100%

Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue

Share

Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

August 15, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1974-08-15

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

TE.
Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Thursday, August 15, 1974
News Phone: 764-0552 -
M FATHER AID fESp
M4H6 AV
IF H6C OO
HARp A&P tOAS A
COC OPHafJ T
PSOf, COO-P
gE AJY't fIUHC
ONKrUL7 TO -
AV MYFAT 6RSAID' 1AT
F VOU WCR PROSIDET
T IKS K AM HOMOR
Nl? IT P lYT,-.N
CeCOK
ADP HAT
EHDRkD A FEPLf 5VSk)
~6V6P 'I'OOBI5CAUSO
TVK PCES ( j
VTS )
OdARS* J .
01,Qw s.
BECAUE, MV FATH6R SAIL,
FOUpb (k) oLp ) TIhS
e6Lc12l kI) A FUOR
FOR TIS COzMITR
AW 12FOR S~~~(-
AW17 ThEY CAi-Ge
4t(C CA
SAJTA PWkT.GI6 ME
PR6SC %TY T$ IS VYAR -
f f;v
6'IVC IRTh C

& VC U THA
wZ2

A Middle East Vietnam

By BARRY RUBIN
N ONE HALF of a small but
strategically located coun-
try, marines in helicopters are
fighting a guerilla force which
has been controlling most of
the area for more than ten
years.
The names are unfamiliar,
but events suggest that n e w
powers in the "third world"
may have to learn the bitter
lessons of Vietnam for them-
selves.
Iran is moving on several
fronts to establish itself as the
leading power in both the Ind-
ian Ocean and the Persion Gulf.
Since last December, 3,500 Iran-
ian marines, with 25 U.S.-built
helicopters, have been fighting
indigenous guerrillas in Dho-
far, the western province of
Oman - forces which the
Oman's Sultan Qaboos has been
unable to stop for almost t e n
years.
Oman controls the southern
end of the Straits of Hormuz.
Every 14 minutes, an oil tanker
carrying the wealth of the re-
gion to world markets passes
through these straits. To con-
trol this traffic and the Gulf
itself,- Iran must have Oman's
support.
Iran has declared itself the
protector of the small and un-
stable, but oil rich, Gulf states.
If guerrilla forces succeed in
Dhofar, or in all of Oman, Iran
fears a "domino effect" in oth-
er countries.
Oman has a long shoreline on
the Indian Ocean and could be
an important base for Iranian
moves in that region.
UNITED STATES support has
been especially important to
Iran. As then Assistant Secre-
tary of State Joseph Sisco told
Congress last year, U.S. pol-
icy makers had "decided that
we would try to stimulate and
be helpful to'-the two key coun-
tries in this area - namely
Iran and Saudi Arabia - that,
to the degree to which we
could stimulate cooperation be-
tween these two countries, they
could become the major ele-
ments of stability as the British
were getting out . . ."
Iran, with its spiraling o i I
revenues, can purchase t h e
arms and technology needed
to play ball with the U.S.: over
the last three years, the Shah
has spent over $4 billion to buy
the most advanced tanks, fight-
er planes and helicopters in the
world. And, at any given time,
about 800 Iranian pilots are be-
ing trained in the U.S.
During 1972 the U.S. signed
a new agreement with Bahrain
- a small island nation in the
Persian Gulf - for maintenance
of the U.S. naval communica-
tions base there. Meanwhile,
former Treasury Secretary Ro-
bert Anderson obtained a con-
tract to set up Oman's diplo-
matic service and gained oil
and mineral concessions. The
same year, a consortium of
U.S. companies - negotiated
an agreement to develop Om-
ani fishing in the Indian Ocean.
According to some observers,
the consortium's activities are
used as a cover for arms smug-
gilng and intelligence-gather-
ing operations.
GUERRILLA FORCES in
Dhofar, the Popular F r o n t
for the Liberation of Oman and
the Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG),
charge the U.S. has been in-
volved directly with forces and
planes stationed in S a d i
Arabia. Although these claims
are unconfirmed, it is public
knowledge that most of the
equipment used by Iranian
troops is U.S. made, and Amer-
ican naval units have joined in
maneuvers with Iranian ships
off Oman's coast.

In addition to Iranian a n d
U.S. support, Sultan Qaboos has
depended heavily on Jordanian
and British officers. Oman's
Defense Minister, intelligence
chief and its army and a i r
force commanders are all Brit-
ish. Qaboos himself, brought to
power by a British sponsored
coup in 1970, was trained at

Sandhurst, the British W e s t
Point.
And his forces are expanding:
a few months ago, Oman adver-
tised for pilots in Australian
newspapers, offering $19,000 a
year, ten weeks' paid vacation
and free air fare home every
year for fighting in his forces.
Over the last two years, Om-
an's army has grown from 3000
to 12,000.
NO MATTER how many
troops the Sultan can muster,
he has been unable to control
Dhofar. The province compris-
es the western half of Oman
and is separated from the rest
of the country by a desert.
Conquered in the latter half
of the 19th Century by Oman,
Dhofar's history also marks it
apart from the rest of the coun-
try. Although the feudal nobil-
ity excluded modern thought
and technology from all of
Oman, Dhofar was kept parti-
cularly backward: slavery con-
tinued while the government
established hardly a single
scool or clinic among Ih e
quarter million people there.
Tribal revolts were not un-
common in the province. They
were transformed into a mod-
ern guerrilla war by Dhofaris
who left the country illegally
beginning in the 1950's to work
in the Gulf oil fields. There
they met militant oil workers
and longshoremen, including
many Palestinians.
When they returned h o m e,
these workers organized under-
ground groups and, in June,
41965, began armed struggle.
Starting from mountain bases,
PFLOAG units have t a k e n
most of the province, leaving
the Sultan only the main towns.
AS IN OTHER countries, the
guerrillas have worked to gain
popular support: here by abol-
ishing slavery and creating ag-
ricultural cooperatives, organ-
izing schools and clinics, set-
ting up local government coun-
cils, and working to establish
the equality of women, who
fought with the military units.
The Sultan's first counter-of-
fensive, in late October, 1971,
was spearheaded by the Red
Devils, an elite British u n it
supposedly in Oman to train
government troops. A second
attempt, in mid-1972, was also
based on British support. Both
failed tQ dislodge the guer-
rillas, who not only continued to
hold rural areas but have also
blocked the country's main
road.
Iran's direct involvement be-
gan in early 1972, when. the
Shah sent military supplies to

the Sultan. A year later, in a
grim carbon copy of Vietnam,
some 600 "advsors" were sent
in, to be followed by combat
troops last December.
The main objectives of the
Iranian forces have been to re-
open this road and to sever the
guerrilla's supply lines from the
People's Republic of Yemen.
Hand in hand with napalm and
Iranian ground troops, Oman
has developed a "pacification
program" involving Civil Ac-
tion Teams, backed by British
Royal Engineers units. Strate-
gic hamlets are built around
waterholes - each with i t s
own school, clinic and store, as
well as a local anti-guerrilla
militia.
IRAN FACES other obstacles
in its reach for power. Al-
though relationsr with Saudi
Arabia have improved over the
last decade, they have been
strained by differences o v e r
oil pricing and Saudi fears of
rising Iranian power.
These differences stem from
traditional rivalries. And, al-
though conservative leaders in
both countries see the PFLOAG
.as a common enemy, Caudis
and other Arabs are beginning
to worry about Iran's military
presence in Dhofar and the
Gulf.
The most extreme reaction
has come from Libya. Its rad-
ical nationalist leader, C o I .
Qadaffi, is a strong anti-com-
munist who has not been friend-
ly to the Marxist PFLOAG, and
offered Qaboos military aid a
few years ago. Now, because of
Iran's presence, he has recog-
nized, and given aid to the
PFLOAG, which also gets as-
sistance from People's Yemen,
Algeria, Iraq and the USSR.
THE ARAB League has
sought to reconcile the Sultan
and the guerrilla forces as a
way of eliminating the Iranian
presence. The guerrillas h a ve
recently agreed to meet with the
League's mediation team in a
"liberated zone" of Dhofar; but
given the gap between them
and the Sultan, little progress
is exoected.
Within the Arab world, the
war in Dhofar is beginning to
attract as much attention as the
conflict with Israel. The strug-
gle in Oman may well indi.ate
the future direction of the bat-
tle in the Middle East.
Barry Rubin is a New York-
based free-lance writer. Copy-
right, Pacific News Service,
1974.

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan