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OMAN & ITS SPECIAL HISTORY: Retrospect, Present, & Future?

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Kutschera adds the decisiveness of the young Sultan was also important, so that within only "four days after the coup of Salalah, the outside world learned that Tariq [the brother of the Sultan] was only to be prime minister and that Qabus would succeed his father to become the eighth sultan of a dynasty which has been in power since 1749. His first decision was to call himself Sultan of Oman -- and not of Oman and Muscat, phraseology which summon[ed]up the country's everlasting division. His second decision was to visit Muscat, where his father had not been seen since 1958."

Next, the new Sultan indicated that he would respect the tribes much more than his father and the communist internationalists had. He indicated that through these federalist and traditional approaches to governmental decision making that he would not force the country into a fast march towards democracy but instead seek first to develop the countries schools, health care and welfare systems. In order to achieve the aims of becoming a more socialist and just state, however, the Sultan quickly offered alignment and agreements with investors on major infrastructure projects around the country using most of the countries oil money and by creating new developmental financing and investing opportunities.

In an interview given shortly after taking over Oman in 1970, Sultan Qaboos explained, "I am a man with one foot in my country -- backwards as it is, with its tribal customs, its life dominated by Islam -- and the other in the 20th century. I must be very careful to keep my balance".

It has, in fact, been reflective of the Sultan's abilities that he is a great multi-tasker and that he is inclined to find balancing points where others have failed. For example, Oman has maintained a good set of relations with Iran while supporting the Gulf Cooperation Council in many ways. It has stayed out of neighboring wars even as others, like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have demanded it join. During this time of peace, Oman moved from last (or nearly last) on the developmental indexes to being a mid-range nation in just over 3 decades. [8]

"The old tribal structures were alive and powerful in Oman as nowhere else in Arabia. In order to establish a new state Qaboos first had to peacefully unite the tribes, put an end to ancient feuds and persuade the leaders of the individual groupings to hand over their traditional powers to the Omani state and to actively cooperate in the building up of the new country -- a difficult task for a young ruler if ever there was one."

Eventually, the current Majlis system of governance and authority in the land has opened up the most lasting peace in modern Middle East history, i.e. for the Omanis and their nation. "The Majlis system is of primary significance for the modern Omani state because it represents a form of democratic direct representation due to its nearness to the people. Everyone with a problem has the right to speak directly to his sheikh. He will then bring the matter before the next higher tribal council. In this way the problem is passed through a hierarchy of Majlis to the level at which justice can be dispensed. The supreme sovereign, the Sultan, is the ultimate guarantor of this hierarchical system. This is also the key to understanding how a loosely coupled confederation of tribal areas could be united into a national state. It is not for nothing that the political organisation of modern Oman contains elements of this traditional Majlis system."[9]

In short, the sultan (and his sultanate of Oman) for over 40 years has been able to act as sort of a director or fiddler on a roof--balancing all kinds of forces and remaining largely neutral in many affairs of state in the region and around the world. When Sultan Qaboos passes, the people of Oman no longer expect another civil war--but simply anticipate further progress in terms of each citizen's quality of life, health, education, and welfare.

These are things that many neighboring Yemenis can only dream about.

NOTES

[1]What's it like living next door to War-Torn Yemen? (Part 1): Remain Empathetic & Function as Though Nothing Will Change

[2]What's it like living next door to War-Torn Yemen? (Part 2): More on Empathy, Life & Pilgrimage

[3] What's it like living next door to War-Torn Yemen? (Part 3): More on Empathy & Reflections

[4] Kutschera, Chis, OMAN: The Death of the Last Feudal Arab State, http://www.chris-kutschera.com/A/Oman 1970.htm .

[5] The Sickle and the Minaret: Communist Successor Parties in Yemen and Afghanistan After the Cold War, http://www.rubincenter.org/2005/03/ishiyama-2005-03-02/

[6] Steven A Cheney, The Insurgency in Oman 1962-1975, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1984/CSA.htm .

[7] However, a Soviet-inspired communist effort might have more success in the short run, some thought, because many of the Omanis in exile over the prior decades had studied in East European and Russian universities. On the other hand, these sort of leaders were more likely to have been seen as outsiders by their own people. This is why the Sultan turned first to the tribes to rebuild the Sultanates' friendship to its own people.

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)
 

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