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.

talal saad: There is an overall concentrated plan to liquidate the revolution throughout the Gulf, and all the forces of reaction in the area have been working in this direction. This plan is been carried out as follows. First, Saudi Arabia is arming and financing mercenaries and these forces, together with Saudi Arabia’s own army, are making constant raids into the fifth and sixth provinces of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. The aim of this is to liquidate the revolutionary régime in South Yemen and to deprive the revolution in the Gulf of its secure base. In addition, there has been constant bombing of the region around Hauf, the South Yemeni village on the borders of Dhofar, and of the track that links South Yemen to the front lines of the Dhofari revolution, and which crosses the western sector of the liberated areas.

said seif: The most important thing to say about Imam Ghalib’s movement is that it represented a clash within the imperialist camp. It was a conflict between the Imam and Said bin Taimur, i.e. a conflict between an absolute régime and a caricature of that obsolete régime, represented by the Imam himself. When we say that it is a conflict within the imperialist camp, we mean that behind Said bin Taimur and Imam Ghalib were Britain on the one hand and America and Saudi Arabia on the other. However, although the Imam’s movement represented a clash within the imperialist camp, it did have sizeable mass support; the masses who supported the Imam supported him mainly as a patriotic reaction to the British occupation of the interior of Oman in 1954.

As for the events of June 1970, it was clear by then that Britain was depending on an obsolete régime that was increasingly in contradiction with social and economic developments in the Gulf as a whole. Two opposition forces stood against this régime. One force argued that the best way to counter the revolution was by making certain concessions and certain reforms. This was the reactionary opposition to Said bin Taimur. The second opposition was the progressive opposition; it opposed the whole structure of Omani society and the organic ties that united this society and the Said dynasty to British imperialism. These were two local Arab opposition forces. On the other hand, there had traditionally been two trends among the British imperialists in the area. One trend was a traditionalist, colonialist trend, consisting mainly of people who had come from India and were personal advisers to the Sultan; they defended the policy of maintaining Said in office and at times justified all he stood for. Against these traditionalists there stood a group of modernists who wanted to rely not on an autocratic régime like Said’s but on the new middle class, which was to be the major basis for the preservation of neo-colonialism in the area. What tipped the scales in favour of the second, modernist, trend was the launching of armed struggle in the interior of Oman in June 1970. It was at this time that Shell felt that its interests were at risk, and pressed for Britain to back the ‘moderate’ wing of the Al Bu Said dynasty, represented by Qabus and Tariq.

June 1970 was an embodiment and an extension of the policies of the Popular Revolutionary Movement. Towards the beginning of 1969 this organization decided that the best way to drive imperialism from the Gulf was to hit at its weakest point, the Omani interiori. The Popular Revolutionary Movement therefore created the National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arab Gulf to lead armed struggle in Oman. The Front considered its struggle to be an extension of the armed struggle already being waged in Dhofar. On June 12th, 1970 the Front launched a set of raids and attacks against government military posts in the Green Mountain area; there were political links with the peasants and shepherds of the area and the basic tactic was to create a revolutionary foco on the mountain. This widescale military operation led to a series of arrests, many of which were the result of mistakes committed by militants of the Front itself. The most important of these was that many chose to remain in Matrah, a coastal city where it is very difficult to find refuge or to make a retreat.

A series of arrests were made on June 18th and many of the leaders of the Front were captured. Among them were Ahmad Humeidan, Sa’ud el-Salemi, Yahya el-Ghassani, Ahmad er-Rob’i and Seuliman Seif. Stocks of arms were captured and the British realized, by reading captured documents, that there was a large-scale political movement behind the military events of June 12th. This movement constituted a real revolutionary threat to reaction in the area, and there was barely a month between these arrests (on June 18th) and the overthrow of Said bin Taimur (on July 23rd). The speed of their reaction shows how important the events were in forcing the British to get rid of Sultan Said.

said seif: The British and their local agents consider the interior of Oman to be the safe rear for defending the Trucial Oman area and the other oil-producing states. The revolutionary movement begins from the same premises. Britain’s safe rear area can be turned against it. In addition Oman’s geographic nature, its social composition and the politics of its people make it suitable to revolutionary work. In the rest of the Gulf, there are the beginnings of revolutionary action in the coastal towns. Bahrein suffers from an unfavourable situation: first, it is an island, and secondly, it is largely surrounded by Saudi Arabia and its military bases. At the present time, there is a noticeable shift in imperialism’s policies in Bahrein itself. The revolutionary movement passed through two phases there: one, in the period 1953–56, was a reformist one, and the second one, which exploded in 1965’ was a revolutionary one, calling for armed struggle. What imperialism is now trying to do is to implement the programme of the early reformist nationalist movement, by relying on the relatively large middle class and on the comprador bourgeoisie. This forms part of a general attempt to rally all possible forces against the revolutionary threat coming from Dhofar and the interior of Oman.