Dhofar: Revolution In Omar
Dhofar is situated between the Yemen and Persian Gulfs, lying on the coast of the Arabian Sea. It is bound by the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, (PDRY), on the west; the desert of Saudi Arabia on the north; and divided from the rest of the Sultanate of Oman (a British 'protectorate'), by a 500 mile stretch of desert to the east.
A shepherd society is found in the rural areas of Dhofar. The material life of the people depends on cattle, camels, goats and an agriculture whose only two grains consist of beans and wheat. Most of its citizens live in caves. The colonialist authorities have worked to preserve these bad conditions, and encourage them through numerous laws and schemes, such as taxation amounting to 100% on water pumps. Fishing employs the most primitive means, as nets and modern equipment are banned by law.
A United Nations report described the situation as follows: "The people of Dhofar...were treated by the Sultan as slaves. He was cruel and imposed many arbitrary restrictions on the people. They could not travel outside; they were not permitted to build houses; food could only be bought in one walled market where the quantity...was fixed; and they were not allowed to import or export goods. Further, there was no work in Dhofar, no schools, no hospitals, no economic life, no equality, and no right to participate in politics." In fact, the Sultan would boast that Dhofar was "his own private estate" and the official guide to the Sultanate appropriately called it "the dependency of Dhofar". This short description on the life of the people of Dhofar shows why they have organized mass struggle and taken up the gun for their liberation.
In 1964, the revolutionary forces combined to form the Dhofar Liberation Front, (DLF). At this time the fighters were for the most part workers, soldiers and poor merchants. Their main slogan was struggle against colonialism for Arab unity. There were also tribesmen who had continually fought against the yoke of colonialism. Their goal was the freedom and independence of Dhofar.
During the first period, 1964-68, southern Yemen became the independent PDRY, which provided a safe rear and a friendly neighbor. In addition liberated zones were established and the revolution spread to all of Oman. As a result, the US military, in league with the British began to intensify support and aid to the reactionary sultanate. These two factors led in 1968 to the second congress of the DLF where the name was changed to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Occupied Arab Gulf (PFLOAG). This reflected a change in strategy; to the spreading of the anti-imperialist armed struggle throughout the Gulf region.
By August 1969, the western sector of Dhofar had been liberated. Socially the PFLOAG began to break down the tribal structure, abolish slavery, eradicate illiteracy, provide medical care by establishing the Martyr Habkook Hospital as well as military health units and complete rights and equal status for women. On the political level, the PFLOAG fought to deepen national unity by establishing a broad united front to intensify the struggle against the imperialists. To date more than 90% of Dhofar has been liberated.
In 1971, as the struggle spread, the British engineered a coup ousting the old Sultan in favor of his British-educated son, Qabus, and ushered in the present era alliance between the Sultan, British and US forces, including its allies Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
While the British maintain their control in the Gulf through the presence of British troops, the US prefers a more indirect role. Just as in Vietnam, the Nixon Doctrine was to let Asians fight Asians, in the gulf it is let Iranians and Arabs fight each other. The US is using the Shah of Iran, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and King Hussein of Jordan to provide the man-power for the front lines. To bolster their military capacity, the US has given $300 million directly to Qabus and concluded the biggest arms deal in history between Iran and the US amounting to over $3 billion. After the arms deal, the Iranian troops fighting the PFLOAG was increased to 33,000. Saudi Arabia for its part has centered its military attacks on PDRY, but at the same time has pledged $6 million plus weapons to Qabus and finally Jordan has sent over 400 officers and men to fight in Oman.
The US government does not give out arms and money without expecting something in return. The dividends expected in this case are control of one of the richest oil areas in the world. Whoever controls the Persian Gulf controls the oil and thereby controls the nations dependent on this oil. Also as seen in Vietnam, the US government is determined to defeat struggles for self-determination in order to maintain its position of dominance in the world. The victory in Dhofar is therefore a victory in the fight against imperialism in general, and US imperialism in particular.