Fred Halliday

Fred Halliday is the author of Arabia without Sultans and Iran: Dictatorship and Development.

Family Business

Fred Halliday, 17 July 1997

Among the less visible casualties of the recent Aitken libel case was the possibility of improving the quality of discussion about Saudi Arabia, an anomalous state with which, whatever a humanrights oriented Government may intend, Britain will continue to have close relations for many years. The standard negative images of the Kingdom were easy enough to find in the Aitken saga, and have been amply reinforced by coverage of the trial of two expatriate British nurses accused of murdering a colleague. The stereotypes of Saudi Arabia may be accurate, but they are hardly peculiar to that country. On the side of Aitken and his associates there is, of course, the opposite tendency, an oleaginous deference and a habit of euphemism, backed by widespread Saudi influence in the West’s media, and by an almost total information blackout on the country – Western journalists wait for months to get visas to enter Saudi Arabia.’

A Minor Irritant to the French Authorities

Fred Halliday, 20 February 1997

When the Allies gathered at Potsdam in July 1945 to organise the postwar world, it is unlikely that any of those taking part had ever heard of Vietnam. The actual name had been eliminated, the prewar French colonialists having divided the country into three, and on the surface, the postwar arrangements for that part of Indochina were clear: first, Chinese and British troops would enter and then the French colonial rulers would return. As they did. In the three decades after 1945, however, Vietnam became one of the most savagely fought over territories of the past half-century.

Lying abroad

Fred Halliday, 21 July 1994

The conduct of foreign policy has of late fallen into disrepute. The confusions of the post-Cold War world have made diplomacy seem especially futile. Economic decline has turned attention to the cost of overseas display, and the disappearance of a single external object of confrontation has reduced the public sense that external commitments matter to the country. In apparent reflection of this, and for all their differences of focus, these three books share a common defensive tone.

Smell of Oil

Fred Halliday, 6 November 1980

The rise to prominence of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf has been one of the stranger chapters in recent world history. Within the space of a decade they have come to impose a rather expensive toll upon the world economy, to play a significant if unpredictable part in the calculations of many a firm and government. This emergence has not been without its theatrical elements, nor without its unexpected consequences, among which the fall of the Shah, the tumult of republican Iran and the current Iraq-Iran war must count as the most momentous so far. Above this carnival hangs what the Russians persist in calling, in a quaint phrase, ‘the smell of oil’. And so serious has the West’s concern with this region become that the US President has proclaimed it to be an area which America will defend at the risk of war. Not only are the Russians apparently being warned by the spotlit preparation of the 110,000-strong Rapid Deployment Force, but we are again hearing rumblings of an American willingness to invade the Gulf states if they themselves threaten the West by new embargoes or if local hostilities should menace oil exports.

Politics and the Prophet

Malise Ruthven, 1 August 1996

For too long Islamic studies have existed in an academic ghetto which reinforced the essentialist view shared by the Islamologues, that Islam was somehow ‘different’ from the West. A...

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Revolution from Above

Colin Legum, 1 April 1982

The first and only time I have been inside Boodle’s was early in 1972, when I was bidden (I choose the word with some care) for a confidential tête-à-tête with an Ethiopian...

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