MIDDLE EAST: Vacuum in the Gulf

MIDDLE EAST

The placid, Lilliputian Persian Gulf sheikdom of Sharjah was unexpectedly disturbed last week by the thud of hand grenades and the rattle of rifle fire. Former Sheik Saqr bin Sultan, deposed in 1965 in a peaceful coup, had returned from exile in Cairo. With two truckloads of Bedouins, he stormed Sharjah's blue-and-white palace in an attempt to overthrow his ruling cousin Sheik Khalid bin Mohammed. In a brief battle with tribesmen loyal to Khalid, Saqr was captured. But Sheik Khalid was trapped and murdered before he could be rescued.

A few years ago that kind of tribal fighting—presuming that the watchful...

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