The British government saw Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait as an “unparalleled opportunity” to sell arms to Gulf states, according to recently declassified secret documents.
The memos, released by the National Archives, reveal how in the build-up to the 1990 Gulf war ministers and civil servants scrambled to ensure Britain’s arms manufacturers could take advantage of the anticipated rise in orders for military hardware.
The documents include confidential briefings from Alan Clark, then defence procurement minister, to the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, as he toured Gulf states on the eve of the war. The government’s efforts reaped dividends. The war provided a significant fillip for arms sales to the region and helped nurture a strong relationship that continues to this day.