The Insurgency In Oman, 1962-1976 CSC 1984 SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues ABSTRACT Author: CHENEY, Stephen A., Major, U.S. Marine Corps Title: The Insurgency in Oman, 1962 - 1976 Publisher: Marine Corps Command and Staff College Date: 1 April 1984 The insurgency in Oman between 1962 and 1976 was not as world renowned as perhaps the Viet Nam conflict; however, its favorable result is one which should be recognized as a total victory for the Western supported Sultanate of Oman over the Communist inspired Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman. Waged entirely in the province of Dhofar, the British led and supported Sultan's Armed Forces eventually were victorious, but not without serious early setbacks and a coup that replaced the Sultan. This paper addresses Oman and its strategic value, providing the background for this counterinsurgency that indeed had "great power" implications. The evolution of organized resistance in Dhofar is detailed and later analyzed according to its impact on the counterinsurgency campaign. The growth of the Sultan's Armed Forces is included to pro- vide a balance to the development of organized resistance. The two are subsequently joined in a chapter outlining the general conduct of the war. The war is then analyzed in terms of popular support, cohesion and organization, external support, the environ- ment, and the effectiveness of the Government, as originally put forth as a framework for analysis by Bard E. O'Neill in Insurgency in the Modern World. The final result is that the success enjoyed in Oman can be attributed to a new sultan who would eventually enjoy popular support, to heavy reliance on external support from many sources (particularly Great Britain), and to utilization of the environment of Dhofar to best advantage. WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR The Insurgency in Oman 1962 - 1976 Major Stephen A. Cheney, USMC 2 April 1984 Marine Corps Command and Staff College Marine Corps Development and Education Command Quantico, Virginia 22134 TABLE OF CONTENTS Acknowledgements Introduction i Footnotes v Chapters 1 Oman the Country 1 Footnotes 11 2 The Development of Organized Resistance In Dhofar 13 Footnotes 21 3 The Sultan's Armed Forces 22 Footnotes 28 4 The Conduct of the War 1963 - 1976 29 Footnotes 41 5 An Analysis of the War 43 Footnotes 58 Postscript 59 Footnotes 62 Bibliography 63 ACKNOWLELDGEMENTS In the course of my study of Oman, several people were most helpful. Without their assistance, this paper could not have been written, and I would like to acknowledge their contributions. Mrs. Bradshaw, at the Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, was a most gracious administrative assistant and went beyond the call of duty typing the many iterations of this paper. Mrs. Porter, of the Breckinridge Library at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, was able to procure many of the books and documents from around the country that enabled me to conduct extensive research. Gunnery Sergeant Davis, of the Marine Security Guard Battalion, promptly offered all of the unclassified material that was available from the State Department. Major Nick Pratt of the Center for Strategic International Studies was kind enough to give me complete guidance throughout the study and has provided me with much data from his recent trip to Oman. Lieutenant Colonel Bard O'Neill, USAF, at the National War College provided an excellent analysis of Oman in the fine book, Insurgency in the Modern World. In addition to opening all of his files and research on Oman to me, Lieutenant Colonel O'Neill provided video tapes on Oman. To him I am especially grateful. To the many others who lent a hand, thank you very much. INTRODUCTION This was one of the 'little wars' in which British servicemen have been engaged for centuries - most of them, as this was, near the shores of the Indian Ocean - and it was a model of its kind....Only those who have been to Dhofar can fully appreciate the severity of the conditions in which the polyglot force fought and flew; at times extreme heat; at others cold, wet, permanent cloud; and rugged terrain, the equal of which it would be hard to find anywhere....Those who fought there, including those who were wounded or died, did not fight in vain. Michael Carver Field Marshal As so appropriately stated by Lora Carver in the foreword of Major General John Akehurst's We Won a War,1 the insurrec- tion in the Dhofar province of Oman from 1962 until termination in 1976 was a small war in contrast to the major conflicts of the twentieth century. In the latter stages of the war, the insurgents "had an estimated 800 hard-core fighters and about 1000 part-time militia organized into local groups."2 The Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF), on the other hand, had swelled to over 13,000 strong, not including the 18 tribal companies (averaging 100 men each) that existed in support of the SAF in Dhofar. Beside these were another 700 advisors and seconded officers supplied by the British.3 The central issue involved in the war was the repression of the people of Dhofar by a despotic Sultan. Initiative and leadership for the rebellion was supplied by communist trained and inspired insurgents. These provided cohesion to build a fairly formidable military force. Unfortunately for the insurgents, however, the British-educated son of the Sultan led a coup in 1970, producing a reversal in a campaign that was promising solid success. The Dhofar War was perhaps little recognized in the United States at the time because it coincided with the Vietnam contlict. American coverage of Vietnam far out- shadowed the Dhofar War, and sources of information on the conflict in Oman were, and still remain, predominantly British. Added to its backwater reputation was a strong seal of secrecy placed on the war. Not only the Sultan but also the British engineered a policy "to not attract publicity."4 Following the ouster of the Shah of Iran, and considering the current instability in the Middle East, Oman has emerged a key factor in resolving the complicated equation comprising world-wide peace--Oman's prime location and her recent history have modern strategists analyzing the Dhofar rebellion with renewed vigor and utmost concern for the facts. The significance of British involvement in the defense of Oman between 1963 and 1976 cannot be over-emphasized. Their "seconded" officers led the military effort, managing the operational side of the war. The British, by 1965, had become quite adept at handling insurgencies, and an example of capabilities was demonstrated by some of the Special Air Service (SAS) troops who were literally transferred directly from the Malayan Emergency to Oman. The structure for this analysis of the insurrection in Dhofar requires that a step by step consideration of the situation in Oman be followed. With that in mind, Chapter 1, titled "Oman - The Country," gives the general geographic and historical background, and provides the setting for the emergence of the war. Chapter 2, "The Development of Organized Resistance in Dhofar," details the growth of the communist-inspired insurgents, explaining their philosophical foundation as well as the significant "congresses" that were held. Chapter 3, "The Sultan's Armed Forces," describes how the military force of Oman grew to the size that it is today. Chapter 4, "The Conduct ot the War, 1963-1976," provides an overview of the four phases of insurgency. Details regarding specific movements or units or conduct of battles are not provided here, in order to give the reader a general appreciation for tne development of the campaign and the significant tactical decisions that were made. If one desires to go into more depth in regards to the battlefield situation, two excellent books, We Won a War, by the British commander of the Dhofar Brigade, and SAS: Operation Oman, by the commander of the SAS squadron in Oman, are the best references. Chapter 5, "An Analysis of the War," uses the six variables employed in Insurgency in the Modern World to facilitate an understanding of the insurrection. The postscript focuses on the current relationship between Oman and the United States and the value of the lessons learned by Oman during the war. There can be no doubt regarding the historical value of the success in Oman. As Colonel Tony Jeapes states, the Dhofar War was probably only the third campaign, after Greece in the 1940s and Malaya in the 1950s and 60s, to be won against a Communist armed insur- rection....Perhaps the most important lesson to come out of the Dhofar Campaign is that the 'historical inevitability' of victory for Communist-inspired revolutions was exploded as the myth it is.5 The historical precedent established by the war in Oman should peak the interest of all professional military per- sonnel of the United States. As was evidenced by Viet Nam, the war in Dhofar typified the kind of laborious, search and destroy, low intensity conflict in which we might soon be involved. As Persian Gulf issues continue to maintain a place on the front page, and as the war between Iran and Iraq escalates, every Marine, Soldier, Sailor, and Airman will want to study the pattern of victory followed by Oman's judicious Sultan. The historical lesson from Oman cannot be ignored. We must learn not only from those prior conflicts that were unsuccessful, but from those that were successful as well. FOOTNOTES INTRODUCTION 1John Akehurst, We Won a War (Great Britain: Michael Russell (Publishing) Ltd., 1982), foreword. 2The Area Handbook for the Persian Gulf States, 1st ed. (Washington, D. C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977), p. 392. 3J. E. Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century (London: Croom Helm, 1978), p. 191. 4Akehurst, p. "Disclaimers and Acknowledgements." 5Tony Jeapes, SAS: Operation Oman (London: William Kimber & Co. Ltd., 1980), p. 14. THE INSURGENCY IN OMAN - 1962-1976 CHAPTER 1 OMAN THE COUNTRY Oman is not well known to most Westerners. It has never played a key role in any international situation involving the United States and has, quite literally, remained moored in a 17th Century culture and tradition ending only with the ascension of Sultan Qaboos in 1970. However, Oman has been thrust into a special kind of limelight as a consequence of that almighty resource--oil. It is not in the production of oil (Oman ranks 6th among Persian Gulf exporters with 363,000 barrels per day1) that Oman stands so vital, but in the significant strategic location Oman possesses. Oman controls the southern half ot the Strait of Hormuz (see map #1), through which passes approximately 60% of the free world's oil.2 The other half of the Strait, of course, is in the hands of Iran. Oman is the second largest nation on the Arabian Penin- sula (next to Saudi Arabia). It has a total population of approximately 1 million.3 Its land area is 100,000 square miles (about the size of Colorado4) and it occupies the southeastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula with 1,060 miles of coastline. The general climate is hot and dry, and the country is composed of almost 80% desert.5 The coastal areas, especially in the north in the vicinity of Muscat, Click here to view image average 92oF in the summer, with a summer wind equivalent to the California "Santa Ana" that can raise the temperature nearly 20oF. Still, there are some distinct variances. In the mountainous elevations, particularly in the al-Hajar range, where peaks rise almost 10,000 feet in height, temperatures may plummet below freezing. The province of Dhofar, in the Southwest section of Oman, is unique in that it has a summer monsoon period lasting from April until October. This monsoon is created by winds from the Indian Ocean, and much of the Dhofar coastal plain can become rather tropical during the summer months. The largest city in Dhofar is Salalah, and just 6 miles beyond Salalah the coastal mountains (the Jabal al Qara) rise to 4,000 feet in elevation. On the reverse slope of these mountains is a gravel plateau that stretches into the "Rub al Khali" desert section of Saudi Arabia. Dhofar is of particular interest because it was here in the 1960's that the "Dhofar Rebellion" was born. The geography of Dhofar in relation to the remainder of Oman was a significant factor for both sides during the conflict. The rugged mountains comprising the Jabal al Qara of Dhofar run from north of Salalah to the southwest some 150 miles to the border witn the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). The mountain range is separated from the north by a desert plain of 400 miles, and the SE mountains are broken up by deep valleys called "wadis." The border with the PDRY is not on identifiable terrain, but it runs between the Omani village of Sarfait and the PDRY town of Hauf. Dhofar is thought to have a population of some 50,0006, although an accurate census has never been taken. So, although the province of Dhofar does not have specifically identified borders, it is generally recognized to be limited by tne desert plain northeast of the Jabal al Qara mountains, the Rub al Khali section of Saudi Arabia to the Northwest, the PDRY to the Southwest, and the Arabian Sea to tne Southeast (see map #2). TEE HISTORY OF OMAN Oman is unique among Arab states in that it has main- tained the "longest tradition of independence."7 Currently an absolute monarchy, a patrimonial political system exists under the rule of Sultan Qaboos bin Said (Sultan Qaboos). Oman's history traces far back to the third millenium B. C., when ships called to export wood, copper and other minerals.8 Two occurrences of the ancient past still have a dramatic impact on current events in Oman. The arrival of the "Azd" tribe from Saudi Arabia's Asir province, during the sixth century A. D., provided a linkage from which the current ruler, Qaboos, has descended.9 The embrace of Click here to view image Islam in approximately 632 A. D. by the Azd tribe eventually led them to battle with the Persians for leadership of Oman. This religious impetus gave rise to the ascendancy of the "Imams," who long functioned as political figures within state. Imams maintained power in Oman until the 1950s. The Portugese invaded Muscat (the capital city) in 1508 and remained until 1650, controlling the rich trade of the Persian Gulf.10 After Portuguese fortunes declined, the Omani economy was built almost entirely upon the slave trade, doing business with former Portuguese possessions in East Africa. Once the slave market collapsed in the 19th century, Oman's economy plunged. Mr. Fred Halliday, in Arabia Without Sultans, states that Oman "was driven back into the Middle Ages by the advance or modern capitalism."11 Hailiday also points out that the hasty decline of the Omani slave fueled economy caused a rift between the ruling coastal communities centered in Muscat and the tribes of the mountainous interior. This relationship became so exacerbated that the tribes formed an alliance against them.12 The tribes rebelled and took over Muscat in 1868, but in 1871 the British invaded and restored Sultan Al Bu Said to power.13 This was not, however, the first contact that Oman had had with Great Britain. In 1820, the Sultan, Sayyid Said, had received assistance from the British East India Company.14 This led to a series of treaties stimulating further British interventions in 1874, 1877, and 1883.15 The treaties of 1891, 1939, and 1951 were foundational for the continuing Omani relationship with Great Britain.16 Oman was never a protectorate of Great Britain nor a part of their colonial empire, unlike several other Arab states. Britain's interest was related to the security of the Indian trade as well as providing a link to colonies in the lower Gulf region.17 In 1913, a new Imam was elected in the mountains. This election was followed by an attack on Muscat in 1915. Again, the British intervened, this time arranging a treaty between the two warring factions (the 1920 Treaty of Sib). The interior was to be ruled by the Imam, while the Sultan was to retain sovereignty over larger affairs of the country. This arrangement was satisfactory for all sides until 1954 when the Imam, Muhammad Abd Allah al Khalili, died, and was succeeded by Ghalib bin Ali. THE EMERGENCE OF THE MODERN INSURRECTION By 1954, the son of Sultan Al Bu Said had ascended to the throne. He was the infamous Said bin Taimur, and his notori- ety stemmed from his iron-handed rule of Oman. He made Oman a virtual island, totally removed from any external civiliza- tion, and restricted Omanis from leaving the country. Taimur was not an ignorant individual, as he had attended schools in India. He spoke not only Arabic but English and Urdu, had toured the world, and had met many Western leaders.18 During his tenure he revealed a mastery of statecraft and an indiffer- ence to public opinion worthy of the most dedicated disciple of Machiavelli....like the princes of Italy, Sultan Said relied increasingly on mercenaries to sustain his position, and, as happened so often in the time of Machiavelli, his betrayal by his merce- nary officers ultimately caused his downfall.19 Taimur severely curtailed health services and education, and limited imports so as to prohibit any contact with the 20th century. Radios, trousers, cigarettes, books, and medicines were just a few of the prohibited items in Oman.20 Taimur discouraged development of his country, and suffered declining popularity with his subjects. Ghalib bin Ali, on the other hand, enjoyed widespread support throughout the interior of Oman. Ali had solid backing within his own Hina tribe and the Hinawi federation, and also within the Bani Riyam tribe of the Ghafiri federa- tion as well as of Sahib bin Issa in the south.21 Ali's brother, Talib, was a powerful "wali" in the town of Rostaq.22 It was during this crucial period that oil became a prime factor in Omani internal affairs. Following the Second World War, the discovery of oil on the Arabian peninsula attracted the interest of much of the free world. The undefined boundaries between Oman, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi suddenly became significant. A war between Saudi Arabia and Oman had narrowly been averted by the British in 1952 by adjudication as claims to the Buraimi Oasis where an oil discovery was imminent (see map #3). In October 1954 the town of "Ibri" was wrested by a small force of the Sultan's army from the control of Ali to prevent his occupation of Buraimi. This prodded Ali to declare the interior of Oman independent, and apply for membership in the League of Arab States.23 Taimur reacted by attacking Ali and forcing him into subservience. In December 1955 the Sultan's Armed Forces, with British assistance, attacked Rostaq, capturing Ali. Taimur allowed Ali to retire to his village following a pledge of fealty; however, Ali's brother, Talib, escaped to Cairo via Saudia Arabia. Talib returned in June 1957 and, declaring himself the new Imam of the interior, renewed the rebellion. Fighting broke out in the Jabal Akhdar (Green Mountain) area of northern Oman. The Sultan finally put down the conflict after extensive military reliance on British forces including over 300 British regulars and a detachment of the British Special Air Service.24 The victory in January 1959 was not complete, however, because all of the leaders, including Ali and Talib, fled to Saudi Arabia. It was in Saudia Arabia where the seeds of the insurrection in Dhofar would germinate. Click here to view image FOOTNOTES CHAPTER 1 1"Oil States in Gulf Fear Threat to Vital Strait," Washington Post, 11 November 1983, p. A19. Oman's oil pro- duction has been steadily increasing, despite predictions in the mid and late 70s that their oil reserves would dwindle. Oil accounts for 95% of their foreign trade (estimated at $2.2 billion) according to the U. S. Department of State. Current estimates indicate that Oman can produce oil at the current rate for 20-25 years. 2"Tiny Oman Guards the Strategic Strait of Hormuz," Washington Post, 2 January 1980, p. A7. Percentages of the free world oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz vary according to source, although none list less than the 40% that was quoted in the 24 September 1979 issue oi Newsweek, p. 54. 3"Oman Post Report," U. S. Department of State Publica- tion 9273, July 1982, p. 1. Population estimates vary according to source. No official census has ever been taken in Oman, although the Government of Oman lists 1.5 million as the total population (see John Townsend, Oman: The Making of a Modern State (New York, N. Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1977) p. l7). Some estimates are as low as 400,000. 4"Oman Post Report," p. 1. Another estimate of the size of Oman is between "82,000 and 100,000 square miles, or roughly the size of the state of Kansas." Source: Handbook, p. 358. 5Tor Eigeland, "Oman: the Terrain," Aramco World Magazine, May-June 1983, p. 10. 6Akehurst, p. 5. 7Bard E. O'Neill, Insurgency in the Modern World (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1980), p. 213. 8Oman '83 (Muscat, Oman: The Ministry of Information, Sultanate of Oman, 1983) , p. 11. 9Paul Lunde, "Oman: a History," Aramco World Magazine, May-June 1983, p. 5. 10"Neo-piracy in Oman and the Gulf," Middle East Research Project (Washington, D. C.: 1975), p. 10. 11Fred Halliday, Arabia Without Sultans (New York, N. Y.: Vintage Books, 1975), p. 282. 12Halliday, p. 282. 13"Neo-piracy in Oman and the Gulf," p. 1O. 14Lunde, p. 7. 15Lunde, p. 7. 16Handbook, p. 343. 17"Neo-piracy in Oman and the Gulf," p. 10. 18Halliday, p. 282, and Yousef Al Alawi (Foreign Minister, Oman) in "The Oil Kingdoms," PBS TV, produced by Jo Franklin-Trout, 1983. 19John Townsend, Oman: The Making of a Modern State (New York, N. Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1977), p. 62. 20Halliday, p. 287. 21Handbook, p. 344. 22Townsend, p. 61. Walis were the government appointed representative and were generally responsible for a specific geographical area. Most had local ties, and many were directly related to the Sultan. The power of a Wali varied according to the backing he had of the inhabitants and of the Sultan. 23Handbook, p. 344. 24Townsend, p. 62. CHAPTER 2 THE DEVELOPMENT OF ORGANIZED RESISTANCE IN DHOFAR The seeds of insurgency blossomed into a full-scale war in Dhofar. Musselim bin Nuffl, a leader of the "jebalis" (the mountain people of Dhofar), met with Ali after the 1957 uprising and formed the basis for the insurrection in Dhofar.1 A training base was establisbed in Iraq and attacks were carried out on the vehicles and personnel of the John Mecom-Pure Oil Company in 1963 and 1964 in Dhofar, where an oil concession granted to the oil company was in jeopardy.2 By this time, Taimur had permanently moved from Muscat to Salalah, due to the moderate climate. It was obvious that the inhabitants of Dhofar were not going to put up with Taimur's neglect and abuse for much longer. THE DLF - 1962-1967 In 1962 a semblance of organization emerged among the insurgents. The Dhofar Charitable Association (DCA) was established, ostensively as a cover for the Dhofar Libera- tion Front (DLF). The DLF was associated with the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM), a Nasserist organization that had branches in virtually every Arab state. The ANM was proving to be a particularly effective organization, having sponsored successful revolutions in the Yemens. However, their expressed goal was to defeat British imperialism3 without any ties to an Imam. Two other groups, the Dhofar Benevolent Society (DBS) and the Dhofari Soldiers Organization (DSO), were beginning to form. Both operated underground in the vicinity of Salalah until early 1965, when a shipment of men and arms from Iraq and Kuwait was intercepted by the Iranians. As a conse- quence, many of the insurgents in Oman were captured, and those remaining fled to the mountains.4 They met at Wadi at Kabir on June 1, 1965, to solidify the leadership of the DLF and prepare plans for an extended campaign. That meeting was declared the "First Congress" and produced a proclamation demanding the liberating of this country (Dhofar) from the rule of the despotic Al Bu Said Sultan whose dynasty has been identitied with the hordes of tne British imperialist occupation.... This people (Dhofaris) have long and bitterly suffered from dispersion, unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and disease.... 5 The DLF also issued a three point manifesto stating, a. The poor classes, the farmers, workers, soldiers and revolutionary intellectuals will form the backbone of the organization. b. The imperialist presence will be destroyed in all its forms--military, economic and political. c. The (hireling) regime under its ruler, Said bin Taimur, will be destroyed.6 It is important to note that at this point, in the infancy of the DLF, the tribesmen of Dhofar were in control. The "Nasserists," although they had a common goal with the tribesman, were not in the majority. At this juncture, the leftist leanings and lack of religious affiliation of the DLF did not bother the Dhofaris because all they wanted was to be rid of Taimur. Although the DLF maintained offices in and received limited support from Iraq and Egypt, little progress occurred between 1965 and 1967. The DLF had divided Dhofar into three sectors--Western, Central, and Eastern--in an attempt to break up tribal boundaries. They recruited on an individual basis and prosecuted their campaign with a "hit and run" system, achieving little. DLF TO PFLOAG - 1968-1971 The Arab-Israeli war in 1967 had significant impact on the DLF, resulting in the "Second Congress" on September 1, 1968. A marked shift to the left towards Marxism occurred at this congress. Almost the entire leadership of the DLF changed hands, and the pro-Marxist Mohammad Ahmad al-Ghassani became secretary.7 Some old leaders, including Musallim bin Nuffl and Yusuf Alawi, did not agree with the changes and promptly segregated themselves from the organization. The Second Congress reviewed the entire approach to the campaign, and blamed the lack of progress on the isolationist strategy of the First Congress, as well as lack of cohesiveness in revolutionary theory.8 The Second Congress adopted three resolutions: 1. To adopt "organized revolutionary violence." 2. To change the DLF's name to the "Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf" (PFLOAG). 3. To extend the scope of the revolution from Dhofar to Oman and the emirates of the Gulf.9 It is at this juncture that the insurgency began to take on an international flavor. The indigenous tribesmen lost out as a controlling faction. Communist leanings trended to stronger ties with the new revolutionary regime in South Yemen, and garnered support from the Peoples Republic of China, Iraq, and radical Palestinian organizations. After liaison was made with the Soviet Union, several young leaders attended school there.10 The situation was not dissimilar to that faced by South Vietnam. A friendly communist government immediately bordering the country provided profuse supplies and safe havens for guerrillas. The PFLOAG peaked during this period, and although they might have attributed their success to cause and diligent work, this was not quite true. Concurrent with their increased strength, Sultan Taimur lurched toward even more tyranny in governing the Dhofaris. Security was tightened around cities; no Dhofaris were allowed to travel or to serve in the Army. Food and supplies were held in the coastal towns and blockaded from transport into the interior of Dhofar.11 The obvious impact was increased popular support for the PFLOAG in the countryside. The PFLOAG began an intensive education program, taught Arabic, and conducted political classes. The basis for most instruction was the intellectual stream of Lenin, Marx, Mao, and Che Guevara. A sizeable school in South Yemen (PDRY) was established and, by 1973, 850 children had enrolled.12 They imported doctors and preached the equality of women. During this period the PFLOAG was having success on the battlefield as well, and was extending its control from the western part of Dhofar into the coastal towns. The success of the PFLOAG in Dhofar was not going without notice in the remainder of Oman, and a "new" revolutionary group, the National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf (NDFLOAG), coalesced in the north. Shortly after formation in early June 1970, they suffered a double military setback at Nizwa and Izki. Most leading members were arrested.13 The significance of the NDFLOAG deteat could not be assessed for several years. Soon after the defeat, the Sultan (Taimur) was deposed in a coup by his son. Qaboos struck on July 23, 1970, and although no official accounts credit Great Britain as the instigator of the coup, many feel that it was undoubtedly British intervention that allowed Qaboos to take the throne.14 The creation of the NDFLOAG and subsequent military involvement spurred the British to take the preferred course and depose Taimur. With splinter groups forming all over Oman and revolting simultaneously against Taimur, it was obvious that military action alone would not resolve the situation. This chain of events turned the tide against the PFLOAG, but at the time they had no idea that this occurrence would alter their situation so drastically. Qaboos changed the entire picture for the people of Dhofar by building schools and hospitals, driling wells, and sharing out the oil revenues--something that had never been done before in Oman. New reforms led to the defection of many of the nonsocialist members of the PFLOAG. The reaction of the PFLOAG was to "dig in" and call for a Third Congress in June 1971. "People's Councils" were appointed at this meeting, ostensibly to govern the territory currently held and bolster popular support. The insistence on the Marxist- Leninist strategy was toned down in the hope of luring back some of the defectors.15 PFLOAG TO PFLO - 1972-1976 In January 1972 the NDFLOAG joined forces with the PFLOAG and launched a new military campaign. The first major operation at Mirbat, in July 1972, was a major disaster; many call it the downward turning point of the campaign. The PFLOAG attempted to regain some initiative with an extended terrorist and sabotage effort, but the results were just as disastrous as at Mirbat.16 The military initiative had shifted to the Sultan's armed forces, and the PFLOAG not only began to decline on the battlefield but in terms of public support as well. Importation of Iranian troops by the Sultan increased the sense of panic and urgency among the PFLOAG. A Fourth Congress convened in January 1974, with hopes for reorganization and revitaliza- tion. A faction within the PFLOAG demanded that all military action in the Gulf be concentrated on Oman alone, and that the PFLOAG pursue a strategy with Oman as its immediate objective. Obviously, those factions from outside Oman did not go along with this recommendation, and they consequently split from the party. What was left in Oman called themselves the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman (PFLO).17 As British and Iranian support for the SAF increased, support for the PFLO from China and Yemen decreased. More and more of the PFLO began to defect to the SAF, as the end moved clearly in sight for them. The PFLO became powerless to stop the counter invasion of Dhofar, and by mid 1975 all but the far western sections of Dhofar had been retaken by the SAF. By January 1976, PFLO guerrilla units had sought refuge in South Yemen, virtually bringing hostilities against the SAF and (man to an end. Although minor factions of the PFLO remain active in Yemen today, the rebellion, for all intents and purposes, was concluded in January 1976. Click here to view image FOOTNOTES CHAPTER 2 10'Neill, p. 216. 2J. E. Peterson, "Guerilla Warfare and Ideological Confrontation in the Arabian Peninsula: The Rebellion in Dhufar," World Affairs, Vol. 139 No. 4 (Spring 1977), p. 280. 3Halliday, p. 327. 4Peterson, "Guerilla Warfare," p. 280. 5Townsend, p. 98. 6D. L. Price, Oman: Insurgency and Development, Conflict Studies, No. 53 (London: The Institute for the Study of Conflict, 1975), p. 18. 7Halliday, p. 378. 8Halliday, p. 378. 9Peterson, "Guerilla Warfare," p. 280. 10Handbook, p. 390. 11"Neo-piracy in (man," p. 14. 12Halliday, p. 386. 13Peterson, "Guerilla Warfare," p. 281. 14"Neo-piracy in Oman," p. 14. 15"Neo-piracy in Oman," p. 14. 16Handbook, p. 392. 17Peterson, "Guerilla Warfare," p. 284. CHAPTER 3 THE SULTAN'S ARMED FORCES The evolution of the Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF) has, with the exception of tribal dependence, taken place entirely in the twentieth century. Prior to 1921, internal conflicts waged between coastal and mountain communities were fought by squabbling tribal elements. Occasional aid came from Great Britain (see page 6). In April 1921, the Muscat Levy Corps (MLC) was formed to take the burden off the British whenever coastal tribes failed to measure up to defense requirements. The first "Corps" was commanded by a British Army Captain and reached the strength of a reinforced company--approximately 200 men. This size varied from less than 200 to, at times, 300.1 Functioning almost solely as palace guard, they also assisted in road building. In 1939 the British convinced the Sultan that the MLC, then renamed the Muscat Infantry, be increased to two companies, about 355 men. No combat action had yet taken place, although the British were obviously attempting to have tne Omanis arm as many troops as possible. The onset of World War II was near. Fears in regard to Omani partici- pation in the War never materialized, and the Muscat Infantry remained an unproved military force. When the crisis over the Buraimi oasis erupted in 1952, the sobering realization that he nad no viable military arm to defend his interests spurred the Sultan to expand the size of the armed forces.2 The, Batinah Force was founded at Suhar, followed shortly by the forming of the Muscat and Oman Field Force (MOFF). The MOFF was created as a conse- quence of oil exploration. The Petroleum Development (Oman) Ltd (PDO) Company required armed escort while drilling in the interior, and the MOFF was designed to fill the bill.3 The company itself, which owned the oil concession for Oman, provided funds to support the MOFF. Just a year after formation, the MOFF saw action in Ibri, followed by the ouster of Iman Ghalib bin Ali in Rostaq.4 A decline in fortunes came shortly thereafter, when they lost a battle in Sayt. Subsequently routed in the 1957 rebellion, the MOFF suffered disbanding and reforming as part of the "Oman Regiment." The Sultan then commanded four separate and distinct military units--the Batinah Force, the Muscat Infantry, the Oman Regiment, and the Dhofar Force, which had been created in 1955 of mostly local "jebelis." These forces were consolidated into the Sultan's Armed Forces in 1958,5 with a seconded British officer, Colonel David DeC. Smiley, as the commander. In 1960 the Oman Gendarmerie was created with headquarters at Suhar, followed by the birth of the Sultan of Oman's Air Force (SOAF), containing three Provost T52 aircraft and two Pioneer aircraft.6 Tne Sultan of Oman's Navy (SON) had a modest beginning at this time as well. In 1965, the Desert Regiment was formed. In 1965 the Muscat Infantry and the Batinah Force (now called the Northern Frontier Regiment (NFR)) were called down to Dhofar to quell the rebellion. Prior to that time, the only military in Dhofar was a "Dhofar Force," consisting of local tribesmen (Jebelis). This force was entirely inade- quate for their mission with effectiveness significantly diminished after a few members attempted the assassination of Sultan Taimur in 1966. Demise of the Dhofar Force resulted in the creation of the Baluchi Southern Regiment, which later provided two infantry battalions, composed entirely (save British leadership) of Pakistanis.7 In 1971, the "Frontier Force" was created for service in Dhofar, and the "Jebel Regiment" was created in Nizwa. The SAF saw its greatest period of diversification in this year, as the Artillery Regiment, Signal Regiment, Armoured Car Squadron, Garrison Detachment, and Engineers' Unit were all spawned. This response to the rebellion in Dhofar stimulated the SAF to a total force size of over 13,000 men.8 In 1974, the addition of "Firqats," companies of approximately 100 men, made up almost entirely of defectors from the PFLO, were added to the force. These units were trained by the British Special Air Service, and by late 1974 over 18 of them existed. The success of the firqats bolstered the offensive power of the SAF, and their creation was the final step in the growth of the military in Oman in response in the insurrection in Dhofar. The swelling of their ranks was a strong indication that the PFLO was failing and was a decisive blow to the rebellion. When the Sultan declared the war over on December 11, 1975, Oman's armed force had matured into an efficient, combat hardened military organization. Oman has not let this efficiency fade away. Today the forces number in excess of 23,000 men and women. The Sultan of Oman's Land Force (SOLF) contains 15,000 men, and has such sophisticated weaponry as the TOW antitank missile and the M-60 main battle tank. The Navy (SON) has doubled its number of ships since 1975, currently possessing 16 ships--with a manpower base of 1,000--armed with the Exocet missile. The Air Force (SOAF) now has 350 officers, although 200 of them are British. They have 37 Hunter and Jaguar fighter bombers. The Police of Oman, with a uniformed strength of 7,000 men and women, are responsible for manning the Coast Guard. Reliance in all of the armed services, save the Police force, still rests with tne British who provision senior officers.9 While Oman is attempting to phase the British out, their officers corps still lacks both experience and age needed for responsibilities at that level. Click here to view image 1971 SULTAN OF OMAN'S LAND FORCE SULTAN OF OMAN'S AIR FORCE -Muscat Infantry Regiment -Baluchi Southern Regiment SULTAN OF OMAN'S NAVY -Northern Frontier Regiment -Desert Regiment -Frontier Force -Jebal Regiment -Artillery Regiment -Signal Regiment -Armoured Car Squadron -Garrison Detachment -Engineeer' Unit -Training Regiment -Firqats -Oman Gendarmerie FOOTNOTES CHAPTER 3 1J. E. Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century, p. 92. 2Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century, p. 92. However, Townsend, p. 60 states that the Sultan had little difficulty raising 8,000 tribesman to fight at Buraimi. The British diffused the situation with a negotiated peace. 3Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century, p. 93. 4Handbook, p. 345. 5Akehurst, p. 31. 6Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century, p. 95. 7Akehurst, p. 33. Baluchis were recruited by the British with the permission of the Pakistani government to form the Baluch battalions. Oman had actually owned the province of Baluchistan until 1958, when Pakistan bought it from them. 8Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century, p. 96. 9"Police, Army, Navy, and Air Force of Oman," Journal of Defense Diplomacy, November 1983, pp. 16-25. All of the figures quoted in this paragraph are from this source. CHAPTER 4 ACTUAL CONDUCT OF THE WAR 1963-1976 FIRST PHASE: 1963-1967 The first hostilities in the Dhofar Rebellion occurred in the spring of 1963 when Musselim bin Nuffl attacked an oil company convoy and destroyed several vehicles, killing one of the escorts.1 The DLF then began randomly attacking oil company vehicles continuing through 1963 and 1964. On August 14, 1964 one of their mines blew up an SAF vehicle.2 This intensified the Sultan's reaction, result- ing in the arrest of over 40 members in April and May of 1965.3 This precipitated the First Congress. On June 9, 1965, the DLF attacked a government patrol near Thamrit, declaring that date as the official "beginning" of the revolution.4 The initial line of demarkation circled Salalah, as it was the intent of the SAF to deny the DLF use of the city and its port facilities. To this extent they were successful because they entirely isolated the city from all land avenues of approach. The DLF continued to practice limited guerrilla action, and nearly succeeded in assasinating Sultan Taimur on April 26, 1966, when one of his Dhofari body guards demonstrated a lack of marksmanship by missing a clean shot at the Sultan from only a few feet away. Small skirmishes occurred at Taqa and Mirbat (autumn of 1965) and patrol sized battles took place in Wadis Nahiz, Hardom, and Jarsis northeast of Salalah.5 None of these events resulted in anything decisive, except that a company sized attack in July 1966 at Raydat at Kala, killed or wounded 59 of the SAF.6 SECOND PHASE: 1967-1970 Events soon escalated. In 1967 freshly earned oil revenues began to pour into the Sultan's treasury, giving Taimur new flexibility to buy and equip a modern military. Equally important to the DLF was the declared independence of South Yemen (or, the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen, formerly known as Aden) in December 1967. This provided the DLF with a perfect safe haven and a resupply area. As the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China became active supporters of South Yemen, the DLF incurred substantial resources from its new sponsor. The year 1967 marked the first offensive action to be taken by the SAF. British led units of company size attacked the coastal city of Dhalqut and attempted to establish a security line near the western border in order to cut off the flow of supplies to the DLF. The attempt failed. All the positions established came under increasing and persistent pressure and were unable to defend themselves. Collapse of a position at Rakhyut in August of 1968 left the SAF with a solitary stronghold in Salalah.7 The DLF by now had changed its name to the PFLOAG, and had proposed near term military goals: 1. Control of the Salalah-Thumrait Road ("The Red Line") 2. Capture of the Salalah Air Base 3. Control of the Eastern Province8 In February 1970 they were actively pursuing these goals, and were snelling Salalah. "The Red Line" had been severed, and another dissident group was forming in the north, encouraged by the success on the PFLOAG. Undoubtedly, the PFLOAG was at its zenith. THIRD PHASE: 1970-1973 The turning point of the entire insurgency occurred on June 12, 1970, when the NDFLOAG attack on Nizwa and Izki in the north failed. This action provided impetus for British encouragement of a coup. On July 23, 1970, Sultan Qaboos displaced his father. At the time of his rise to the throne, the state of affairs in Oman was dismal. The only prospect for saving the country from total chaos was the steady influx of petrodollars. Most of that income was going either to defense or directly into the Sultan's treasury. Virtually nothing was being spent in regards to public welfare. As an example of the retarded condition of the country, in 1970 the entire country had "only one doctor, three elementary schools, and less than 10 miles of paved roads."9 Click here to view image Qaboos brought a breath of fresh air to Oman. He con- sidered himself an equal opponent to his father's program as the PFLOAG. He began with a "five point" plan to: 1. Offer general amnesty to all those of his subjects who had opposed his father. 2. End the archaic status of Dhofar and its formal incorporation into Oman as the "southern province." 3. Provide effective military opposition to those rebels who did not accept the amnesty offer. 4. Start a vigorous nation-wide program of development. 5. Start a diplomatic initiative with the aim of having Oman recognized as a genuine Arab state with its own legal form of government and isolate the PDRY from receiving support from other Arab states.10 It must be understood that Sultan Qaboos was not only an educated man but one who had a strong personal interest in promoting Dhofar. Born in Salalah, he had been at Sandhurst, and had served with the British Army for a short period. Upon returning from Europe in 1966, his father placed him under house arrest, claimed that he had been corrupted by his studies in England, and upon hearing strains of Gilbert and Sullivan echoing in the palace, destroyed all of his son's records.11 Qaboos keenly resented many of the same tyrannical practices that the general public suffered. His five point plan was ingenious and probably a product of British assistance. The amnesty package was unique, offering the defector a cash grant (more if the man brought his weapon with him), re-arming him, and hopefully resettling him into his original tribal location. The individual was then placed in a "firqat," or the tribal militia.12 Militia units were usually of company size and operated in conjuction with a British detachment. Formal recognition of Dhofar at least gave Dhofaris some status. The start of urban development was clearly in line with demands of the PFLOAG. Diplomatic initiatives resulted in the entrance of Oman into the United Nations in October 1971.13 The PFLOAG's response to the new Sultan was to step up attacks on "The Red Line," even though they were feeling the bitter sting of increased bombing by British pilots. In May 1971 they had squashed every post on "The Red Line." The SAF response was the launching of Operation Jaguar in October 1971. Jaguar was an SAF operation led by SAS troops that involved an attack to the east of Salalah with the hopes of eventually establishing a line across the jabal that would block the flow of supplies to the east. The principle was to divide Dhofar into sectors and clear each sector with the creation of a series of strongpoints that would deny the enemy access to the area.14 Operation Jaguar initially appeared successful. But, in order to maintain a position on the jabal, strong reliance had to be placed on the air superiority that the SAF enjoyed. The next tactic was to commence a similar excursion to the west, hence the birth of Operation Simba in May 1972. If Operation Jaguar had obtained limited success, Operation Simba was much the same. Simba was a post on the FDRY border, and the Muscat Regiment was tasked with its capture. They succeeded in this challenge. However, the overall plan had included creation of a series of outposts along the border to prevent the PFLOAG from obtaining supplies. The outcome of the operation was establishment of a single post at Simba. Further offensive action proved futile.15 The PFLOAG was becoming a worthy adversary. To the shock of the British, they placed an artillery round squarely into the officers' mess at Salalah in June 1972, and wounded several. This attack was closely followed by dual assaults on Mirbat and Taqa in July. The attack on Mirbat was disas- trous, with about 20% of the 250 aggressors killed.16 The defense had been remarkable, as the SAF had had only 100 men defending.17 The incursion into Taqa was also repulsed, compounding the results from Mirbat, and the PFLOAG had two serious setbacks. At this juncture the PFLOAG resorted to terrorist tactics in the north, but, before any extreme acts could be accomplished, SAF security forces detected their activities and arrested more than 90 of those involved along with impounding an extensive arsenal. Click here to view image Fourth Phase: 1973 - 1976 During this period Sultan Qaboos took to heart the third point in his five point plan--to provide an effective military opposition to those rebels who did not accept the amnesty offer. The military force doubled to over 10,000, and foreign aid poured in.18 Iran provided a large force (1,200 men) which, in its first military operation, occupied "The Red Line." The PFLOAG sensed a shift in momentum, and convened a Fourth Congress in January 1974 (see page 19). This meeting had a miserable effect, caused a party split, and produced the rump PFLO. The SAF now stood ready to employ a firm policy of containment. In January 1974 SAF began construction of the Hornbeam Line, which "stretched inland 50 miles from Mughsayl on the coast and roughly twenty miles west of The Red Line."19 The obvious intent was to restrict movement of the enemy and his supplies, which is exactly what it did. The conquest of Dhofar was almost in sight. The estimated strength of the PFLO in 1974 was 1,800 men, including part-time militia. Divided into 100 man companies, they were then assigned to a regiment (which was really a battalion) in respective sectors. They were well equipped with Soviet armament, including the 60, 81, and 82mm mortars, the AK-47 rifle, and the Soviet Katyvsha 122mm rocket.20 Even with this kind of armament, they were not a match for the strengthening SAF. By the end of 1974, the Hornbeam line, reinforced with sensors, barbed-wire, and mines, had limited PFLO activity in Dhofar to only the western sector. The firqats were improving. By the close of the year there were 18 of them varying in size from 50 to 150 men. Civil Action Teams (CAT) had been created to assist firqats in developing their localities, to include well-drilling, building medical and schooling facilities, and establishing a location for local governments.21 The SAS frequently sent advisors to the firqats. From them the firqats developed a fine sense for military operations. In the fall of 1974 the SAF had established themselves at Sarfait, and a joint operation was underway to recover Rakhyut. On January 5, 1975, the town was taken, despite heavy casualties to the attacking Iranian force.22 Rakhyut was to be the basis for the next sector, and the Damavand Line was created. Its design and operation was virtually identical to the Hornbeam Line, and it was equally successful.23 Qaboos's point five was making dramatic headway by this time. Not only was Oman receiving customary support from Great Britain, but financial aid was soon flooding in from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Jordan and the Click here to view image UAE both provided small troop units, which were used to relieve units in the north so they could fight in Dhofar.24 The SAF began a final assault in Dhofar in the fall of 1975. The Iranians handled the coast while the SAF continued to attack remaining PFLO units in the west. There was surprisingly little opposition. By December all that remained was well scattered resistance. On December 11, 1975, Sultan Qaboos declared that the Dhofar war was officially over. In the ensuing months several Arab states established diplomatic relations with Oman and Yemen. Iraq, a former supporter of the PFLO, established an embassy in Muscat. Shortly after, Saudi Arabia did the same in Yemen. In this way a foundation was laid to separate the PFLO from Yemen. Qaboos wisely renewed his offer of amnesty. Over 332 PFLO took advantage of the new opportunity by May 1976.25 An agreement with Yemen was not formally reached until October of 1982.26 FOOTNOTES CHAPTER 4 1Price, p. 4. 2Townsend, p. 97. 3Price, p. 4. 4Peterson, "Guerrilla Warfare," p. 280. 5Halliday, p. 330. 6Halliday, p. 330. 7Halliaay, p. 336. 8Halliaay, p. 336. 9John Duke Anthony, "Oman: Stable and Strategic," Journal of Defense Diplomacy, November 1983, p. 14. 10Townsend, p. 101. 11"Oman: Emerging from the Dark Ages," Time, 4 June 1979, p. 37. 12Townsend, p. 102. 13Handbook, p. 346. 14Peterson, "Guerrilla Warfare," p. 282. 15Peterson, "Guerrilla Warfare," p. 283. 16Handbook, p. 393. l7Tony Geraghty, Inside the Special Air Service (Nashville: Battery Press, 1980), p. 125. At Mirbat was a "BATT" (British Army Training Team) comprised of 10 SAS personnel, along with 30 Askaris from northern Oman, a "Firqa" of about 40 men, and 25 men from the Dhofar Gendarmerie. 18Handbook, p. 393. 19Peterson, "Guerrilla Warfare," p. 284. 20Handbook, pp. 392-393. 21Handbook, pp. 394-395. 22Akehurst, p. 85. 23Peterson, "Guerrilla Warfare," p. 284. 24Handbook, p. 396. 25Handbook, p. 397. 26"Interview: H. M. Sultan Qaboos bin Said," Journal of Defense Dipomacy, November 1983, p. 11. CHAPTER 5 AN ANALYSIS OF THE WAR Professors O'Neill, Heaton, and Alberts discussed in Insurgency in the Modern World six general variables important to insurgent strategy. These are popular support, organization, cohesion, external support, the environment, and the effectiveness of the government.1 An examination of these variables can illustrate concrete reasons for the counterinsurgency success in Dhofar. Popular Support Popular support for the insurrection in Dhofar had roots plunging back to the sixth century when the Azd tribe first embraced Islam. The subsequent ascendancy of the Imams, patterned on the figure of Ghalib bin Ali, figured prominently in the Dhofar rebellion of the 1960s. Religious backing in the formative stages of the latest rebellion was absolutely necessary to the cause, but would later prove to be detrimental when the DLF would announce that their aim was to defeat British Imperialism, without any ties to an "Imam." The DLF, who had relied on this natural rivalry between the Imam led interior tribes and the coastal community, cut off this tie in 1967 by repudiating any religious affiliation at their second Congress. It is obvious that even without the organization of the DLF in the early 1960s that the general populace of Dhofar (and other interior sections of Oman) desired some kind of change in government. Ghalib bin Ali precipitated the process when he met with Musselim bin Nuffl following the 1957 crisis. Enlisting support to overthrow Sultan Taimur in Dhofar was a simple task, as the majority of the tribes- men saw little, if any, advantages to the "status quo." The promised complete reforms by the DLF were attractive. The Dhofaris were not particularly concerned with Marxist- Leninist doctrines professed by the DLF, and at this juncture continued to openly practice religious beliefs. Opposition to the DLF, at least from 1962 until 1965, was not overt, primarily because the DLF's goals coincided with those of the local populace. During this formative stage, the few battles staged were on the "hit and run" level. Consequently, not many locals or the SAF got involved. This "First Phase" of the insurgency was one in which the inhabitants of Dhofar were poised in passive defense. In 1966, Salalah was cordoned off by the SAF. This virtually isolated the port from inland trade with the Dhofaris.2 This incensed not only the Dhofaris, but the inhabitants of Salalah as well, curtailing the livelihoold of many of the tradesmen. By this time, the DLF had sufficiently aroused the people to form a solid base of support and to launch into the "Second Phase." Public support justifiably increased by the time of the convening of the "Second Congress" in 1967. The insurgency birthed the "Second Phase" with an affirmation for organized revolutionary violence.3 Taimur's tyranny generated the largest part of the PFLOAG's popular support. Concurrent with the new congress, the Sultan, as if on cue, promptly commenced a bold series of crackdowns on Dhofaris, restricting both travel and trade.4 Objectives announced by the PFLOAG were followed and began to see some progress in the insurgency. PFLOAG adherence to the ideologies of Marx and Lenin began to grip the public, yet the repression of Islam was not popular. Those who openly voiced opposition to the PFLOAG often became subjects of terrorism.5 Still, the creation of revolutionary schools and appearance of doctors was physical evidence that the PFLOAG would support its promises of an improved society. As pointed out earlier, the PFLOAG was actually at its zenith in 1970. This success was not unnoticed by the British controlled SAF. The coup by Sultan Qaboos in July 1970 made the greatest singular impact on popular support for PFLOAG. The true test of the allegiance of the Dhofaris backing for the PFLOAG came after Qaboos issued his five point plan in 1970. The first point was an offer of general amnesty to all those who had opposed Taimur. To those who sincerely ascribed to the ideology of the PFLOAG, it would have made little or no difference that Sultan Qaboos had assumed the throne. The form of government was still imperialism with a continued reliance on the British, and the stated goal of destroying the imperialist military, political, and economic presence would not be near fruition for the PFLOAG. Regardless, the people were willing to give Qaboos a try. In the mind of the inhabitants, an opportunity had sprung up to change what they desired without resorting to the violence that they had become accustomed to over the course of some seven years. The Surrendered Enemy Personnel (SEP) program as issued by Qaboos was the initial vote of confi- dence by the government in the people of Dhofar. The mere fact that Qaboos had overthrown his father gave rise to the hope that perhaps Qaboos was not going to be the typical repressive Sultan. Despite propaganda to the contrary the SEPs were treated with great respect and not interrogated.6 In many instances, those who were considering coming over to the government side were actually allowed to literally infiltrate the firqats and watch all the activities, remaining almost totally ignored by all who were performing their daily duties. When the individual came to realize that no harm was in the offing, he often stayed and joined. It was not long before this word spread throughout Dhofar, and the PFLOAG absorbed a fatal blow. For those who doubted that Qaboos would actually provide a nation-wide program of development, an immediate visible sign was made with the incorporation of a medical officer and a veterinarian into SAS teams sent into the interior of Dhofar.7 Point by point, almost every issue brought out in the proclamation by the DLF in their First Congress in 1965 was being promptly and efficiently dealt with by Qaboos. Taimur had been deposed, disease was being treated, poverty being countered with petrodollars, and education was being addressed. It is important to note at this point that there was a distinct difference in the goals of the typical inhabitant of Dhofar and the goals of the hard core insurgent. The Dhofari desired various changes and sought improvements to his living conditions, yet the practice of Islam must con- tinue. There was really no sincere desire to overthrow the Sultan, only to improve living conditions. Consequently, the Dhofari followed a reformist insurgency, while the PFLO was trying to cultivate a revolutionary insurgency.8 Diver- gence in goals was never overcome by the PFLO. Although the Dhofaris had not obtained immediate satisfaction after the coup in 1970, they were actually quite willing to give the new Sultan the benefit of at least a trial performance. The ultimate reaction of the PFLO was to resort to terrorist tactics to ensure loyalty, but as the SEP program became more successful, terrorist tactics had reverse effects in Dhofar, and solidified opposition to the PFLO. Another factor in achieving popular support by the PFLO was tribal unity. The tribal system had existed in Dhofar for hundreds of years, and most Dhofaris were not readily willing to shed such support structures overnight, least of all for a Marxist-Leninist system. Failure of the PFLO to recognize tribal boundaries and utilize them to their advantage further diminished their popular support. Although members of the PFLO had enough education to understand communist ideology, tne Dhofaris, on the whole, had little or no education, and could not recognize the value of the system that the PFLO was attempting to impose. The PFLO, as has been stated, sent much of the populace to schools, but this process did not become totally operational until 1973, by which time Sultan Qaboos had instituted many of the changes that would counter the arguments of the PFLO. The inability of the PFLO to mobilize popular support following the ascendancy of Sultan Qaboos struck a fatal note that inevitably cost them any chance of success. Cohesion and Organization One of the most critical elements to cohesion and organization is leadership, and in its genesis the Dhofar Liberation Front was amply endowed with leaders. Ghalib bin Ali, of the Hina tribe, his brother Talib, and Musselim bin Nuffl, of the jebalis, all had strong tribal support and were indeed the initial leaders. Yet the DLF alienated these leaders, and during the Second Congress most of them (including Nuffl) abandoned the communists due to DLF opposition to tribes and Islam. The DLF exacerbated their lack of tribal support by organizing military and political system based on crude geo- graphical divisions of Dhofar.9 Their Eastern, Central, and Western sectors crossed several tribal boundaries and combined groups that were normally segregated. As has been earlier stated, the SAF did just the opposite, basing the SEP program on Firqats that maintained tribal integrity. This program was well accepted by the Dhofaris. Had the DLF organized initially along tribal boundaries they might have had greater success. It must be recognized that the tribal system simply did not translate into the Marxist-Leninist pattern. Nonetheless the DLF could have used the tribes to their advantage early in the campaign and, having once gained military superiority over the SAF, reorganized later according to communist philosophy. It was obvious during the initial stages of the insur- rection that the leadership was not aggressive in pursuing military objectives. Lack of progress towards these goals eventually led to a Second Congress in 1968. It was at this juncture that the DLF shed itself of most of the original tribal leaders, and embarked upon a course that leaned far more towards Marxism. The success of the new PFLOAG party to achieve victory on the battlefield probably led them into a false sense of security in regards to their own leadership and cohesion. Although most certainly much of the credit must go to the new ruling faction, undoubtedly, as has been stated on page 16, this period coincided with Taimur's latest purge of rights for the citizens of Dhofar. The unity of the people against the rule of Taimur was unanimous, but their unity in support of communism was only superficial. Not until Sultan Qaboos's five point plan was released did PFLOAG begin to realize the specialized allegiance of the Dhofaris. Defections that occurred in ever increasing numbers were true indicators of a lack of leadership, cohesion, and unity within PFLOAG ranks. Terrorism failed to maintain the discipline of their force was the last resort for a fleeting cause. The lack of dynamic leadership and the failure to recognize the tribal allegiance of the commoner were just two more factors that caused the downfall of the PFLO. External Support External support played a key role for both sides during the insurgency. Initial support of Saudi Arabia and Egypt provided safe havens for Ghalib bin Ali and his brother Talib, sheltering the spark that started the fire of revolution. The alignment of the DLF with the Arab Nationalist Movement was further proof to the Dhofaris that external support was available to prosecute their war. The fact that the ANM had been successful in Yemen provided yet another incentive for tne DLF to proceed with their First Congress. The PDRY (South Yemen) was to be the greatest supporter of the revolution and, in fact, today still harbors members of the PFLO. The recognition of the PFLOAG's success in the late 1960's galvanized the Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China to provide more impetus for military development. Without this kind of external support it is doubtful that the PFLOAG would ever have been as successful as they were in 1971. Of the six variables used for this analysis, external support was undoubtedly the strongest support prop for the PFLO. Safe havens provided by the PDRY, military supplies and training given by the Soviet Union and China, and the support the ANM all provided a sufficient base to support operations for the insurgency. However, in terms of external support, the Sultan's Armed Forces had a distinct advantage. Military aid provided by Great Britain significantly outweighed that provided by the communist block countries to the PFLO. If an analogy can be drawn between the success of the PFLO (between 1968 and 1971) and their communist supporters, then certainly a similar comparison can be drawn between the ultimate success of the SAF and the support provided by the British. By the termination of hostilities, the British had over 700 active duty military on duty in Oman, solely in support of the SAF.10 Britain was the primary source for their military arsenal as well.11 The augmentation of troops from Iran (at least 1,200), Jordan (an engineering battalion), and the United Arab Emirates (a detachment of garrison troops) provided the SAF with an overwhelming superiority in numbers. The British provided necessary leadership that the PFLO lacked. Experienced officers proffered sound tactical advice to the SAF and were the critical factor in the effectiveness of the entire campaign. While external support was not so critical to the failures of the PFLO, it was indeed the consummate factor in the winning as far as the SAF was concerned. Environment The environment, although not a decisive factor in the war, undoubtedly had a significant effect on both sides. Geography initially proved advantageous to the rebels. The sheer isolation of Dhofar allowed the DLF to run free without opposition. Since principal modes of transportation were quite simply either by foot or by animal (mule or camel), and there were no paved roads, the extremely rugged mountainous terrain in much of the area obviously favored the defender. The barren Rub al Khali desert provided a natural border, just as did the desert northeast of the Jabal al Qara mountains. These borders certainly provided the rebels with some sense of security during the initial stages. It was to cause them grave concern, however, in the later stages of conflict. The British rapidly ascertained that the PFLO was indeed limited by these borders. Hence, although Dhofar is a large province, the SAF could swiftly concentrate a full effort there. The basic strategy of the SAF was to literally divide Dhofar into sections and conquer the PFLO piece by piece. The Hornbeam and Damavand lines effectively achieved this and, with the well defined borders on every side except to the southwest, the PFLO was left with no options but escape to the PDRY. The monsoon season in Dhofar favored the insurgents, of course. As the SAF undoubtedly had air superiority, the monsoon season negated this advantage. Had it not been for the monsoon season, it is possible that the insurgency might have ended much sooner after Sultan Qaboos's takeover than it did. As with the geography, the monsoon was peculiar to Dhofar, and these two factors, while affecting the campaign in Dhofar so significantly, would not have had a similar influence had the PFLO occasioned to expand the war into northern sections of Oman. In essence, the PFLO was too limited in objectives within Dhofar. External supplies were unable to provide significantly more personnel and weapons to provoke a wider war. The environment, as with external support, offered advantages and disadvantages to both sides. In the long run, however, the SAF used the environmental setting to best advantage. Effectiveness of the Government When the final result is successtul, it can be assumed that the government was effective. Yet, when it takes over a decade to quell such an insurgency, with a force of over 13,000 versus an insurgent force of perhaps 1,000, one cannot state that the Sultanate was particularly efficient in obtaining its victory. Throughout the First Phase of the war, from 1963 until 1967, there is little doubt that the SAF was both ineffective and powerless to prevent hit and run types of action. Lack of response from the SAF stemmed from many factors, the most important being the inability of Sultan Taimur to recognize the desperate plight of his people. Particularly in Dhofar was his failure to substantially increase the size of his military force of consequence. The SAF cannot be faulted for their failure to stop the PFLOAG offensive by early 1970. They simply did not have sufficient assets to conduct a search and cordon type operation of the entire province of Dhofar. Of course, the British recognized this failure, and following the NDFLOAG attack in June 1970, had Taimur removed via a bloodless coup and installed his son, Qaboos, as the new Sultan. Qaboos, with British assistance, can be given a great deal of credit for simply allowing common sense tactics to prevail. Reform development programs not only boosted Dhofar, but uplifted the entire country as well. Without cultivating popular support he would have been a failure. His five point plan, judiciously applied, caused the popular tide to rapidly shift in his favor, quickly correcting the two failings of his father--recognizing the plight of his people, and increasing the size of the military. He did not interfere with the conduct of military operations, allowing the seconded British officers to run a tidy and uncomplicated military campaign. It is possible that, had Qaboos assumed the throne earlier in the campaign, the successful conclusion of the Sultanate's military effort would have occurred considerably earlier. Qaboos's skill at diplomatic relations solidified his country's position not only with the other Arab states but with the world as well. Oman was admitted to the U.N. in October 1971, a little over a year after his assumption of the throne.11 His ability to cooperate with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates eliminated a part of the base of support for the PFLO. His later initiatives with Yemen have ensured that the PFLO will not return to threaten Oman. Conclusion Success of the SAF in the insurection in Dhofar can be attributed to several factors: - Swaying popular support to the side of the Sultan. - Maintaining the cohesion and organization of the SAF while the PFLO virtually disintegrated. - Relying heavily on the external support, particularly from Great Britain. - Utilizing the environment, with the isolation of Dhofar, to their advantage. - Ensuring that the Sultanate maintained its effectiveness through increasing the military and social reform. The failure of the PFLO can be attributed to several faults: - Failure to maintain popular support. - Lack of leadership and organization, and failing to recognize tribal loyalties and boundaries. - Lack of sufficient, prolonged external support. - Failure to adequately use tne environment to their advantage. - Failure to counter the Government's initiatives in regards to social reform, the SEP program, and the increased military. This unique war, despite its ultimate success, still took over ten years to end and involved thousands of men against a relatively small opposing force. Nonetheless, it is still to the credit of the British, and Sultan Qaboos, that success was achieved. It is obvious from recent military operations involving the United States that many of the factors relevant to the success in Oman are applicable to today's wars as well. In Grenada, for example, success would have been far more difficult without popular support. The landing of a numerically superior force was absolutely necessary to ensure victory. The locals in Grenada could not have succeeded without external support, and continuing social reform will ensure that the island remains out of the hands of the communists. The cohesion and organization demon- strated by the British led SAF set an example that still needs to be followed in this country--we have shown a lack of both in many of our "joint" operations. Point for point, the Dhofar War gives us a valuable line of departure for future counterinsurgencies. FOOTNOTES CHAPTER 5 1O'Neill, p. 5. 2Halliday, p. 332. 3Peterson, "Gueriila Warfare," p. 281. 4"Neo-piracy in Oman," p. 14. 50'Neill, p. 221. 6Jeapes, p. 37. 7Jeapes, p. 31. 8O'Neill, p. 3. O'Neill identifies six types of insurgent movements: secessionist, revolutionary, restorational, reactionary, conservative, and reformist. He defines a revolutionary insurgent as one who "seeks to impose a new regime based on egalitarian values and centrally controlled structures designed to mobilize the people and radically transform the social structure within an existing political community." In contrast, the reformist insurgent "attempts to obtain more political, social, and economic benefits without necessarily rejecting the political community, regime, or authorities....they are primarily concerned with policies that are considered discriminatory." 9"Neo-piracy in Oman," p. 13. 10Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century, p. 191. 11Peterson, Oman in the Twentieth Century, p. 192. 12Handbook, p. 346. Postscript Oman has not forgotten the lessons she learned during the Dhofar War. As stated on page 25, her armed forces have reached unprecedented levels. Sultan Qaboos will not repeat the error that his father made by his failure to maintain an adequate military posture. It would appear that the Sultan has taken his five point plan of 1971 as a general guideline for recovery in his country. Dhofar was indeed recognized as a province, and has enjoyed continued development along with the remainder of Oman. In 1970 there were only 3 public schools in Oman; in 1981, there were 365.1 The Sultan has ensured that an adequate military force is on hand, and although the threat from the PFLO has diminished significantly, South Yemen still maintains a formidable force on Oman's southeastern border. There are nine infantry battalions, 60 Soviet-made tanks, and an expanded runway just over the border in Yemen.2 This presence has kept the SAF on its toes as they maintain an increased defense posture in Dhofar. "While the rest of the world's attention is generally focused on the eastern part of Oman, especially the enclave on the Strait of Hormuz...officials in Muscat regard the real danger as coming from the south."3 Oil had now been discovered in marketable quantities in Dhofar, and it is estimated that 20% of Oman's future production will emanate from that province. Oman is now a member in good standing of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an organization of six Gulf nations (Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.) The GCC is dedicated to maintaining collective security and their police and intelligence organi- zations work closely together.4 Undoubtedly, Oman has come a long way since Sultan Qaboos issued his five point plan with the aim of having Oman recognized as a genuine Arab state. Since its formation in May 1981, the GCC has provided a valuable forum for all its members to solve interstate conflicts and band together in mutual defense. The United States did not take an active interest in Oman until after the hostage seizure in Iran in 1979. Following the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. and Oman signed a military access agreement in exchange for upgrading of four Omani airfields and provision of military and economic assistance. The United States took advantage of this treaty by using Masirah Island off the coast of Oman in April 1980 as the staging area for the Delta Force in the aborted hostage rescue attempt.5 The runway at Khasab has been extended and resurfaced at the expense of $3.6 million from the U.S.6 We have also provided M60 tanks, Sidewinder missiles, TOW missiles, C-130 aircraft, and 155mm howitzers in military aid as well.7 Oman has additionally agreed to limited participation in Middle East exercises similar to the "Jade Tiger" and "Bright Star" exercises that have been held in the past. Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos, has made state visits to both Presidents Carter and Reagan. His most recent state visit was on April 11, 1983, during which he reaffirmed the strengthening relationship between the two countries. Although entry to Oman is still subject to special security regulations, Oman has made huge strides in modernization since Sultan Qaboos took over. Oman has now become a cornerstone of our Middle East policy. The immense amount of military aid alone indicates the sincerity of our commitment to the defense of the Strait of Hormuz and Oman. Awareness among our military leadership about the insurgency in Dhofar can heighten our readiness and provide an example of a successful counterinsurgency on the Arabian peninsula. Although the military in Oman is still led by seconded British officers, the percentage is steadily declining and, obviously, the Omanis are placing renewed emphasis on U.S. military support. Should we be placed in a leadership position similar to that of Great Britain during the Dhofar rebellion, it is hoped that we could perform as well. FOOTNOTES POSTSCRIPT 1Thomas M. Johnson, "Oman," Armor, January-February 1981, p. 45. 2"Stay Just on the Horizon, Please," Time, 25 October 1982, p. 47. 3Peter Wald, "Oman," Swiss Review of World Affairs, April 1981, p. 15. 4"Stay Just on the Horizon, Please," p. 49. 5Charlie A. Beckwith and Donald Knox, Delta Force (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983), p. 265. 6"Stay Just on the Horizon, Please," p. 48. 7"Police, Army, Navy, and Air Force of Oman," pp. 16-25. 8"Stay Just on the Horizon, Please," p. 47-50. Bibliography Interviews Lieutenant Colonel Bard E. O'Neill, USAF, was interviewed in November 1983, and he provided a unique framework for analysis that is depicted in his book Insurgency in the Modern World. As an instructor at the National War College, he has had the opportunity to study the insurgency in Oman, and graciously offered his entire set of notes and research on Oman. Major A. N. Pratt, USMC, was interviewed in November 1983, and again in March 1984, following his recent trip to Dhofar. As a member of the Center for Strategic International Studies, Georgetown University, he was quite candid and provided a great deal of source material. His perspective was a unique one, coming from an individual who not only has an appreciation for low-intensity conflict from first-hand experience, but from one who has recently seen Dhofar. Secondary Sources Akehurst, J. We Won A War. Great Britain: Russell (Publishing) Ltd., 1982. The author was the commander of the combined forces pursuing the PFLO from 1972 until 1975. It is a well written book that gives an "up close and personal" view of the rebellion. It is valuable if you desire to obtain a detailed picture of the ground operation. Anthony, J. D. "Oman: Stable and Strategic," Journal of Defense Diplomacy, November 1983, 12-14. Mr. Anthony is the president of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, and a noted specialist on Middle- East affairs. His knowledge of the Dhofar War is broad and Oman is one of his specialities. This article provides a background for the strategic importance of Oman. ----------. "Insurrection and Intervention: the War in Dhofar," The Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean in Inter- national Politics, Abbas Amirie, ed. Tehran, Iran: Institute for International Political and Economic Studies, 1975, 287-318. Another expertly written article that specifically analyzes the external factors relating to the rebellion. It also provides various viewpoints from several other members of a discussion panel. The Area Handbook for the Persian Gulf States. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1977. This book is a comprehensive compilation of the dominant aspects of all the Persian Gulf States, and the section on Oman is superb general background for commencing a study of the Dhofar Rebellion. It was prepared by the Foreign Area Studies section of The American University. Beckwith, C. A. and Knox, D. Delta Force. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanich, 1983. Used only as a reference in this case to document the use of Masirah Island by the United States. It is of little value for anything else, save reading a litany of Col. Beckwith's supposed heroics. Eigeland, T. "Oman: the Terrain," Aramco World Magazine, May-June 1983, 10. A brief description of Oman's terrain. Franklin-Trout, J. "The Oil Kingdoms," Public Broadcasting Service TV, 1983. This three part series broadcast in 1983 graphically portrayed Oman ahd the coup that left Sultan Qaboos on the throne. Geraghty, T. Inside the Special Air Service. Nashville: Battery Press, 1980. Contains a short chapter explaining the SAS partici- pation in the Dhofar War. Halliday, F. Arabia Without Sultans. New York: Vintage Books, 1975. One of the few (or possibly the only) book that gives a complete view of the rebellion from the perspective of the PFLO. Mr. Halliday visited them during the war and offers his critical analysis of the SAF operations. "Interview: H. M. Sultan Qaboos Bin Said." Journal of Defense Diplomacy. November 1983, 10-11. A short but interesting perspective on Sultan Qaboos, as he gives his views on the Iraq-Iran war, the PLO, the PFLO, and Oman's strategic location. Jeapes, T. SAS: Operation Oman. London: William Kimber & Co., Ltd., 1980. Written by the man who commanded the SAS Squadron in Dhofar during the latter stages of the war, this book gives a detailed account of the combat operations and explains the relationship and structure of both the SAS BATTs and the Omani Firqats. Johnson, T. M. "Oman," Armor Magazine, January-February 1981, 42-45. Gives detail to the geography of Oman and provides some examples of the social improvements there. Lunde, P. "Oman: a History," Aramco World Magazine, May- June 1983, 4-7. A synopsis version of Oman's history. "Military Construction Overseas Would Enlarge U. S. Presence," Washington Post, 17 March 1984, A19. Lists the figured concerning U.S. military construction aid to Oman. "Neo-piracy in Oman and the Gulf," Middle East Research Project, Washington, D. C., 1975. Called "MERIP" reports, this one has a lengthy section on Oman. It is anti-U.S. and draws heavily on Halliday's Arabia Without Sultans. "Oil States in Gulf Fear Threat to Vital Strait," Washington Post, 11 November 1983, A19. Voices the fears about the Iraq-Iran war closing the Strait of Hormuz. "Oman Post Report," U. S. Department of State Publication 9273, Washington, D. C., July 1982. Basic facts on Oman. Oman '83. Muscat, Oman: The Ministry of Information, Sultanate of Oman, 1983. A public information booklet on Oman. "Oman: Emerging from the Dark Ages," Time, 4 June 1979, 35-38. A fine article that centers on the many improvements made in Oman by Sultan Qaboos. O'Neill, B. E., Heaton, W. R. and Alberts, D. J. Insurgency in the Modern World. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1980. The sections "Insurgency: A Framework for Analysis," and "Revolutionary War in Oman" provide excellent points of departure from which to study the counterinsurgency in Oman. Peterson, J. E. "Guerilla Warfare and Ideological Confronta- tion in the Arabian Peninsula: The Rebellion in Dhufar," World Affairs, Volume 139, Number 4, Spring, 1977, 277-295. A well documented article detailing the events in Dhofar and their world significance. ----------. Oman in tne Twentieth Century. London: Croom Helm, 1978. The most comprehensively researched work on modern Oman. "Police, Army, Navy, and Air Force of Oman," Journal of Defense Diplomacy, November 1983, 16-25. Plain facts on the services of Oman. Price, D. L. Oman: Insurgency and Development (Conflict Studies, Number 53). London: The Institute for the Study of Conflict, 1975. Breaks down the war in Dhofar into phases and provides a limited analysis. "Stay Just on the Horizon, Please." Time, 25 October 1982, 47-50. Explains the involvement of the U.S. with Oman in recent years. "Tiny Oman Guards the Strategic Strait of Hormuz," Washington Post, 2 January 1980, A7. An example of events relating to Oman's strategic value prior to the Iran-Iraq war. Townsend, J. Oman: The Making of a Modern State. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1977. Provides another perspective on tne development of Oman both internally and externally. Wald, Peter, "Oman," Swiss Review of World Affairs, April 1981, 14-15. Details Oman's fears about invasion from the PDRY.
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