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New Left Review I/66, March-April 1971


Said Seif and Talal Saad

Interview on the Political Situation in Oman and Dhofar

In July of last year the British overthrew Said bin Taimur and put in his son Qabus. What have the British done since then, and what have Qabus’ policies been?

talal saad: What happened in July 1970 was not unexpected; it was the result of a long-term plan, drawn up by British imperialism to contain, and then liquidate, the prevailing revolutionary trend. In this sense, the overthrow of Said bin Taimur was part of a double plan. First there was the plan for a so-called ‘Omani constitutional monarchy’; this had long been advocated by Tariq bin Taimur, Said’s brother. The second plan was obviously that of the Union of Arab Emirates. Both were political fronts for British neo-colonialism in the area, in a desperate attempt to advance seemingly patriotic régimes. There were two major reasons why the British were driven to replace Said by his son. The first was the success achieved by the revolution in Dhofar; this had begun to constitute a serious threat to the interests of imperialism in the whole area. In contrast, the reactionary régime of Said bin Taimur had become incapable of coping with the rising tide of revolution in Dhofar. A second equally important cause was the beginning of armed struggle in Oman proper under the leadership of the National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arab Gulf. After Said’s replacement, the British tried to undermine the revolution by a series of so-called reforms. In Salala itself, and in the plain around Salala, one or two clinics were opened, and some land was reclaimed. But in the mountains controlled by the Front British imperialism was unable to carry out even these minimal reforms, because of the Front’s control over the mountains. The British also tried to divide the revolution and attract some of the tribesmen, but that too was a miserable failure. Militarily, British imperialism stepped up its attacks, especially its genocidal assault on the civil population in Dhofar. Recently, in the western sector, there was an attack on a civilian settlement at Mbrot; some people were wounded and many cattle were killed. The western part of the liberated area has been subjected to constant strafing and bombing of an indiscriminate kind, in an attempt to terrify the civilian population and weaken their support for the revolution.

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