x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Storm Front

This account of one of the SAS's finest hours is also a reminder of what a volatile region the UAE was born into 40 years ago.

This account of events in Oman four decades ago is a reminder of a time when one of this country's close neighbours found itself in the grip of a communist revolt. Largely underdeveloped under Sultan Said bin Taimur, Oman had been racked by uprisings since 1962. Bolstered by the Chinese, the insurgency escalated until, in July 1970, the British sponsored a palace coup and installed Said's progressive, Sandhurst-educated son, Qaboos bin Said.

It was almost too little, too late.

At the heart of a book that deals in fascinating detail with the dangerous ideological currents that were swirling around the region is Rowland White's stirring account of the bloody and legendary Battle of Mirbat.

On July 19, 1972, nine SAS soldiers fought off 300 rebels in a heroic action that cost the lives of two of the troopers, gave the regiment one of its proudest battle honours and broke the back of the rebellion, leading to the stabilisation of Oman and the region. This is, without doubt, fascinating account of one of Britain's "small wars" with a big outcome.