The war in the southern, Dhofar, province of the Sultanate of Oman has now been in progress for over ten years. Following the Portuguese retreat from Africa and the defeat of us imperialism in Indochina it is the only revolutionary war of any significant military dimensions taking place in the world today. In contrast to other such wars, it has however been met by almost complete silence on the part of the imperialist press and the public attention devoted to it contrasts significantly with the immense strategic importance which the war for control of Oman now has. Although when it began the movement was a local, predominantly tribal, revolt against a traditional British-backed tyranny, it now calls for a social revolution in Oman, a country that borders the oil-producing areas of the Arabian peninsula.
It is this strategic importance which explains both why imperialism has been so intent on suppressing all information about this war, and why the lineup of counter-revolutionary powers involved is so large. Today, in addition to the Sultan’s 12,000-strong Armed Forces, made up of Omani and Baluchi mercenaries, no less than nine foreign powers are fighting in Oman. Britain has over 2,000 military personnel in the Sultanate, about a quarter of whom are in combat roles, and the rest in back-up operations. The main air strikes against guerrilla positions are flown by serving raf personnel. Iran has since December 1973 maintained several thousand counter-insurgency troops in Oman, and has stationed Phantom jets and anti-aircraft positions near the border with South Yemen. The Hashemite monarchy of Jordan has also dispatched to Oman several thousand of the counter-insurgency troops used to assail the Palestinian resistance in 1970. The usa has since January of this year maintained a small anti-tank weapon training team in Oman, and is also applying for use of the raf airfield at Masira. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have both stationed garrisons of troops in the northern parts of Oman, and the Sudan, Pakistan and India have also supplied training personnel to the Sultan.
NLR has in previous issues published an analysis of the beginnings of revolutionary movement in Arabia following the September 1962 coup in North Yemen (nlr 63) and a survey of the interrelation of the Oman struggle to the struggles in the Yemens and in the Gulf (nlr 58, nlr 66). Here we publish an exchange of letters between the Gulf Committee, an anti-imperialist group in Britain, and the Labour Government. Labour’s social-imperialism has rarely been so explicitly and succinctly expressed.