This publication continues coverage of events published in the two previous sets in this series: Records of Kuwait 1899–1961, and Records of Kuwait 1961-1965. The documentation in the early set, 1899–1961, illustrates the development of the modern Kuwaiti state and attests to the relative importance of Kuwait long before the discovery of its immense oil reserves. The later periods 1961–1965 and 1966–1971 offer a different kind of research structure. To cover five or six years in 4000 pages indicates that the level of detail included is great and in fact what is offered here is a virtually complete record of all available official British documentation.
Some gaps in the reportage of events arise and do so for two reasons. Firstly, certain papers, and in some cases entire files, have been retained by the Foreign Office due to their sensitive nature and were therefore unavailable for inclusion. Secondly, by 1971, following Britain’s withdrawal from the Gulf and cessation of direct involvement in defence of the region, the nature of the documentation generated by the British Government has begun to change: trade and business interests become increasingly important. Local and regional issues, personalities and the affairs of the ruling family are still very much live issues but Britain is less involved and this is reflected in the reporting.
The period under review witnessed major changes in the Gulf, in particular the proposed unification of the Emirates with or without Bahrain, Qatar and possibly Kuwait. Kuwait herself had already survived changes to her political status, in 1961 becoming a sovereign and independent country, and in 1962 forming the Constituent Assembly.
In certain economic respects Kuwait was in advance of her neighbours and attempted to redistribute some oil wealth to neighbouring states, especially to the Emirates, through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. Oil policy, renegotiation of terms with the Kuwait Oil Company and resultant territorial disputes are a continuous topic. Growing concerns about both external and internal subversive threats are in evidence, and not surprisingly there were detailed plans for major arms purchases from the UK. The end of Britain’s direct role in the external relations of the other Gulf states was also a major pre-occupation for Kuwait and this concern features extensively in the records.