University of Exeter Press

The Dhofar War

British Covert Campaigning in Arabia 1965-1975

    • 252 Pages

    Between 1965 and 1975, Britain discreetly supported the Sultanate of Oman in achieving a historic Cold War-era counterinsurgency win in its remote Dhofar Province. To date, this role has traditionally been represented either in terms of a narrow operational success or has been reduced to one of failure-oriented peripheral player. The Dhofar War: British Covert Campaigning in Arabia 1965–1975 re-examines the historical record to present a more balanced verdict of the war and the overall importance of the UK’s role. 

    In an original approach, the author puts forward the case that the hitherto undersold scale of UK military and non-martial assistance to Oman during the Dhofar War was the primary war-winning factor. Alongside this, he makes the key assertion that Britain’s role changed significantly throughout—from dominance in facilitating the war’s prosecution, to one that was more advisory or support oriented as the Sultanate fought back against a communist-backed insurgency.

    With in-depth research undertaken in archives and collections in the UK and Oman, the author caters for a broad international audience. The book will be of interest to students and scholars of military, counterinsurgency and Middle Eastern/Arabian Peninsula history, the military and governmental policy community, and members of the public with an interest in this region’s history.

    Fought largely out of the public eye, the Dhofar War was one of the most successful western-led counterinsurgency campaigns of the Cold War. Drawing on recent scholarship, memoirs and material from multiple archives, Stephen Quick’s study demonstrates clearly the importance of Britain’s contribution to this victory. Just as significantly, it shows how Britain’s role evolved over the course of the conflict.

    Dr. Nikolas Gardner, Professor of Strategy, UAE National Defence College

    A highly successful counter-insurgency campaign, the secret war in Dhofar remains virtually unknown. Rigorously contesting existing analyses, Stephen Quick’s important new study expertly demonstrates the changing British role in facilitating a rare victory for the West in the Cold War era.

    Professor Ian F W Beckett, University of Kent

    This highly readable book provides a fresh treatment of this little-known, yet significant, hot war of the Cold War. Moving deftly between the high politics of diplomacy and strategy to deadly tactical engagements between rebels and British and Omani forces, The Dhofar War captures the complexities and nuance of a declining imperial power, Britain, orchestrating a counterinsurgency campaign on the cheap.

    Ash Rossiter, Associate Professor of International Security, Khalifa University

    1. Introduction: A Rare Cold War Success
    2. The Dhofar War: Origins, Players, and Timeline
    3. Politics and Diplomacy
    4. Military Strategy
    5. Military Operations and Tactics
    6. Non-Kinetic Military and Informal Support
    7. Conclusion: ‘Cut from a Different Cloth’


    Stephen Quick is a staff member at the UAE National Defence College, and holds a PhD from King’s College London. Living in the Middle East for over a decade, his research interests include Britain’s post-World War Two counterinsurgency campaigns and Arabian Peninsula history.

      • 252 Pages