Sunday, February 27, 2011

Arab Revolution reaches Oman

With the first fatal casualties at a protest in Sohar, NW of the capital Muscat, Oman joins the long list of countries experiencing a quite intense revolutionary process in the Arab World and surroundings. 

The victims were killed by police rubber bullets, according to Al Jazeera, while a crowd demonstrated in this important harbor town in demand of political reforms. Another demonstration has been reported at Salalah in the south of the country (Dhofar), the birthplace of the autocrat Qaboos bin Said, who is at the same time Sultan, Prime Minister, Defense Minister, Finance Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister and Chair of the Central Bank.

Oman suffers one of the most repressive regimes in the area, ruled by the whim of the Sultan and Sharia law, only comparable in totalitarianism to that of Saudi Arabia, I believe. This one is about the only Arab polity that has not yet suffered a revolt of some sort in the last months (others are Syria, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates).

Oman is highly strategical because it controls, along with Iran, the Strait of Hormuz, the gate to the Persian Gulf. It is a close ally of the USA, Saudi Arabia, the UK and France.

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