted to escalate the war."
(Possible scenarios for the war, Nov 1980, FCO 8/3706)
United Nations resolutions on Iran-Iraq War
"Mr Kittani thought that the prospect for peace depended entirely on internal events in Iran. On numerous occasions the Iraqi President would have liked to terminate the war. But this did not seem possibe until there was a semblance of stability and continuity in Teheran."
(A discussion between Ismat Kittani and Lord Carrington, 21 September 1981, FCO 8/4141)
Human rights in Turkey (Folder 1)
"They hung me to the ceiling by my arms and I stayed like that without any questions till morning. At one point they went out to have tea and the torture stopped. … a police hat was hanging on the wall."
(The report of Suleyman Kirteke, 1981, FCO 9/3350)
Relations between Jews and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories
"The Military Authorities have reacted firmly against any demonstrations. … Bir Zeit University was closed for several months because the university authorities refused to promise they would control the students … Several communities were subjected to curfews and to travel restrictions after roadblocks were set up on nearby highways and rocks were thrown at Israeli settlers. These collective punishments have been imposed in an attempt to force the parents and town notables to curb the activities of their childen; so far this has not proven effective."
(The Canadian Embassy, Tel Aviv to the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, Ottawa, 11 July 1979, FCO 93/2244)
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (Folder 1)
"Mr Ridha spoke scathingly about what he regarded as the complacency of the upper echelons of UNRWA over the Agency's current financial plight. As the latest UNRWA monthly bulletin … points out, only $155 million of the $211 millions needed to maintain services to the 1.8 million registered Palestinian refugees in 1980 has so far been pledged. ... The outside world, insofar as it took any interest in the unglamorous subject of the Palestinian refugees at all, seemed to think that UNRWA was looking after them well."
(Donald Hamley quoting Yusef Ridha in a letter to HMC, 17 April 1980, FCO 93/2627)
MIDDLE EAST. Arms sales and military assistance to Middle Eastern countries; part 2
"Ministers agreed in correspondence in July that we should discuss with an Iranian team not only the outstanding debts dating from the Shah's days but also the resumption of defence sales business … The Lord Chancellor expressed hope that we would refrain from delivering any lethal defence equipment to the Iranians."
(R L L Facer to Mr Coles, 7 September 1982, PREM 19/842)